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Archive for December, 2012

IT’S dinnertime, and 6-year-old Joaquin Hurtado is staying in his seat. He hasn’t stood up, run around the table or wrestled with his little brother. Good thing. It wouldn’t take much unruly behavior to shatter the dishware or the mood in this upscale restaurant.

“This is a place where you come to eat,” the boy says softly, explaining nice manners. “It’s not a place to play.”

The place is Chenery Park, a restaurant with low lights, cloth napkins, $24 grilled salmon and “family night” every Tuesday. Children are welcome, with a catch: They are expected to behave — and to watch their manners, or learn them. Think upscale dining with training wheels.

Chenery Park has many allies in the fight to teach manners to a new generation of children. Around the country, there are classes taught by self-appointed etiquette counselors — Emily Posts for a new age — delivering a more decentralized and less formal approach to teaching manners than in years past. A few restaurants, like Chenery Park, and high-end hotels set aside space and time for families.

These etiquette experts say that new approaches are needed because parents no longer have the stomach, time or know-how to play bad cop and teach manners. Dinnertime has become a free-for-all in many households, with packed family schedules, the television on in the background and a modern-day belief of many parents that they should simply let children be children.

Some of these manners-minders acknowledge that they can sound like curmudgeons, just another generation of older folks mourning the lost habits of more refined times. But they also say that parents welcome their efforts as a way of outsourcing the hard work of teaching youngsters to follow rules.

During a recent family night at Chenery Park, Joseph Kowal, an owner, roamed among the regulars and newcomers, saying hello and occasionally playing parental ally. He’s got a twinkle in his eye but a steely commitment to having children — even if they’re not etiquette role models — at least sit politely and not scream or throw food.

“Some parents will say, ‘Uncle Joe’s going to come up here, and he’s going to be cross with you,’ ” Mr. Kowal said. “They use that to their advantage.” He recalled one child who wouldn’t settle down, and he threatened to tape the child’s mouth. The child told him to go ahead and try.

“I went to my office, got some blue painter’s tape, came back and ripped a piece off,” he said. The kid piped down. “The parents looked at me like, ‘We’re going to try that at home.’ ”

All of which raises some intriguing questions: Is it Joe who brings out the best in his young patrons? Or something else? And what are the best strategies for training children to be polite, to pay attention to the world around them, whether they are in dim lighting with fragile dishware or at home?

ETIQUETTE teachers, other parents and people who spend time thinking about how and why we mind our manners have some interesting ideas about new strategies.

“These days, you have to teach kids about return on investment,” said Robin Wells, the founder of Etiquette Manor in Coral Gables, Fla., which holds classes on etiquette for adults and children. When it comes to children, she said, long gone are the days when you could tell them that they have to behave a certain way “just because.”

So, even as she imparts lessons about using forks and the importance of looking the waiter in the eye, she does so by framing the lessons in a constructively selfish way for the children. She often exhorts her young students: be polite to your mother because she’ll be happier, and if she’s happier, you’re happier.

On the first day of her five one-hour sessions, which cost $285, she tells the children to go home and do one unexpectedly kind thing so that they can see how wide-eyed and impressed their parents will be. “It’s almost manipulation at its finest,” she said.

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old fashioned toy shop

 

However, traditional toys such as Lego and even Subbuteo are giving this Christmas’s toy lists a retro feel this year.

With help from Leicester’s Dominoes toy shop, John Lewis, Amazon and Hamleys, here is our own top ten toy list for 2012. Pay attention Santa:

1) Lego – Forest Police Station. Recommended by Dominoes Toys of Leicester, Lego never fails to please and this is a must-have set new for 2012.  

2) Furby – A massive hit in the 90s, the Furby has been updated for today’s children and promises to keep them entertained for hours.

Its infra-red eyes have been replaced with two small LCD screens, its body has more motors and sensors than before and like so many toys these days, it comes with its own smartphone and tablet app, allowing for an even more interactive experience.

The app will even translate Furby’s weird language into English.

3) Tablets – Whether we agree with them or not, children as young as two are now playing with tablets and manufacturers have caught on to the fact.

Vtech and Leapfrog have launched children-friendly tablets with downloadable apps, educational games and even a built-in camera.

Tablets for kids are predicted to be a huge hit this Christmas by almost all major retailers.

4) Subbuteo – The retro finger football game is listed by Dominoes and Hamleys as being a big hit this Christmas.

5) Playmobile – Sets of any kind offer children hours of play to ignite their imaginations.

Of particular interest this year is the Playmobile Treasure Island.

With sets aimed at girls and boys, this is a toy youngsters under 10 will love.

6) Guess Who – This fabulous board game was popular when I was a child and still gives children of all ages hours of fun.

This year revamped versions include a Star Wars Guess Who. 

7) Web shooting Spiderman – Another toy that crops up on most lists this year, this well-known action figure looks like being a big hit.

8) FurReal – Cute animals that move and respond to touch.

These have been popular for a few years now and look like they will be again for 2012.

9) Trampoline – Garden trampolines are great for families, even those with limited space and are a gift-list staple that promise to delight children of all ages from toddlers to teenagers and even grown-ups.

10)   Barbie – The Princess and The Pop star interchangeable hair – another prediction from Dominoes and as the mother of a boy I’ll take their word for it.

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snowman-2

“Remember your manners. Be polite and say thank you when someone gives you something!”

This was my mother speaking all those years ago, but it could be any of a million mums reminding their kids to mind their P’s & Q’s.

It can be nerve-wracking as a parent, as children’s use of manners are usually a direct reflection our own manners. 

Christmas is exciting for most kids. The gift-getting, treats and parties is full-on. Many kids experience a different set of social circumstances at Christmas than they have throughout the year. They may meet relatives they rarely see; go to unfamiliar places; and often make multiple visits in a day. Kids from separated families often get a double dose of gifts, dinners and relatives.

But Christmas is a time when kids’ manners are sorely tested. Parents and guardians need to be mindful of Christmas etiquette as our kids enjoy the festive season.

Christmas etiquette revolves around four area:

1. Party manners: Parties require kids to share, to hold a conversation or play well with others and to fit in with what the host wants. Help kids understand what’s expected when they go out. Simple social graces such as refraining from gulping food down is a good place to start.

2. Receiving gifts: This is a biggie! What to say when you open a gift and you find it’s not to your liking! Hold your tongue, find out who gave it to you and say thank you…………..with eye contact. Lots of presents means lots of thank you…..and kisses and hugs.

3. Family gatherings: Having to put up with the kisses and hugs from that weird aunt can be enough to turn most kids off! But good mannered kids take their cues from others and will put up with well-intentioned relatives. Using names and making eye contact when kids speak are good social skills as well. Using a knife and fork when they eat their Christmas meal is also a basic social skill that some kids lack.

4. Celebrating with friends: Our multi-cultural society means that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Perhaps they can help these friends to feel included at this time of year by giving them a holiday card or gift so they don’t feel left out. 

Teaching etiquette and social graces to children and young people is done in four ways:

1. Modelling: Kids need to see you being polite & considerate of different social situations.
2. Reminding: Some need a reminder of how to behave before going out.
3. Practicing: You need to practise or role play good manner and social skills such as greeting others.
4. Cueing: Some kids need to be quietly cued about doing the right thing when they forget. No fuss or embarrassment. Just a reminder how they should behave.

Help your kids reflect well on you in social situations this Christmas.

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download.jpg123
The Star

I have a star that’s shiny,
Its like those up in the sky –
That radiate a brightness,
From the heavens, oh so high!

Stars like to glimmer and twinkle,
Constellations are fun to find –
But the star that shone over Bethlehem,
Led to the Savior of all mankind.

Let us thank God for the star
That led the shepherds and others to him.
We want to praise our  Lord Jesus
Beautiful star of Bethlehem

The Heart

I bring you my heart
That is now filled with love,
Because God sent a baby
From Heaven above.

I bring you my heart
Its so happy within,
I know Jesus loves me –
He died for my sin.

I bring you my heart
You should give yours away,
Give it to Jesus –
And be saved today!

The Wreath

I would like to show you this wreath.
Isn’t it shaped so perfectly round?
You see, there’s no end of it’s circle,
And the beginning cannot be found.

That is how it is with God’s love –
We don’t know when it first began,
But He promised it would last forever,
And one day with Him we will stand.

uld like to show you this wreath.
Isn’t it shaped so perfectly round?
You see, there’s no end of it’s circle,
And the beginning cannot be found.

That is how it is with God’s love –
We don’t know when it first began,
But He promised it would last forever,
And one day with Him we will stand.

The Bell

Ring the bell!
Let the whole world know,
That Jesus was born
In a manger long ago.

Ring it loud,
So all can hear.
Go tell the world
That the Savior is near!

Ring it for the saved,
But especially for the lost!
Tell them Jesus loves them,
And died upon the cross.

Ring it with joy
When to your friends you say,
“He didn’t stay in the tomb –
He rose on the third day!”

We ring the bells with gladness
Now at Christmas, a time of joy.
We thank our heavenly father,
For Bethlehem’s baby boy!

The Baby

I have a tiny baby,
I like to hold it near –
So it will know that I’m the mommy (or daddy)
And won’t have any fear.

God had a tiny baby,
That he gave to Mary one day.
She laid him in a manger,
On a little pillow of hay.

I love to kiss my baby
And I think that Mary did, too.
I’ll send a Christmas kiss to Jesus *
And then I’ll send one to you!**

The Stone

The angel appeared to the shepherds
And gave them such wonderful news.
As they started running to Bethlehem,
One almost lost his new shoes.

You see, his foot hit a rock,
Not a boulder, but a stone big enough
To trip him and cause him to stumble,
And he landed on ground that was rough!

But he managed to get to the manger
In spite of that rock in the way
To worship this baby, this Jesus,
He would serve Him till his dying day.

This baby grew up and was followed
By many as he preached and he healed,
But He died on a hill called Mt.Calvary,
Then to a borrowed tomb that was sealed.

It was closed up with a very large boulder,
A big stone of magnificent size,
But it would take more than this rock to hold him –
He had told them that one day he’d rise.

The stone was moved from the entrance
Jesus came forth on the third day
I would love to have been there to see it
As that great stone was rolled away

The Gift

The wise men searched for Jesus.
Following a very bright star.
They finally found him in Bethlehem,
And brought gifts to him from afar.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Were the presents that the kings gave.
They worshiped this very young Christ-child,
They were glad their souls he would save.

I will offer three presents to Jesus,
That money cannot even buy,
And I’m sure that he will love it –
I’ll give Me, Myself, and I !


The Lamb

I have a little baby lamb,
Shhh, I think he’s asleep.
I am a Bethlehem shepherd,
In the field just watching my sheep.

One night an angel appeared,
And told us about the birth –
Of a baby that was placed in a manger,
He was the Savior of the earth!

We ran to meet this Master
And we fell down and worshiped right then –
This tiny lamb of Jehovah,
Who could save us from our sin.

So stay close to His side always,
This Lamb whose your shepherd, too.
He will never lead you the wrong way,
And will be ever faithful and true.

The Song

I have a song about Jesus
When he first came here, you see.
Its about his birth in the stable
Oh, won’t you sing it with me?

It’s called Away in a Manger,
And it tells of this tiny baby boy.
Let’s lift our voices to Heaven –
And sing of His wonderful joy!

By Cheryl Taylor

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SANTA 123

You have done everything you can possibly do to give your kids the best Christmas Season possible, but no matter how hard you try the money just isn’t there. Perhaps you need to decide between putting that special dinner on the table, buyingChristmas gifts and having some other form of costly tradition. You have probably been pretty stressed out, spent more hours with your head in your hands then you wish to confess to and now have finally realized that no matter how hard you try there is just nothing you can do to hide your financial situation from your kids any further.

Allow me to assure you from experience, that most children can be very understanding and are most of the time very eager to help out. The key is to give them the facts in a very age appropriate manner and convert their mind immediately by giving suggestions on how they might be able to help make the situation better.

Small children (Ages 3 to 9) very seldom have any sort of concept of money. They have no idea yet how hard it can be for an Adult to earn the funds necessary to take care of everything needed to keep them safe. On the upside of that is that most kids during within this age group are not yet quiet as jaded and are still much easier pleased with small things. As much as they love the flashy new toys, they are just as easily pleased with the opportunity of unwrapping “many” packages.

Think dollar Store and homemade presents for Christmas and enlist your kids in becoming Santa’s little helpers. If you have more then one little munchkin, take those that are old enough to help make gifts at a time and ask them to help you create some easy to make homemade gifts. Make sure to emphasize how much of a big help they are in making this holiday just a bit brighter. Safe money on wrapping paper by asking your kids to create some wonderful pieces of Christmas Art which you can use to wrap up presents for Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and close Friends of the Family.

Ask little ones to help you make “ornaments”, which you can give away as presents. You can also ask them to help you put the Elf Christmas Dinner together. What would an Elf eat for Christmas? If you would like to keep it more traditionally Christian you can also explain that Marie and Joseph were very poor and didn’t have all that fancy food for the birth of Baby Jesus and that you don’t have to have Turkey, Ham etc to celebrate this Holiday.

Children 10 to 15 Years old

These kids are a lot smarter then most of us give them credit for. By this point, the belief in Santa Claus has long since stopped as well. You don’t want to destroy their Christmas, but if you sit them down you can explain to them why money is a bit tight right now. Let them know that you would like to give them everything they want, but you just can’t do it. You can ask them for their help in various ways.

Give them a price range you are able to afford and ask them to pick one or two presents they would really enjoy within that price range.

Ask them to help you make some presents for the younger children and those family members who are not living with you.

Ask them to help you pick between various Christmas Traditions. Let them know which ones the choices are and then give each person one full weight vote. (A good lesson in having to make choices that are not comfortable at all) Encourage them to weight out the Pro and Cons for each choice they have.

Tell them what you have available financially for Christmas Dinner and have your kids go shopping with you for it. You may just be surprised what you end up eating that Night. My kids did this with me one year and we ended up saving enough money on the Dinner (turned out to be extra cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole and Apple Pie with Ice Cream for dessert) to be able to purchase a DVD we all wanted as a family Christmas Gift.

The big kids (Ages 16 to 18)

I am sorry to say, but at this point they have a right to know what is going on and even have the opportunity to help out financially. At this point they are so close to being Adults that they need to realize what happens when finances take a sudden nose dive.

Let your kids honestly know that there may not be any money for Presents this year and that if they want something very badly, they may have to get a small job and purchase it them-selves.

If they insist on a fancy Christmas Feast (for some reason this seems to be the age were they seem to be the most demanding and even most clueless ones) then you may give them to option to be the supplier of the feast. At this Age they are able to get small part time jobs, baby sitting jobs, dog walking jobs etc.

I know it appears a bit harsh to most of you, but at this point they really need to learn that just because you want something it will be readily given to you. Perhaps when it is on their Shoulders to earn the money to supply what they believe to be so important they will get a whole new appreciation of the value of a Dollar.

Not an easy lesson to teach a child at the last moment, but hopefully you have already installed an attitude of gratitude, being happy for what you can have and perhaps even that it is more important to be together with those you love then having a lot of fancy new things. Remember that nothing ever lasts forever and that when times are the darkest there is usually a small sliver of light somewhere around the corner. Keep your head up and use this opportunity in getting closer to your kids and teach them some important life lessons!

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