Monday, December 24, 2012

My Wish for You this Year - Merge Strong Traditions with New Vision

Our New - First - Artificial Tree
Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. This holiday letter is being posted both at
Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles.

Every year, I take some quiet time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and the one that is ahead.   I am so lucky to have my grown children live nearby and to be able to see my grandson several times a week. We made it
through Hurricane Sandy unscathed.   I have been busier that ever with strategic planning and board retreat clients
this year.  With family, nonprofit clients and summer community responsibilities I have had a very full year. 

Traditions are important to me but adapting to change has to merge with traditions.  Since my daughter and
son both spend Christmas Eve with their other families, I had my family traditional Christmas Eve dinner last Sunday  featuring an extensive antipasto, favorite fish dishes and special desserts. For the first time this year our tree is a small artificial tree (I love the prelit lights) instead of a large real
one.  Adapting tradition and giving it a makeover is working out just fine.

For the nonprofits I work with this has been a year of adapting to the new normal.  This has meant adapting programs to new funding realities, new forms of fundraising, getting serious
about social media, and new staff finding their sea legs and bringing new perspectives
to organizations which -  like me –  are steeped in tradition.  There has been an increased serious interest in strategic planning and desire to discuss vision for the future.  It has been a privilege to work with nonprofits as they navigate through these changes. I have been in awe of the leaders of so many organizations I’ve worked with.  I have seen difficult situations dealt with and stronger organizations emerge – even if they don’t recognize that yet
themselves.  It has been inspiring.

I definitely have to get the piano tuned.
On a personal level, it has been a year of change for me too.  My son has become engaged and we are
welcoming a new family member.  She brings a new culture to our home and this morning my son called and wished us Feliz Navidad. My daughter and her family live just a mile away. My grandson is now 3 ½ and change is constant for a child this age.  He is independent, curious and full of life.  It is rejuvenating and exhausting
at the same time.  It is such a joy to
still be a big part of his life.

For nonprofits 2013 will beckon more change and adaptation.  Nonprofits are becoming more nimble and
finding their own voice.  There is less of this “you should run more like a business” and more of “we need to establish priorities and focus on what we do best.” I see a new energy among Boards and readiness to try new
approaches.  Like me, many Boards have
strong ties to traditions but we both must realize that traditions must find new ways to manifest themselves.

Each year I offer a wish for you in the new year.  This year my wish is for merging strong traditions with new vision.  Let’s use our imagination to make it happen. Imagination is on my agenda for forging a Happy New Year with joy and courage to face what the world brings us. And this is my wish for you.

May You Have a Blessed and Joyous Holiday,


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Shopping at ToysRus – What Was on My List

We have completed our Christmas shopping for Zach.  Last year I had one big item which was a big hit – a Little Tikes Workbench.  It is in our family room and still gets a lot of use.  It’s very rugged and even after all that hammering and sawing it looks like new.

Zach is now 3 ½ and in pre-school.  He knows all about popular characters and he is very interested in collections.  So this year the shopping is focused on “Things he wants” and “Things we think he would enjoy” rather than just the latter.

So off we went to ToysRUs with our list in hand – it had both what we knew he wanted and what we wanted him to have.

Zach loves to hide under the covers – and calls it a cave – when his Mom comes to pick him up if we are babysitting.  We know he needs a bed tent.  Our son loved his and enjoyed hours inside his bed tent and my husband had that on top of his list.  Check one – in the cart.

One of my favorite things to do with Zach is play with PlayDoh and there is a new line called “Diggin Rigs” featuring building vehicles and building material colored Play Doh. I first saw this last February before its release at Toy Fair 2012 and I knew then it would be on my Christmas list. I got the steamroller and extra “asphalt and sand” colored Play Doh.  I can’t wait to play with it myself.
My picture of Diggin Rigs Play Doh line at Toy fair 2012

Zach will be a fireman in the pre-school holiday show this week and my husband couldn’t resist this small Duplo Fire Chief set.  It even has a fire piece.  We have lots of basic Duplos and so I know this will be a great imaginative play addition.

Now for what’s on Zach’s list. Oh yes – we got to that too.  As I said he loves collections and plays with them all in groups. His parents and others have transformers covered.  I introduced him to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he loves it. So, it is only fair to add to the collection with none other than MichaelAngelo.
Zach got his first Ninja Turtle for cooperating with this haircut last summer

Another collection that I started with Zach is The Trash Pack.  We love to play with them together and he watches all the commercials on youtube intently.  He loves to see the ones he has and points to the ones he wants.  Unfortunately, each trashie is hidden in its own trash can and you have to wait until you open the package to see which ones you got.  I know he will be happy to add to his Trash Pack collection – Series 3 in the blue cans of course.

Check back soon for my article on the books and videos we got.  So are we spoiling our grandson or us?  A little of each – but really each item was inexpensive and the whole bill was not too bad.  Here are links at Amazon for some of my favorites.