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Dyeing Eggs

4 Apr

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Minding Your P’s and Q’s

20 Feb

Today’s guest blogger is one of our fantastic ‘Faculty’ members and also the owner of Etiquette Kansas City. We’re so excited to have Janis Kliethermes share some great information on manners we should teach and model for our kids.

National Manner’s Day is February 20, and what a great time to remind your children that good manners are timeless. By knowing and using proper etiquette your children will develop self-confidence and be a more successful adult.

However, the best way to instill good manners in your children is by setting a good example yourself. You can’t say one thing, and do another. A mother once asked me how to help her child that spoke too loudly and had a horrible habit of interrupting. It only took me a couple of minutes into the conversation with the mother to realize that the “fruit didn’t fall far from the tree!” Her son was communicating just as she had taught him!

Here are a few of the basics that will never become “old fashioned” and will help your children become comfortable in any social situation.

Table Manners – napkin on the lap, wait for everyone before beginning to eat, chew with your mouth closed, elbows off the table, cut your food properly, don’t reach, take small bites, sit up straight, try new things, and never complain that you don’t like something.

Conversation Manners – look people in the eye, speak loudly enough for them to hear you, ask questions about them, don’t dominate the conversation, don’t ask personal or controversial questions, and a smile on your face will go a long way.

Respecting Others Call adults by their last name, have a firm handshake, stand when an adult enters a room for the first time, open doors for others, give up your chair if needed, say I’m sorry and excuse me, remember please and thank you at all times.

Be a Gracious Guest –  Follow the rules of the house and don’t assume the rules in your house apply in someone else’s home, respect their property, don’t open doors that are closed, don’t be snoopy, clean up after yourself, thank the parents for having you.

Don’t forget to praise your children when they do remember their good manners. Most people respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative. If they only hear you nagging, they will eventually tune you out. Perhaps you reward your children on occasion when they demonstrate proper behavior.

I have never had a problem with bribery when it comes to kids as long as it’s not overused. “Girls, if you behave and mind your manners at the Conway house, we will go for ice cream later,” I said a few times. Of course, now they blame me for an addiction to ice cream, however their manners are pretty good!

Janis Kliethermes

Etiquette Kansas City

(816) 977-6182

To Our Children’s Children

23 Dec

Many, many years ago, my older brother video taped our grandfather telling his stories over cake and coffee in their apartment. It was fantastic, but I really wish there had been more footage and, I really wished we had interviewed my grandmother, too.

When my parents decided to sell our childhood home after 37 years, I interviewed my siblings about their memories of the house. Because I’m so much younger than them, I had no idea of the shenanigans that went on before my time! It’s a fantastic record of the history that went on in our house.

A few years before our father passed away, I went to visit him and my mom and decided that I would take some time to interview him. I was able to spend several days, covering six hours, interviewing him about his life. It was very informal and I used the book To Our Children’s Children* as a guide for questions. At this point, I haven’t done anything with the video but, hope someday to self publish a children’s book for my grandchildren. The arrival of my grandchildren is very far off but the time will allow me to go through the videos and record my family’s history for future generations. Although this interview may seem irrelevant to my kids now I know they will appreciate it in years to come.

This holiday, when your family gets together, set up an interview station in a quiet area of the house complete with a list of questions and directions on how to turn on the video camera. Ask everyone to take some time answering the questions. Not only will you have a family history, you will have a live recording of your relatives voice and personality. What a great way to capture your family’s roots.

*To Our Children’s Children is a book to assist you in interviewing friends and family about their personal history. The book is broken down into chapters by theme such as childhood, marriage, etc. It ask questions such as ‘Who were you named for?’ or ‘When did you get your first gray hair?’ It’s a serious yet clever way to get your family to open up about their lives.

Download our activity calendar here.

A Sunday Drive on a Tuesday

22 Nov

Do you remember Sunday drives? Those were the days when there were only three channels on the television, stores were closed, and families spent their time together at home, not on soccer fields. Now days, if we get behind someone on a Sunday drive frustration sets in and tempers flair.

I remember Sunday drives with my grandparents. We would pile into his spacious, Pepto-Bismol pink, Lincoln Continental and set off of an unknown destination. The seats were so low that my brother and I used to stand up to look out the windows as we meandered through neighborhoods or past the beach, just watching time go by. After an hour or so, my grandpa would head back to our house where my mom had cooked up delicious dinner that we would share as an extended family around the dining room table.

It’s not what we saw on our trips that I really remember, it’s the way that our time was spent. Our Sunday drives weren’t meant to be hurried or for a purpose. They were a way for us to spend time together, learn about the world around us and listen to stories my grandparents passed on to us.

So the next time you get behind a Sunday driver, instead of bolting around them, toot your horn, give them a wave and wish them well on their memorable journey.

Even in the Face of Death

11 Nov

My husband loves to tease me with opportunities for him to work overseas. If we didn’t have three school-aged kids, I’d jump at the opportunity. We even talk about living in other countries for months at a time when we finally become empty nesters. And although I’d love to live in another country, my heart will always belong to the USA.

I’m not sure why or when it happened but I consider myself very patriotic. In fact, every time I hear the national anthem and see Old Glory waving, I am almost brought to tears. My heart and prayers turn to the men and women around the world who have deliberately chosen to serve our country. It truly amazes me that teenagers are so brave that they are willing to fight and die for freedom and our country. It humbles me.

Now days, children see so much violence on television that actual war footage bears no horror for their young minds. Patriotic songs are rarely heard or sung and as seen in the “Occupy” protests, many people think our country owes them. But what do we owe to the soldiers who have fought for all of the freedoms we often take for granted? We owe them, and their families, our undying gratitude and respect for giving so freely of themselves even in the face of death.

On this Veteran’s Day, teach your kids to thank a veteran, or active member of the military, for the great service they give to our country. And, always remember the bravery of all who have fallen.

Happy Halloween

31 Oct

Have a safe and Happy Halloween! From all of us at Smart Mom University

Circa 1971

Simple Halloween Art Activity

24 Oct

I remember cutting out Halloween shapes from construction paper as a kid and hanging them on our windows as decorations for the trick-or-treaters to admire. Boy have times changed and houses really get tricked out for Halloween.

Here’s a simple Halloween decoration you can make with your kids to trick out your house.

  • Draw a ghost on a 12″ x 18″ piece of white construction paper with a black marker.

  • Use orange paint to paint the one hand of your child.

  • Place your child’s hand on the ghost near where an arm would be.

  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other hand.

  • Let the ghost dry, then cut it out.
  • Hang it in the window for your trick-or-treaters to admire.

Write your child’s name and date on the ghost and you will be able to see how little their hands were.

Simple Times

20 Oct

Did you know that October was National Popcorn Month? I know, we learn something new every day. But when I think of popcorn and this time of year, it reminds me of the popcorn balls my dad liked to make at Halloween. Although my mom hated the sticky mess, and the clean up was difficult, it was definitely a simple fall activity that I remember to this day.

I can clearly remember the event of making popcorn balls. It was always a cool fall evening, and my brother and I had spent the whole day playing outside, running from house to house, not soccer game to soccer game. We had finished our nightly family dinner, the fire in the fireplace was blazing, and my brother and I had finished watching  It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, on one of the four channels that we could get.  When the show was over, we’d gather in the kitchen and start popping the corn. (No, not in the microwave, silly! We didn’t even have one of those then!) My mom would warm the oil in her big, green pot on the stove. Then, she poured in the popcorn. The lid was place on the pot as if a secret was about to happen inside the large pot. As kitchen air filled with the smell of warm oil, we waited; waited for the sound of the first kernel to pop. Once we heard the magical first pop, we knew the rest would not be far behind. POP, CLINK, CLINK, POP, was the sound the kernels made springing around inside the pot, forming into delicate white clouds. Before we knew it, the sound would slow, and popcorn would cause the lid to rise. The sticky fun was about to begin.

My dad mixed the syrupy concoction while my mother smeared margarine all over our little hands so the stickiness wouldn’t be permanent. The popcorn was poured and mixed into the sticky mess. Next, we dug in and began to form the popcorn into baseball-sized orbs that would really only be enjoyed by my father. My mother would wrap the finished products in plastic wrap and set them on the counter; many of which would be hard as a rock when they were finally eaten.

I don’t know how long the process took, and yes, it was a process. But to us kids, it was simple fall activity, filled with sounds and smells that will be forever ingrained in my memory. I will never make popcorn balls with my kids, but we have plenty of our own simple fall traditions that I know they will remember when they have their own family. What simple fall traditions will your kids remember?

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