Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seeing The Good in Others: a necessary daily struggle

To see the good in people requires practice and is taught by example. During a morning retreat I attended last week, the priest said "...sometimes you don't see any virtues in your husband, (your wife) or your children. What has probably happened is that the virtues you once saw have become "invisible" with time; you became used to them. It is also a common occurrence that what you perceive to be a defect is not really a defect, it is just the way they are".

To live with charity within family relationships is very hard; it is a daily struggle. It consists of trying not to see the defects in others, but rather focusing on their virtues and trying to see the multiple defects in ourselves.

If your husband or wife did had not have any virtues when you met them, you probably would not have married them. Sometimes it is easier to only see the big sacrifices I make - and to repeat constantly to everybody what I do for all of them every day. It is harder to stop for a moment and contemplate the sacrifices the others around me make and the way they try to be better everyday.

You have to have at least ten minutes of peace and quiet to sit down, think and analyze your relationship as mother (father), wife (husband) and friend and interpret the different ways of communications between man and women. Women use gestures, postures and an indirect message; men, they go straight to the point.

Women keep going over and over on the same message, interpreting what he or she was trying to say, or should have said; men take the message literally and move on.

We should never criticize, stone wall or act with contempt. It will be used against us sooner or later. Look at the positive side in the people around you, no matter how hard it may sometimes be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Plans, Again

There are 12 weeks of summer vacation. Our children's ages range from 15 years old to 4 years old. Both of us are working parents and with no nanny at the moment, this could be a challenge...

This is how we will try to plan this summer - in no particular order after week 2:

Week 1: Re-learning to live all together in the same house without school. Sharing the TV, the favorite spot on the couch, organizing meal times, etc. Usually our schedules differ, so the 7 of us can be together only at dinner. We divide chores and responsibilities very roughly, like each one is in charge of fixing their room, making their own bed, while I fix meals and do laundry. If I have a work meeting, big ones should drop their personal plans and babysit until I come back. This routine will go on for the whole summer.

Week 2: Summer closet cleaning / social awareness. Check for clothes that don't fit or are damaged, so we can repair them or give them away. Get rid of papers, books and thing that they don't need or work anymore. It is great week to promote social awareness, visit homeless shelters, orphan homes and hospitals. Usually it gives better results if they invite one or two friends to do it together with us.

Week 3: Mom's camp for the little ones. Mom's camp is an idea that a friend of mine gave us. You group 5 other moms of your children friends and each one pick one day of the week to come pick your child up and plan the day as she sees fit. It could be from ice skating, to a beach day with a picnic, taking them to the movies, or a water park. The only rule is that each mom arranges what the 5 kids are going to do for that day according to their budget. Anything works. That way you have 1 day per kid. Usually I am in charge 3 days with 3 different groups and have 2 free days.

Week 4: Free schedule, no rush, no planning, just free time to do whatever they want do and maybe get a jump start on their summer reading... Paint with chalk on the sidewalk, do a bake sale or lemonade stand, car wash, etc...

Week 5 and 6: Family trip for two weeks. Destination to be determined by the parents with input from the children and could be split into several shorter trips, budget permitting.

Week 7: Free week... rest. No big plans: play at the pool or ride bike, simple unplanned, fun things.

Week 8 and 9: My Cozy Cooking Camp. I run this "summer camp" at home. I invite 8 friends of my children. My children are the helpers and get paid for their work and their friends come and pay for materials. The sessions go from 10am to 1pm. I teach them good manners, menu planning, recipes, home matters and we do crafts and board games...It is fun!

Week 10: Focus on friends and family; trips to local parks, ride bike, go to the beach, go to see a family movie.

Week 11 and 12: Swimming summer camp for the little ones. Recharge batteries before school starts. For older ones they go to a two week warm-up math class at school in the mornings, free afternoons.


There is no particular science to this. Overall, try not to micro manage every waking moment and give them free time to play on their own and be creative!