Saturday, January 30, 2010

Waiting for Groundhogs

Every first week of February where winter seems to be losing its grip, we make it a point to share an amusing American folklore to children at school-The Groundhog Day.

These rodents, members of the squirrel family are a spectacular sight during the 2nd of February in Pennsylvania. People queue up to witness the groundhogs' final verdict whether winter will stay longer or will be over soon. And how do they know? As soon as they get out of their burrows and won't see their shadows, this indicates that winter days are numbered. However, if result is otherwise, then there will still be 6 more weeks of bitter cold winter.

Today, I went to a mall. No amount of icy rain with snow could stop me from taking advantage of the 50-70% discounts on almost all items at the stores. All stores want to get rid of their winter items. Isn't that a good sign? Not only that it's a heaven sent signal to women to grab the discount opportunity to keep a stack of new winter clothes for next year, but hey, winter items are going and soon will be gone.

This bespeaks, that in the next two weeks, we'll see more spring items, more greenish motif on store window dressing, longer days ( though not necessarily brighter) but at least more light than heavy winter gloom. Hopefully, above zero warmer temperature will soon follow.

Before we know it, it's already Spring! Personally, I'm not a big fan of groundhogs. I don't even know if I've seen one here in Croatia but goggling the results of this spectacle in Pennsylvania if they will see their shadow or not after February 2 is always a part of my to-do-list.

I can't wait to see if I'm keeping all my thick furry jackets and snow boots away or should I buy more of winter stuff for the next six weeks.

We'll see. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Helping Your Child Get Back On Track

To all parents, teachers and child advocates out there!

Here's something that you may find useful before your child goes back to school soon.
This article was published on American Chronicle.

Helping Your Child Get Back on Track
Joy Avelino-Filipovic
January 05, 2010

Now that the holiday season frenzy is over, after getting yourself ginger up with home decoration, shopping, cooking, planning your family winter skiing holiday, the next thing that you wouldn't even dare to think about is to go back to the old grind, isn't it?

The thought of coming back to a desk with high pile of papers, driving your kids back to school in an early morning traffic rush and beating deadlines at the office are not only akin to being visited by your Christmas past but thoughts that you wouldn't even want to muse about in the midst of your relaxed family bonding this holiday season. Adults are not the only ones feeling the jitters of the first week back to the old routine mode.

Your child feels the same way too.

This is why some children sometimes revert to the adjustment period stage exhibiting episodes of crying, whining, temper tantrums and clinging when they go back to school. Children spent three long weeks or even more with parents at home during the holiday break. From the first day of their Christmas vacation ending to its last day, children have adapted new set of I-can-do-what-I-want-to-do-at-home routine. This includes, staying up late, frequent play dates, watching late night TV shows or DVD, skipping afternoon naps, getting up at ten, tagging along with mom on a shopping spree and other similar free wheeling activities.

Now that classes have just started or perhaps to some are about to start next week, getting back your child on track may be an onerous attempt like pulling a tugboat with bare hands. To make your home-school transition in a smooth fashion, here are a few tips that can make wonders and less stressful for you in dealing with your child's post holiday struggles.

1. Psych Up Your Child Gradually. Inform your child that holiday season will be over after the New Year. Thereby, he'll be going back to school and doing the same old routine of getting up early and being picked up in the afternoon just like before Christmas. Whether your child understands the concept or not, it doesn't matter as long as you made him informed and reminded about the series of events that will come his way soon.

2.Establish the Old Routine Few Days After Christmas: It doesn't matter whether it's few days after Christmas or few days after the New Year for as long as you start putting your child to bed early-instead of ten in the evening, try nine then move down to eight ( if that was his ideal bedtime.) Slowly, his body gets to be readjusted to new habits gradually and will get accustomed to it before he goes back to school. By the same token, if waking up your child early could post as a problem, try getting him up the usual time he wakes up before he goes to school. Remember that the earlier you put him to bed, the more chances he gets the ample 8 hour sleep.

3. Do Your Bedtime Story Earlier: If your child can't sleep without your mom-child-story-bonding-time, then adjust your bedtime story earlier. This would entail an early adjustment of your household routine such as making dinner, tidying up the kitchen and putting on his pajamas then accentuate the end of the day with a bedtime story before tucking him into bed.

4. Control Late Night TV Viewing: Say goodbye to late night cartoons, DVDs or computer games. Staring on the TV screen or computer monitors for a long time has harmful effects on children. According to Dr. Sigman, a psychologist who studied on the effects of television watching on children, "Excessive TV viewing may cause physical, cognitive and educational damage later on."Ergo, limit your child's TV viewing in the afternoon for one to two hours. Don't deprive him of his pleasure to watch instead monitor TV watching strictly.

5. Start Doing School Work Piece by Piece: Some schools give homework or essays about a recount of their Christmas holidays. Some don't. If your child's school sent some homework, you may start doing it one piece at a time. There's no point in putting pressure on the child to accomplish everything all in one go. Few days after Christmas or New Year are still part of their holiday.

So, let your child set one foot in winter wonderland and the other foot in the school door.The point being here is to make them do their homework on a scheduled time consistently while enjoying the rest of the holiday season. Whether answering pages of workbooks, writing essays, book reports or coloring pages, as long as these tasks are done while on vacation religiously-at least for an hour, you'll see that redirecting your child's mind to go back to school won't be a Herculean task after all.

6. Prep Him Up The Night Before:Don't forget to give your child a plethora of encouragement anchored to the idea that school is fun. Cheer him up with the assurance that his classmates and favorite teachers are there waiting for him. You may entice him to tell his friends at school about his wonderful holiday skiing trip, memorable time with grandparents, presents he got from Santa or the tallest snowman he ever built. Providing a feeling of excitement to your child a night before the first day of school after the holiday break will evoke a more positive disposition which consequently will make your child look forward to go to school.

Spending the holiday season is such an invigorating respite from the endless humdrum of daily work-home routine schedule. The sad thing is, in as much as you would wish that the alignment of stars will be in your favor bringing no end to those blissful moments of vacation, you'll always reach your vacation's last day, no matter what. In this case, you might as well get yourself armed to the teeth and accept the fact that holiday is over.

That's when reality bites.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Ten seconds before the clock turns to twelve midnight was the last few seconds
of the lives we left behind in 2009. Today, the first day of January 2010 is a new beginning .

Sticking- post –it- notes of New Year's resolution list on our computer monitors, sporting a 2010 new look and realigning priorities for the next twelve months are most likely what we set our minds to do. As each day passes by, we may falter or revert to our old habits and ways.

But each day is a new day. And nobody stops us to redo what we committed to change all over again.

Let's all start this year bustling with a mind filled with optimism, new aspirations, hopes, promises and dreams for this year.

Welcome to 2010!