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BREAKING TRADITION The holiday season is a time filled with traditions. Some are family traditions like baking Christmas cookies, some are community traditions like an evening of caroling, and some are religious traditions like Christmas Eve mass. Sometimes, we don’t even know why we do something, like hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree or wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. When asked, we shrug and say, “It’s tradition.” When our kids were little, like most people, we had many family traditions centered around the holidays. Shortly after Thanksgiving, we would trek out to Bellwood nursery to choose and cut down a tree. That night, we would make hot chocolate and play holiday music while we decorated the tree with ornaments — new and old, homemade and store-bought. We each had our favorites. We would stand around the tree when we plugged in the lights. This was followed by either wide- eyed astonishment or, more often the case, hours of frustration trying to figure out which bulb was the culprit for only half of the tree lighting up. After the kids went to sleep, I would stay up and re-decorate the tree so the ornaments weren’t all on one side or at the bottom. On Christmas Eve, we let the kids open one gift, which, most of the time, was a new pair of pajamas. It would be impossible to get the kids to sleep, and then John and I would stay up into the wee hours wrapping the gifts we had carefully hidden away. Of course, the kids would be up at the crack of the dawn with shouts of “Santa was here!” We would buy an extra hour of sleep by allowing them to open only their stockings before we got up. John always insisted on making the kids wait until after brunch to open the remaining gifts. They would beg, “Can’t we open just one?” My parents often spent the night on Christmas Eve, and if Grammy was there, she would convince John to let them open their gifts before brunch. There was always laughter and good food, and we took comfort in our family traditions.
Christmas in the Florida Keys, 2004
One year, when the kids were “tweens,” we decided to break from tradition and take a trip to the Florida Keys for Christmas break. I packed one suitcase with a couple gifts for each of the kids, bringing only the things they really had their hearts set on. We rented a little condo on the intercoastal a short drive to the ocean. John and Aaron fished off the dock, and we took walks on the beach and played in the waves. I managed to make a small turkey in our condo’s little kitchen, and we ate key lime pie after our Christmas dinner. We missed being at home on Christmas morning, but we were together and grateful for the time away. The next year, we returned to our usual traditions, but we adopted some new ones. From then on, there were fewer gifts under the tree, with a focus on quality instead of quantity, and since that trip, I always make key lime pie as one of our Christmas desserts. The only constant in life is change, which is probably why we take so much comfort in tradition. Now that the kids are grown, it is difficult to maintain our family traditions. We must accommodate work schedules and share our children with their significant others. Many of our clients are coping with injuries or the loss of a loved one. When facing adversity, it may be difficult or impossible to maintain traditions. If you are doing something new this holiday season, whether by choice or by necessity, we hope you will take time to reminisce, laugh, and share stories with family and friends.
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THE BENEFITS OF READING TO YOUR CHILDREN
Even at a young age, reading to your children is an important tool to
conversation. Why? Because the human brain comprehends written communication differently than spoken communication. Preparing for Success in School According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 1 in 3 American children enter kindergarten without the necessary reading skills to succeed in school. But if you read to your children, you expose them to new words and help develop their listening skills as they listen to you read. You can also ask questions about their reading comprehension along the way to ensure they understand what is happening in the story. These skills are vital to academic success. Improving Your Relationship The best way to create a special bond with your little ones is simply by spending time with them, and reading to your child on a routine basis is a great way to do that. Plus, reading stories provides a positive and educational experience where they can talk to you and vice versa. This will help you learn more about your child’s developing interests so you can find new ways to encourage them to learn and explore their passions.
help them grow and learn while sparking
their creativity. Your child will help develop their early literacy skills and ability to focus, plus increase their social
skills and communication skills.
Inspiration Corner ERIC MILLER Improving Language Skills Reading to your child when they are an infant can help strengthen their language acquisition skills. If you continue reading as they get older, these skills will only grow. They begin to latch on to spoken communication. Improving their vocabulary and grammar skills through hearing the written word is even more effective than what they gain from everyday Our friend and colleague Attorney Eric Miller inspires us with his tireless work as a trustee for the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy, Inc. (NCOLC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to safeguarding natural areas for the health and enjoyment of current and future generations. NCOLC identifies areas that are botanically significant and uses conservation easements to permanently protect them as nature preserves. NCOLC protects over 1,600 acres in and around Richland County. Their preserves are open to the public, and much of the land they manage has public hiking trails, including the Clear Fork Valley Scenic Trail (CFVST), which features more than 8 miles of hiking trails that wander through 600 acres of nature preserves. Two years ago, NCOLC started a program called Healing Land and People, in which they hire recovering addicts to remove invasive species from the land. The results have been amazing — many of the members of the program benefit from working in quiet woods and doing something positive. When you begin reading to your child, they gain a greater understanding of the world, which allows them to make sense of the things they see, hear, and react to in their daily lives. But the benefits of reading don’t stop there.
No matter which way you look at it, reading to your children provides a positive experience that will help them grow.
NCOLC crew members behind a pile of invasive bushes that they have just removed
If you would like to see old growth forest, waterfalls, and prairies without leaving Richland County, try walking the Clear Fork Valley Scenic Trail, which runs between Butler, Ohio, and the Newville Bridge on Pleasant Hill Road. Some of the preserves are living museums that represent ancient Ohio about as well as any preserve in Ohio. The NCOLC crew are experts at removing invasive species. If you encounter them along the trail, stop and talk to them. They can point out to you the native species they are protecting and teach you a little bit about Ohio’s natural heritage before they go back to work.
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Sometimes Giving Back Is the Best Gift of All Volunteering for Kids of All Ages The holiday season is almost upon us, and many people are getting into the festive and charitable spirit. While families across the country will be looking forward to presents and spending time with loved ones, plenty of individuals are not so fortunate. Thankfully, there are ways to support them, and your children can even get in on the action. Many benefits come with introducing your children to volunteer work, including broadening their horizons, teaching them new skills, building their self-esteem, and showing them the importance of giving back.
Key Lime Pie
INGREDIENTS Lime Filling • 2 tsp grated lime zest (green part only) • 4 large egg yolks • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk • 1/2 cup lime juice Graham Cracker Crust • 1 1/4 cup (about 11) graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs • 3 tbsp sugar • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted For a non-traditional holiday dessert, try our favorite key lime pie recipe. It is delicious and will bring a ray of sunshine to your holiday meal!
Here are three great volunteer ideas for kids of all ages.
Animal Shelter Who doesn’t love to spend time with animals? Most shelters are desperately looking for volunteers, especially around the winter months, and they provide opportunities for every age. For younger kids, they can play with, take walks with, and even read to the animals. This is a great way to introduce them to volunteer
Whipped Cream Topping • 3/4 cup heavy cream • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk zest and yolks until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken. Crust: Preheat oven to 325 F. In a medium bowl, mix crumbs and sugar. Add butter and stir with fork until well blended. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie pan; press crumbs over bottom and up sides of pan to form even crust. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Pour lime filling into crust. Bake until center is set but wiggly when jiggled, 15–17 minutes. Return pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. Topping: Up to 2 hours before serving, in a medium bowl, whip cream to very soft peaks. Add confectioners’ sugar 1 tbsp at a time and continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe whipped cream over filling or spread evenly with rubber spatula.
work because it will be incredibly fun. Older kids can take it a step further by helping clean the animals and their pens. They will also have opportunities to play with the animals and take them for walks. Assisted Living Facility The holidays can be extremely tough for those living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. These people benefit greatly when kids and teens volunteer to help in their communities. Your child will play card games, make crafts, and help out wherever necessary. This will help your children make a real connection and give the people they’re helping some much-needed company. Picking Up Litter One of the best ways to give back to your community is by picking up trash throughout your area. You do not have to partner up with an organization to do this. You can take your kids around your neighborhood, throughout the community, or even to a park and just start cleaning. This will help your children learn the importance of protecting the environment while also giving them some time outside.
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INSIDE THIS EDITION
Reading to Your Children Reaps Benefits Galore!
Great Volunteer Ideas for Kids
Key Lime Pie
Christmas Shopping for Kiddos!
Rinehardt Injury Attorneys had so much fun Christmas shopping for four kiddos through the Richland County Children’s Auxiliary New Store Christmas Program. We divided into teams of two and got to work finding the items on their wish lists. The New Store’s Christmas program provides gifts to over 1,000 children age birth–18. These kids are referred by social service caseworkers who identify the neediest children on their caseloads. Each child completes an information sheet regarding their needs and wants. Then generous corporate and private donors “adopt” and shop for the children. Volunteers with the Richland County Children’s Auxiliary and Crossroads Church facilitate the collection of gifts from the donors and distribution of these items to the families. It is quite an undertaking, but most importantly, the program provides many smiles on the faces of children across Richland County on Christmas morning! What a worthwhile endeavor. Christmas Shopping for Kiddos!
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