Thursday, October 23, 2008

Building Meaningful Family Traditions

What is a tradition?
tradition Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
tra·di·tion /trəˈdɪʃ ən/ [truh-dish-uh n] –noun
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
6. Theology.
a. (among Jews) body of laws and doctrines, or any one of them, held to have been received from Moses and originally handed down orally from generation to generation.
b. (among Christians) a body of teachings, or any one of them, held to have been delivered by Christ and His apostles but not originally committed to writing.
7. Law. an act of handing over something to another, esp. in a formal legal manner; delivery; transfer.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME tradicion < OF < L trāditiōn- (s. of trāditiō) a handing over or down, transfer, equiv. to trādit(us), ptp. of trādere to give over, impart, surrender, betray (trā-, var. of trāns- + -ditus, comb. form of datus given; see ) + -iōn- ]

What are Family Traditions?
A family tradition can be handed down from generation to generation, or a newly created practice. All that really matters is that the practice of your tradition creates positive feelings and is repeated at regular intervals.

The Value of Family Traditions
Why have Family Traditions at all? These practices and beliefs cultivate a connection, feelings of warmth and closeness between immediate family members and between generations. By spending time together in a fun and special setting, family members grow closer.
An effective tradition promotes a sense of unity, a family or group identity and a feeling of belonging. As a result of the predictability of the tradition, they can also aid in creating a feeling of safety and security within the family.

“Regular participation in meaningful traditions helps families overcome an inclination toward what family scholars call "entropy." In the physical sciences, entropy is the tendency of a physical system to lose energy and coherence over time, such as a gas dissipating until it's all but gone. As Doherty explains, an "entropic family" is one that loses its sense of emotional closeness because members neglect the family's inner life and community ties.” – Forever Families.

The Practical side of Traditions
*Aim for a moderate number of traditions.
*Establish new traditions.
*Make sure you have spiritual traditions.
*From time to time, evaluate your traditions. To make sure your traditions are working for your family, it's a good idea for families occasionally to identify and evaluate traditions they already have and make plans to add new ones.

Common Family Traditions adapted from
*For birthdays, each family member chooses his or her favorite menu, then everyone except the birthday person helps prepare the meal.
*For religious or historical figures the family especially admires, celebrate that person's birthday. *Saturdays are Dad's day to make breakfast with the kids.
*Take turns choosing a topic of discussion at the dinner table.
*Have a special dinner plate to be used by a family member who has a reason to celebrate.
*Tell a story every night before bed.
*Keep a family journal, letting everyone write in it.
*Establish your own holidays, such as an "Unbirthday Party."
*Watch movies that explore the value of traditions, such as "Fiddler on the Roof."

For Thanksgiving
*Help serve food at a homeless shelter or invite those without families of their own to dinner.
*Place five candies on each dinner plate, then for every piece of candy have each person at the table say one thing they are thankful for.

Christmas/Hanukkah Traditions
*Have each member of the family draw a name of another member and make a handmade gift for that person.
*Collect or make one ornament each year that has special meaning to the family.
*Have the children write letters to Santa and place them in their stockings. Write letters in reply from Santa commending each child for his or her good behavior that year.
*As a family, make gingerbread houses, candy trains, or ornaments.
*As a family, put up Christmas/Hanukkah decorations, decorate the tree or light the menorah as a family, making it an event with music and good food.
*Visit neighbors singing the songs of the season, and give a small gift to the people you visit.
*Enjoy time playing dreidels and eating latkes and other traditional festivities of the Hanukkah season.
*Drive around the neighborhood looking at lights and listening to Christmas music.
*Collect Christmas stories and read them to small children.
*Each year, add a special emblem to stockings signifying an important event from that year.
*Give the Lord the gift of a personal improvement goal for next year. Write it on a piece of paper, place it in the manger, read it next Christmas or Hanukkah, and evaluate progress.

New Year's Traditions
*Go winter camping. Make a fire and share stories and memories from the past year.
*Leave shoes outside for the baby New Year to fill with candy and small toys.
*Re-hang your stockings for a refill.
*Set resolutions for the family as a whole.

Valentine's Day Traditions
*Draw names for secret pals the week before Valentine's Day. Perform small acts of service and kindness for that person, then reveal your identities on Valentine's Day.
*Make heart-shaped cookies and give them to those in your neighborhood or congregation who are alone.
*Have a red dinner with red jello, red mashed potatoes, beets, cherry cake, etc.
*Call relatives and tell them you love them.

Easter Traditions
*Visit the graves of family members early in the morning and talk about Jesus Christ's resurrection.
*Dye Easter eggs together.

My family has created many traditions over the years, some work, some don’t. As we find things that work for us, we hang on to them. These special events in our family make special memories and creating new traditions gives my kids an opportunity to try new things within the safety of our family.

Give it some thought. It is a marvelous mommy-ful life!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting...

Coming Soon to DVD Movie Review
Kung Fu Panda

Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan, Wayne Knight
Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Running Time:
92 min.
PG for sequences of martial arts action.

DreamWorks is known for animated entertainment that attracts both youngsters and their parents. Kung Fu Panda certainly had a little something for everyone.
Kung Fu Panda follows the adventures of a portly panda named Po (Jack Black) as he attempts to find his destiny as the legendary Dragon Warrior.

Po is the unlikely child of a duck (James Hong), and he longs to escape his "destiny" as a great soup chef. With an opportunity to meet his heroes the Furious Five (he has all the action figures), he attempts to skip out on his duties in order to attend the naming of the Dragon Warrior. His father makes Po take a soup cart to the palace, which sits atop a tremendous number of stone steps.

In a funny sequence, Po ends up face-first on the floor of the courtyard with the enigmatic ancient turtle Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) decreeing that Po, and not Tigress (Angelina Jolie) is the new Dragon Warrior.

The Furious Five turn against him which ultimately forces Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to teach Po how to become a true kung fu master.

The film features the vocal talents of a number of well-known actors and actresses. Jack Black takes the lead with Po. Dustin Hoffman gives a strong performance as Shifu, Ian McShane lends his voice to Tai Lung, and Jackie Chan gave Monkey his voice, Seth Rogen speaks for Mantis, Lucy Liu hissed as Viper and David Cross plays Crane, and Angelina Jolie is hard to recognize audibly as Tigress.

The underlying story of seeking inner peace and finding the Dragon Warrior in each of us provides a bit of meat to chew on in an otherwise light film.

My eight year old son thoroughly enjoyed the film at a free showing at my college campus and is anxiously awaiting the DVD release for another opportunity to enjoy the movie.

To be released November 9, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray
It is a marvelous, mommy-ful life!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sunday's View - Differences

dif·fer·ent /ˈdɪf ər ənt, ˈdɪf rənt/
not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar: The two are different.

not identical; separate or distinct: three different answers.

various; several: Different people told me the same story.

not ordinary; unusual.
[Origin: 1350–1400; ME < AF < L different- (s. of differéns), prp. of differre.

Different doesn’t have to mean bad. We have a tendency to vilify differences in others. It is a difficult thing to remain open minded and accepting when you have strong convictions of your own.

Over the years I have come to realize that things that make us different can be strengths rather than weaknesses. My husband tends to view things in very literal black and white terms, while I can see those gray areas and enjoy thinking outside the box. This pronounced difference in the way we view the world can cause conflicts and make things lively when we have discussions. After those discussions we can form a united perspective that is a marriage of the two views, a compromise in the middle ground.

Though I have used an example from my marriage as an illustration, the ability to accept and embrace differences is an important life skill used in the workplace, in community groups and at home. As a mom, the ability to see and celebrate the differences in my children rather than comparing them to one another prevents a lot of sibling resentment. No one wants to live in the shadow of a superstar sibling while their own special – different – talents go unsung.

These pretty pumpkins were captured on film while my youngest son and I enjoyed the fall festivities at Matthys Farm Market in South Bend. It was a grand time! We had the opportunity to tour the petting zoo, take a hayride, select a pumpkin, shop at the farm market and eat an elephant ear. My eight year old son was awed by his first experience with an elephant ear…good stuff. He might even want to have another one sometime, especially now that he knows they aren’t really ears at all! I am just in awe of the fact that he was willing to try it when he was worried about the whole ear thing=)

Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, trust in Your Creator and have a wonder-full day. It is a marvelous, mommy-ful life!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

50 Most Powerful Blogs....what I like and why

As you know I occasionally have to bow to an assignment for this blog. This time we are taking a look at the “50 Most Powerful Blogs”

We were supposed to pick our three favorites and tell why we were drawn to them.

Favorite # 1 Chez Pim
I love this blog! Pim chronicles her travels and gives recipes and cooking advice and shares a lot of pictures. I have a passion for travel and I am always seeking new recipes to try out on my hubby and kids.

Favorite #2 Chocolate and Zuchini
I took French in high school and then in college. I was drawn to this blog because it promised more recipes to try and I came back because it delivered recipes and also a glimpse into French life.

Favorite #3 TMZ
Shame on me…guilty pleasure of celebrity gossip. I know it is wrong, but I can’t help it. I want to know all those nitty gritty details of the lives of my favorite celebs.

So go on, check out my faves and check out the whole list!!

It is a marvelous, mommy-ful life!

Welcome and Greetings - Intro. Post

This blog was born out of a requirement for one of my English courses…W315 – Writing for the Web. I hope you will join me as I chronicle my juggling act as a mom, wife, college student, full time employee, aspiring author, etc. I will regale you with - the highs and lows; trials, tribulations and triumphs; some favorite, well-loved recipes, and anecdotes from my crazy busy life juggling all those roles.

I have been a wife for nearly 18 years and have been a mother for 17 years. Working outside the home for the majority of those years, I am an old hand at juggling the demands and busy-ness of life as a working mom.

In 2006 I added another iron to the fire and returned to college to obtain a degree. Just this year I faced the challenge of seeing my oldest child off to school away from home. My first little one has flown the nest. My middle child, a band geek of huge proportions, has marching band practice and scads of homework nearly everyday, my youngest child, still in elementary school, needs a lot of homework help and supervision. In addition, I decided to add writing for the college newspaper to my routine. So far, so good and thank God for my very patient and supportive husband.

It is a marvelous, mommy-ful life!