Opening Today’s Gift Part 2

Love in a Can
Love in a Can (Photo credit: ohsohappytogether)

When I tune in to the latest news headlines and hear stories about a young, successful and promising Olympian killing his girlfriend, towns being paralyzed by mother nature’s merciless outpouring of winter snow storms, and mortar shells exploding and killing innocent bystander in Damascus, Syria, I have to pause because it’s too much to process at one time. The local and world news today is difficult to digest when you have a conscience. Most of all, I shutter at the thought of having to raise my children to some day let go of my hand and enter into this same precarious world on their own accord.

With our children’s hands gently placed in ours for the present time, I created Familymill so that you and I would not easily forget the value and importance of these days. I created Familymill to give others a sense of sanity when sanity has nearly been lost, to give parents, children, husbands and wives, etc. a safe shelter to come to and find something warm, welcoming and soothing to the human spirit awaiting them.

I say all of this because I too experience the demands of days filled with pressure, stress, and everyday obstacles to overcome. However, that has not kept me from enjoying the opening of today’s gift!  I hope that you will try to remember with me that life can still be lovely and every bit of beautiful even when it is not easy. Simply focus on the gift of just having this day which is opening now for you!

I love when I get to hold a brand new baby or when my friend and I can put a smile on each other’s face after experiencing pain, or dedicating an hour to a math assignment with my short-tempered son only to find that it all paid off with a great test grade. We all have to endure the bad, but while we are enduring the bad, let’s agree to never take our eyes off of “the gift”.

Finally, as I’m working through the same struggles and delights as you, one thing that always helps is knowing that today’s gift is made for sharing and not going through these ups and downs alone. So, for now and for later, enjoy your days, keep experiencing life in new ways, and your journey will be one that dreams are made of!!!

~ Cece

Staying Warm with Great Reads for Young and Old Alike

Reading lists come by the dozens, but I fell in love with this list because they are all favorites of mine that have lit up my children’s world, not to mention opening up a world of exploring and enriching dialogue between myself and the growing fabric of my life…..my lovely children!

7 Children’s Books Every Adult Should Own | SMOSH.

It’s been awhile since my return to Familymill.   I’m not sure who may have chosen to hang around in case I did return, but thank you for being here now! Stay warm and snuggle up on this wintry holiday weekend and maybe share one of these tales or two with the kids! The time spent will surely bring about some food for thought conversations and also warm your spirits too!

It’s great to be home!

Cece

Attitudes of Gratitude

“There are two wMD_Happy_Mothers_Dayays to  live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

I believe that motherhood is definitely one of the most beautiful miracles there is to behold! If you are a mom, I want to wish you a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day!!! ~ Cece

A Prayer for Accuracy As We Fight for Protection

Speaking Out Against Gun Violence
Speaking Out Against Gun Violence (Photo credit: ct senatedems)

I’ve chosen to write about this subject not out of desire but more so to voice concern because the problem we face today with finding an answer to gun control and violence simply affects us all and can’t be ignored. Call me paranoid if you’d like, but I have a tendency to scan my surroundings these days a lot more closely than I use to because of being haunted by all of the stories of gun violence that have taken up residence around us and our families.

I actually prefer to camp out at home or make a simple trip to a friend or relative’s house on any given evening rather than spending  it at an over crowded mall or outdoor venue. I prefer it because I know the crowd, and I don’t have to be concerned that a fight or shooting is going to break out over spilled nachos or stepped on toes! The move toward stricter gun control regulations has been in the rear view mirror for quite some time.  But, what really concerns me is, “Do the people who are making and pushing for new gun control laws to be passed really know anything about how guns are purchased in the first place, not by the common law citizen, but by the criminal minded individuals who have brought us to where we are today?”

English: Arthur Renowitzky, otherwise known as...
Arthur Renowitzky, in a wheelchair because of gun violence.

One article by  Stephanie Pappas made a very good point that new gun control regulations can do little to nothing about the whopping 300 million guns that are already in circulation within the United States. Yes, this is a very scary thought, and not one to take lightly. What we certainly don’t want to see is the law-abiding citizens unable to purchase a gun while those with intent to harm can continue getting weapons by the dozens. In the study done by Dr. Eric Fleegler on dissecting whether or not gun laws really prevent deaths. He compared the number of gun deaths with the number of gun safety laws in each state. The laws were divided into five categories and each state could score from a 0 to 28 depending on the number of laws enforced. The state that scored the lowest for gun control regulations was Utah which had a zero, while Massachusetts came in at 24, which was the highest. Although more thorough research needs to be done, it is worth while to report that states within the top 25% of gun legislation had a 42% reduction in gun deaths compared with states who were at the lower 25 % and had a 70% increase in gun violence. Fleeger points out that he can’t prove that the gun laws are the cause of the lower rates of gun violence, but the findings are definitely worth further investing.

The rapper, Snoop Dog, has even joined the move for more gun control by releasing a new song called , “No Guns Allowed,” in response to the Sandy Hook school shootings. He hopes that his lyrics, if heard by someone thinking about taking a gun to school, will cause them to stop and “think about what he was doing.”  He went on to say how easy it is for a person to get their hands on a gun including himself, and “it shouldn’t be that easy.” The truth is that young people, guns and gang violence have been going on for years, but suddenly now, it’s been decided to crack down on an issue that has taken its toll and has taken the lives of far too many innocent victims.

During the recent large-scale victory of the democratic gun bills in Colorado, the  state where at least two mass shootings occurred including the Aurora movie theater shooting 8 months ago, and in 1999, Columbine High School, there were many sighs of relief.  Governor John Hickenlooper just days ago signed the bills that will take effect July 1, 2013 for universal background checks to include gun purchases between private parties and sales that occur online. A fee will also be required for these background checks. There is also now a limit on ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. One thing is clear, it’s a desperate time, and it has caused us to turn to desperate measures to prevent anymore heart wrenching tragedies like the ones that have occurred over that past 15 years. Ivan Moreno writes, “Colorado lawmakers succeeded while members of their party stumbled in other states.”

Many of these new bills are a shot in the dark to try to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands. However, at least, efforts are being made. Gun shop owners and advocates need to understand that when human lives are at stake, these types of compromises don’t kill anyone.  Guns, however, do when placed in the wrong hands.  These laws are a step in the right direction, and until we see an end to the random acts of violence that continue to spread throughout cities and communities both big and small, both rural and urban, we all must take notice, we all must take precautions, and we all must take more time to care about what is going on beyond our own backyard because as we have witnessed, no one is immune from being a victim of gun violence.  Let us arm ourselves in good sense and prayer that together, we can take back our communities and make them more safer now than ever before!

Don’t Just Give Parental Guidance, See The Movie

There’s always a first for everything! Today it’s Familymill’s first ever movie review! My children and I love to enjoy great family films together, and I’m guessing so do you and yours! Therefore, I thought I’d share my recent experience taking my son and his four energetic friends to see the movie, Parental Guidance, for his 9th birthday celebration. It was not only a film that was packed with laughs, it was also packed with great thought provoking moments that would make a mom, dad or grandparent quickly realize why we dedicate so much of our time to our kids and grandkids and why it’s so important to keep trying even when we sometimes make mucho grande mistakes! The important thing is to never stop learning from our encounters and to never stop loving our sometimes frustrating and more often fabulous Familymill!

Parental-Guidance_01

The movie centers around grandparents who don’t get to see their daughter nor their 3 grandchildren very often so they agree to come to town to babysit for a week while the parents take a long overdue trip away. Only, the daughter has very little faith in her parent’s ability to manage the children. Also, her modern day parenting techniques are rather difficult for her parents to abide by, especially her father. In the end, everyone learns a valuable lesson about the value of forgiveness, second chances, and giving our children room to figure out some of life’s issues on their own. I give Parental Guidance a Familymill Five Thumb Rating from my son and each of his friends!!!! Not only was it entertaining, it was clean and free from the 3 v’s: violence, vampiness and vulgar language! Most people don’t take notice of closing credits, but I happen to love the song called Home by Phillip Phillips which was played during the credits along with real pictures of the actors who starred in the film and their real families, a lovely touch!!! It’s nice to know that Hollywood, on occasion, does still know how to make movies that the whole family can enjoy with few edgy scenes and maybe even take home an extra lesson or two about the great value of family life in the process.

A great site that I often turn to in order to help me decide whether or not a movie is safe for family viewing is The Dove Foundation movie reviews. They also thought highly of Parental Guidance and gave it a 4 out of 5 dove rating. So, grab the popcorn and a comfy seat, and enjoy a good movie that’s worth the receipt!

Cece Schantz

Braving The Arctic In 2013 & Valuing the Layers of Parental Protection

polar bars
http://onlyhdwallpapers.com

We were finally hit with our first big snowfall, and my kids are loving it! My 3-year-old loves it most of all. He can’t wait to climb to the center of the Arctic Circle in our back yard, hop on his sled and then glide downwards like a bolt of lightning.

If you have young children who love snow, you know that the process of getting them properly dressed for the Arctic-like elements is no simple task. Yet, if they are going to enjoy their time out in the snow, it is well worth it to apply the proper protection. In our house, no one is permitted out the door unless they have at least three layers of clothing on including: socks, shirts, and pants. Also, they are required to have on a snow suit, a hat, scarf, thick gloves and boots. Once they are completely suited up, you could bounce a quarter off of one of their well-cushioned bodies, and it would travel clear across the room.

When I think about getting ready for the new year, it’s much like getting suited up to brave the cold winter elements, only the preparation work consists of getting our minds rather than keeping our bodies protected. The idea of suiting up for what’s around the corner should not be taken lightly. You and I have to do more than hope that our children will succeed and make good choices, we have to be their guide. Being a young child’s guide does not equate to being their friend!

If you’ve ever watched the first film in the Nanny McPhee series, she explains to the children that: when they don’t want her, but need her, she will remain with them. But, once they no longer need her, but want her, she will have to go! It’s similar to the job of raising and training our children for the day that they will leave the nest and live on their own. Our children often don’t want our input and guidance, and in an effort to be “cool parents,” we sometimes allow them more freedom than they can handle, leading the way for new troubles to enter the picture!

Our children need to know that being their buddy is not our role or obligation as parents. Instead, we have as our primary obligation to train them to be productive, respectful people, and also, to protect them from anyone or anything that could cause them harm. One of the very first lessons children need to be taught once they are old enough to understand is the importance of following rules and guidelines that are in place for their own good and protection. If they, for example, decide to remain out in the snow without the proper protection, they will freeze and cause damage to their skin.

The same occurs when our children are not covered by parental protection. There is usually a cost to not holding each child closely under our parental wings. In the true Arctic, the baby polar bears literally follow their mother’s every move because they know that they can not survive without her. Also, the mother polar bear, not only diligently watches over her cubs, she would not think twice about standing in front of them and protecting them from danger even if it meant sacrificing her own life to save them from predators. Our cubs too, are in need of the same type of protection even when they seem to be doing fine on their own. The ice is often thin and though out of sight, predators are never far off. They prowl around in search of stealing the innocence of our children when they are left standing alone.

As we suit our children up each day to brave the elements, know that every child will be in need of his or her own custom suit of protection. This is because we are all prone to very different weaknesses and lures. So, put your parental knowledge to work in this new year. Before you go out and brave the elements, make sure that everyone is covered with plenty of protection so that your children will be trained to find victory in the year to come in whatever battles or snow storms come their way! Happy New Year!

Cece

Election Day and Politics in a Family Friendly Nutshell

Driving home from the gym, my 8-year-old asks why one candidate  is always bashing the other? Then, he states who he would vote for and asks me if I plan to do the same! While, I have shared my views with him in the past, I simply said, “I think I’ll vote for you!” He laughed and said he would like to be President one day! “That would be awesome,” I said.  I choose not to make a big deal about who I am voting for to the impressionable little minds that are in my care because I want them to not just be informed voters one day, but I want them to be OBJECTIVE, informed voters! I know that I hold a lot of influence as a parent, and that’s great.  However, I think it would be selfish of me to not clue my children in on the entire political picture, don’t you?

I see it all around me, kids being raised as clones of their parents.  Sorry, I would rather have independent thinkers who know why they stand firm in a belief rather than just going through the motions because their parents told them what they should think,  but give them no foundation to go along with the judgemental opinions they’ve been taught.  Moreover, in my small opinion, simply telling our children who’s the best political party or candidate and why leaves them no room to formulate their own thoughts on this matter or any other! If we as parents do our jobs when it comes to teaching core values along with respect for ourselves and others then our children will naturally be able to formulate respectable voting decisions someday!

During our family conversations about the Presidential Election and other elections, we simply discuss the pros and cons behind each candidate in order to formulate an individual opinion on which candidate would best meet the needs of the office he or she is running for.  Now, isn’t that the way it’s suppose to be done?

It’s been horrifying to see such division and slander among the citizens of this nation at election time! What we have to keep in mind most are the issues! If you look closely enough at the past performance of each candidate, this will tell you where each candidate will most likely take us in the future.  It is not race, gender, nor economic status that should be the deciding factors when it comes time to cast our ballot for a particular candidate.  So, take time to listen and learn and leave biased opinions behind, and hopefully, it will lead to a nation of solidarity in which we respect our elected officials whether we voted for them or not. At the same time, we paint a picture for our children that this nation will only stay strong by its citizens and politicians working together to find solutions today so that they will inherit a great foundation for which to build upon tomorrow!

Cece

The Priceless Benefits of Picky Prioritizing

When we often make things a priority that should not be it causes our days to spiral out of control. These thoughts came to mind as guilt slowly crept up behind me for not squeezing in my kindergartener’s Halloween Party although I would be at my 1st graders party later that same day!

The thing is, I had a whole slew of other priorities to take care of, and she did not seem at all disturbed when I broke the news to her. This was odd because she usually demands my presence the most out of all of our children. I’ve learned that when this kind of unexpected cooperation is encountered, it’s best to just go with it! How many times do we put extras on our plate in an attempt to help others, when it’s us who could use a hand? It was clear, that I was not meant to be there. So, I went with that. And, the prioritizing payoff was: a super savory anxiety free day all because I cut out the nonsense and did what made sense for once! I hope you’ll do the same!

Cece

Love Never Fails

So much has happened this past week that it’s hard to focus on any one thought for more than a moment.   I lost a parent just days ago, my step-father to be exact. His health had been poor for quite some time. Part of the sadness comes from the fact that a decision had to be made on whether to keep him on life support or remove it and allow him to decline at will. It was a unanimous decision that he be removed from life support because no one wanted to see him go on suffering with no quality of life.

The thing that was the most amazing about all of this was not the fact that we were all in agreement on something,  but what was amazing was the healing that would soon transpire among the family members present that day.  Some of us had not spoken in years; however, because of the love we shared for my step-father, along with the shared desire to see him no longer suffering, a peace that surpasses all understanding was present as we took turns talking, praying and bringing comfort and love to his bed side during his last hours.  This was unquestionably, one of the most trying experiences one could ever have, yet we all parted with a new found love and awareness of the wounds that were miraculously healing because each of us surrendered our resentment to let love find it’s ways and bring peace to a barren and broken place.

The love and compassion that we often show our relatives because a family member is dying should not only be shown for the moment, it should be an engrained part of the fabric that makes up each day of our lives together. The odds for most families in our shoes are high that we will fall back into the same patterns and never speak again.  It will be only by the determination of our hearts and the love that we allow ourselves to release that we will continue to see that same healing power at work in our lives continuously. There is always a greater purpose than just ourselves to band together without allowing our own pride and self-indignation to get in the way. That greater purpose is L-O-V-E. We invest so much time preparing the next generation to have successful careers, but invest little to nothing teaching them how to love, value, and preserve the root of their family so that the strength of the family tree will live on. This would be why, sadly, so many families are broken apart.

It was like my father was sending a love letter straight to our hearts as he departed from this earth in the hopes of bringing about the joy and peace among his family that, for so long was missing.  I’m just glad that we each had the ears to hear his letter, and I only hope that we will have the hearts to continue carrying it out.

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

~ Mother Teresa

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