Love Has No Rules

Rainbow

A couple of weeks ago, my bright-eyed girl did an assignment in school that her teacher loved so much I was sent a personal note about it.

And though it didn't surprise me to read my mighty-hearted girls' words, I still found myself moved by what she wrote: so simple and compelling. 

She is growing up in a time, in a country and in a family where judgements about who someone chooses to love don't exist, and I am so glad.

In the last few weeks of my first year in university, a group of my friends and I had started a discussion about moving off campus together. One of those friends came into my room, shortly before we started the process of going out house hunting, and said 

I need to tell you something, because it might change your mind about wanting to live with me.

I remember feeling such heartache for him. And when I cried, he asked me if I was mad at him for not saying something sooner. I felt nothing but a heavy sadness that he ever thought a friendship like ours could be altered by what he told me. And I felt even greater sadness that people who didn't know him the way I did might judge, and worse, reject him. The years I spent living with him and being loved by him were one of the greatest gifts I took away from my years at university. He taught me more about love than he will ever know, and much of what I teach my kids about love comes from the years I lived with him and my other roommates. 

And though it is easy to forget what my kids see, because it's all I've ever known, our family is diverse and multicultural. My kids have a biracial mother and they are exposed to many different cultural practices in their day-to-day life. So much of what I teach them about love comes from my parents and their decision to choose each other.

After watching this video for a lesson on media literacy, my girl's grade three class had to give feedback on what they felt and thought when they watched it. 

  

When she was asked who she thought the target audience for this video was, she replied:

This video is for people who believe that love has rules.

She wrote that it made her happy, and when I asked her about it she told me she felt glad there was a video to help people change their mind and understand that you can love anyone and be loved by anyone. 

And yesterday, when we sat together and listened to a news story announcing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision about gay marriage I felt like our society had experienced a triumph. For my daughter, it was a given. 

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{GIVEAWAY} WHEN KIDS WORRY

when kids worry

I am the kind of parent that is thrilled to see my children trying new things and taking chances to satisfy a curiosity or embark on an adventure that gives them a sense of accomplishment. It amazes me to see them doing things I was never brave enough to try.

But I don't expect it to be easy for them.

And because of their temperaments—it's often very hard.

This school year is a big game changer for my kids. Two of them have switched schools and my youngest is beginning kindergarten. That leaves my third in the same school, but facing the uncertainties of being on her own when she normally has her siblings close by.

For many children, including mine, change can mean anxiety. And sometimes it can be everyday events or situations that cause a child to worry or feel anxious.

I worried a lot as a child, too. And I'm able to share that with my children. They take a lot of comfort from knowing I went through something similar and also had worried feelings. And their dad is great with being honest and open about things that scared him, too.

But we also want our kids to learn how to face their anxieties and worries head on and to believe in their ability to get through those feelings by using their own coping skills.

So we talk things out. A lot.

We find people other than us (teachers, family, friends) that we think are able to relate, and we encourage them to talk it out.

I think we do a great job of helping our children feel that we understand. But we are offering an adult perspective of how things will get better and sometimes they need to know that other children feel the same way right now. 

There are many resources available for families to use as tools to support their kids in dealing with worry and anxiety. I was recently introduced to a new book by certified school psychologist, Stacy Fiorile, called Scaredies Away!  and welcomed the opportunity to have my children read it and ask questions.

when kids worry

My eight and 10 year old were able to imagine themselves in the story and were nodding their heads at some of the feelings described in the book—which is written for a target audience of six to 12 years old.

The story offers scenarios and concrete strategies that kids can use to face the worry and get through it. The Magic Finger Countdown teaches kids to put their scaredies into their fist and then let them go by counting backwards from five until their hand is open and they can blow their worries away. 

when kids worry

I'm so glad to be able to give one of my readers a copy of this book. If your child struggles with worrying and anxiety, you will appreciate being able to share this book with them. 

For further tips and strategies for helping your child, here are some great resources from Kids Health and Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada. If you have concerns about your child and anxiety, please speak to your health care provider. 

This giveaway is open to Canadian and U.S. Residents only. Thank you and good luck!

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The book Scaredies Away! is also available for purchase on Amazon.

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SWEET ENOUGH

Paigeeight

She's the kid who doesn't like donuts. Sometimes when they're covered in rainbow sprinkles, but that's mostly about the sprinkles.

She's already sweet enough.

And today she is unbelievably eight.

There are a lot of conversations about what she'll do when she grows up: a teacher or veterinarian, perhaps. Always a role that helps others, because she already knows that about herself.

On a recent trip to a museum, she caught sight of an old film clip showing the traditional hunting and harpooning of whales from long ago. And so she added marine biologist to her career aspirations, so that never, ever happens to those whales again.

Paigebean

Each day she delivers the same phrase, at least once. 

Is there anything I can do to help?

She is kindness and generosity and light and joy -- and it fills her up so much that there is always enough to give away. And she does. Freely and without expectation.

She is what we need more of in this world.

I used to think I never wanted to be defined by my children.

But she changed me and helped me give into this title and wear it proudly.

I am her mom.

I am her student.

I am so lucky that she's mine.

Happy birthday, dimples.

xo

 

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The Absentminded Duo

Today didn't start the way we had imagined.

But that's the way things go with four kids.

Make a plan, expect it to unravel.

It's been a relatively lazy weekend for us. We're headed out of town for three days at the end of the week, so we decided a hang out at home would be a good idea leading up to it.

After staying up far too late doing this, the plan was to have JB take the three oldest kids to swimming lessons this morning, while the little one and I got busy in the kitchen filling up the freezer for school lunches

We were woken by an in-your-face time check from one of the girls. The ladies in this house don't like to be late, and they've have learned the value of taking the bull by the horns, so to speak.

I stayed in bed for a few minutes longer, while JB got the day started. I heard him directing the kids to pack their own swimming bags and some food for afterwards. We've been working hard on making them increasingly accountable for their belongings and getting things done when it's for their own benefit. 

Annlandersquote

I came downstairs as they were headed for the door. And I was there to see the moment that it all started to unravel.

JB said Okay everyone grab your swim bags and head out. Later today, we'll stop at the bookstore and you can each choose a book.

Piggies

The kids received gift cards for helping their friends guinea pig sit over the March break. They've been excited to use them. Except, you can't say that kind of thing to the boy and ALSO expect him to remember that you've asked him to do something.

His brain does not have enough room in it to think about the million and millions of books he wants to take home AND remember a swim bag.

I was in the kitchen filling up at the coffee maker when I heard the door slam. A few minutes later—just as I was sitting down to my steaming mug—I noticed the lonely swim bag in the front hall. And of course it was the boy's. And of course, as I called JB's cell phone to tell him to turn around and come back for it, I was met with voice mail telling me his phone is completely dead. 

In other words, my kid COMES BY IT HONESTLY.

I know some of you are thinking I shouldn't have done what I did next—which was to shove the little one into a coat and boots and pop her into the car with that swim bag. But we're missing next week's lesson and no one wins by having him sit on the sidelines.

Yes, he needs to suffer the consequences of his own mistakes, I get it. But the fact is, he's not lazy or defiant. He's absentminded. 

So if anyone has ideas or tips for a mother raising an absentminded son of an absentminded father, please send them my way. 

After throwing a swim bag over the heads of a mosh pit of parents and kids on a pool deck, and watching it land at the feet of two sheepish boys, I'm back home and ready to head into the kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and my itunes (I discovered this song by a bluegrass singing Belgian group and it has been playing on repeat).

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.01.34 PM

I'll be making this soup and these muffins. I highly recommend both recipes.

Hope you're having a great weekend. 

xo

 

 

 

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