How to Give Kids the Gift of Meaningful Christmas Memories!

I remember my dad cooking the turkey.

I remember my mom baking pies – evenings, after work – the week before Christmas.

I remember smells, excitement and the decorations. I remember taking homemade treats to a widow down the street. I remember hiding the gifts for my family under my bed. It was the most magical time of the year for me!

When I was growing up, my parents both worked fulltime right through the holidays. Of course, they would get Christmas off; but, we didn’t have the ‘traditional” festivities that included days of baking cookies or gingerbread houses. We did not lavishly decorate the inside and outside of the house, or have shopping sprees so many families love to incorporate this time of year.

What you DO speaks louder than what you SAY!

One of our granddaughters burst into our house this week, looked around at all my fabulous fall decorations, then nearly burst into tears, “Mimi, oh no! I can’t believe it’s not here! Why isn’t it here?”

I was truly in the dark, “What? What’s wrong?”

“The THANKSGIVING TREE, why isn’t it in your house?”

Relieved I hadn’t ruined her life permanently, I assured her, “Honey, the THANKSGIVING TREE doesn’t go up until after Halloween!”

She processed very slowly, then, “Ohhhhhhhh, I thought you forgot this year!” In relief, she collapsed on our sofa!


This world is full of adorable, talented, intelligent and expressive kids. I am a teacher; so, I have the privilege of working with dozens on a regular basis. I teach kids at conferences, drama camps, church and musical theatre.

It takes me about ten minutes, with a child, to know if he or she is from a healthy, loving family; or if, in fact, the child is the one in charge at home – running the family.

On day three of a drama camp, this past summer, a nine year old boy hadn’t been following my directions as to where he was to stand on the stage. I repeated my instructions a third time; because, I seriously thought he hadn’t heard me.
He finally spoke up, “I don’t want to stand there and why are you telling me what to do?”
I calmly smiled, “Because, I’m your teacher”.
He came back with, “You are not my teacher. This isn’t school.”
I continued with a much stronger answer, “I AM your teacher this week and from now on, when I give a direction, you will say, “Okay, Kathleen’- and, do it.”

He was so stunned at my response; he slowly obeyed and never talked back to me the rest of the week. In fact, he became my buddy. By the time opening night arrived, he asked for an extra hug before the show started.

When I met his parents, and saw his interaction with them, I knew the problem. He didn’t respect either one of them. He was ordering them around!

Are You a Morning Person?

I am a morning person.

I honestly love waking up before the sun rises. It feels like it adds hours to my day, and everything is new and fresh!

My daughter is not a morning person.

From the time my daughter was old enough to talk, she wasn’t excited about talking early in the morning. In fact, she wasn’t excited about anything in the morning. I started her on vitamins. I was convinced – by the time she entered kindergarten – I would have taught her to be a morning person.

Seriously, I tried every ploy, bribe and threat known to mankind to train this child to appreciate mornings at a young age. After all, her dad and I were morning people. Her two brothers were early risers. What was her problem?

I remember sneaking into her room to set her clock ahead 15 minutes, thinking this might motivate her to step it up. I planned special mornings to go out for breakfast, before school, just to get her excited. I soon discovered “excited” was not a word in her vocabulary before noon on any given day.

As a young child, she had no energy to move quickly in the morning. Figuring she must have been unusually tired, I scheduled a doctor’s visit. She was fine.

Our kids had an early bedtime curfew of 7 pm, during elementary years; so, she wasn’t lacking in sleep. In middle school, it was 8 pm. How could anyone have been tired after 14 hours of sleep at night?

In the mornings, I would turn on all the house lights and play fun music on the radio before her school wake up call. Yet, I would be met with a glassy stare and few words as she methodically got dressed for school.

There was no breakfast conversation at all.

Getting her lunch made and her to the car, without tears being shed, was a huge undertaking. I never quite had a perfect record; but, I kept trying.

By the way, all my added stimulation in the house had my boys wound up like tops! And, they didn’t need extra motivation!

I will admit, Nancy was as close to perfect as a child could get. She was loving, obedient and careful not to be disrespectful. However, as the sun rose every day, she answered all my questions in two words or less, just to get by. She planned her school wardrobe and always finished her homework the night before. So, her mornings were as stress free as possible.

Maybe, the problem was the school? Should we change schools? No. Saturdays were the same.

Unfortunately, for years I took it personally. I must not have been a fun mom. How is this possible? Of course I am a fun mom.

She was a wonderful student. Her teachers loved having her in their classes. She had a hundred friends and, once she came home from school, she was a happy child!

Her high school years were less traumatic for me; because, I had resigned myself to accepting the truth. She would never be happy about mornings. There would never be any cozy mother/daughter early morning chats over a hot beverage. She was a night person. Her bedroom light was still on as my husband and I retired each night.

She always found jobs that didn’t require early morning clock-ins. I don’t think she had many early morning classes in college either.

It took years for me to accept Nancy would never like mornings.

Her fate was sealed when she married a man who was not a morning person either.

I am now convinced this morning person or not a morning person is an inborn trait, much like the human temperament.

I am also confident it can cross temperament lines, with no specific temperament owning this trait of morning person or not.

Upbringing will not change it.

I doubt one can grow out of it.

Therapy would be a waste of money.

Today, our daughter is still pretty perfect. She is a wife and mom of three girls, and still is NOT a morning person.

I have smiled a lot since her kids were born. Her firstborn is not a morning person either. My, oh my, it is now so funny watching her experience the exact things I lived through with her!

Nancy came over the other morning- on her way to take her daughter to a 0 period class. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. The pain on my daughter’s face prevented me from brutalizing her anymore than she was already obviously suffering with it being so early.

Ah, the circle of life.

I am blessed to live close enough to our kids and grandkids that I can have a mother/daughter coffee in the afternoon now.



Can You Pin-Point Your Passion in Life?

What is your true PASSION in life? I have heard it said, if you spend your life doing what you are PASSIONATE about- you’ll never have to work one day!

Most of my life has been spent working with kids. Kids theatre, kids ministry and teaching church school. I love working with kids. I figured working with kids was my passion.

However, I have a dark secret. A secret I have struggled with for decades and finally I need to come clean.

Over the years, I have had a love/hate relationship with ‘Vacation Bible School’. I dread it every summer. Summertime Vacation Bible Schools’ are intentionally geared to engaging kids for a fun week, with a goal of reaching young hearts for Jesus.

So what has been my struggle with VBS these past decades?

Why I Do Kids Theatre!

This summer, our older Musical Theatre camp, is presenting:

Every summer, for over 35 years, I have produced Christian theatre for kids.  I also do secular shows, during the school year, for various public school districts.  And, no, I do not do kids theatre because of the money. (This is truly a Laugh Out Loud moment.)

Performing on a stage – in front of an audience – can be seriously life changing for a child.  If it is a bad experience, the child may never be persuaded to return to a stage for the remainder of his or her life.

However, if it is a good and positive experience, it can be a moment of overwhelming discovery for the child. Kids feel empowered, self confident, comfortable in their skin, proud, thankful, appreciated and loved when the audience applauds their work! They also develop comfortable skills, associated with performing in any capacity, as they grow older. Theatre is an investment that keeps on growing and giving.

I remember my first actual play…

GREENS Just Want Peace and Quiet

GREENS are NICE and PEACEFUL. They are actually the nicest people you will meet in the world.

If you know someone who seems too nice to be true, you have met a GREEN temperament.

Consistently kind, GREENS make the world a better place. Those with this incredibly nice, peaceful temperament are the real deal.

My brother-in-law married into our family about 40 years ago. From day one, he was the nicest guy I’d ever met. We are a rather loud, vocal family, and I worried how he would adjust. He never had to raise his voice to make a point, or get his opinion across, at family gatherings. I asked my sister if he was like this at home. “What you see is what you get; yes, he is always remarkably calm!” Her smile convinced me she was telling the truth!

To this day, Glenn has been true to the GREEN reputation. He is a peacekeeper who values warm, personal relationships. He is independent, reflective, reliable, steady and NICE. GREENS are good listeners and clear thinkers- but do not usually give advice unless they are asked.

GREENS strive to avoid conflict and confrontation at all costs. Controversy is a peacekeeper’s nightmare. So, to avoid it, they often keep their mouths shut, refraining from voicing objections or opinions. They are content when life is on an even keel and things are running smoothly.

GREENS are well-rounded individuals who are not prone to extremes.

The GREEN temperament is also simple to identify in children. Let me give you an example:


WHY Does NO have Such a Bad Rap?

I was speaking last week to a group of young moms of pre-schoolers (MOPS). After I finished, a young woman came up to question my philosophy of teaching children the meaning of the word NO before they are a year old. I suggest consequences to make a small toddler obey his/her parents. Usually, it takes only two or three events before you have an obedient, respectful child!

No more yelling, threats, punishments or guilt.

This young mom had tears in her eyes as she described her 3-year old daughter as an adorable, fun-loving child to whom she has never given consequences. She has never told her NO because she doesn’t need to. “My little girl doesn’t obey me all the time; but, I honestly don’t think she understands it is disobeying. I would never want to squelch her free, creative spirit.”

I asked if her daughter comes when she calls her name. “Well, sometimes,” she smiled as though it was funny, “But, she is an absolute joy.”

I asked if she would respond to her mom’s voice in an emergency- maybe a warning about a hot stove, an oncoming car or a stranger who would attempt to grab her?

Her eyes widened…

Can Your Temperament CHANGE?

“Is it possible my TEENAGER’S temperament has changed?”

My first response: “A temperament is a pre-disposition.  A person is born with primarily two dominant temperament types (out of four) – and they are his/hers for life.”

A temperament can certainly take on different appearances, however, depending on age, living conditions, changes in life and various situations. The temperament does not change. BUT, one may notice new behavior, because circumstances have changed.

The most important information to remember-temperaments are transformed when you include God in the equation!

Each temperament has positive and negative characteristics.  So, when God takes over a temperament, He evens out the negatives and enhances the positives, using their finest qualities for His Glory. God created us, and our temperaments; therefore, it makes perfect sense to give Him the reigns if we want successful lives!

The mom, who prompted this post, asked me, “Now that my sweet daughter is a teenager, she is suddenly belligerent! She has turned into a totally different person. She refuses to talk to, or acknowledge, me or her dad because we have new cell phone rules in the house! Has her temperament changed?”

A Child is Watching You!

One of “my kids,” who grew up in musical theatre as a small child, made a point to say good-bye to me the weekend he left for college. I was leaving church, out the side door to make a quick getaway, and he surprised me with a big hug as I came around the corner.

“I knew I’d see you if I came to this side door, he smiled, “You always went out this way when you were in a rush to leave church.”

“Seriously? You knew that about me?”

“Yes,” he said, almost blushing as he stood over 6 feet tall now. “Miss Kathleen, you were my favorite teacher.  I watched every move you made for most the years I was growing up in this church.”

Hoping he had no stalker tendencies, I questioned, “Can I ask you why?”

“Sure, because you were one of the people who I knew loved me; and, I watched everything you did.”

Whoa. I never knew that.

The rest of that afternoon I walked around the house, doing my Sunday afternoon routine stuff, wondering what ELSE he might have seen me do.