Lorelei or Roseanne: What’s Your TV Parent Personality?

One of my favorite mom-to-mom blog resources is Cafémom. Recently, an article about TV mother-daughters reminded me of my panic when I found out I was having a girl – a story I’m finally willing to admit to and share out loud.

 

Here’s the straight, never-before-admitted, honest, mom-to-mom, truth: I never wanted a girl. Now, I said all the right things out loud … “I am just so happy to have a baby at all, I just hope it’s healthy, so I don’t care whether it’s a boy or girl.”

 

But in reality, I really wanted a boy. Like, really.

 

I’d always been a tomboy. It wasn’t until my 30s that I really developed healthy relationships with girlfriends. I was terrified of the prospect of relating to a girl. Terrified of the terrible teens, terrified of the hormones, terrified of the drama, terrified that girls always hate their mothers.

 

When I found out I was having a girl, the first thing I did was binge-watch Gilmore Girls. I thought if I could discern the secret sauce to perfect mother-daughter relationships that Loreali had clearly discovered, I might make it without a complete nervous break-down.  I’m not kidding, so don’t laugh, but I literally took notes.

 

Now that my older daughter is hitting the dreaded teens, I realized that sadly, you need both a mom like Loreali AND a daughter like Rory, so there’s a reason this is a fictional show — the chances both exist together in the same world (let alone the same family) are slim to none. Maybe somewhere in the world, a mother and teenage daughter have established the fun, easy, banter-filled relationship that this show presents, but it wasn’t true in my life. Despite my best intentions, if I had to pick a TV mom I realistically have come to resemble, I’m way more like Roseanne than Loreali. And, it works for me, and my daughters. We may not have the “snuggle-in-and-watch-movies-together-while-drinking-coffee-and-speed-talking” relationship that you see on Gilmore Girls, but we have sarcasm, teasing and passive-aggressive insults. It’s not understandable by everyone, but it works for us, and although the conversations take a decidedly different slant, I think our relationship is Loreali-Rory worthy.

 

What have I learned after having a girl for 11 years (although she acts like it’s been 15…)? I have learned that yes, hormones happen. Yes, her moods are unpredictable — one minute she is cuddling with me, the next she hates every bone in my body. Yes, it’s not easy. But… it’s easier than I thought. I’m stronger than I thought. I can take “MOM I HATE YOU!” with a laugh, an eye-roll, and a fun retort. I can shrug off the drama, tears, and hysteria from “her ONLY pair of decent jeans being in the wash, OMG she has NOTHING to wear!” I can walk away from the everything in the world being my fault and embrace the title of “MEANEST MOM IN THE WORLD!!!”  And for that, I thank Roseanne, and the valuable lessons she taught me. Loreali has nothing on her.

 

[Editor’s Note: CICADA Magazine for teens age 14 and up is great way to help your child navigate the stormy waters of adolescence. Featuring exciting new works in fiction, poetry, and comics, plus interviews with the authors and illustrators who made it happen, CICADA is a place for teens to speak their truths. PLUS, free with each paid subscription to CICADA comes access to bonus content on the magazine’s companion Web site, www.cicadamag.com, the online home of CICADA. The site features The Slam, our award-winning online forum for microfiction and poetry. Designed for budding writers, CicadaMag.com gives teens writing tips and submissions needs for CICADA and urges them to keep up with their writing practice, even when they may feel discouraged. Rory Gilmore would totes approve.]

 

Cricket Media Mama realized, as her daughters entered the dreaded puberty, she’s eternally grateful for a girl because “The Talk” is way more manageable than it would have been with a boy.

 

Four Famous Women Who Loved to Paint, Write, Sing, and Act

The urge to create is in each one of us. Our individual need to express ourselves is a vital part of who we are. The poet Walt Whitman once wrote that we are all born with the desire to “sound our barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world.”

 

Since the beginning of time, women have expressed themselves through art, literature, song, dance, and theatre. For many years the beauty of their artistic messages went unnoticed. Nearly two thousand poems by Emily Dickinson went unpublished until after her death.

 

Here are four women whose creations continue to leave their artistic marks on us.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe

1887-1986

 

Georgia O'KeefeGeorgia O’Keeffe was an artist born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, November 15, 1887. Her full name was Georgia Totto O’Keeffe. She painted in oils and watercolors. Her large paintings are full of sensual flowers and landscapes of the southwest. She lived a very long life and died in Sante Fe, New Mexico at the age of 98. Georgia O’Keeffe is known as the Mother of American Modernism.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe

Like the baby’s sky

that lives beyond

the gentle touch of truth,

her pastels rise softer

than a daylight dream.

Her golden eyes

belong to the stars

of another world

where shade and shape and hue

of yellow, purple, blue

unfurl like calla lilies

in a field of lilac.

In warm, blending tones

of sleeping summer babies,

she wakes our eyes

to new worlds

full of color,

motion, and light.

©Charles Ghigna

 

 

Emily Dickinson

1830-1886

 

Emily DickinsonEmily Elizabeth Dickinson was a poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts, December 10, 1830. After college she moved back home and lived much of her life as a recluse, rarely leaving her house. It was not until after her death that her younger sister, Lavinia, discovered Emily’s nearly two thousand poems hidden away in her room. Dickinson’s complete works were not published until seventy years after her death, yet she is now considered to be one of America’s most popular poets.

 

Emily Dickinson

Stanza upon stanza,

her elegant extravaganza

of poem upon unpublished poem

came to life upon her death,

gave birth and endless breath

to old worlds made new.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Sarah Vaughan

1924 – 1990

 

Sarah VaughnSarah Vaughan was a blues singer born in Newark, New Jersey, March 27, 1924. She began taking piano lessons at age seven and organ at age eight. By age twelve, she was playing and singing in her church choir. She won a vocal contest at the Apollo Theater when she was sixteen and began singing professionally when she was eighteen. She was one of the greatest female scat singers of Bebop jazz. Her later recordings featured many popular songs. Her nickname was “The Divine One.”

 

Sarah Vaughan

An infant speaks,

a young girl sighs,

an old man laughs

to hide his cries.

When she sang

her sultry song,

clear blue skies

from now on.

How gentle is the rain

that falls softly on the meadow.

Birds high up in the trees

serenade the flowers with their melodies.

See there beyond the hills

the bright colors of the rainbow,

some magic from above

made this day for us just to fall in love.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Bette Davis

1908-1989

 

Bette DavisRuth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis was an actor born in Lowell, Massachusetts, April 5, 1908. She appeared in plays on Broadway and starred in more than one hundred movies. She became the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is often regarded as one of the greatest actors in the history of Hollywood.

 

Bette Davis

The deep timbre of her

husky voice

played upon the drums

of our ears,

set us all on edge,

made us sit up in our seats

like obedient puppies

waiting for her command.

Her magnetic eyes

held us in her spell,

cast us into new worlds

and made us all believe in magic.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He is the author of more than 100 award-winning books for children and adults from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. His poems appear in hundreds of magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights. For more information, please visit his website at FatherGoose.com

A Plug for Unplugging

Recently I wrote a blog about the surprise benefit of unplugging from my phone for a few hours. Since then, I have learned some additional benefits such as better rest, less anxiety, and oddly, less snacking. Apparently, I tended to eat when obsessively hitting refresh on Twitter to make sure I haven’t missed any celebrity deaths.

 

Other important lessons:

 

  1. FOMO is a real thing. No, it’s nothing like YOLO. Fear of Missing Out is what I discovered in my enlightenment blog after leaving my phone at home. I was afraid I’d miss things by not being connected to everything. More importantly, I’d convinced myself that I would be missed. If I wasn’t responding, retweeting, liking, answering, commenting… the world would explode. Clearly, since I’m here writing this follow up, it did not. It’s a jolt our egos need once in a while.
  2. Be bored. We never take time to appreciate the sensation of boredom. First of all, much like a muscle, your brain needs to rest after being stimulated in order to optimize its strength. Plus, being bored allows our minds to wander and our creativity kicks in. Creating instead of consuming can only yield positive results.
  3. Our most fulfilling relationships are the ones that are physically in front of us. I’ll just leave that right there.

And the most important thing I’ve learned is how important it is to model unplugging for your kids. Being <cough> years old, I remember the days before smart phones and tablets. Heck, I remember the days before pagers. So, I know what it’s like to live a life unplugged.

 

My kids, on the other hand, don’t. And that’s sad.

 

So I decided to implement my self-enforced unplugged time on the rest of the family: one hour, every day, no phones, no computers, no tablets, no television. Additionally, no electronics at the dinner table. This was met with mixed results. To be honest, this was met with full-on melt-downs. From kids and husband alike. So we compromised. We are doing a trial period of a month.

 

They say you only understand an addiction when you’ve taken it away. We’ll see how this experiment goes and I’ll keep you posted.

 

Cricket Media Mama may be blogging a lot more frequently as her ban on electronics has resulted in her ban from the good graces of her family.

7 Ways to Help Your Children Discriminate Against Discrimination

Most of us want to raise our kids to have cultural sensitivity and to be free of prejudices. However, the reality is we live in a world where there is racism, bigotry, and discrimination. And we all have our own unconscious biases that can get passed along despite our best efforts.

 

The easiest way to help overcome these obstacles is to provide your children with a rounded view and multiple perspectives every time you can. With that in mind, here are 7 suggestions we hope will help you raise culturally sensitive kids:

 

  1. Spontaneously implement short-term random rules such as “Anyone under five feet is not allowed to eat ice-cream” or “Brown-eyed people can’t watch TV” so your kids understand how bigotry is arbitrary and that it is hurtful and confusing to those affected by it.
  2. Take your children to visit places of worship for other faiths and discuss the differences and similarities in the teachings and practices.
  3. Provide an alternative perspective to historical events. Schools often present a one-sided or watered-down view of history so find reading sources for your kids that gives a more complete view.
  4. Get to know a variety of families and people in your community. Ask them to include your family in celebrations or other cultural events so your children have a first-hand explanation of beliefs or practices, not assumptions, or hearsay.
  5. Don’t shield your child from upsetting news. I don’t recommend allowing them to actually watch the news, but talk to them about stories that are making headlines. Chances are, your kids will hear about these articles at school or from friends, and the perspective they are provided from their peers may not be ideal.
  6. Be aware of what you say. Even the most sensitive of us have made (or laughed at) the occasional off-color joke or accidentally let a hurtful stereotype slip when someone cuts us off in traffic. Our kids listen and imitate. Try to be mindful of what you say and do when your kids are around. If you do accidentally blurt something out, explain to your child that what you said was not sensitive and even if the people it was directed to can’t hear it, it’s still wrong.
  7. Consider hosting a foreign exchange student. It’s a phenomenal way for kids to learn about other cultures.

Cricket Media Mama believes strongly in diversity in every aspect of her life, but especially in chocolate. White, milk, dark, nutty, fruity … it’s all equally delicious.

Don’t Drop the Ball on New Year’s Eve!

To let the kids stay up, or not to let the kids stay up. That is the question. And I have no answer for you because you know your kids way better than I do.

 

Late nights can bring out the worst or the super worst in kids depending on his or her disposition. After a certain witching hour, our kids transform into grumpy and hypergrumpy. That kind of behavior totally messes with my New Year’s mellow, man.

 

If you want to put your kids to bed early, there are plenty of ways you can still have fun and celebrate the New Year with them. Just follow the World Clock. America is one of the last countries to celebrate New Year’s. If you are up for it, get up at 5:00 AM EST and ring in the Tonga New Year, which will be the first country to welcome 2017. From that point on, you can use a world map and this website http://www.timeanddate.com/counters/firstnewyear.html to celebrate New Year’s every hour(‘ish) as it travels around the world.

 

An alternative is to pick a few locations your kids are familiar with (maybe where you have family, ancestry, or just a country they know about) and celebrate the New Year as it hits just those countries.

 

To make it even more fun, look up the customs of those countries and replicate them in your celebrations.

 

  1. Practice Ousouji (clean your house!) and then eat Toshikoshi Soba noodles and ring a bell 108 times at 10:00 AM EST to celebrate the Japanese New Year.
  2. Make an Olivier salad and say S Novim Godom at 4:00 PM EST to celebrate the Russian New Year. Once you’ve rung in the New Year, bring out a left over gift as a token from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), who visits children to pass out gifts on New Year’s Day. Fun fact! Instead of elves, he brings along his granddaughter,Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden), to help him.
  3. Change into white clothes with colorful undergarments and eat seven grapes for abundance or chew seven pomegranate seeds to ensure that your wallet will be full, then jump 3 times with your right foot while making wishes for the upcoming year in order to celebrate the Brazilian New Year at 9:00 PM EST.

In many countries, what you eat that night will bring you fortune, so find the right foreign foods to serve throughout the day. As you tick off each hour and each country, your kids will (hopefully) wind down too, leaving you to ring in the New Years with the good old American tradition of a kiss, minus a chorus of “EWWWWW GROOOSSSS!”

 

Editor’s Note: Whichever way you choose to celebrate, here’s a recipe for a New Year’s punch from SPIDER Magazine that is sure to add a little bit of sparkle to you New Year’s Eve. Enjoy!

 

New Year's Eve Punch from Cricket Media

 

Cricket Media Mama once tried to replicate a New York Time Square New Year’s Eve celebration. She is still vacuuming up the confetti.

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break Boredom

Everyone loves winter break, right? Um, yeah, right. Love it. Definitely. Winner. The most wonderful time of the year.

 

So you sense some sarcasm? Here’s the thing: My kids are home. It’s cold out (at least where I live) so outdoor activities are difficult. Friends are away so arranging playtime with other kids is difficult. And I need to get at least a minimum of work done each day.

 

Oh, and we have a strict limit on the amount of screen time they can have each day, and yes, that includes winter break.

 

As I’m sure you know, enforcing the limits on screen time is really difficult at any time of the year, but at times when there is the triple whammy of no school, no outdoor play time, and no friends around, it becomes a daily struggle. But it is also really important for us to stick to it. And so, with Cricket Media’s award-winning and child-centered content and some help from the folks at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, I hereby present 5 Easy (and fun) Winter Break Activities for your family to try. These are meant to get everyone (including you, parents) away from the screens, so please join in. Remember, kids learn from what you do, not just what you say, so turning off your own screen, even if it is just for a few hours sends a powerful message about being present AND helps everyone concentrate on the activity at hand.

 

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break BoredomYou know all those different types of building blocks and materials you have around your house: Legos, K’Nex, Zoob, Lincoln Logs, Magformers, blocks of various sizes, etc.? Get ‘em out. Yes, all of them. Even the ones your child hasn’t played with in a while and you’ve been meaning to give away. Now create a city using all the different types. Discover how the different types of building materials work together to make new contraptions and buildings types you never considered before. After you’ve had a blast with this one, cleaning up might qualify as another screen-free activity, especially if you take this chance to sort through and get rid of all the types of building materials your child no longer uses.

 

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break BoredomHave each member of your family make a scavenger hunt list and go on a search for each item. You can do this inside or outside or a combination of the two. Go ahead and be sneaky and add missing items to your list. Haven’t seen your son’s shoe for two days? Add it to his list. Someone left a shovel outside on the deck and it’s been bugging you for a week? Add it to the list. Who says clean up and scavenger hunt can’t be the same thing?

 

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break BoredomCreate your very own board game. My family has done this and it is awesome. Our foray into board game create started because my daughter loved The Ladybug Game, which was created by a kid. She wanted to create her own game and off she went to do it, with just a little help from me. The best part is that this activity involves so many great skills: planning and logic to make sure the rules work, writing directions, designing a game board, etc. And once the game is all done, your whole family will enjoy playing it.

 

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break BoredomTake a trip. This is an obvious way to spend a few hours as a family screen-free, but if you are going to do it, make sure you keep to the screen-free part. It will make the entire activity more of an adventure. Plus, you’ll get to say stuff like, “when I was a kid we didn’t have GPS or the internet to help us. We had to figure it out for ourselves.” A few months ago, my daughter and I took a trip as part of a screen free activity and I was really strict about it. In fact, I didn’t even bring my cell phone with me. This made for some really interesting moments when we got lost and had to figure out how to get home. But it was actually the most memorable part of the trip. One thing I learned though: my cellphone, like yours probably, is my camera, so without it we couldn’t take any pictures. If possible, grab a disposable camera for this trip so you can still document the fun you had.

 

5 Screen Free Family Activities to Beat Winter Break Boredom

Cook, bake, and eat your favorite foods. Imitate Chopped Jr. and give your kids ingredients and see what they can create. Or drag out your old family recipes (written on old-fashioned recipe cards, I’m sure) and make some of your childhood favorites. Most kids love to cook and even those that prefer to eat will like the result of this activity.

 

For even more screen-free activities, check out screenfree.org. And for some activities perfect for those moments when you don’t have time to really get your hands (or your house) dirty but still want to keep the kids occupied without screens, download the activities below.

 

Activities to Download

 

Get Lit This Hanukkah

The candles! I mean the candles!

 

It’s been reported that 72 percent of Jewish people in the United States celebrate Hanukkah. This is a bigger percentage than those who partake of any other Jewish rite, including attending a Passover seder or fasting on Yom Kippur. Yet it is one of the most commonly misunderstood holidays.

 

So, without further ado, please join me for another exciting edition of Cricket Media Mama Myth Busters!!!!

 

(And by “another exciting edition,” I mean this is the first time I’ve ever done this and it’s only as exciting as the number of exclamation points I can fit in.)

 

Myth 1. Hanukkah is an important Jewish holiday.

 

Bust: Ehhhh, no. But because it often falls in December, it’s gained popularity here in the US and like Christmas, gifts are given, special feasts are served and there are holiday movies, songs, decorations and lights involved. Actually, it’s one of the least important occasions on the Hebrew calendar. Passover, Sukkot, and the Sabbath (Shabbat) all incorporate extensive rituals and requirements or prohibitions, whereas the only decree of Hanukkah is to light candles for eight nights. It was intentionally popularized as a way to allow Jewish people, especially children, to commit to the religion in the midst of an important and commercially appealing holiday season for Christians.

 

Myth 2: The candles represent how a small amount of oil miraculously burned for eight days and eight nights.

 

Bust: Whether this miracle really happened is questionable, and not just because of the proven limits of oil. There’s no reference to this miracle in early sources based on firsthand accounts. Popular belief is this story was invented by a Rabbi hundreds of years after it supposedly occurred.

 

Myth 3: Hanukkah is celebrated with potato pancakes.

 

Bust: Well, yes, latkes (known to some as potato pancakes) are often eaten at Hanukkah, but latkes are iconic and can be centerpiece of many Jewish celebrations as well as eaten any other time of the year. Your typical latke is made of grated potatoes mixed with matzo meal and eggs, and fried in oil to a golden crisp. Creative chefs may experiment with ingredients such as Swiss chard, zucchini, chipotle, feta cheese, and artichokes. Whether this detracts from the traditional dish is less important than the raucous debates about which topping is superior — sour cream or applesauce.

 

But latkes originated in Eastern Europe, not ancient Israel. And they were first made with curd cheese rather than potatoes. They are a traditional holiday food but not the centerpiece of a holiday meal. In fact, most Jewish communities in other countries use different foods that acknowledge the role of oil from the story of Hanukkah, including doughnuts and French fires.

 

Want to discover a few more facts and bust a few more myths about Hanukkah? Find out more about the holiday (including more about the history of the holiday and even a recipe or two) from our friends at history.com.

 

This year, the first night of Hanukkah happens to fall on Christmas Eve, so both Jews and Christians will have a lot to celebrate that night. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, Chanukah Sameach! May the joyous spirit of the holiday follow you all the days of the year.

 

Editor’s Note: As our Hanukkah gift to you, please enjoy some wonderful Hanukkah stories from the pages of Cricket Media magazines. You’ll find one story attached to our Hanukkah blog from last year. And another, by acclaimed writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, below. Enjoy.

 

The Power of LightThe Power of Light

 

 

Cricket Media Mama has to confess she had to look up the correct spelling of Hanukkah… Hannukkah… Chanukkah? 

How to Stay in the Present

Last year around this time, I posted a blog about holiday shopping, or more accurately, holiday overspending. In it, I repeated some good advice that I got and still abide by:

 

When it comes to gifts, try the rule of four for your kids: one gift they want, one gift they need, one gift they wear, and one gift they read. This allows you to buy them useful, practical gifts that should have a longer shelf life, while still giving them something they want and helping you to maintain a budget.

 

This year, I’m trying even harder to subscribe to this rule with one exception – and I’ll get to that in a second. My reason for really sticking to the rule of four is that at the beginning of 2016, I established a budget. My kids are at an age where I feel it is really important to demonstrate responsible financial behavior. Modeling this behavior isn’t always easy, but it does give me the ability to blow off a request for the green Hatchimal by saying “Oh, we don’t have the money for that, it’s not in the budget.”

 

Sticking to the budget is especially difficult at this time of year. But actually it is more important than ever to keep to a budget at Christmas. If I cry “sorry, that’s not in the budget” all year long and then overload the Christmas tree, the kids will get a clear signal that no matter how tight your money is, it’s okay to blow a budget when it comes to holiday gifts. Staying consistent and modeling fiduciary discipline is an important lesson you can give your kids. (See, this is me adulting. Not only do I sound responsible, I use big words like “fiduciary” to do so!)

 

So when planning your budget work with the rule of four. But my exception to the rule is to shop experience gifts. Look for a class, a camp, a one-time adventure. Consider something for the season like ice-skating or snowboarding. A cooking class or a language class the whole family might enjoy. Art, glass blowing, 3-D modeling, crafting or dancing. Take a zip line adventure, play laser tag or paintball, or make that last gift a family vacation to someplace meaningful to the kids. Memories, skills, and knowledge will last way longer than any green Hatchimals will.

 

Cricket Media MagazinesEditor’s Note: A gift of Cricket Media children’s magazines won’t bust your budget and fits perfectly in the rule of four. We’ll let you decide which of the four categories it matches.

 

Cricket Media Mama booked a trip to Harry Potter world for Christmas because she’s all about the experience gifts. Now, she just has to figure out what to give her husband and kids since she’ll be gone.

 

Ice, Ice, Baby: Frosted Window Craft with Your Kids

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. As I do every year. I heard much of the Midwest got slammed with snow recently, and they probably don’t understand my desire for it. In truth, I don’t love snow, but having a white Christmas is so rare where I live that you’ll have better luck spotting a white elephant. Last year, I hung my decorations up wearing a t-shirt. Thanks global warming!

 

For those of us who live in the mid-Atlantic and below, and rarely (if ever) get to experience the stuff songs are made of, Christmas decorating can be a bit of a let-down. No icicles to frame roof, no snow-covered lawns to reflect the lights, no icy windows to suggest a warm, cozy inside.

 

[insert ‘as seen on TV’ advertisement voice here]

 

Oh, but wait! You can!

 

Thanks to this handy craft, you can create the illusion of icy widows even in 100 degree weather. It will last until you take it down (don’t worry, it’s easy to remove) and your kids will have a great time painting the ice on. And the type A parents out there will appreciate the fact that you literally can’t make it look bad, so you don’t have to “fix it” once they’re in bed.

 

Here’s how you do it:

 

  • Boil 2 cups water and bring it a boil.
  • Slowly add a cup of Epsom salt until it is dissolved completely.
  • Then add 3tbsp liquid dish soap and allow the solution to cool.
  • Find a clean window and paint away! Using a paint brush or tissue, paint the solution on the window using a sweeping or stippling motion. Thicker layers will look like bigger icicles.
  • When the holiday season is over, you can wipe it clean with a towel or cloth.

Ice, Ice, Baby: Try this Easy Frosted Window Craft with Your Kids

Whether you string your lights up in a palm tree or a pine tree, I hope you enjoy the holidays, the decorating, and the weather!

 

Cricket Media Mama heard a rumor you can also create this ice-frosted window craft using beer, but she’s never managed to make the beer last long enough to find out if that version works.

 

Happily Ever Heifer

Every year we get one holiday catalog that trumps all others. You might think it’s the latest phonebook-sized toy catalog, but you’d be wrong. Our household anxiously awaits for the annual Heifer International catalog, because each holiday, my daughters pour over it deciding between cows, goats, sheep, donkeys rabbits, fish, and more.

 

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that while we do a lot of work at the local farm through 4H, we don’t actually live on a farm. So where does all this livestock we buy every year go? We send these animals to communities in impoverished areas who can use it.

 

My mother started my daughters on Heifers International when they were very young. She loved the idea of incorporating a donation in their name as part of their Christmas gift each year, and knowing what an animal lover my older daughter was (and still is), she picked this one as a good way to introduce the concept of charity. She allows my daughters to pick which animal they want to donate, and then as a Christmas gift to the girls, she buys them a stuffed animal of whatever they donated, so they can remember the good they did.

 

Empowering kids to provide input into donations is a wonderful way to turn them on to the concept of charity. And Heifer International outlines exactly how your donation will change a community. Do you donate chickens, which can provide an ongoing source of food by laying eggs? Do you help a community build a foundation of income with a donation of llamas to provide wool that can be sold? Do you invest in bees, which not only provide honey and beeswax to sell, but can also improve fruit and vegetable yields?

 

To me, this type of program teaches so many good lessons. You’re not just giving, you’re empowering a family or community. And your gift is sustainable. In addition to providing a variety of resources to eat or sell, most animals are donated sets, so the animals create more animals. Further, thanks to the way the Heifer International catalog relays personal stories, you learn about how dramatically one donation can make an impact. Much like FACES Magazine, you get an inside look at an international family or community and how they live. It’s amazing to understand the difference a set of ducks can make to a family in Bangladesh. My daughters have gone from choosing the “cutest” animals to donate, to reading each story and picking the donation made to the profiled family they like best, to really considering the long-lasting impact of the gift, and choosing the donation that does the greatest and most enduring good (wipes tear).

 

Editor’s Note: Another way to help your children do good for others is through Cricket Media’s Double the Giving program. Just have them pick out the subscription they want for themselves and Cricket Media will donate another subscription to one of two worthy organizations, Libraries Without Borders (LWB) or Parent-Child Home Program, who will get it to a child in an underserved community. Find out more at www.doublethegiving.com.

 

Cricket Media Mama also loves the idea of donating and wonders where she can donate 11+ years of stuffed animals in the shape of cows, bees, guinea pigs, geese, ducks, fish, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, llamas, rabbits, and tons of others.