African girls and boys choir singing

Sing Your Heart Out

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Original Gospel-Jazz Songs
by Ruth Naomi Floyd

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you will receive the download link.

Ruth Naomi Floyd offers us music to soothe the soul … and to surprise us.

Through Christmas day you can download six of her original compositions of Gospel Jazz.  The link is on the Parent Advent Calendar behind door 24.

Gospel & Jazz?

When I think of jazz I conjure up images of African-Americans in New Orleans and then Parisian night clubs.  Yet Ruth brings us jazz tunes with lyrics inspired by the Bible.

It’s an unexpected union. And it’s beautiful.

Ruth Naomi Floyd fine arts photo
Also a fine arts photographer, Ruth combines surprising juxtapositions in song as well as in images.

Beautiful Unexpecteds

Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas.  Another unexpected juxtaposition.  According to Christian theology, Christmas celebrates when God comes to earth in the form of Jesus, God’s Son in flesh and blood.  Why would an all powerful god debase himself so much as to become a human…and a helpless baby at that?!  It is unexpected, to say the least.  And to those who believe, it is beautiful.

Our hope in sharing this music is to encourage you and me to invite in the unexpected and to allow ourselves to be challenged and comforted by its beauty.

  • In the way we view our children – seeking (hunting down) their positive qualities and then building on them
  • In the way we view ourselves – allowing imperfection. We grow THANKS to mistakes
  • In the way we view our parenting – full of hope and purpose

BON COURAGE!

And as we introspect, let’s SING!

Music is Good for your Health

Our brain, heart, lungs, and emotions all benefit from listening to music, and even more from singing.

Ruth Naomi Floyd singing.
Ruth in full health. Photo by George Wells

Benefits of listening to music

Studies show that listening to music makes people happier, less stressed, less sensitive to pain, better performers in sports and in school, and helps with recall.

What?  With recall!

I wonder if it helps children with temporary memory loss remember to clean their room, to stop fighting with their brother/sister, and more!

That’s what we are banking on with these fun tunes to motivate children.  Enjoy!

Benefits of singing

Here’s how Stacy Horn, the author of Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others recaps the benefits of singing together.

What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.

The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.  Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.

It turns out you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards.

So gather around for some Christmas caroling “en famille.”

Need the lyrics?  Look them up here.

Dad and daughter cuddling and smililng

Spell “love” T.I.M.E.

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Gift Certificates to offer to your children and your spouse – “My Time, Your Way”
by Denise Dampierre of SoSooper

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Time as a present to offer

Money cannot buy time.  Not when it comes to time spent with kids.

Play-together-time often misses the Christmas list…AND yet, it’s the gift kids crave.

How does one “give” time?  How can one make it feel like a present?

That’s why we created these Gift Certificates.  Personalize with your child’s name and you signature, et voilà!  You have a valuable stocking stuffer you and your children will cherish.

Click here to download Gift Certificates.

Kids and Parents Learn Through Play

Play teaches children how to overcome boredom, to follow rules, to win and lose well.

Let kids direct the play (that’s your gift). You’ll discover them WHILE helping your child learn life-skills.

You thought your daughter was impatient? She spends ½ hour dressing and undressing a doll! That’ll stretch the fortitude of many adults.

One Mom’s Story

The first year I offered these gifts to my sons they all invited me to play their favorite video game.  “Oh, no! Wrong gift!” I thought.

These shared screen times taught me so much.  This time was “extra video time” for the children and since the intent was to share a moment together, they willingly spent 30 minutes teaching me why they like this particular game, what makes it exciting, and how to win.

I observed their skills (or lack of) in anticipation, in strategizing, in concentration, and more.

And the following week when they struggled with homework, we applied ideas from the game to help concentration.  “Let’s create levels.  When you finish your first math problem, you reach level 2!”

The next year, I gave each child two gifts of time. One could be used for games on screens. The other was for something else of their choice.  One child wanted to learn more about his bank statement.  Another wanted to go shopping.

I kept doing this for years, even when our eldest was in high school.  He asked for a visit to the ophthalmologist to see about contact lenses!

You Don’t Feel Like It

Screen games or doll dressing isn’t your cup of tea? Is homework theirs?

Look to the bigger picture.  You’re creating memories, proving their importance, and connecting on their level!  You’ll be amazed how that encourages them to seek to connect on issues of importance to you…like picking up their bags and coats in the front hallway.  Seriously.

The Children Don’t Feel Like It

Kids might act like they don’t want to play with you.

“Children often resist love when they need it the most,”

assert Dr. Scott Turansky and nurse Joan Miller, authors of Parenting is Heart Work. Be creative and kindly insistent. They might be testing the sincerity of your offer.

If the kids don’t want to play, consider admiring them for 15 minutes. No words. No judgement.  Simply seeking to understand them in their environment.

Say “Thank You”

That magic word for all ages concludes your time together on a positive note.

The Biggest Kid of Them All

How about playing with your spouse……! We’ve got a gift certificate for them too!

Gift Certificate for couple's romance
Gift Certificate for couple's romance

To receive Gift Certificates click here.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash.com

Kids friends walking together

Vitalize Friendships

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A 10% discount on a Private Champagne Tasting for 4 people
by Mary Kirk Bonnet, Champagne Expert

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Did you know that friendships help you be a better spouse and parent?  Yet after marriage they are more difficult to maintain.  Today’s gift provides just an opportunity for a memory-making, bonding moment with friends.

Friends toasting with champagne
Cheers to lasting friendships.

Under the tutelage of Champagne expert, Mary Kirk Bonnet, and in the setting of a beautiful vaulted cave in the 5th arrondissement in Paris, you will learn about the champagne region and taste three different champagnes accompanied by a selection of French charcuterie and cheeses which do justice to the sparkle in your flute.  The special rate through the Parent Advent Calendar is 58.50€ per person for a group of four.

Friends for Kids

Childhood is filled with friendships.

Here is what parents tell their children

“Choose your friends wisely.”

“Some friends are for playing, some for trusting, some for working together, some for going on adventures…  That’s why you have more than one friend.”

Friends for Adults (big kids)

Research shows that marriage changes friendships.  Girlfriend Parties and Guys Night Out become fewer and farther in between.  With more relationships to nurture in the same 24 hours of the day, we struggle to find the energy, time, and money (all of which are limited resources to parents) to organize events with friends.

And yet, friends help us become better partners and better parents.  We discover facets of our spouse when we are with friends.  And they reveal things about us and our loved ones that we could not accept from those closest to us.

What you learn about your spouse when you’re with friends

When you and your partner come home, the children tend to fill the space, both in the mind as well as the physical environment.

“How was school?”

“it’s time to stop playing that video game and to pick up your toys.”

“What’s for dinner?!”

And by the time the kids are tucked into bed, we have just the energy to pay a few bills, organize the children’s social calendar, and plan a few moments as family.

Research reports that couples spend an average of only 10 minutes per day in quality discussion! 

 

With friends, we discuss topics,
not day-to-day planning

“So, how are the kids?”
And you hear your spouse’s viewpoint on the children’s development.  (S)He notices all of that with our child?  (S)He did not mention the issue that concerns me with our child…might it not be such a big deal?!

“Whatever happened to _____ (that hobby of yours)?”
And you learn that indeed your partner does miss investing in his/her pastime.   What if there were a way to share this interest with the kids?

“You’ve been in that job for a while.  What’s the next step?”
You learn that your spouse has dreams that were not mentioned yet.  Why not?! Well, admittedly, it’s hard to discuss life goals in the two minutes between Joey’s bedtime drama and the upcoming visit with Mother-in-Law!

Enjoy your time with Mary Kirk Bonnet and the Champagne tasting.

AND enjoy your time making memories and sharing with friends.

Photos from Unsplash by Annie Spratt, Nik MacMillan, and Robert Collins

Child giving kiss in thanks

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A Family Meeting for your family in your home
facilitated by Denise Dampierre, Positive Discipline educator

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

A Family Meeting is an opportunity for children to give feedback to parents, both about what they appreciate in family and areas where they would like to see change.  Parents always seem intrigued…then wary.  “What if the kids will make a laundry list of our faults and we will feel overwhelmed?”

With a clear and positive structure, Family Meetings are enjoyed by all!

Father mother son daughter in family meeting

Today’s gift is a Family Meeting in your home with your family held under the guidance of Positive Discipline trained Denise Dampierre.  After a brief introduction, you will begin the Family Meeting by sharing thanks.  What each family member appreciates in the other.  Then we will broach issues to change and close by celebrating your family.

This structured discussion lasts 30 plus minutes, depending upon the number and ages of the children.

The sharing of THANKS sets the tone for the Family Meeting. 

An attitude of gratitude also sets the tone for this gift-giving and gift-receiving season.

The Christmas Nightmare

You may have experienced this too.  It’s Christmas morning and the SUPER-EXCITED kids are Ready. Set. GO. to open their gifts.

Son and Daughter rip off the wrapping paper (you spent hours to put on) and discard the shreds on the living room floor.

Then they wail.  They did not receive The. ONE. Present. they oh-so-badly wanted.  They gave you a list of 10 wishes and you offered them 9 and, oooops, you missed the right one.

Or it could be they don’t like the chocolates offered by Great Aunt Martha.   Your child prefers milk chocolate with krispies, not this fancy (and expensive) stuff.

Or a sibling received better or more presents than they did….

The supposed-to-be magic festivities result in an emotional breakdown.

When Christmas Magic Means Fair

Parents work hard to prevent such a scene.  We spend fortunes on our children.  We make lists and compare the “value” of gifts so that the kids feel Christmas is “fair.” (Fair to whom? To you? To the child born in South Sudan?)

What about another approach?  It might require a paradigm shift.

When Christmas Magic Means Thankful

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart. Stewart plays George Bailey, a kind-hearted man who regularly sacrificed his well-being for the good of others.  One of these altruistic acts got him into major financial trouble.  In desperation, George turns to the town’s banker-tyrant, Mr. Potter.  Potter, referring to George’s life insurance policy, tells him

“You’re worth more dead than alive.”

That’s when George decides to take his life … but is given the chance to see what life would be like had he not been born. He is given the gift of glimpsing the value of his life which, in his discouragement he had been too blind to see.

It’s people’s thankfulness for George that transformed the situation.  First came the change in attitude.  This then enabled a reversal in circumstances.

George Bailey richest man in town

Gratitude Characteristic

There’s a multiplier effect to appreciativeness.

Thankfulness opens the eyes to more gratitude.

Being thankful for a tree with flickering lights leads to gratitude for electricity, and an income to buy the decorations, and the dedication of the garbage folk who pick up the spindly debris (stuffed into those recycling bags of course!)

Gratitude Can be Taught

Gratitude can be taught!

Thankfulness is a mindset which develops through practice.  Like any habit, the more we do it, the easier it is…and then it just comes naturally.

Like many new skills, it can feel awkward at the beginning.  We all start somewhere.

Olympic medalists did with their sports.

We can too with our thanks.

So when folk shrug their shoulders and excuse their self-focus with “It’s just not part of my personality or part of my culture,” think again.  It might not be part of their practice.  Yet!

Olympians excel in their domain through a discipline training plan.  So, what plan will you put in place to train yourself and the kids in gratitude?

Olympic skiier
Olympians began…
Little boy on baby skis
…like this.

 

Train as of Today

Advance step by step to encourage a thankful spirit (and preventing a Christmas Nightmare) in the next few days

  • Today:
    • Be an example of thankfulness.  Say, “Thank you” five times today.
    • As you put your child to bed ask them about one thing for which they are thankful today
  • Tomorrow
    • Be thankful out loud for something that you usually take for granted: electricity, sunshine, comfy sofas
    • Say “Thank you” to your partner while your children are within earshot
    • Share ONE Great Thanks to every child
  • After-tomorrow
    • Be thankful for this day. So excited to see what it will bring!
    • Transform a “calamity” (spilled milk, dirty clothes…) into a question. What could you and I do differently next time?  Say “Thanks for this time thinking of solutions together.  I learned about you and felt heard too.”
    • Share a train of thanks. “I’m thankful for a car.  It makes it possible to visit Grampa and Grandma.  I’m thankful that you have so many people who love you.  I’m even thankful that I’m hungry because I’m looking forward to our meal together even more!”
  • The day after that
    • You decide!

Prepare for a great Christmas morning NOW by practicing thanks. 

Take the time to practice.

Maman NYC in Paris

Make Friends with the Neighbors

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Six Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Maman NYC à Paris

Cookies from Maman NYC

How to get yours?  Take today’s quiz (Click on today’s number and “Click to play”) on the advent calendar and YOU could be the lucky one who’s name gets drawn to receive the offer.

Maman’s cookies are sosooper big and delicious, they are toooo much to keep to ourself.  The team, led by Antoine, are happy to offer cookies for you AND some to give to the folk next door.

…AND a visit to Maman Café is a gift that you could even offer yourself ????  Come on over…and invite a friendly “voisin.” (neighbor in French).

 

Good Neighbors Matter for Parents

Life as a parents is a LOT EASIER with positive relationships with the neighbors.  Here is how.

Good Neighbor Relations for Parents of Babies

True story.

This note was placed on the doormat of our neighbors.

“Dear Neighbors,

Hi.  I’m Paul.  That’s me in the photo between my two older brothers.

I’m very sorry you were frustrated by my cries last night.  Let me tell you, I was frustrated too!  I tried to tell my parents what was wrong, and they did not understand.  I tried harder.  And then harder again.  (That’s when you banged on the wall.)

I’m trying hard to teach my parents what I’m saying.  I hope they’ll learn quickly.  I guess you do too.

Well, maybe we’ll see each other around…when I’m smiling.  In the meantime, I wish you well.”

Good Neighbor Relations for Parents of Kids

True story.

Request at the neighbor’s door.

Hi.  I’m sorry to be ringing in the evening after dinner.  You see, it’s our son’s birthday tomorrow and tonight he proposed pancakes for breakfast…only we ate our last eggs at dinner!  Could we borrow two eggs, please?

Good Neighbor Relations for Parents of Teens

True story.

Conversation with a previous neighbor who moved to another part of town.

Neighbor: “Hi.  I saw your son in our new quarters the other day?”

Parent: “Oh, yes…?”

N: “Yeah.  On Friday in the middle of the afternoon.  He was hanging out with friends….”

Later

Conversation between parent and teen.

Parent: “Hi darling.  I ran into our previous neighbors and they said they saw you.” (pause)

Teen: “Hum.”

Parent: “Yes, on Friday in the middle of the afternoon.  When do you have math class, again?”

Teen: “OH!  Friday!  I remember!  YES!”

Parent: “O.K. What were you doing?  What was happening?”

….

Maman NYC in Paris – the Story of Neighbors

It’s the story of a French baker who opens up a bake shop in New York City, and out of his oven pop   American staples with French flair.  And more bake shops pop up too, the latest one in Paris.

Maman serves “Cake” (in France this refers to pound cake), coffee and tea all day long and delicious sandwiches for lunch.

How do they blend US & French cooking?  Try their Carrot Orange Pound Cake.  YUM!  No cream cheese frosting.  Simply an icing of white chocolate.

Their Totally Nutty Cookies rank as my favorite for dessert and coffee.  You’ll win over your neighbors with these, for sure ????

In Paris, Maman is located at 118 rue de Turenne in the 3rd arrondissement.  Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 to 19:00.  The café is tucked inside Mona, the co-working space for women by My Little Paris, AXA Insurance, Estée Lauder, and Nike.

 

Mona & My Little Paris – the Story of Neighbors

Have YOU received your Parisian experience, wrapped up “à la Française,” delivered to your mailbox?  That’s the My Little Paris specialty: the best of the City of Lights brought “chez vous.”

Neighboring is in their essence.  A group of five women, they launched the company that uncovers delights of Parisian “quartiers” (various parts of town) and share the news.  As they prospered, they sought to share success with a larger community of entrepreneurial women.  Supported by AXA Insurance, Nike, and Estée Lauder, My Little Paris birthed Mona, a space for women to gather and grow their businesses together.

And did you know?  They launched the American Quarter Hour!  Fifteen minutes of pause from computer and phone to be daring American-style and introduce yourself to your co-working neighbor!

 

Come on over to Maman Café at Mona to taste their Totally Nutty Cookies and bring some home for your “voisins.”

#monabymylittleparis

Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here

 

with tots

Click here

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Happy New Year tiara for girl

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Cover photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash