Insider Tips from Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Click here to read about the history of Father’s Day.

Fathers are an important influence on a child life, no matter the age. Time is the greatest gift a father can give his child. Here’s the story of four outstanding fathers who share the joys of being a father every day, but especially on Father’s Day.

Darwyn & Jacob

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
– Harmon Killebrew
Darwyn leads his seven-year-old son Jacob by example in both his work and personal life, just as his father Leon did. He cares about role modeling a strong work ethic. “I want Jacob to know he can do many things if he’s determined, tries his hardest and pushes through adversity.”

Darwyn is self-employed and struggles with balancing work with the demands of a young family. “From my own dad, I learned that hard work does pay off in building a solid business for years to come. But, sometimes hard choices and sacrifices are required.”

Darwyn understands his son needs him to be there for him. So, he arranges his schedule to take him to athletic practices, play with him after work and go on hikes together. Jacob knows he matters to his dad; Darwyn follows through on his promises by showing up and telling him he loves him.

The two of them bond over sports and watching action movies. And, Jacob is always up for trying new things and giving them 100 percent. He’s taken up golf and baseball, often making his dad chase a long one down the street. He helps Darwyn fix things around the house “so we don’t have to buy new things every time something breaks.”

Jacob learns from his dad by watching him and spending time with him. He’s seeing how to treat others with respect, to own up to his mistakes and fix it for the next time and to be nice to his teammates on the baseball field, understanding everyone is there to learn the game.

The greatest lesson Jacob is learning from his dad, “Everything will fall into place if you know and serve the Lord.”

 Jim & Trenten

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”
– Confucius
Jim values time with his 12-year-old son, Trenten. “I hope he now recognizes the amount of time we spent together and the priority he is in my life.” The two share hunting, travel and dogs in common. The specific interest gives them time together to enjoy it while also talking about school, sports and life. Jim especially likes traveling with Trenten. “It’s amazing what I can learn traveling 8-10 hours in a vehicle with him.”

Jim learned a lot from his grandpa who spent time fishing and talking about farming and school with him. “He passed away in 1986, but there are many times I wish Trenten was able to meet him.”

Trenten, who comes across as shy, is described as funny and smart by his dad. Jim’s now speaking to him about growing into a man. Trenten’s learning not to make promises he cannot keep. He’s been taught his word is the only thing in life no one can take away from him. Trenten has seen that by working hard things will fall into place. He knows the world does not owe him anything and that he is capable of doing anything he wants, if he sets his mind to it.

Jim, a banker, teaches Trenten about money. “I like to present him with options so he understands real costs. Everything is about choices. For instance, if he buys something, what is he not able to do since he spent his money.”

At this age, Jim urges Trenten to have fun and find something in life he’s passionate about. “He will spend the rest of his life working and worrying. I also encourage him to make friends with everyone. One never knows when someone you meet might be in a place to help you out one day.”

 Michael & Noah

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
— Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

Michael and seven-year-old Noah have rituals, like the donut shop. Every Saturday morning, they head out to eat donuts while talking and laughing. Usually they leave with some for the girls back home-mother and younger sister.

They have other notable rituals. Their daily drive to school starts with a prayer followed by a game of guessing what types of trucks will be in the gym parking lot as they drive by. They celebrate their appreciation of superheroes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers with Friday night pizza and movie nights, mom and sister included.

Their shared enjoyment of music has them singing and dancing along to Christian Hip-Hop songs. They play catch football and shoot hoops and enjoy watching NFL games. Noah has attended a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, his dad’s favorite team, but has started rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, to get under Michael’s skin.

Michael knows it’s during these shared activities and rituals that he will get honest feedback on what Noah is going through. Michael loves talking to his son. “Noah’s laugh and sense of humor are infectious.”

Michael wants Noah to know he works hard to be a great role model to him. Like his father, Bill, demonstrated, Michael wants to show Noah how to be a good husband by showing affection for his wife and doing nice things for her. “I let Noah be part of this process too. He has good insight and it’s a great teaching moment.”

Michael’s greatest wish for Noah is to know who he is and to love others as Christ loves us. He’s also teaching him:

  • We control how we react to situations.
  • There are consequences for choices made (good and bad).
  • It’s okay to fail, do your best.
  • Protect and lead your family.
  • God is the ultimate Superhero.

 Ken & Alex

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”
– Jewish Proverb

Ken’s son, Alex, at age 22, is a young adult. Much of the way Ken parented was role modeled for him by his father, Lee, who was “an extremely kind and respectful man with a very strong work ethic. He was a leader who taught me how to overcome adversity and take responsibility for supporting my family.”

Ken strives hard to role model ‘integrity’ for Alex. “I want him to do things with honesty, the right way and live by the Golden Rule.” He wants nothing more for Alex than for him to be happy and to live a fulfilled life-on his terms.

“I want him to make the most of his life doing what he desires and knowing that he can, and more likely will, make adjustments along the way.” Ken also knows that if Alex chooses to be a husband and father, he will need to compromise and serve others to experience a fulfilled life.

Ken’s done his best to prepare Alex for adulthood by teaching him to:

  • Be accountable for his actions. Take responsibility and own it.
  • Be a good role model for others.
  • Be appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has in life. Much of what one attains in life comes through the help of others. Do not take people for granted and express your genuine gratitude. Be willing to give freely of oneself without an expectation of something in return.
  • Have fun. Life should be enjoyed. It is up to you to discover your own passion and create your own happiness.

Through the years, Ken and Alex have created a bond and enjoyed life through sports, household and yard projects and business ventures. They share an obsession with Louisville Cardinals team sports and watching sporting events on television and at games.

The two have painted many home interiors together and enhanced yards through landscaping. They have created and implemented business plans, some successfully, others not.  They’ve jointly discovered their passions, had fun and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Ken feels he’s raised a genuinely good and caring son who has a “great head on his shoulders and makes wise decisions.” He’s proud that Alex has “stayed out of trouble” and shown he knows the difference between right and wrong. “I feel confident Alex has an extremely bright future ahead of him, both personally and professionally. It has been fulfilling and rewarding to be Alex’s father. He has brought more joy into my life than I could have hoped for. He is an incredible son whom I love so much.”

  A Dad is

Respected because he gives his children leadership.
Appreciated because he gives his children care.
Valued because he gives his children time.
Loved because he gives his children the 1 thing they treasure most-himself.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Lessons a Kid Taught Me

What Our Children Teach Us

20161127_111708-copyAlex celebrated his 22nd birthday on November 27th. He’s preparing to graduate from college on December 10, 2016.  It’s been a reflective and joyous time for our family.

The lessons  I shared when the following article was first published in 2001 remain relevant today. I’m a lifelong learner. It is phenomenal to be taught by my kid. It’s even better to look back and recall memories while learning from him.

Enjoy this post, perhaps recalling lessons learned while raising your kids.


In my 40 years of life, my six-year old son Alex has been my greatest teacher about life and on how to break old patterns, behaviors and habits. He’s taught me to have fun. I’ve laughed more. Life with him is less serious. I try to live in the moment. I want to capture the sensation of experiences, big and small with my kid.

20 Lessons My Kid Taught Me

Alex taught me it is more than okay, it is awakening to:
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  1. Run wildly in the rain pretending to score a touchdown on the wet lawn.

alex-in-red-paint

2.  Finger paint with polka music in the background.

3. Make up silly rhyming stories and giggle endlessly at one’s own creativity.

4. Build blanket forts and eat lunch underneath them.

5. Wrestle on the bed using self-titled moves, like the mashed potato masher and the rutabaga rumble.

6. Dance to The Beatles in the family room on a Friday night.

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7. Eat ice cream for breakfast and eggs for dinner.

8. Be completely open and honest and tell it like it’s felt.

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9. Read books on the front porch with a flashlight.

10. Lie on the golf course in the dark and star gaze.

alex-at-beach-2

11. Build large cities, surrounded by volcanoes, instead of sand castles at the beach.

12. Ask why?

13. Say, “I’m really MAD at you!”

14. Thank God during nighttime prayers for the chocolate shake at bedtime.

15. Belly laugh at the priest’s jokes in church.

16. Wear clothes that don’t always match.

17. Lie on the floor, build corrals and play farm. Let the cows share a pen with the pigs and the chickens share with the horses.

18. Make up new rules for family board games.

19. Walk to the pond and feed the turtles and ducks hot dog buns.

alex-christmas-cookie-with-mom

 

 

 

 

20. Tell your parents, “I love you!” once a day.

Make a list of lessons you’re learning from your kids. If they’re still young, put the list away. Pull it out at one of life’s significant milestones, like graduation or a wedding. Did the lessons stick? Do your kids still follow their own teachings? It’s a great reminder of the joy of parenting. It also captures language and events that might have been forgotten.

Share this with others learning from their kids.

Copyright. November 2016.  Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved

Version published Momscape.com 2001

 

Are You Raising A Brat? 10 Ways to Avoid It

A mom of two elementary school aged children reached out to me recently seeking guidance on raising good children. Her note ended by asking, “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” That’s a term I hadn’t heard in a while. I thought she must be doing a lot of things right already. She’s concerned about coaching her children to be good citizens. Few parents would have the courage to even consider asking this question.

parents-weekend-usd-2015-10-24-15-029She is right though. Our son, soon to graduate from the University of South Dakota’s (USD) Beacom School of Business, has never been a brat. He’s also an only child. Some would use that status alone to label him “a brat.” It doesn’t fit him. Never has.

I thought about this mom’s question for several days. I wondered if I was qualified to give parenting advice. I am a parent. I am also a child. I observe other parents and their interactions with their children. I listen to teachers and support staff describe child behavior in schools. I’ve read extensively about parenting. I decided I’m qualified to share how my husband, Ken, and I raised a son who has never been labelled a “brat.” Maybe our approach to parenting will guide her, and others, in raising their own good children.

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Raising a Brat

Parenting is not easy. We were hardly perfect. We understood our individual “being raised” experiences influenced our parenting Alex. We were in our 30s when he was born. Both our mothers stayed at home with their children. I was raised in a family of 11. Ken’s family had 4. Alex was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. All of this made us who we are as parents. Sorting through our 21 years, I consider these to be the  10 Ways Not to Raise a Brat:

  1. Choose the right partner. Parents who share similar parenting values and who support one another in terms of setting boundaries and household rules will more likely have better behaved children. The kids will know both parents will give the same answer and likely discipline in similar ways. There’s no pitting one parent against another.
  2. Thoughtfully consider when to become a parent. Life isn’t always planned. But, when one feels ready for the responsibility of parenthood alex-toddler-2-copyand welcomes the role, one will more likely cherish being a parent rather than resent it. You can’t take parenting back. It’s a lifetime commitment. Children need to be nurtured, not dropped into life to survive alone. Make the time for your children. Show them they matter and that you feel blessed to have them in your life. If you aren’t ready to do this, or simply can’t, consider whether you are ready to become a parent.
  3. Say “No” and mean it. It is always easier to give in than it is to say “no.” Parents need to stand by convictions. Kids are smart. They push limits. If you back down, your word is no longer good. You’ve shown you’re easily manipulated. Set limits and stick to them.
  4. Plan a Family Centered not Child Centered Life. It was, and is, our belief that a child should fit into one’s life not become the center of all’s life. As a simple example, I refused to remove breakable household objects when Alex was born. Instead, I taught him to respect these items and that there were consequences for not following through with that lesson. Of course, we latched cabinet doors with dangerous items. But removing breakables. Absolutely not.
  5. Place Higher Priority on Morals and Values Over Material Goods. My background taught me many lessons on being frugal and setting priorities. I role modeled these while raising Alex. For example, part of me wanted a designer nursery and designer clothing for him. The practical side of me, however, understood how little those items would be used in Alex’s lifetime. Instead, we started a 529 College Savings program and bought consignment furniture and clothing. We made trade-offs like this continually, placing greater emphasis on experiences than material goods and savings over spending. I helped him, when he was  a middle school student, create flyers to hand out to neighbors advertising his lawn mowing skills. He also paid us for the gas to support his early business. Of course, we could afford to pay for it. But where else do you learn that there are costs of doing business?
  6. Expect Good Behavior. Set the bar high. Despite what one sees in restaurants, church and other public places, it is not cute when a child acts out or is disrespectful. I wonder about a child’s future when I see parents allowing children to throw food in restaurants and then smile at adults who look at them wondering how they are allowing this to happen. It speaks volumes about the parents and their ability to guide their children to adulthood. How one’s children behave reflects parental values and maturity. We worked hard to make sure Alex behaved in public places so all there could enjoy the experience.
  7. Respect All, Always. Listen. Compromise. Ken and I continually stress the importance of ‘listening’ as a skill. We work hard to model that to Alex, even to this day. Following close behind that is compromise.
    Practicing listening skills
    Practicing listening skills

    Even as an only child, he was taught that he didn’t always get his way. Life doesn’t center around one person. It’s a give and take. Admittedly, this was sometimes challenging to teach because of his status. My thinking, as the only woman in our family of three, was that I was raising someone who may one day become a husband and father. These life lessons/skills are critical in those esteemed roles. Respect is another trait we value. Ken is especially good at role modeling equal respect for service workers and corporate executives. Referring to adults as Mr. and Miss, though some call this antiquated Southern etiquette, is applauded in our household. It’s an outward sign of respect. We value it.

  8. Work for What You Want. Ken and I differed on this concept often. Sticking to our parental core values on this topic was by far the hardest in raising Alex. I had to work for everything I’ve owned, even my education. We were in a position to offer Alex financial assistance with more than I received. He was very aware most of his peer group was given vehicles, allowances, vacations, spring break trips, etc. without working. At age 14 we required he get a part-time job. It taught time management, money management, work habits and how to get along with others in the workplace. I also knew it could teach him about how organizations were managed and places he’d like to work, or not work. I have no regrets about requiring he get a job. He’s had a job ever since. He’s also graduating debt free, which is to be celebrated.
  9. Appreciate What You Have and Receive. If you work for what you have, you appreciate it more. You have a better understanding of what it takes to get it and value it more too. Unfortunately, parts of South Carolina are quite poverty-stricken. Alex has seen those areas as well as been in third world countries. Our goal was to expose him to sites like this to develop an appreciation for what he has. Instilling the concept of appreciation and thanks has been drilled into him. He left home knowing a note of appreciation or thanks was expected when a gift or act of kindness was received. Not doing so would immediately stop future acts. It’s just that important in our house.
  10. Raise a Graceful Loser and a Humble Winner. I can still recall the feeling
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament

    and sights of Alex’s first soccer match at age four. He scored every goal. The team won. No, he didn’t take his jersey off and wave it above his head as he circled the grassy field. Instead, after each goal, he mildly accepted congratulations from teammates and got back to the business of playing the game. I was breathless. That level of maturity and composure as a competitor escaped me. I played to win and to celebrate the win. That day I learned from him. I learned the value of how to become a humble winner and a graceful loser.

The Child Spoke

I suspect this young mother who asked me “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” would get different responses from anyone she asked the same question to. I was curious about how Alex would answer. I sent off a text. His reply, “Let consequences happen instead of intervening.” Enough said.

How would you answer the question? Comment below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Letter to 1-Year-Old Son From Dad

The Delights of Being a 1st Time Dad

It’s amazing how you can love someone you’ve never met.

I realized on January 26, 2015 how much more fun it is when you do meet. That day my life changed forever when our son David was born. I’ve been smitten by him ever since and here is what I’d like to say to him as his Dad-a first time dad.

infantDavid,

You looked straight into my eyes when I first held you and I can’t imagine what was going through your mind. I was in pure bliss.

I was able to get a taste of your personality immediately when you were in the nursery lined up next to five baby girls who were perfectly swaddled and there you were, with the blankets kicked out and sprawled all over just like Daddy. I couldn’t have been more proud.

The delights of being your dad have all come in phases related to your development and interests.

The first was when we realized you were a very good baby. You were a great sleeper and rarely cried outside of being hungry. You did spit-up a lot, but over time even that became a source of laughter as you managed to stain nearly every piece of clothing I own. Shower time was always a favorite as you were mesmerized by the water, yet loved to get wet and watch the water go down the drain.

The rolling stage was next. You first rolled over at 4 weeks so we were always nervous but excited to watch you enjoy your new, yet limited freedom. You also started to smile a lot, which makes any new parent feel as if they’re doing something right, even though it was probably just you peeing.

You then transitioned to the almost-crawling stage. It looked more like an awkward army crawl, but it was the first time we needed to house proof. Only outlets and pictures on various furniture pieces could be reached, but it made you smile.

Then you crawled and our adventure had officially begun. Watching you follow us around like a little puppy was a hoot. We transitioned to a house that appeared like a prison with many gates. Our possessions crept ever higher. For the first time, I experienced the stage fright associated with someone staring at you while trying to do what had always been private.

You first learned to walk while pushing your bright red Ferrari F430.david red truck It allowed so much freedom between pieces of furniture that you spent most of your time on your feet. Not surprisingly we spent most of our time running after you saying ‘no’. I think the Ferrari developed your love for the color red as you became fans of Elmo and anything red with wheels. We just sat and smiled as you were so proud to push your car back and forth across the living room from one of us to the other. It was during one of the these sessions that I removed the car and you took your first actual step.

You knew that something big just happened! You held your first step and looked at your mom with the excitement that you figured it out. The next morning you took 3 steps and have never looked back. What we thought had previously looked like a prison, now looks much more restricted. Our possessions crept ever higher and the Christmas tree looked stunning from the halfway point up where your mom started the ornaments. Christmas was the first holiday where you were moving well enough to chase your cousins around and you loved every minute of it, as did we.

Recently you turned one. It was a party for you and a reflection for your mom and I on how happy you’ve made us. In writing this its become apparent that the delights in being a first time dad are the same delights that every first time parent has. The rolling, crawling, walking, and talking are nothing out of the ordinary except for the first time its my child and that makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being in my world. You’ve changed it, in every good way.

I love you David!

Dad

David's familyNathan is a native North Dakotan, raised in Dickinson. He graduated from North Dakota State University (Fargo) and is a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Bismarck where he and wife Amanda raise their son. They are joyful followers of Christ who enjoy going for family walks when it’s nice and playing indoors in forts with David when it’s not. Nathan and Amanda look forward to traveling with David as he gets older so he has an appreciation for all that this world has to offer, especially the great structures, museums, and natural wonders.  His first trip, however, will be in March 2016 to meet a mouse named Mickey.

Do you write letters to your child(ren)? What a great tradition to start for each of their birthdays. My husband Ken writes one every month on the same day to our college aged son who looks forward to going to his mailbox  to collect it. What a great way for your child(ren) to hear your voice through the written word and recapture who you were long after you’re gone. It’s not too late-start a writing tradition-today.

Share this post with others to encourage fathers to write letters to their sons-of any age.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

An Adoptee’s Voice 54 Years Later

(Shared by Susan-a follower from Florida)
Half-a-million adult adoptees were seeking or had found their birth families according to a late 1980’s survey. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998). In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
Susan was no different. Here is her story 54 years later.baby

THE BEGINNING
I was adopted at about nine months old by loving, gentle parents who fought to conceive and maintain pregnancies. I had an older brother, Bill, who was adopted at six weeks old and a younger sister, Lisa, who was about 18 months old when she joined the family. None of us were previously related.

I always knew I was adopted. My first recollection of this awareness was when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher asked, “Who in this class was adopted?” and my hand flew up. When I looked around, there may have been one other person, but I was never bothered by the fact. I asked my mom how she told me and she claimed she didn’t really remember. She thought she’d used books from the library that talked about being chosen and not coming from her tummy. I just always knew I was adopted. I had nothing to compare it with and didn’t know what it felt like to not be adopted. All I knew was that I was very much loved.
I was born in Ohio in 1961 and it was considered a “closed” adoption: neither party was privy to information about the other. The Ohio laws have since changed and anyone born before 1963 is free to search.
CHILDHOOD CURIOSITY
As a child, I was curious about my birth mother and fantasized that she was a wealthy, blue blood type person-someone like Crystal Carrington from susans adoptive family labelDynasty, a popular TV show at the time. I was very open with my mother. In turn, she was always a bit defensive, confusing me with her instructions not to go alone if I ever searched for my birth mother. Now I know she was trying to protect me. She believed that as a young, college educated adult, I might feel obligated to help my birth mother out if I saw she was struggling. Even though I assured my mother this was not a consideration, I felt she was withholding something from me. I’m not sure if I learned then, or if I knew sooner, but I was adopted from the county welfare department, as was my younger sister Lisa. Our origin was the source of my mother’s uneasiness. At this time, I was just curious and never felt a pressing need to search because my curiosity mostly was about my nationality. I didn’t search.
PREGNANCY CHANGED EVERYTHING
It wasn’t until I was married, living in California and pregnant with our first child that I seriously began looking into my birth background. I had an unsatisfied need to know what genes I was passing on to my children. In the past, when it came time to fill out paperwork at clinics, I’d answered questions about family history with, “I don’t know. Adopted!” Now it was about to affect another generation. If I could find  anything out, I desperately wanted to.
During the pregnancy, my mother came to California from Ohio to help me wallpaper the nursery and I kept peppering her with questions about this. She finally had enough and exclaimed, “Damn it!” which I had NEVER heard her say. My persistent questions really upset her. So much so that she shared with me all she knew, which was only my birth mother’s last name. Immediately I began the search, starting at the hospital where I was born and then calling the Cleveland welfare department.
SHOCKING NEWS
My goal was to know my heredity and disease history, but that’s not what I found out. I opened a can of worms that couldn’t have been further from my ideal birth mother image. The information was so upsetting that my husband Dave convinced me to put it all aside until after the birth of our son and deal with it later. It was great advice since my hormones were all whacked out from the pregnancy as it was.

It wasn’t too long afterwards though when I dealt with the information I’d received. I discovered I was the youngest of my birth mother’s five children, all adopted. The two oldest girls were in and out of foster care before their permanent homes. One brother died at birth and another I know nothing about. I learned I was taken to the welfare department straight from the hospital and that none of us had the same father. Our birth mother had psychological issues and was in and out of hospitals. She ended up dying in her 40’s in the hospital before my search began. To be truthful, her death was a relief because I didn’t have to make the decision to meet her. It was made for me.
SISTERS SEARCHING
I’d gathered all of this information from a wonderful social worker at the welfare department. As it turns out, my oldest biological sister, Judy, started her birth background search within a month of me inquiring about my background. I truly can’t make this stuff up!  Judy and I started exchanging birthday and Christmas cards, all through the social worker who understood we’d have some initial trust issues. Soon Judy and I were exchanging addresses.

About a year after Judy and I connected, I got another call from the social worker. She told me my birth sister, Jane, had made an inquiry to her background. So again, we made our introductions and became birthday and Christmas card friends. Judy and Jane are both lovely, decent women with terrific families. We have met a couple of times and I am glad they are in my life. We remain in contact and social media has allowed us to stay up to date with one another.
TO THOSE ADOPTING

I was always open with my parents about my findings because I knew they were just as curious as I was. I certainly have a better understanding of my mother’s apprehensiveness. I know she never felt she would be replaced. My brother never searched for his birth parents because he always thought it would hurt our parents. I never felt that way. Lisa, my youngest sister and only remaining family member, never searched for her birth parents either. She chose not to have children. Maybe that’s why she never chose to look into her background.
My advice for couples considering adoption is to find out the things I never did: Heredity and diseases, even if only on the birth mother’s side because these are important when you have children. I’m still curious about that part of my history.
Finally, I would say to people adopting-love those children. Discipline them and be open with them. Let them know they’re wanted.

Family is who you are with. My wonderful childhood is something I would never change. Nature vs. nurture is an argument that will continue….both are needed.
susan portraitSusan and Dave and their very spoiled rescue yellow Labrador, Jackson, recently moved to Florida in search of a more relaxed lifestyle on the beach after 20 years in Atlanta, GA where their three children were raised. Susan grew up in a modest house in a small suburb of Cleveland, OH, attended Ohio (Athens) University and worked in radio in Ohio before marrying Dave whose career took them to Los Angeles, CA, Charleston, SC and Minneapolis, MN. She volunteered in her children’s schools, substitute taught and worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school Physical Education department. As an empty nester, she’s also worked part-time retail jobs.

CONSIDERING ADOPTION?

Each year nearly 120,000 children are placed for adoption. If you’re considering adoption, Here are some resources to explore. Share this story with those you know considering adoption.

Adoption

Adopt Us Kids

Adoption Agencies by State

Adoptive Families

Leave a question or comment for Susan below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

I Spent New Year’s Eve With a New Man

A new man ended 2015 and started 2016 with me. It was the first time he invited me to spend the night. He made me dinner and showed me his city. He unloaded my vehicle upon arrival, had linens laid out and noticeably had cleaned his home in anticipation of my visit. During my stay, we shopped, cooked, talked, laughed, recalled past New Year’s Eve events and chewed a lot of sunflower seeds while watching endless college bowl games. Occasionally, he’d flip the channel and let me see New Year’s Eve programming from Times Square. We toasted the beginning of a new year and he taught me to play Phase 10-a card game.

The man I spent New Years with is our 21-year-old son, Alex. It  was my first aaaovernight at his home and it was memorable not only for the ringing in of a new year but also for his hospitality. Admittedly, I was a bit tepid about encroaching on his space for the first time-sleeping on his bed, using his shower, eating his food and following his house rules. The truth is thinking about the role reversal on the drive there far exceeded the reality of it. Once the door opened, it was quite natural.

For the most part, I checked my “mother role” at the door and entered his home as a guest. Okay, I did offer some non-solicited advice on cooking and, when he wasn’t looking, I took a couple extra swipes with the dishcloth at the oven top. And I might even have reset the coffee table and opened the blinds. But, don’t tell him! It’s just not that easy switching from mom to guest so abruptly. When he asked me to get him a beverage from the refrigerator, I knew the role shift wasn’t that easy for him either. We all fall into natural roles like mom and son. But I did want him to know during this visit I was also a guest and he was the host. It’s one of those things you learn over time-how to host guests. With more practice, I’m sure I’ll do better as a guest and he will continue to excel as a host.

I left my man’s home feeling proud and blessed that our son has matured into a person who can fund his own home, keep it clean, furnish it and even host his parents for a holiday with graciousness and charm.

It was a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a very special start to 2016.

I’m already waiting for the next invitation. This time I’ll leave the dishcloth, oven top, coffee table and blinds alone. Promise? Maybe! I’m still his Mom.

Do you recall the first time you spent the night at your child’s home? Can you relate?  How? Comment. Share.

 

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

Do My Stretch Marks Gross You Out?

I never got stretch marks when I was pregnant. In fact, I lost so much weight during the pregnancy I weighed less at Alex’s birth than I did in high school. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But, I definitely got more stretch marks in 2015 than in any other recent year. These marks I’m proud to show and tell about

What stretched you in 2015? What’s on your 2016 list for your personal growth and development? I prefer the term stretch marks to resolutions. How about you?

2015 Stretch Marks
1. I learned how to swim-a lifelong goal and one I blogged about in May 2015 under the category “scoliosis.” Nothing gave me more confidence up to that point in 2015 than this achievement. Many thanks to swim instructor, Tonya, for the training, coaching and motivation.
2. I birthed a website and blog in 2015. Like first time parents, this experience stretched me in all kinds of ways. Some days I rejoiced; others I cowered, and yet others I questioned my sanity for thinking I was cut out for this technical adventure. I love written expression and helping others share their stories through written words. For the most part, it’s been a tremendous success. What I quickly learned is writing is only a small part of having a successful website and blog. The technical and marketing aspects are equally, if not greater, in importance. And, I thank you for joining me on this journey and appreciate all the shares, comments and contributions you’ve made along the way. Keep up the good work, and I will do my best too.
3. Along with the website and technical challenges came learning to trust “remote” support professionals, including those in other countries whom I’ve never met or spoken to. It’s amazing how small our world is when one agrees to meet virtually.
4. I took my first online course on writing for the Internet in 2015. And, I did it in the midst of a major family transition. I missed direct interaction with the instructor and students. However, I enjoyed being able to log in when it was most convenient for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching methods. Taking quizzes, contributing to discussion boards and preparing for a final-well those required dusting off cobwebs. Great fun! Great stretch mark. “A” on final.
5. Linda’s store on the website is major stretch mark. First, I had to shoot all the images and prepare them technically so they could be uploaded and then printed on products. Uff-da! That was a lot of work, but worth all of it. I hope you enjoy viewing the images and will consider placing an order through the store. It’s my small business at work and I thank you for supporting it and all other small businesses.
6. Contacting tourism agencies was another noteworthy stretch mark. As the year progressed, it became quite clear that my passion is visiting and promoting mid to small town America. More than that, I thrive on assessing the culture and heartbeat of a community and promoting it to followers who want to venture to and explore off-the-beaten-path places. This requires my cold calling or contacting tourism agencies and chamber of commerce organizations to collaborate with me. If you’d like me to visit your town and promote it to future tourists, tell me whom to contact. I will. I love travel. I love promotion. I love writing and I certainly enjoy seeing small towns gain additional revenue from visitors.
7. My palate was stretched in 2015. I tried Indian and Ethiopian food along with cuisine from Afghanistan and authentic Mexican fare. Thankfully my husband eats what I prepare and we’ve been enjoying expanding our food selections and preparing it in healthier ways. Recipes can be found under that tab on the website.
8. I was able to work with my husband, Ken, again for one night in 2015 as we shared red carpet interviewer roles for a corporate event. microphoneWe’d worked together for over 20 years before the business was purchased. This one night confirmed my passion for helping others tell their stories, even if only in sound bites on the red carpet. I hadn’t done this type of work in years and the preparation stretched me more than the event did. Once I hit the red carpet, I felt like I was home. I want to do it again!
9. Relocating stretched me in so many ways. I had to let go of “things” to simplify the move and re-learn that what matters most are the people in the room, not the room or the things in it. I’m afraid to say moving was “fun” for fear it will happen sooner rather than later, but approaching another move in 2015 with a different mindset completely de-stressed the process.
10. Home and furnishing purchases considerably stretched me in 2015. Realizing this may be the last time I purchase a house or furnishings touched me at my core. It took longer to find the ideal house because certain features like ranch style were not a choice, but a necessity. Understanding one’s own aging is not for the lighthearted.
11. Other than my own family perhaps, nothing opened my heart more or gave me greater joy in 2015 than being randomly boyzcalled out to dance with BoyzIIMen during their Las Vegas concert. Despite hosting a website and writing a blog, I am a private person who dances in the kitchen with the curtains drawn. I shun the spotlight at all cost. So, to accept the offer to dance in front of a sold out crowd and have my moves projected on big screens for all to analyze, was definitely a stretchable moment. Accepting the invitation on the spur of the moment rather than waving it off is more meaningful to me than the dancing, though I relished every part of that too.
12. The role shift as a mother stretched me most in 2015. Part of me grieves the loss of nurturing while the other part is purely at peace knowing our son, Alex, has found a partner who loves him equally as his parents.britt The calls for information, support and conversation have dwindled. I know these now go to the “other woman” in his life. We love her for what she is in Alex’s life and we celebrate the times we share together. Without speaking about it in technical terms, we all know and accept the role shifts, sometimes with more grace than others. My days of caretaking for a son will one day perhaps be reversed and that’s a role shift that will stretch me too.

I’m starting to create my 2016 list. So far I’ve listed: learn to play pickle ball, travel to the Pacific Northwest and visit at least 8 small to mid-sized towns to promote on my blog. Do you have any other suggestions to add? What would you like me to do and then blog about? Please share. I’m open to hearing your suggestions and trying new things, except skydiving that is.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. December 2015. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

School Shooting In Rural America

First Year Teacher Shares Incident Experience

Sarah is a first year teacher and daughter of a veteran police officer. She knew of crime but never realized she’d be so close to a shooting until a student opened fire inside her school during her 1st month on the job. This is Sarah’s account of September 30, 2015 in rural Harrisburg, South Dakota, population 5000.

I’ll never forget this day. I was supervising a study hall of diligent students when just after 10:00 AM; the intercom came on with static and white noise. Quickly following was the administrative assistant’s voice saying, “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown.” She did not yell, but panic was heard in her voice. In fact, still today, over and over in my head, I hear how she said those words. Instantly I knew this was not a drill. Instead, a real incident was happening somewhere in the school.

Immediately I instructed my classroom of 25 students to get as close to the back wall as possible so they were not in direct site from the door. As they moved, I ran to shut and lock the door, turn the lights off and close all the shades. The next few minutes of uncertainty felt like an eternity. Students rightfully asked if this was a drill and what was going on. I had no answers. Finally our principal, who I later learned had just been shot, came on the intercom announcing the person causing the lockdown was apprehended and authorities were enroute.

All breathed a sigh of relief knowing with near certainty we were no longer in danger. Then I realized my loved ones, who’d in all likelihood heard about
the shooting, were probably trying to find out if I was okay, only I didn’t
have my cellular phone. For once, I was thankful for social media because I took to Facebook to contact my friends and family, letting them know that my students and I were safe.

I was on the job a month when this incident happened. I never imagined having to follow active shooter procedures ever while teaching, let alone in the first month of my career. The staff had practiced a lockdown drill just two weeks prior to the shooting so I knew what to do in the classroom that day and automatically did as we were taught.

September 30th I became a more confident teacher. Confidence in the classroom and relationship building with students typically come with time and success. Ironically, this experience jump-started both. I know, if faced with a similar incident, I will be confident in my actions. That morning those 25 students and I bonded and I feel closer to them now then I think most teachers in their first month of their first year could wish for.

I will admit that on the day of the shooting I really didn’t have any feelings about it. But the next day, when seeing the students and our principal, who thankfully was only slightly injured, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened and the realization of how it could have been much worse for all.

October 1, 2015 when I got home from school, I learned of the Oregon college campus shooting and what happened the day before at our school really hit me hard. I thought to myself how easily that could have been my school, and my students. Yes, all of us at Harrisburg High School went through a traumatic event but it could have been a tragic event as well.

I was thankful then that I am close to my family. Some of my co-worker’s families live in other states and could only communicate through telephone or text messaging. I was lucky enough to have my family in the same city, offering me support and talking me through this incident.

I believe one of the biggest factors in this situation was that the student doing the shooting was new to the school. No one really had a chance to know him. And it is hard to say why he chose to use this act of violence with the limited background information we had on him.

What I can say is that parents should always be mindful of what their teenagers are doing and who they are hanging out with. As a sister to a brother seven years younger, I know keeping tabs on teenagers can be challenging because they don’t always want to talk to their parents. As a teacher I try to develop relationships right away with my students so they feel comfortable opening up to me about their struggles in and outside of school.

I don’t know if I am really the right person to dispense warning signs indicating a child might be considering an act of violence. I will say parents should try their best to be involved in their children’s lives and to pay attention to how they normally act. If abrupt change is noticed, it would be best for all to sit down right away and talk about it. As a teacher, and also someone who not too long ago was a teenager, I do know students absolutely want their parents to be involved and to talk to them, even though they may appear resistant and non-receptive.

Today I feel safe at Harrisburg High School. How I enter the school and go about my day has not changed. Honestly, being in lockdown was the last thing I ever expected when I decided to be a teacher. Yet, September 30, 2015 changed so many things for me. Teaching is as much about my learning as it is educating my students. That day I both taught and learned and I’m more confident for the experience.
What message would you like to convey to Sarah and all teachers? Leave a comment below.

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

If you’d like to contribute as a guest, contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

Replaced Mom?

Google-the Nasty Step-Mother

Soon no one will speak any longer. Texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and other social media have nearly replaced telephone calls. A hand-addressed, hand-written letter in the mailbox has me rushing back to the house excited to read words committed on paper forever.

Long gone are the days when I made, or more recently received, phone calls about ingredient substitutions for a family recipe, remedies for an illness or techniques for stain removal. Nope! No one calls for that advice or wisdom any longer. Instead, we log onto one of our many electronic devices and ask Google. Google is the end-all and the answer key for virtually everything we need to know. It is the nasty step-mother who’s replaced mom’s wisdom. It’s left mom feeling worthless and not needed. Heck, even mom Googles when she needs information now.

What’s missing from this instantaneous Google search for answers and information is the appreciation of experience and wisdom of the elder being called who knows the right answers through the trials and errors of living life. Every time I hung up the phone (Phones haven’t always been carried.) after calling to ask a household or vehicle operating question, I was grateful for the answer and deep down I knew it gave my parents a boost to be able to answer and to help. It proved their worth, even as their child aged.

Recently our son called to ask how to dispose of kitchen grease. I answered. And then I got suspicious. What was the real reason he was calling? Was everything okay? Was he lonely? Did something happen? Oh Dear! Maybe he just wanted to know how to get rid of the grease that was smelling up his apartment.

I wish he’d call more often with questions I can answer without looking them up on Google. If only he knew how that one little ring on my cellular phone boosted my sense of worth as a mother. Save the texts and instant messages for someone else. Today, let the phone ring or the mailbox contain a hand-written letter.

Need to know how to write one?  Call me!

©Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Halloween Party Planning–Include Boys

Boys get the short stick of holiday party planning. Some say they don’t care. I beg to differ. As the mother of an only child who happens to be male I want him to experience the excitement and anticipation of all holidays too. I understand he’s not a girl, I am. I want him to bank memories of holidays and to recall the fun, festivity and even the calamity of the planning and the party itself. In addition, I want him participating in the planning. There is so much learning for kids involved in planning and hosting events-everything from envelope addressing to budgeting to handling conflict between party guests. Sit down with your child, or children, and plan a party TOGETHER. You will be doing them a favor and teaching them more than you realize.

Pre-Party To-Do List

  • Pick a date, time and location.
  • Decide who to invite-all boys, co-ed, adults?
  • Purchase or create invitations. Child completes Who, What, When, Where and RSVP details.
  • Child addresses envelopes, stamps and mails invitations 2-3 weeks before date.
  • Plan a menu. Traditional kid food or holiday food?
  • Create a grocery shopping list by menu item. What buy, what make?
  • Decide where to serve food-outside vs. inside-where at each location?
  • Make list of tableware and decorations needed.
  • Giving guests party favors? What? Make or buy?
  • Shop together. Compare prices. Decide together.
  • Plan activities for party. Indoor and outdoor. Inclement weather plan?
  • Make a time-line of actions to be done the week of the party and the day of the party. [Teaching time management skills and big picture thinking.]
  • Follow up with non-responding RSVP guests. (Major pet peeve!)

Week of Party Reminders

  • Check the forecast
  • Balls inflated? If any sports balls being used in activities, are they properly inflated?
  • Gather serving platters, trays, utensils, etc. for menu items. Clean? Ready to use?
  • Making party favors? Do so. Place in basket and set aside.
  • Can any ingredients be cut or prepared in advance? Check recipes.

Party Day

  • Set up serving tables, if not using kitchen or dining room table.
  • Prepare menu items, paying close attention to preparation times and safe storage.
  • Place serving trays, bowls, etc. on table.
  • Double check items needed for activities- all present and available?
  • Is bathroom ready for guest use?
  • Be ready for guests to arrive at least 1-hour before start time.
  • ENJOY the party!
  • Hand guests party favors as they leave and thank them for coming to your party.
  • Clean up.
  • Children, thank parents for helping you plan such a great party!

Sample Menu From Halloween Party for Pre-Teen Boys

  • Bloodied Fingers-twisted and baked breadsticks with food coloring added. Almonds (fingernail) pressed into bread after 5 minutes of baking.
  • Blood Shot Eyes on Guts-can of black beans spread on plate (guts). Deviled eggs with pimento or red pepper (blood shot) and sliced olives (eyeball).
  • Spider Web 7-layer dip-see photo for ingredients or use your favorite recipe. Put sour cream in bag with small hole so child can draw web on top layer.
  • Cheetos and black tortilla chips
  • Sliced red and green pepper
  • Punch over dried ice
  • Jean’s Ghost Cookies-see under “recipes.”

Sample Activities

It’s a sunny fall day and the invitees are pre-teen boys. Flag football supervised by an adult. Game of “Horse” on the basketball court-winner is first in line to eat. Age appropriate Halloween or other scary movie. At dusk-Flashlight Tag.

Party Favors

Battery operated flashlight for Flashlight Tag and a pre-packaged Rice Krispie treat covered with a ghost face decorated (Sharpie) paper towel tied on with black or orange yarn.

Copyright. September 2015. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.