Friday, April 25, 2014

Packing for Travel

The sun is shining, the warm breezes are beginning to blow, and rainy season is almost through!  It's time to start looking at travel plans for your spring/summer adventures!

The very thought of going "on the road" brings on sheer panic for Moms across the country.  Our family is used to living out of suitcases and recently some of you asked me to share the packing lists I use for my children.

2 Night
Week Long
Camping Weekend
Camping Week Long

I print these lists out and then laminate them with glossy laminating pages.  Each child has their own color card stock the original list was written on so they know it's "theirs" and a dry erase marker.  When we're getting ready for a trip a use a WET erase marker and draw a line through anything they do not need to bring.  Then use the same marker to write in anything in the blank spots they need that is not on the list.

For younger children, have them lay their items out on the bed for you to check before they put them in the suitcase.  This is also helpful for older children who may try to "sneak in" questionable clothing leaving you with no option other than wrapping them in a blanket for the entire vacation.  For these children I mark off their list as they put the items into the suitcase (or vice versa).  For children that are capable of packing themselves have them mark off their items from the list and pack their suitcase.  Once it's all checked off we leave the suitcase open with the list sitting on top for Mom or Dad to check along with their marker.

Once the suitcases are checked, they are IMMEDIATELY locked with a luggage lock.  Why?  Because little kids will undo your packing and older children with modesty issues might try to swap out clothes.  For security reasons, all luggage is locked in our family.  Problem solved. :)  That luggage is then moved to the central packing area which is usually our dining room or mudroom depending on how many suitcases and how long until we leave.

Voila!  No more left behind socks and no bringing 50 shirts to choose from for teenage girls.  No more emergency runs to the Walmart for the child who brought 10 toy cars but no pants.  All the arguing is abrogated because everyone has the same list and the same amount of space.

When you're packing up to come back home, out come the lists again.  Have the kids check off the items as they repack their suitcases.  No more left behind favorite shirts that have to be shipped later!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

For the RIGHT Reasons

After nearly 600,000 Jews had been deported/murdered from the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland to either death camps, forced labor camps, or the Treblinka Killing Center from July 22, 1942 to September 12, 1942, the Ghetto's population was to be "held" at 35,000.  An additional 20,000 men and women were in hiding in the ghetto.  In response, the Jewish Combat Organiztion (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa; ZOB) and the Jewish Military Union (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy; ZZW) joined forces to protect the lives of those they loved and lived with.  In preparation they began to make homemade STEN guns and grenades out of any metals they could find in the basements of the ghetto.

The Polish STEN.  Often the ones used in the Ghetto Uprising were not automatic, but rather single shot which were then reloaded and fired again, similar to the way a black powder musket would have worked but requiring less material to build, less powder to charge, and a lighter, more deadly round to deliver.

The initial quest of the uprising began when Heinrich Himler decided to liquidate the ghetto in October 1942.  The first attempt at mass deportation to forced labor camps on January 18, 1943 was met with enough chaos from the dissidents in the ZOB and ZZW that only 5,000-6,000 were able to be deported before the SS had to stop their mission.

When they returned on April 19, 1943 they were met with a resistance they could never have surmised coming from the ghetto's residence.  On the eve of Passover, 1943 Nazi troops arrived to find the streets deserted and were picked off and isolated by ZOB and ZZW units around the ghetto.  For 20 days the Uprising fought for their lives until their command bunker was captured on May 8.

The Warsaw Ghetto after the Uprising had ended.
Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

While nearly 100% of those in the Warsaw ghetto were murdered for their efforts and the ghetto itself was reduced to ruin, the spirit of what they had accomplished lived on and rumors of their successes spread across Europe.  In the ultimate cry of "We're not going to take it anymore!" they rose up and fought for their freedom when they had no choice left.

Ultimately the Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion was the largest rebellion by the Jewish population and the first urban uprising against the Nazis.  They are the ones that inspired thousands to fight for their own freedom and turn the tide against the Germans in formal resistance movements.

May the Lord bless those who have risen up against tyranny and those who came to their aid.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." ~ Matthew 5:9

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Children's "Television"

Okay, I know there is a LOT of debate out there about how much screen time and if children should have any screen time, should they only have tv vs. computers vs. tablets etc. but allow me to deviate and not discuss ANY of that today.  Today I want to focus on something that had somehow escaped me until this morning.

We're visiting family right now and we're having a lovely time.  When we're at home, our television is usually on our favorite news in the AM and the kids often watch with us.  If we aren't watching that it's usually off.  I don't have "children's television" on 99% of the time when the tv is on.  This morning I was busy and my oldest turned on the tv to occupy himself and his little brother.  They were enjoying it as I ran in and out of the room attending to laundry, breakfast, and a host of other things until the inevitable BAD thing happened.

I noticed Sesame Street was on.  I honestly didn't think a thing of it.  The Count was receiving the Noble Peace Prize for Counting.  Okay.  Then via the segment they explained what an imposter was.  Alright.  Later on as I sat at the dining room table I giggled as a segment began with the music of Les Miserables in which Cookie Monster plays Jean Valjean and the other players covet his cookies.

And now they have my attention.  I was a music major in college and this is one of my FAVORITE shows.  I'm ready to giggle as we watch a Sesame Street adaptation of a modern classic.

Except it wasn't.  Jean Valjean encounters Fantine and basically tells her to take a long walk off a short bridge.  He refuses Cosette's pleas for help as well with a "well, I know how you feel but get your own cookies and then you'll feel better".  WHAT?!?!?!?!?

Then as the French Resistance forms they are planning to attack....get this...Valjean because he won't share his cookies with anyone.

Wait....WHAT!?!?!?!?  Valjean is not the villian of the play.  Not even close!!!!!

So out of fear Valjean capitulates and decides he should share his cookies and then they're all happy.


Fortunately shortly after that tirade the "new" version of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood".  100% animated and hosted by Daniel Tiger, an animated tiger child who during this particular episode was throwing tantrums and having difficulty using his words.


Mr. Rogers is NOT able to be replace by a child Tiger who can't get his act together.  NO.  That's where I hit my limit.  What I LOVED about Mr Rogers as a child was not just that he was "on tv".  He was real.  It was a REAL world that also went into "make believe" with a pointed difference when it was done.  He did REAL things.  He showed the world kindness, love, compassion, and heart.  He gave real life examples of manners, not as the "point" of one show but consistently through EVERY show.

I blew up.  I hopped on Amazon Prime and pulled out the vintage Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood episodes from when I was a child.  They watched him come in and take off his suit coat, zip on his cardigan, and put on his sneakers to hang out with them for 30 minutes.  Today Mr. Rogers went to buy shoes back in 1982.  They didn't have the original kind he wanted but had another pair that fit far better.  Then he went home and hung out with all the other characters for awhile. I'm currently curled up with my boys watching Mr. Rogers sing the ending song.

"It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling the feeling you know that I'll be back when the day is new and I'll have more ideas for you and you'll have things you'll want to talk about.  I will too."