Friday, October 30, 2015

Connecting With The Outdoors: Scout & The Gumboot Kids {Giveaway}

Rainy season is upon us!  Are you looking for a way for your kids to connect with nature in a way that isn't so....wet?  Or maybe you would like some creative exploration ideas for your kids when they do go outside?  Being out in nature is a priority to our family; we love the fresh air, family time, and the learning that happens.   How about following along on an adventure with Scout in the great outdoors?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

1.  A $4 dual towel rack! We needed one for our ensuite and I went to Home Depot last weekend and realized they cost $40.  I decided to wait, and lo and behold, it was Bidding Wars to the rescue! It is still in the package--awesome, right?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Feeling Burdened

I hate that I feel like this, fostering one child with three of our own kids, is all I can bear right now; I thought I was stronger, tougher, and more resilient.  Gary and I have reached our limit and recognize it.  We aren't in over our heads, but had we taken in a sibling set, I think we would have been.  I feel like there are so many other moms that do so much more, why can't I?  In the daytime, I can do anything; tantrums, infections, and a billion hours of driving to appointments--I'm on it.

                                                                      {Image from ChristArt}

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Teaching Our Kids About Pornography: Good Pictures Bad Pictures

From a young age we teach our kids to say no to drugs and how to navigate potential peer pressure situations. We talk about addiction to drugs, smoking, and alcohol...but what about pornography?  Now, more than ever, kids have easy access to pornographic images with the click of a button.

Did you know that more than 1 in 5 searches on mobile devices is for pornography?  

More than half of boys and one third of girls see their first pornographic image by the age of 13. Thirty five percent of teenage boys said that they have viewed pornographic videos "too many times to count." (stats from Covenant Eyes). There are things we can do to help protect them like not allowing them on devices unsupervised and using filters on computers, but we will not always be close by. Therefore, teaching them how to identify it for what it is, the danger of pornography, and an appropriate response, is important.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures. A book for children about the dangers of pornography.

Kai and I have been reading Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids by Kristen A. Jensen and Gail Poyner. The chapters include titles such as: What's Pornography?, My Brain's Attraction Center, and My Thinking Brain's "CAN DO" Plan! It covers the the feeling and thinking parts of your brain, how addiction occurs, and what to do if you come across an image. Kai is nine years old and I think that it is a good age for this book. This is not to say that it shouldn't be talked about with younger kids, but understanding the parts of the brain with it's analogies might be difficult for someone younger. There is also a lot of dialogue in the book which might be harder for a younger child to follow.

Teaching our kids about pornography

The "CAN DO" plan stands for:
C=Close my eyes, turn away, shut down the device
A=Alert a trusted adult
N=Name pornography when I see it
D=Distract my thoughts away from bad images
O=Order my thinking brain to be in charge

I believe in being open with my kids and naming things for what they are. Whether it's the words for specific body parts or calling out pornographic images, I don't want them to feel embarrassed talking about it – I want it to be a conversation they feel comfortable having. Growing up we had very little sex education and I would have appreciated learning more in my home rather than gathering (mis)information from my friends. I was very impressed with Kai's maturity as we went through it and we will review it each year.

If you live locally and would like to borrow this book, let me know! I'd be happy to lend it out. Thoughts?


Pin here for later: 
How to talk to our kids about pornography before it becomes an issue.

PS Before reading this book, Kai and I went through a sex education book entitled "It's So Amazing: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, Babies and Families" and I thought it was well done.(**I'm not allowing anonymous commenters on this post because I was getting so much spam**)

Monday, October 26, 2015

We're Going to the Zoo

For years people have recommended that we buy a pass to the Greater Vancouver Zoo and we finally did!  I wasn't sure how I felt about these animals living outside of their natural surroundings but I can see now that it is more about conservation and education.  Being that we are now around every weekend and our kids need to go, go, go, this is great place to run around and explore.  It's just 15 minutes from our house and the annual family pass includes parking, 12 train rides, and free entrance to the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops and the Edmonton Valley Zoo.  The cost was $199.00 but it will pay for itself within 3 visits which is something we can definitely do.

We went first thing on Saturday and it was a perfect fall morning.  We saw every animal, the Vivarium Show, hung out at the playground, and then went on the train ride.  We were there for three hours total and it was a great way to tire the kids out (and me!)

We met their new red panda, Arun!  So, so cute.  These guys are endangered with less than 10,000 individuals left.

I've never seen their grizzly bear and there he was!

The hippopotamuses were out of the water! 

I hope to take the kids on Pro-D days and we'll continue going on weekends when we have time.  Do you do annual family passes anywhere?


Friday, October 23, 2015

Discipline Without Damage: The Question We Need to Ask Ourselves

I recently went to a parenting seminar by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe who spoke based on her book  Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up. It was a good talk for me to attend – and not in the affirming "Phew, I've been doing everything right kind of way."

Discipline without damage: The question we need to ask ourselves

It was encouraging to hear how we can discipline and connect with our kids better using a few simple tips.

The most common way that we had been disciplining our kids over the younger years was a Time Out where they were close by but still had a few minutes to calm down and think. Let's be honest, with four young kids, it was often used to get them out of my hair so I didn't lose it. For Nya, it was more of a "Time In" where I sat there with her and talked it through because she couldn't calm down on her own. Time Outs are not recommended by Dr. Lapointe based on disconnection and I can see why especially with one of our kids in particular.

She encourages caregivers to think "How do I be what my kid needs?" rather than "What do I do?" when approaching a situation where your child needs direction and discipline.

{Time Out bench}

Koen was ending up in Time Out about five times a day (our other kids were closer to once a week) and it turned into a cycle. Not listening? Bugging a sibling? Using a naughty word? Off to Time Out you go. He would say "sorry" and then a few minutes later, the behaviour continued. Koen was six years old and in school full-time that year. His love language is physical touch and he yearns for cuddles with us all the time. When he came home from school, he felt so disconnected that he acted wild and angry, which we had been quick to respond to but not in a helpful way. We decided to really work on looking beyond his actions and to address the heart of it all. Gary and I tried to connect with Koen more throughout the day and when a discipline issue came up, we would head to the couch to cuddle and talk it out –  similar to our technique of a Time In with Nya.

{Being pro-active and filling him up with connection}

This doesn't sound earth-shattering but it was a good tip for us to hear at a time when we were starting to really struggle with his actions.

Other great discipline tips are: 

  • Avoid explanations of your "no" in the moment.
  • Be firm and KIND (no you may not _______and  I know that it's hard). 
  • If you feel like you are going to lose it, exit gracefully. This was one of the biggest challenges for me because when I'm about to lose it, well, I always say exactly what I'm thinking so it's hard for me to say "Hold on, I'll be right back. I just need to switch the laundry over" – they may think all I do is laundry.

Each child is so different and connection is key to having fewer discipline issues down the road.

I know that my oldest loves to be in activity with us and going for a walk, tossing around the football, or reading a book are a few of his favourites. I need to make sure that we make time for that, too.

Discipline can be a touchy subject so I'm not telling you what to do in any way. I'm just sharing what we'll be working on. Thoughts? Happy cuddling.


How can we best discipline our children? What is the one question we should be asking?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

1.  Stretchy laces.  Kai does know how to tie his shoes but prefers not to ("there's no time for it") so I am thankful for these kinds of laces.  Koen may or may not know how to tie his shoes. Ahem. Bad mom just got him through Step 1; fine motor skills are his biggest struggle so if he doesn't need to learn right now, who cares.

2. Parent teacher conferences. It's pretty wild hearing about their strengths and weaknesses because they are pretty much a mix of ours--it's very interesting. I'm thankful for teachers that love our kids and know how to encourage and challenge them.  I'm thankful that Kai loves school and that Koen doesn't hate it :)

3. Chiropractors.  I'm really just thankful for all of the options that we have available to us.  I took Koen to the chiropractor this past week and he did so well.  His tailbone needed a little realignment and he did a great job tolerating it all...he was pretty pumped that the chiropractor thought he was quite muscular :) He also liked that the bed went up and down just like a Disneyland ride.   I'm also taking Koen to the optometrist this week as recommended by his teacher.  

4. Nya singing her life.  She will just sing in the car "I love the mountains, they are so beautiful! " or whatever else she is looking at.  At home, her sing songy voice will say, " I can't find my little lamb, where is it?" etc.  Her voice is so sweet and instead of talking about what she sees, she'll sing it.

5. Paw Patrol.  All four kids will watch it together so I appreciate that.  Also, they love watching the Leap Frog videos on Netflix (about words and numbers and sounds) which are so great for the little ones.  We don't watch TV all day long, even though it sounds like it, but we do have a half hour of down time before bed where everyone cuddles on the couch to watch a show together.  

6. Fall leaves. Gorgeous.

7.  Monday morning ballet.  It's really fun for me to watch.  There was a moment where Nya teared up and said "I can't do it" (trying a plie)--my boys were never insecure like that (that I remember) so I wasn't sure what to do! I just held her hand and we moved on to the next move together.  She is definitely a lot more clingy these days and I'm not sure if it's just being three, the youngest, or having our Little One (and therefore less attention and sleep.)

8.  Books. I love getting lost in books.  I want more time and energy to read.  And exercise. But definitely read.

9.  A parenting class.  I went last night to Dr. Vanessa Lapointe's "Discipline without Damage" and I thought it was really informative.  I feel guilty that with less patience, time and energy these days, we are quicker to send the boys to the basement and out of our hair.  I know they want/need to connect (especially our Koen) so we are going to be more intentional about this.

10.  The chance to see Kai run at cross country yesterday.  He worked hard over the past two months on it and pushed himself and was pretty happy with the results.  I love seeing him do his best and being active.  I have pictures of him actually running but there are other kids in the photos so I'll just share the ribbon photo.

11.  Slow-release melatonin.  It is not a magic pill.  It allows a child to sleep for about 6 hours....well, it should.  It kind of does.  Our Little One is still up throughout the night but with three nights of slow-release melatonin (which we put in milk before bed), there is usually some solid-ish sleep from about 10-3.  So, this is better but still not wonderful.  I'll take it.  We can still up the dosage but are being careful about that.

So folks, there you have it!  What is one thing you are thankful for this week?


Monday, October 19, 2015

As Long As There Is Hope...and Coffee

When we were going through our home study to become foster parents, there were two factors that I repeatedly said were "no go's": a child that hurt our biological children or a child that did not sleep.  Having had years of not sleeping through the night (Nya took two years!) plus an autoimmune disease that included insomnia, my body needs it's rest.   When our Little One was proposed to us they said that this child sleeps through the night.  Perfect.  Except, this is not the case.  I understand that sleep will not always be great when a child comes into care but this lack of sleep is...unbelievable.

The past few months have been really tough.  Our Little One needs sleep to grow and heal and has not been getting it by waking up every one to two hours.  I will not share the details but we know (mostly) why it's difficult and we've been trying to find a solution by asking many questions and trying every avenue we can (besides co-sleeping because we are legally not allowed and not sure we would want to go that route.)

I don't know if it's being 37 or having 4 kids or having 5 years out of the last 9 where I did not sleep through the night, but wow, I AM TOO OLD AND TIRED TO NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.  

We've recently started melatonin.  It works. Well, it works getting our Little One to sleep rapidly (so thankful!) but after two to three hours, UNHAPPILY WIDE AWAKE FOR HOURS or WIDE AWAKE CRYING EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR (with one of us IN the room.)  I know now that we need a slow release one and I need a doctor's supervision to help draw up a plan as this child is not ours so we need approval for everything.  I'm so, so tired of going to the doctor at least once a week and the clinic is so tired of seeing me!

But, just like my very own kids, I will do whatever I can to help this child sleep so that there will be growth and happiness--for all of us!   We love our Little One...the giant grin and giggle really help.  We have seen such growth (in size and in specific developmental areas!)  I was at an appointment this week and our LO demonstrated a new skill we have been working on and I cried; it's just so cool to see progress and feel hopeful, you know?  Maybe it was because I was really tired, too.

I'm not sure what I'm getting at but I think the point is that even though things are tough in the sleep department, as long as there's hope (and a sweet smile), we can do it!  I know I might sound dramatic but sleep is so necessary for my well-being and to have it be so affected has been really hard on Gary and I.  Almost every night I think "This is too much" and then every morning, after a good cup of coffee and some cuddles, I think "We can do this."

I hope you had a good sleep or two over the weekend :)


PS If interested, these are all of the things we have implemented:
1. Essential Oils
2.  Strict bedtime routine: bath, brush teeth, same four books, same two songs, prayer and lay down.
3. Night light.
4. White noise
5. Music (then stopped as that made it worse)
6. Bed like a nest (pillows around perimeter under a sheet to make it comforting/containing)
7. Blankets with more pressure
8. Making the room feel like a fun and safe place to be by playing in it during the day
9. Lavender scented stuffed bear in the bed
10.  Paw Patrol stuffie in hopes of getting it to be a comfort item
11. Water bottle
12.  A shirt that smells like me in the bed
13. A bed set up beside LO's bed so that we can be in the room if need be (which is NOT our favourite but happens 6/7 nights)

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Ocean of Memories

Gary and I are unique (and awesome?!) in the fact that we share the same jobs; science teachers and photographers. We both have a love for the outdoors, nature, and gorgeous scenery.  For me, a lot of these passions came about through my childhood.  We grew up going to Vancouver Island several times throughout the year to visit family and then go whale watching, fishing, and camping.

We had a small Zodiac and could fit my mom, dad, and all five kids on it (and sometimes even my oma, too!)  We saw the grey whales migrating each Spring Break and we caught our limit of salmon every summer.  There was so much fresh air and togetherness--what a feeling!

I fell in love with biology. When you clean a salmon, you can't help but be in awe of how it's put together (and what is in it's stomach!)  When you see grey whales swimming next to your boat, you can't help but be amazed at the sheer size of them.  When you fling bull kelp at your sisters, you can't help but notice the colourful array of seaweeds that litter the coast (and the fun brown algae, Fucus,  that you can pop!)  When you learn how to identify male and female crabs by the V-shape on their underside, you can't help but check it out each time (and then hide them in your sister's boots.)  There is so much to learn and the beauty is never-ending.

When I'm on the beach, I'm brought right back to those feelings of playfulness, relaxation, and exploration.   Every year, for the past 8 years, we head back to Vancouver Island to explore Ucluelet and Tofino with our family.  I hope that my kids will see and feel the beauty, experience the awe, and embrace all there is to learn.  We even named our oldest son Kai because it means "ocean".

{Same spot 20 years apart--Long Beach in 1994 and 2014. I wonder if my kids will have a picture here in 2034. }

We live in such an incredible world and I'm grateful to have experienced a childhood where we could spend so much time just being in it--in the moment and in the beauty.

Do you have a childhood tradition that you have continued into adulthood?


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

1. Simple pleasures. Gary won $1000.00 worth of groceries a few weeks ago (which was incredibly and awesome) and gave the boys each $3 to spend as they wish.  This is what Koen chose--they were so excited!  They also picked out some food for the food bank too.

2.  Fun family experiences.  I love seeing our kids outside having fun and I enjoy providing new experiences for our Little One.  I have already printed up about 70 pictures for Little One's photo book because I have a feeling LO will not remember us.

{Getting the star treatment}

3.  Thanksgiving with my family.  Picture 15 kids running around for 4 hours in a backyard.  It was beautiful and exhausting.  Yay for cousins.  And yards.

4.  Thanksgiving with the Chapman family.  We did a brunch and I LOVED the food.  Gary made Eggs Benedict and we had crepes and egg casserole in a slow cooker and sausages, and well, everything you would have for a brunch. So yummy!  I think it was a bit overwhelming to have two big family events in two days for our LO so thankfully it was back to routine today.

5.  Fall colours.  It's started and I love it.

5.  A chance to spend time with my big boys and my friend Leah.  It's usually quite chaotic and loud in our home so it was nice to spend some time being a bit more adult-ish (well, as much as you can with Koey around!)

6. Netflix.  I love it for the kids, for Gary and I, and now I even watch an episode while I hold our LO's hand to go to sleep.  I just put it on my iPad mini with headphones and after one episode, LO is asleep...for about an hour anyway ;)

7. This girl.  I know I include her in a lot of my Thankful Thursdays but wow, she is such a strong source of joy and laughter in my life.  She loves our LO with her whole heart.  Even when LO is having a tantrum, she'll respond so lovingly; it boggles my mind. She thinks LO is the cutest thing in the world (this is sort of true!) Together the the two of them make everyone smile.   She could've been so jealous sharing the position of the "baby" in the family but she embraces her new role.  She also finally got boots like mommy, cute right? Secondhand of course ;)

8. A bag of clothes for our Little One.  I had received some from a friend early on (thanks L!) and now received some more! They are some great quality clothes that will fit now and then some for next year.  So thankful for someone passing them on to us. Thank you, D!

9. A meal.  A friend said "What can I do for you?" and normally I say "Nothing!" but this time, I knew Wednesday would be crazy (due to 4 hours of appointments in a row) and asked for a meal for that day.  She provided a meal my whole family loved (and delicious chocolate cake for dessert).  It was really wonderful.  

10.  Encouragement.  Validation.  I found ANOTHER resource for our Little One (oh my, I'm learning so much...really I'm learning that finding the resources is a huge task in itself) who will be helping us in the sleep department!!  Also, I got a beautiful card from an unexpected source.  

If someone said to you, "What can I do for you?", what would you say?

Have a good week, friends!