Friday, September 30, 2011

Changed Perspective

I was a teenager when my cousin Jordan was born. As Jordan grew from preschool to preadolescence I would observe her to be an endearing but demanding child. Jordan had a host of small idiosyncrasies that individually were minor but collectively made her a handful. It was not uncommon for Jordan to end up in her parents' bed or function on her own eating and sleeping schedule. I quietly wondered why this cantankerous little girl behaved the way she did. And silently I vowed not let my own child shape our days and nights with such command.

Through the years I continued to quietly build my portfolio of child rearing opinions. I wisely concealed my sometimes ignorant views. Nevertheless, I banked my thoughts. Nearly two decades after my cousin Jordan was born, I was blessed to birth my own child. Ten days after my son Watson's delivery, he began to exhibit colicky behavior. Watson's discontent seemed to increase rather than diminish as he turned 10 weeks and then ten months old. Watson never acclimated to a schedule. Feeding regimens were abandoned in pursuit of relief that only a bottle would provide. Attempts to implement sleeping routines failed as Watson awoke often and unhappy. At eighteen months he began vomiting when he became especially upset, which included bed time. My husband and I resorted to less than ideal sleeping arrangements in desperate search of rest. Most of my parenting choices went against any text book instruction. Coping was my goal.

Through Watson's first two years I experienced all the looks I recognized. Friends, especially those who were already parents, sometimes verbalized their body language by offering advice. It wasn't uncommon to receive a well-meaning but poignant email from a friend who had spent time with us and felt "led" to share their opinion on the problems. Parenting books frequently appeared in our mailbox. My feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment mushroomed.

I too had begun my parenting journey with the same goals and ideals as my friends. I read all the books and consulted my pediatrician until he was tired of seeing me. Watson seemed to struggle more than any book or friend could explain. I started avoiding acquaintances and social gatherings and especially if Watson was with me. I tried my best to keep our difficulty under wraps. And when pieces of reality escaped concealment, I would joke "I don't think he'll serve prison time over" and I would fill in the blank with "bottles after age one," "crazy sleeping arrangements," or "his lack of schedule." I smiled through many hard conversations as I listened to unasked for and usually uninformed advice. In the meantime, I felt something must be wrong with my child.

Just as Watson turned two I was nearing an emotional and physical breakdown. During a church small group gathering I candidly shared and cried. I was exhausted. I started my long diatribe with: "Please don't give me advice. There is nothing I haven't already heard or tried." The women listened without judgment and then prayed for me. The next morning one of the ladies from the small group called me to say "you are not crazy." She explained that she was a pediatric occupational therapist and asked if I had ever heard of sensory integration disorder. She recognized Watson's challenges and peculiar habits as possible signs of this neurological disorder.

For the following months we slowly walked a course leading to answers and relief. My occupational therapist friend assisted in obtaining a referral and diagnostic assessment. Watson was soon formally diagnosed with the sensory seeking type of sensory integration disorder. Simultaneously he was diagnosed with sleep apnea as well as being severely lactose intolerant. After a change of diet, intense occupational therapy, a formal sleep study and ensuing tonsillectomy, our lives changed dramatically. Within six months of my occupational therapist friend's phone call, Watson slept in his own bed through the night and lost a whole host of bad habits. His regular daytime behavior changed noticeably. Our life began to feel manageable.

Days after Watson's S.I.D. diagnosis, my aunt, Jordan's mother, called me. She explained Jordan grew up with what today would be recognized as S.I.D. as well as severe allergies. My aunt and I laughed and cried as we compared notes and understood each other in a way we knew few others would. And I felt tremendous hope. Jordan was now an accomplished, college bound freshman who was very possibly one of the most enjoyable people I knew! Indeed, maybe my precious son would avoid prison, as I had joked for the past year!

Now at age four, Watson is a happy and healthy preschooler. He is a different child. And since overcoming over two years of sleepless chaos, I am a different friend! My patience is longer with most people in my life, and especially other moms. Recently while in a mall I observed a mother gingerly handle her preschooler daughter's temper tantrum. I caught myself forming judgment on this mother's parenting. I quickly reminded myself that I didn't know what battles had been fought earlier in the day or what developmental obstacles the child may possess. Not too long ago I passively handled mad-fits in order to prevent Watson from vomiting. I reflected and offered a silent prayer as I watched this mother from afar. If there was one, key learning in my hardship with my son, it was that judgment is fruitless. I now make a point not just to conceal an opinion but not to form one at all! Most parents in my circles are bright, independent, and informed people. They know conventional wisdom and genuinely care for the well-being of their children. What they need most from me are prayers and compassion, not opinions or advice.

Originally posted on
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Enjoying a Subsequent Pregnancy After the Loss of a Baby

June is the month that my first little girl passed from this life, so it always brings me bittersweet memories. There is a lot of love to go around and it may be hard to remember after a child dies that there could be love in a memory as well as love for a new child.

After coming to the realization that your little one is gone, getting out your anger, reaching for support and creating tangible memories, you'll realize that death is a part of life and that you did indeed conceive a wonderful little miracle, but he or she could not stay for whatever the reason. Coming to peace with your loss is also coming to peace with yourself. It's okay to say it... I had a child-My child died-My child passed away-I still have my child in my heart-And that makes me happy. ... and it’s okay to get ready, prepared, and excited for another baby on the way.

Loving a new child does not mean forgetting or abandoning the baby you lost- it means you are moving to a place where it is okay to smile and laugh again, with the utmost respect and love. Your strength to go on is not being disloyal to your child, it is being appreciative of the gifts he or she gave you.

With the coming of a new child, you may have a roller coaster ride of emotions. You may feel anger, fear, anxiousness, immense joy, or denial. Acknowledging, discussing and accepting these feelings are the best way to overcome the grief and prepare for your new child. Pretending that you never lost a child and that this is your first pregnancy is a natural defense to protect yourself from sadness and give you a brief moment of joy while living in a memory, but in the long run, hiding and pretending will give way to reality.

Addressing the facts and coming to this resolution allows blame and depression to fade away. You can still feel sad- you will always feel sad, but you can accept that your child is no longer with you. You can accept that his or her life, as short as it was, had a meaning and made a mark on your life. You can accept that you have another baby on the way and begin to enjoy the developing life of your new child with joy, excitement and anticipation. Remember you are always a mom and loving both babies won’t dilute the intensity. Love multiplies, it never divides.

Submitted by Jill from NorthMetroDCMommies.  Originally posted on the NorthMetroDCMommies Blog.
Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Monday - Basil Mayo

Basil Mayo

1 Cups Mayo (Best Foods or the like)
1/4 Cup Chopped, Fresh Basil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp Lemon Zest
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:
Incorporate all ingredients into Mayo, whisk until smooth.

Serving Suggestions:
For Sandwhiches or dip for French Fries!

Additional Comments:
For Dried basil, 2 Tablespoons

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Lyndsey"
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tend Your Wildflowers As They Grow

Whether we see them or not, wildflowers bloom with each passing year. They blanket uninhabited mountainsides with carpets of beautiful color with each season. Our children bloom with new attributes to their personalities with each passing day as well:whether we take notice or not. Time has a funny way of slipping away from us right under our noses, and we must be careful not to miss out on the beauty of everyday.

Sure, we all have floors to clean, laundry to wash, bills to pay and running around to do day after day. All the chores we do are for the purpose of providing a safe and clean environment for our families, but the more important task at hand is to take notice of our children's emotional and spiritual needs.

It's very easy to get into a strict schedule:off to school, do chores in between, home from school, homework, dinner, bath, and then bed. Day after day we stick to our schedules and rely on things remaining the same for the sake of sanity.

Having a schedule is wonderful; in fact it's a great way to provide stability for our children. However, there are times when we need to break away from our schedules; be free to have fun and spend time sharing in our children's childlike spirit!

Make time to enjoy your children:play tea party, army men, board games or whatever suits their fancy! Playing with your kids is not only fun for them, but it's also relaxing for you. For a brief moment in time, you're not the waitress, disciplinarian, dietitian, or taxi driver:you're just "ma" having a good time with your children.

Just this once, don't yell at the kids for running down the hall laughing out loud because your favorite television show is on:turn off the T.V. and run down the hall with them and play a game or two of hide and go seek!

Loosen the bun from the back of your head and get some dirt under your fingernails and dig for worms on a hot summer day; and then go rinse off under the sprinkler with them, clothes and all!

I challenge you to have more fun being a parent and interact with your child's playtime more often.

Although it can be difficult to manage a household, raise kids and take time for yourself on a daily basis; you should enjoy your little wildflowers while you can, for someday they will bloom into adulthood and tend to their own wildflower gardens!

Originally posted on
Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Monday - Berry Salad with Yogurt

Berry Salad with Yogurt

1 cup no-fat/low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup honey - any kind will do
1 to 2 tablespoons milk (as needed to thin dressing)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
4 cups of Berries -Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
fresh peppermint leaves, whole or finely cut

Cooking Instructions:
Wash, stem and sort berries. In a small bowl combine
yogurt and honey and whisk together. Add cinnamon and
nutmeg and whisk until well incorporated. Add milk
until you reach your desired consistency. Place berries
in serving bowls and drizzle the yogurt dressing over
the top. Garnish with mint and serve immediately.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Heather"
Friday, September 16, 2011

Bowling For Sanity

My mom visited this past week (a whole blog on its own I assure you) and of course, when the ‘rents visit, we try and do something extra throughout the week for fun. One of the activities we did this week was to go bowling. Now bowling sounds like a safe, friendly thing to do with kids. I thought so. I mean, I used to take Zavi once in a while when we lived back in Mass and we never had an issue. So what could possibly go wrong bowling with 2 more kids added in and a grandmother? Oh. My. God.

To anyone who may be reading this and was at the bowling alley the same time we were, I am so sorry. I hope Ashe did not erase your computerized game thingy. I tried to keep him away, I really did. But that bugger is fast!

We got the Citi guide coupon book a few weeks ago and I saw you could get one game free of bowling. So on Zavi's early release day from school we piled into the car and drove to the local bowling alley. The older boys were excited, Soren was passed out in a drunken stupor, and my mom and I had high hopes. Bowling! Yay! Fun! Good times!!! We park the ginormous minivan (I'm getting better at parking that monster!) unload the kids in less than 5 minutes (a new record!) and head on in. And that’s where all hell broke loose.

You see, Ashe hates loud noises. He went to the fireworks this past July 4th and freaked out. I mean FREAKED! The whole time he sobbed yelling "FIREWORKS ALL DONE ALL DONE DADDY FIREWORKS ALL DONE" for the entirety of it. Stupid me, I didn’t even think that the sounds of bowling would mirror that of fireworks. Crap. And it’s dark in there with the black lights going, the music bass thumping and vibrating the floor. Ashe took 2 steps in and froze like a deer caught in headlights. And then started shaking. And I couldn’t take him home. J was working on a huge project and I had promised Zavi we would do this. He had been looking forward to this for weeks with Grammy. So I gave the car seat with Soren in it to Grammy, picked up Ashe, and cuddled/dragged him to get our shoes and lane. I had this thought that maybe I could get him used to it in time and he would be ok. I kept whispering "its ok honey it’s not fireworks (Yeah can I get shoes in size 8 kids, 13 kids...) Mommy’s here I won’t let you go (adult size in 8 and 10? Lane 4? Great...) I promise you are safe and ok, it’s not fireworks, no we can’t go back to the van sweetie (Here's my card.... can you hold the top so I can sign?... thanks) sweetie stop kicking Mommy that I won’t put you down..."

After finally hauling 4 pairs of shoes and a squirming screeching two year old to our lane, waaaaay on the other end of the alley, I tossed shoes at Grammy and Zavi and took Ashe toward the back. Holding him I calmly told him how much fun bowling is, how he gets to choose a few really cool balls, and try to knock down things without getting yelled at. It took about 10 minutes of constant soothing whispers with a few thrown out yells to Zavi (Hang ON! I'll get the computer set up in a minute... ask Grammy...oh Grammy you don’t know how to do it? Dammit... ok hang ON!) until I could get Ashe to accept sitting on my lap closer to the bowling lanes. While Zavi went searching for the perfect ball, and Grammy took forever putting her shoes on, I tried figuring out the technological savvy computer to set up our game with a squirming two year old clinging to me like we were going down with the Titanic.

So after working the computer one handed, and everyone is ready to go we start bowling. Zavi goes first. And he does pretty darn well (with the bumpers on). Next up is Grammy. She also bowls well (with the bumpers on). Then it's Ashes turn. I ask him if he wants to roll the ball and he says YES so I stand up. To which point he grabs my shirt and clings so hard I’m afraid my cleavage and then some is apparent for all to see. Hauling him up and my shirt back into place, I waddle over to the bowling ball stand and ask him which color he wants. He points to a blue one, of course, 36 pounds. I pick it up with Ashe still stuck stronger than superglue to me, and slowly make my way to our lane. I put the ball down, wrestle to get his chubby STRONG fingers off my shirt, and gently show him how to roll the ball. He screams, throws himself on the floor and begins to cry. I sit down next to him; ask him if he wants to play. After a minute he agrees, wipes the tears from his eyes, and allows me to help him. We get a good roll going and he stares fascinated as the bowl rolls towards the pins, taking eons to make it there. But they go down and his face lights up and......

He’s hooked.

By our 6th round, Ashe has taken over my game, Grammys game, and his own. We found a child roller which helps little kids roll the balls down better. He would whip it into place, point at me to put his ball down, then shove it hard (rolling over my fingers a few times...OUCH!) and jump up and down screaming for joy. When it was Zavi’s turn, he would run to any computer in sight and start jabbing buttons (Sorry!!!!) If he wasn’t doing that he was running to put his head by the bowling stand where the used balls were racing back. I swear he came close to having three concussions in 15 minutes, despite my frequent attempts at keeping him far away from the darn thing. And Soren, my precious baby, was an angel. He slept for almost the entire thing. If he was fussy I just think I would have lost my mind.

Walking out afterwards, everyone was in high spirits. Except for me. I was happy the boys had a ball in the end (no pun intended) but all I could contemplate at that moment was how much tequila I had left in the freezer and how big of a margarita I wanted. I figured I earned it and then some.

Submitted by Brittany (Rhaven) of TriangleMommies.  Originally posted August 23, 2009 on Suburban Rebel Mom.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Uses For Vinegar Around The House

Do you want to know how to use up that white vinegar you bought to color eggs with this year?  Here are some ways to use it around the house as a cleaner, disinfectant, odor remover, blemish treatment, stain remover, and fabric softener.  There are many other ways you can use vinegar as well but these are a few ways that Traci (izzysmom7) and her family use vinegar around their house.

1.  As a cleaner/disinfectant: Do you want to freshen up the water lines in your coffee maker?  Run a cup of vinegar and two cups of water through the maker.  If the maker hasn't been used in awhile run a few cups of vinegar through, discard, and then run a few cups of water through.  Make a solution of vinegar and water and use it to clean your counter tops, floors, or any surfaces you need to disinfect.  My family and I use full strength vinegar to remove hard water and lime stains in the showers/bathrooms. 

2.  Odor Remover:  Ever come across an odor in a room of your house and not been able to remove it with the typical household odor sprays?  Place some apple cider vinegar in a bowl in the room and in a few days the room will be fresh and clean smelling again.  My daughter and husband often have allergic reactions to candles and sprays, this has been a great alternative for them.  If you want something to use the apple cider vinegar for when you are not removing odors, ask me to share my pulled pork BBQ recipe with you.

3.  Blemish Treatment:  Do you have a teenager or do you yourself suffer from acne?  Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning before you start your day to find a blemish staring back at you in the mirror.  When I was in college a friend told me to try placing some vinegar in a bowl, then use a cotton swab to add it to the blemishes.  I let it sit for thirty minutes and then rinsed with lukewarm water.  No blemish treatment will instantly remove our unwanted blemishes, but this method is a green way to help treat them.  I suffer from dry skin so I recommend applying a good moisturizer after the vinegar treatment if you do as well.

4. Stain Remover:  How many of your little ones love to stain their clothes with some of those impossible stains?  My child prides herself in finding those impossible stains.  While I do have stain removers in my house, one day I had more stains than remover.  I went to the web to see if there was something I had around the house to help with a pizza sauce stain.  I found  out that vinegar and baking soda would do the trick.  It will smell strong as the baking soda and vinegar bubbles and fizzes but it will remove your stain.  Wash your clothes after each treatment the same way you would if you used a store bought cleaner.  Extra Tip:  If it is a stubborn stain that the above treatment will not remove, place your stained garment(s) out in the sun.  The great outdoors will not only give your clothes a fresh smell but the sun will act as a bleach, helping to remove your stains.

5.  Fabric Softener:  Use 1 to 2 ounces of vinegar in the rinse cycle while doing laundry.  It will help remove the soap residue and soften your clothes.  You could also place the vinegar in a softener ball as well.  Extra Tip: Do you use dryer fabric softener sheets and wonder how to remove the residue they create over time on your dryer lint trap?  All you need is some vinegar (more or less depending on the last time you cleaned the trap), water, a scrubbing pad and some elbow grease (may need to scrub harder if you haven't cleaned the trap in a bit).  You will the know the trap is clean once the water no longer clings to the top of the trap and flows through it.   

Submitted by Traci from NorthMetroDCMommies.  Originally posted to the NorthMetroDC Blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Monday - Balsamic Roasted Artichokes

Balsamic Roasted Artichokes

2 whole fresh artichokes
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
5 cups of water
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Cooking Instructions:
1. Wash artichokes in cold water.
2. Snip off sharp points and trim the stem.
3. Cut artichokes in half length-wise.
4. Carefully cut or snip out the spiny inner leaves and remove the "choke" completely.
5. Place in a bowl of water with lemon juice to avoid browning.
6. In a large pot, combine chicken broth with water and bring to a boil.
7. Boil covered artichokes for 20 minutes.
8. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
9. Remove artichokes from pot and baste them on both sides with the oil and vinegar mixture.
10. Place artichokes cut side down on a grill set to medium.
11. Turn after 5-7 minutes and baste again.
12. Pour remaining mixture into the cups of the artichokes.
13. Cook an additional 5-8 minutes, careful not to char the artichokes.
14. Serve hot with or without dip.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Eileen"
Friday, September 9, 2011

Back To School The Healthy Way

As the beginning of school fast approaches, we are faced with another year of lunch box choices. Children form their eating habits ealry and it is wise to get them into the habit of packing and eating a healthy lunch.

Most heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis and other life long diseases begin to develop in childhood. Usually, it is a handful of foods that do the most damage and so a handful of changes can go a long way towards a healthy diet.

Let your children help pack their lunch box and offer them healthy choices. Tell them the benefits of their choices. Children truly do like to be educated and it is amazing at how much healthy information they will retain and perhaps even share with others. By offering them choices, they will feel as if they have had a say in their lunch and you will be confident that they will make a wise healthy choice. By adjusting your child's lunch box menu, you can add energy to their day, years to their life, and a healthy attitude about eating in the future.

Remember the following tips and do not forget " A handful of changes goes a long way".
1. Milk should be 1% or fat free. Whole milk is the largest source of saturated fat in a child's diet. Milk keeps hearts healthy and arteries clear.
2. When using cheese, opt for low fat or fat free. Cheese is the 2nd largest source of artery clogging fat.
3. Switch from regular lunch meat to low fat or fat free. Often they taste quite the same!
4. Always offer a fruit choice. Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, fruit cups or applesauce. Try serving them in a variety of ways to keep it exciting. Also offer yogurt or peanut butter as a dipping sauce.
5. Always offer a vegetable choice. Vegetables reduce your child's chance of heart disease, cancer, stroke and blindness later in life. Offer small carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers. broccoli or small salads. Offer ranch dressing for vegetable dip.
6. Use whole grain bread instead of white bread. The label must indicate that it is "whole wheat".
7. Limit sugary snacks such as sweets, cakes, candy and doughnuts. Most teachers will appreciate this as well.
8. Replace regular potato chips with baked chips, pretzels, nuts, breadsticks or low fat crackers. Also beware of Olean (olestra) products, these can cause cramping and diarrhea. They can also rob your child's body of important cancer fighting carotenoids and phytochemicals. One ounce of Bugles contains as much fat as a McDonalds Quarter Pounder.
9. Use 100% fruit juice, water or flavored water for drinks. Most other juices have only 10% fruit juice and as much sugar as soda.
10. If you use Lunchables, buy the low fat Lunchables. Regular Lunchables get 2/3 of their calories from fat and sugar.

Have a safe and healthy back to school!!!

Originally posted on
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Playroom Organization...COMPLETE!!

I realized about a month ago that my two kids were playing in the family room more and more. I’m fairly certain this is because there was no empty space on the floor of the playroom. So they were taking toys from the playroom into the family room. And I noticed that the toys they were playing with were always the same. Most of the things in the playroom sat untouched. So why did we have a playroom filled with toys that neither child ever used? A playroom that was so packed with old toys that there was no room to actually play?

To give you a good visual of what I'm talking about, this is what our playroom looked like about a month ago:

I set up a plan and executed it, and this is what the playroom looks like today:

The first step of my plan was to remove all the old toys that were no longer used. I thought this would have to be a covert mission, but the kids actually didn't seem to mind me taking away all those old toys. [Note to self: I should have done this months ago!]

Once the room only contained toys the kids actually play with, I set to work determining how I could organize everything. I came up with five "zones" for the room. Here's what they are.

Dolls and Figures Zone
This zone includes the dollhouse, pirate ship and all the little dolls, figures, Zhu Zhu pets, Transformers and anything that goes with little dolls and figures. My daughter and her friends have been spending a lot of time in this area. And I must say the dollhouse is getting a lot more use now.

Projects Zone
This zone was set up to include arts and crafts, school-related stuff and any other "project" types of things. We have a small table and chairs, workbooks and coloring books (in the red containers on the shelf), and science kits (on the bottom shelf). You can see the markers, crayons and other arts and crafts items in the picture above. They are on the top shelf in the previous zone but right next to the table, so it works. I am determined to keep the top of this table clear so they can actually use it!

Building/Construction Zone
This zone is all about building stuff. We have a train table that is now used as a Lego table, with the Legos stored underneath. We have Zoobs, wooden blocks, and other building and construction stuff. There's plenty of floor space to build on as well. You can see my son was working on a Lego project on the floor when I took this picture.

Pretend Play Zone
This is another one of my daughter's favorite areas. We have a small kitchen and all the stuff that goes with it. We also have doctor kits, a magic kit, baby dolls and stuffed animals here, so she and her friends can play all sorts of pretend activities.

Games and Puzzles Zone
This zone is where we've stored all our board games, Beyblades and Pokemon cards, and all sorts of puzzles and games. The book shelf is here too. That is one thing I have not purged yet. I need to remove the baby and toddler books and bring some of their age-appropriate books down from their bedrooms where they usually read.

I will say this was a huge project but I'm so happy with the results. Just removing all the old stuff (and there was a lot of old stuff) made a big difference. If you have a playroom, I highly recommend reassessing it and taking out all the stuff your kids don't play with anymore. And putting like things together in "zones" to make it easier for them to find the toys they do want to play, and know where to put them when they're done.

Now let's just hope they manage to keep it cleaned up so it never looks like that "before" picture again!

Submitted by Julie, member of TriangleMommies.  Originally published on Just Playin' Around, July 5, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance!

The Mommies Network would like to thank everyone who participated in the National Auction! Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the auction will go to support Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The remaining 75 percent of funds raised will be used to further The Mommies Network mission to provide a safe, secure, FREE place for mothers to find support and encouragement from other mothers and to empower them to be better women, parents, and community leaders.
The Mommies Network National Auction received a number of last-minute donations! These new items, along with some previously listed, will go up for sale in a limited-time Second Chance Auction! Get your shop on Sept. 5–11 on the National Forum!
Click here to shop today!
Friday, September 2, 2011

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

If you grew up in the kind of neighborhood I did, then you remember people sitting out on their front porches in the evenings, kids playing out in the neighbors yard until it was too dark to see and the mad rush to the ice cream truck when that little jingle was first heard on the street.

Nowadays, that scene is almost non-existent. Many parents are working late, then have to pick up the kids from their day care provider and rush home to make dinner, spend a little quality time with the kids and then off to bed to start all over again. Parents are worried that the streets aren't safe. People drive everywhere, and the most you see someone is when you are both getting into your car at the same time.

There are many benefits to having a close relationship with your neighbors. Research shows that neighborhoods where people know each other by name and are connected to one another have lower crime rates. It has even been shown that kids who live in tight knit communities do better in school.

Maybe it is time for us to bring back the days of yesterday, and get to know our neighbors. One way you can do this is by making a neighborhood directory. Send a letter (or even better, deliver it in person) asking your neighbors if they would like to be included in a neighborhood directory. A sample letter can be found here. Have them complete a form that provides you with information to put in the directory. A sample form can be found here. Once you have collected the completed forms, print a directory and distribute it to your neighbors. You can also email the directory to them to save on paper costs.

Another idea is to start a website for your neighborhood. You can get a free website from Geocities ( or Neighborhood Link ( You can put a calendar of events in your area on the site, or perhaps list the email addresses of the residents. A bulletin board can be used to post announcements or special needs.

What about an old-fashioned potluck dinner or backyard barbecue. Invite your neighbors and ask them to bring a covered dish or dessert to share! What a wonderful way to get to know the people in your neighborhood. You might enjoy it so much that you turn it into a monthly event!

In this day and age, it is even more critical that we know those who live around us. Our very safety might depend on it. But there is also so much joy to be found right in your backyard! A host of new friends (and babysitters!) can be found just a stone's throw away from your front door. And perhaps, all of your neighbors are just sitting there waiting for you to make it all happen!

Originally posted on

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