Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

My Mom Wears Many Hats

I know many of my readers are parents of small children, or perhaps daycare providers. When I started this blog, my children were still rather young. That has changed. My younger daughter, Hannah, is heading to seventh grade next year, as tall as I am, and very smart. Sarah, as I mentioned in a previous post is headed for college. I still have reminders of the girls being little though. I’m so glad I have kept these seemingly simple pieces of paper and drawings. They really connect me to those younger years. Every once in a while, one I have forgotten about reappears. Such was the case last night. Sarah is doing some cleaning and organizing of our storage building. The following was on the table this morning. We believe it was from Mother’s Day when she was in 4th or 5th grade – judging from the writing and the things she says. Remember to put a date on things when you save them!!!

My mom wears many hats in our family.

My mom is a teacher. She taught me how to…. sew and quilt my very own quilt. She also taught me how to be responsible to stay home alone. My least favorite thing she taught me was to clean my room. P.S. its still not clean.

My mom is a chauffeur. She drives me to… chorus every Thursday. During basketball season to basketball every Tuesday. And to home from Girl Scouts every other Thursday.

My mom is a cook. I love it when she makes… hamburgers their (sic) always perfect. Chocolate cookies behir always extremely chocolate. Last her homemade pizza its always really cheesy.

My mom is an engineer. She can always fix…. my BIG and I mean big mistakes. She can also always fix me when I am bad. Last she can always fix my heart when it hurts.

My mom is a magician. She can always find lost things. Once she found… money in my pants along with my ring and watch. Then she found my take home folder which actually happened many times.

My mom is a nurse. She always makes me feel better when… she supports my thoughts and telling me I’m just as good as anyone else. Also when she makes me sleep when I’m sick.

My mom is the best mother in the world because… she can stand all this craziness day after day. Also because she can keep everything calm sometimes. Last because she lets me be so social and busy when she’s the driver.

#1 MOM!

I doubt I could get her to do this again, but I wonder what she would say now 8-9 years later. It is amazing to me the little things that you think don’t have any impact (driving to chorus, cheesy pizza, encouragement) that don’t seem like a lot at the time that obviously impact your child. Remember to make time to be present with your child every day! YOU make the difference.

 

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When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

The following verse was sent to me by my mom yesterday. Unfortunately, I do not know the original author. Please, if you know who wrote this verse, let me know so appropriate credit can be cited. This is so true and just confirms how important each of our jobs as parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, friend, example is. The children definitely are our future and our legacy.

WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN’T LOOKING

A message every adult should read because children
are watching you and doing as you do, no t as you say.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you feed a
stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I learned most of
life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I looked at you and
wanted to say, ‘Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn’t looking.’

Each of us (parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, friend)
influences the life of a child.

How will you touch the life of someone today? Just by
sending this to someone else, you will probably make
them at least think about their influence on others.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We made it! The preparation and anticipation are done. Now is the time to celebrate. We had a beautiful day with Greg’s parents, brother and a new friend from Rwanda yesterday ( he is a co-worker of my brother-in-law here without family). He speaks very good English but understands French better. Good thing Brian has a pocket translator. Tough to explain things like peppermint (candy canes) and pumpkin rolls but I think he enjoyed himself and I loved having him here.

I heard a song yesterday called, Your Last Childhood Christmas, I realized that this is Sarah’s. Next year, technically, she will only be visiting. Weird how the time seems to fly. Greg and I are celebrating our 20th Christmas together. That is more than I celebrated with my parents at home.

Well, the coffee is brewing, and Hannah is tormenting Sarah to get out of bed – “you can sleep in the car on the way to Grandma’s – get up – seriously – it’s Christmas”. So much for Peace on Earth:)

Merry Christmas – I have enjoyed writing this for the past 25 days. I hope I have new material after the holidays.

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T-2 Days to Christmas – Excitement and Anticipation

O Come O Come Emmanuel. The anticipation on the day before Christmas Eve has always been a immense for me. Growing up, Christmas Eve services were a huge part of our celebration – the choir cantata (which I endured as a small child – don’t tell me it was only 30 minutes long I KNOW it was longer than than and which I loved singing in as I got older), the candlelight service, the new dress and shoes, the telling of the Nativity story and the wide-eyed wonder of searching the skies for the brightest “Jesus” star on the way to Grandma’s house.

I attended a candlelight service last year on Christmas Eve and took Hannah with me. It was nice to revisit that experience from my past – though it has changed – now they use battery operated candles and there is no hot wax dripping through the hand guard because I didn’t leave it alone like Mom told me. The peace and serenity of singing ageless hymns of angels, shepherds and a beautiful baby boy tug at me and I’m hopeless to try to not cry.

But – with this peace and serenity comes EXCITEMENT, RAMBUNCTIOUSNESS, AND CRAZY – especially with children. I am teaching classes yet today and I know that I am going to have to bring my A game to the class. The energy levels are going to H-I-G-H HIGH! So, what’s a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, babysitter, caregiver to do? You have a ton of things you want to get finished, you want peace and serenity and maybe even a few tears, but these children are going WILD! Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy a bag of cotton balls – you can build miniature snow men, glue them on paper for a winter scene, blow them across the dining room table ( or a card table) with straws to play “hockey”, put them on a blanket or sheet and bounce them to music to create a snowfall in the living room.
2. Read a book – seriously, sometimes the wild wackiness comes from the feeling of need for attention. If we, as the adults, stop what we are doing, and focus – seriously focus – on the child for five to ten minutes it can buy us time later.
3. Begin your thank you notes. Write the following on a piece of paper:

Dear______________________
Thank you for the ______________________________. I appreciate you thinking of me.

Sincerely,

Make copies – have your child decorate with crayons, markers, stickers, glitter – whatever, and sign his/her name. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks – a good activity when the excitement of Christmas has worn off but they are still home on break.

4. Bake cookies for Santa, clean a carrot for Rudolph, make reindeer food (raw oats and sugar sprinkles).
5. QUIET TIME – Yep Miss Christa’s on her soap box again, but everyone needs to STOP for 3-5 minutes, dim the lights, quiet music playing in the background. Take DEEP breaths and relax.
6. Sing through your chores, teach your children the songs of your youth – be silly – yep even if you have to sing “Batman smells” (UGH I hate that verse). Don’t worry if you aren’t American Idol material. Your child loves to hear you sing.
7. Enlist their help – allow them to help dust, sort silverware, fold napkins, lick envelopes, fluff couch cushions etc. It doesn’t matter if the job really needs to be done or not, but children are naturally inclined to help if it makes them feel important. You will have to let go of PERFECTLY PERFECT tendencies and settle for good enough – but hey – if it buys you sanity it is worth it.
8. BREATHE – through it all just breathe deeply. Soon it will pass and these years of young craziness will pass sooner than you think. Someday you will miss it – seriously – I’m not kidding.

I wish you all an enthusiastic peaceful day – yep that’s what I meant. Only two more sleeps to Christmas. Have a great day!

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T-3 Days to Christmas – Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle

Time is flying as fast as….. reindeer. Only three days left until the joyous Christmas Day is here. I have been a part of some interesting conversations about Santa Claus this year. They have made me ponder what I believe, and have introduced me to some different ways of doing things, or thinking about things than we did with our children. I am not going to delve into those here. As with almost all aspects of parents, there are as many “right” ways of doing things, as there are mothers and fathers. This falls into the category of – if it works for you do it.

Instead, it made me kind of wonder about the history of Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas and so I decided to do some reading. Rather than quote lots of different sources here, I will share some interesting websites I found, in case, reader, you too are interested.

History of Santa in America<a The Real Saint Nicholas
I obviously have not done an exhaustive study, and have only searched using “St Nicholas History” in Google – it is three days before Christmas and, as fascinating as I find this, I still have preparation to do and am still teaching classes. BUT, what I have gleaned so far is that:
1. St Nicholas, Santa Claus etc – does have roots to some extent in Christianity.
2. There have been controversies over whether or not it is good to use him with children for hundreds of years. (See the Santa in America site)
3. Yes, there is a commercialism to the idea of Santa Claus, but there is also one of charity, philanthropy, hope and love.

As a child, I loved the concept of Santa Claus. I would listen for sleigh bells, gaze longingly into the Christmas Eve sky, and readily believe my dad when he told me an airplane’s lights was Rudolph’s nose. As an adult, I have great appreciation for the length my parents went to give my sister and I wonderful Christmas memories, surprises and treats. Looking back, I now realize that it probably wasn’t easy for them most years. There were many times dad was out of work, or funds were tight. We never thought we were missed by Santa though. As an adult, I love hearing students tell me what they have asked Santa for, and to watch their eyes light up when I play “Ho Ho HO” on the iPod. We do Breakfast with Santa with the band boosters each year, and it is so heartwarming to watch the children wave at him, sit on his lap, hang around to get his attention.

As a parent, I loved the brief time my children were innocent enough to wholeheartedly believe. I like to do special things for people, and tried to make that time extra special for them. I did things such as leaving them notes thanking them for the cookies, and, one year, we wrapped the living room entrance so they had to unwrap it to even see what was under the tree. I went to great lengths to use special wrapping paper for Santa gifts and, even though the gig is up in this house, there is still usually one or two unexpected gifts under the tree from ‘Santa’.

I would love to do a picture study of the ways his image has changed through history. Hmmmmm maybe if I take a day off over the break, I’ll surf around for those. In any case, just like St. Nicholas in the tale of Twas the Night Before Christmas allow me to wish a A Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Santa Claus – or your favorite memory of him.

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T-4 Days to Christmas – Cards

Several years ago, while I was still teaching public school, I decided that the best and easiest way to have a less stressful holiday season was to let go of doing the things that caused me the most stress. Christmas is not a test that we have to pass. We don’t get a grade at the end of the season for how well we completed all the tasks society has given us. For me, the first task that had to go was sending cards. I’m a hypocrite in this and admit it. I LOVE to get mail. I HATE to send it. I dislike looking up addresses, going and buying stamps, mailing things out.It irritates me. So, I quit sending cards.

Well, that’s not completely true, there are a few that I still send out because I choose to do so. But I do not have a list of 20 – 200 people that I never see or talk to that I feel it will ruin their Christmas season to not get a card from me. I send to those whom I have an interest in keeping in touch and faithfully send us cards – leading me to believe that it is important to them.

I also try to within the month of January write little notes to my students who bring me gifts. Children love mail and again – I’m doing it for them not because I think it is a necessary part of society’s holiday checklist.

That said, I do like to get cards and appreciate the ones we get. I especially enjoy getting the pictures of my students and of friends children. It is fun to see how they have grown and the unique and creative ways people put their cards together. For those I do not keep in touch with on Facebook or in real life, it is nice to hear from them. However, I can honestly say that I don’t think my holiday spirit would be diminished if everyone quit sending cards.

There are some neat things to do with cards after the holidays are over. Ever the crafter, we have turned them into gift tags for next year (cut out decorative parts with pinking shears or craft scissors), ornaments (cut out picture and glue on canning jar seals), picture books (laminate and punch holes in the side tying together with yarn). What else can you do with them? I’d love to hear from you.

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T-5 Days to Christmas – Ornaments and more decorations

I know I did a blog post on decorations before but today I thought I would share a slideshow of some of the most meaningful and treasured ornaments and decorations here at Chez Sigman. I think I love them most because I only see them for a few weeks a year. Soon after Christmas we will lovingly pack these away for another 11 months to be unwrapped as treasures as another year has passed. I’ve been playing iPhoto and my Photo Stream to do this. I can’t seem to figure out how to label the ornaments and such. The straw ones hanging on garland were brought back from Austria by our friend Holly Oberle.The little nativity in a walnut shell is probably my most treasured ornament – have had it since I was a very small child. The bell tree is one of my favorite gifts but my kids hate it. Enjoy.

Deck The Halls

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