Posts tagged childhood
The Challenge of 18 Summers
Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

"Next year, he's off to college, and this is his last real summer at home. I don't know yet what we're going to do. I feel all this pressure, and I want to make it special, make the most of it."

My oldest is only 10, but I felt that same heart pang. I saw the softness in this mother's eyes--she, the amazing parent of eight children, ranging ages 3 to 18--as we chatted during t-ball team pictures. How do we make the most of the time we have with our children, while they're still at home?

I feel that pang a lot when it comes to childhood summers. I want so much the continual carpe diem experiences for my children. The bliss of chasing butterflies matched with the incredible camp that opens their eyes to new possibilities. The right amount of boredom to find the space to create their own adventures. The time making family memories together and traveling to see new places.

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now." - Paulo Coelho

And, much like the mom that I was chatting with, I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

So how do we do it? Provide the planning and energy to make memories happen and mix it with the ease and the relaxation to allow spontaneity at its best.

Frankly, I'm not sure. I'll likely stress about it and not do enough BUT nevertheless I'm inviting you into our summer journey to try some bucket list activities, to relive some of the joyful activities of our own childhoods, and to experiment with new projects! For newsletter subscribers, I'll send a supply list every Friday so you can join along and preview future ideas. No worries, most projects will include easy items you have right in your home.

And I want to see what you're up to with your children, from infant to college age. How do you make the most of the summer together? Share your tweets and photos using the hashtag #18summerschallenge, and I'll repost select ideas to help us all!! And don't forget to share and to subscribe to be a part of the best summer of childhood.

We can do this, enjoy our times together and make them memorable. Cheers to a wonderful summer ahead.

xoxo, MJ



Texting and Children: What to do

I was away on Tuesday, sorry to miss you all! I was away from my husband and children for the night. My kids had the day off from school, and my husband took the day off to hang with them. They enjoyed bookstores and the movies, and I was missing out.

During my morning activity, I received a series of texts back and forth from both of my daughters. They went something like what you see to the right.

Love notes. Check ins. Even silly jokes.

Their messages totally made my day, and I thought about how glad I am that my seven- and nine-year old children have Ipods and text me.

And then I hesitated. Wait, what? I'm glad that my kids are texting?

Insert moral mom dilemma.

Oh, geez, is this good for them? What does this mean for their budding communication skills? Are they focused on what's going on around them or are they zoned into a device?

I try to limit my kid's screen time, generally. No one can take their device to school, and the kids ask us before they take them anywhere outside the house.

If I'm being honest about it, I love getting their texts. It's another tool in the belt for seeing inside their minds, another avenue to talk about what's on their minds. As long as it doesn't dominate or even become a majority of communication, let's meet each other there, too. How can we as parents use this form of communication to help foster positive relationships and parenting with our digital kids? 

Research and data isn't everything, but I'm prone to lean my ear toward it. Here are some interesting aspects to digital communication with our kids, tweens, and teens. 

Industry research shows that 61 percent of those on the internet are 3-11-years old, and a full 22 percent of children 6-9-years old have their own cell phone (whoa).

Between the ages of 8 and 13, kids are developing key relationship and communication skills, and typically want to spend as much time as they can with peers. Technology just gives them new ways to do that. Texting, in particular, seems tailor-made for the tween psyche. Not only does it allow users to perma-connect with their social group, it also gives them all sorts of new ways to either include others (by sharing peeks at the screen or using slang) or exclude them (by typing silently while next to Mom on the couch).

Danah Boyd, Microsoft researcher and fellow of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, notes that there are a number of reasons why kids aren't connecting with one another the way we used to (with lack of neighborhoods, busy after school schedules, worn out children).

The difference is that when we were kids, we got on our bikes and checked in every once in awhile at home but weren’t expected to be connected to parents all the time. Young people just want to be with friends, and that is no different from any generation. But they have fewer opportunities to connect with friends.

I see that already with my kiddos. And I support strong friendships, not at the cost of family time or other communication, but I support them. Texting can only be an additional, and not the main, source of communication.

While the Pew parents were happy to be able to reach each other and their kids while apart, they were less likely to eat dinner as a family than were other households, and tended to report feeling dissatisfied with family and leisure time. A study by computer software maker Norton made a similar finding: When total time spent online increased beyond a certain point, both kids and parents reported feeling less connected.

So here are our general rules:

How do you do it? What are your guidelines? Do you text your kids?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Love these creative ways for teachers to incorporate texting into a lesson.



Lunchbox Notes

Eight or more hours away from home and at school can sometimes feel like eternity. A sweet note in your child's lunchbox can be a simple reminder that you're thinking of them. A silly joke can say have fun, relax, and laugh! I have an easy way for you to add extra love through #PC_lunchboxnotes.


Here's a simple way for you to be the cool mom or dad you always want to be (and give yourself a few chuckles in the process). Almost every weekday, I post jokes for you to copy (in your own handwriting) - even with a suggested doodle - and place it inside your child's lunch.

Look, parenting is hard enough. We've got to stick together. And I'm already making these so why not follow along and use what you like?

I've posted on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter my daily lunchbox notes to my children over the last year and a half. There's a whole 180 days (plus a few extra) out there for you to grab!

Over the year, as I've posted my ridiculous jokes and silly doodles, I've heard from a number of moms who would tell me that they stole my joke for their child's lunch that day.


And to that I say, "Steal more!" My hope in taking pictures of these notes is to make life a bit easier (and sillier) for all of us parents out there completing the rather mundane task of preparing a meal while thinking of our kids and wishing them laughter in their day.

Some parents have pulled up this hashtag #PC_lunchboxnotes during road trips. Others have pulled them out while waiting in the doctor's office. My own children now want me to post videos of them telling these jokes, as they practice their own social and relational techniques through humor.

Also, it should be noted that these jokes are not limited to children. Your spouse, your love, your mailman or neighbor might enjoy a corny riddle, too, so share the love and regram, retweet, and retell to your heart's desire!


Just follow along with Pars Caeli on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. I post two different jokes every week day so follow all of these for maximum possibilities!

If you're looking for another easy way to send a laugh here are 180 printable lunchbox notes from 320 Sycamore. I'm particularly smitten with her selection of knock knocks. And check out these Instagram notes that Camille featured. How cool would these be to receive?

Happy start of the school year, friends! There's no other time quite so energetic and hope-filled as this time of year for me. Sending some of that hope your way...

xoxo, MJ