Lessons in Learning to Ride a Bike

We worry over milestones constantly. And our adult minds are so quick to meet trouble halfway when all we really need to do is to wait and hope*.  Even when we aren’t sure, it is our duty to encourage the impossible.

A few months ago, we bought my son a bike for his birthday. We tried the pedal-less running bike. It worked amazingly. In a few short sessions, he was zooming down the driveway, looking and feeling pretty confident about “riding his bike.”

After a few weeks of that working, we decided to jump right in and put those pedals on. It did not go so well. It was much harder than he (and I) had expected to pedal and balance at the same time. Suddenly, riding his bike was not so fun and the bike started to get pretty comfortable resting in the corner of the living room.

As summer was coming to a close, I realized if we didn’t do this soon, it would be another year before any bike riding would be taking place. So my husband suggested taking just 5 minutes every day to practice.  I think I was even more reluctant than my son about this regime. The thought of trying to practice something that you can’t do is kind of discouraging.

After 2 days of holding on to the back of his bike while he focused so intently, I started to wonder, “Is this even possible?”  However, on the 3rd day of practice, I felt this moment where I could tell my son was balanced, so I just let go. And before he even knew it, he had ridden his bike for about 5 seconds.  He was so happy. was so happy. Deliriously. Because when our children feel joy, we feel joy 10 fold.  That is one of the sacred gifts of parenthood. The immense pleasure of being a witness to our children’s lives.

The next day Fynn said he was going to try riding his bike by himself. And then he did. Up the street, down the street, and back about 20 more times, every single time, yelling out at me, “I can’t believe I can ride my bike!”

I’m not sure why bike riding is such an important skill to master as a child. Maybe because it is our first taste of freedom, of feeling that our bodies can propel us forward. We feel the wind in our face and the strength of our limbs. We can move ourselves, in any direction we choose.

The following Saturday Fynn rode over 20km in one day with my husband.  He is now a full fledged bike riding machine/maniac. As I watch those two riding down the street together, off on another adventure, I can hear a page turning in the chapter of Fynn’s life.  There is a new boys club in my house, a cool, special bike riding club that both father and son are getting HUGE amounts of fun from.  And my heart is soaring for both of them.

As parents, we always want our children  to feel successful in their endeavors. We worry over milestones constantly. And our adult minds are so quick to meet trouble halfway when all we really need to do is to wait and hope*.  In each lesson our children learn, there is always a lesson for us as parents. On that day I learned that even when we aren’t sure, it is our duty to encourage the impossible.

* “Wait and hope” ~ The Count of Monte Cristo

How We Lost a Tooth without the Tooth Fairy

A few months ago, my son informed me that his front tooth was loose.  Ever the skeptic, I said, “Are you sure?” And as I pressed gently on this tooth, I was shocked to discover it WAS loose.  Why was I so shocked? Well, he wasn’t even 6 yet, and, how could he possibly be loosing teeth when it feels like he just got them? Didn’t I just pour my love over him through sleepless nights of teething pain? And now, it’s on to the next stage already.

A few months ago, my son informed me that his front tooth was loose.  Ever the skeptic, I said, “Are you sure?” And as I pressed gently on this tooth, I was shocked to discover it WAS loose.  Why was I so shocked? Well, he wasn’t even 6 yet, and, how could he possibly be loosing teeth when it feels like he just got them? Didn’t I just pour my love over him through sleepless nights of teething pain? And now, it’s on to the next stage already.

Parenting seems to have a constant forward momentum. We just master one developmental age and then, suddenly, it’s over, and we are starting from scratch again. It is very humbling.

In my house we tend to do things a bit unconventionally. We are still finding our footing when it comes to our beliefs and values and the way we’d like to help shape childhood in our family. After considering the concept of the tooth fairy, we decided against it. (Insert gasp here). That tradition didn’t fit into the idea of earthly magic and wonder that we’d like to cultivate. That being said, we very much believe in celebrating milestones in our own way.

A few weeks after the initial announcement of the loose tooth, my son called out from the living room, “Mumma! My tooth came out.” I ran in, and was so fortunate to witness that tender expression of pride and excitement. I held that little, tiny tooth in my hand, and felt the weight of that moment.  My husband came running in to investigate and share in the commotion.

That teeny tooth was a big deal.  I felt the pendulum swinging from childhood to youth. My first-born was heading towards something new.  It was thrilling and ever so slightly bittersweet as well.

We came to the conclusion that there would be no secret, stealthy fairy in the night getting all the glory. We would share this moment together. We would be the revelers, finding a new home for that tooth, and our son would know exactly where it was because he would get to choose its final destination.

The result? As per Fynn’s request, the tooth is to be buried at Grandma and Grandpa’s. That night, a candlelit dinner and dessert was served and heartily enjoyed. We decided to give him a small gift to commemorate this rite of passage.  My husband presented Fynn with a  geode, which he got to chisel open, and wasn’t he quite surprised to find that the unassuming rock contained an incredibly sparkling,  crystal world within?  Now that’s my kind of magic.

Kid Friendly Nut Butter Energy Bites

This recipe has become a staple in my home over the last few years. They are perfect snack to have around, especially when 3pm (or the hungry hour) hits. We make these once a week and they are so tasty and healthy. Every kid I have ever given one to has loved them, so what more do we need to say?

I have lately upgraded some of the ingredients to make these even more jam-packed with super nutritious ingredients. You can easily substitute your favourite ingredients with an almost guaranteed success. The only thing I ever added that did NOT taste good was protein powder, so do what you will with that information.

Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed powder
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacoa nibs
  • 2 tbsp superfood powder of your choice: maca/mesquite /barley grass juice/moringa
  • 4 tbsp mini chocolate chips
  • Coconut for dusting

Directions:

  1. Mix nut butter, honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll onto a plate of shredded coconut (makes 16-20).
  4. Store in the fridge and enjoy 🙂

This Too Shall Pass

As we raise our children, we soon discover there is a fluidity to life  that we cannot stop.  Each moment seamlessly carries us into the next, and before we know it, that moment is gone and a new one is before us.

 “Well, that was life. Gladness and pain . . . hope and fear . . . and change. Always change! You could not help it. You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart, learn to love it and then let it go in turn. 

~Anne of Ingleside, L.M Montgomery

I used to think the phrase “this too shall pass” was just something we needed to hear in times of peril and suffering, but, after becoming a parent,  I came to see that it has a broader, bitter-sweet meaning as well.

When my son was born, everyone told us how quickly that first year goes. We didn’t believe it. We couldn’t ever imagine our little baby any different than he was at  that moment. Now, he is 6 and has a sister who is 3 (what!). That small, delicate, child is gone, and I now have the pleasure of knowing an equally delightful but entirely different little boy.

As we raise our children, we soon discover there is a fluidity to life  that we cannot stop.  Each moment seamlessly carries us into the next, and before we know it, that moment is gone and a new one is before us.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to remember that in the midst of sleepless nights and endless dirty dishes? Doesn’t it always seem as if a bad moment will NEVER pass? But it will. And so do good ones.  That is, the sweet, tender moments where your babe is sleeping peacefully, mouth fluttering all the while. First steps, first giggles, first words, first hugs. They go.

Why do we always wonder when our child will hit that next milestone. Why are we always wishing time away when, in these quickly passing years, we should be cherishing each moment. It is in our nature, and the nature of the world, to change.  Things can’t and won’t stay the same.  

So the next time your child does something that makes your heart soar, revel in it for a little while. Let it wash over you as you hold on to that beautiful, transient moment. Because, this too shall pass.

How to Make Amends with your Children

When I think of the unconditional love that children have for their parents, it almost hurts me. I feel it is such an honour to possess that love, and that we also need to be very careful with these little vulnerable beings who are so forgiving.

“The source of everything, is in our eyes. I see the good in yours, seeing the good in mine.” ~Sarah Slean

Sometimes, in my quest to be a good parent, I make a mistake. Sometimes, in spite of all that I know, I do or say the wrong thing to my children. I know the moment is coming before it even happens, I feel my patience thinning, for whatever reason, and instead of lovingly responding to my child, I do that ugly, reactive thing instead.

Those moments are very hurtful for everyone involved. But, after I am able to collect my true self, I realize that I need to make amends. The benefits of apologizing to your child are numerous; it let’s them know you aren’t perfect (which they sometimes believe in childhood), it teaches them conflict resolution, loving communication, and so on. But there is one really amazing thing about apologizing to your child.

They always forgive you. Completely.

When I look into my son’s eyes, hold him close, and say “I’m sorry that I…,” he says, with such love and understanding, “That’s okay.”

I can’t really explain what a gift that can be to a parent, who is really trying their best, but occasionally makes a mistake.

When I think of the unconditional love that children have for their parents, it almost hurts me.  I feel it is such an honour to possess that love, and that we also need to be very careful with these little vulnerable beings who are so free with forgiveness.

I have also learned something else from these exchanges with my children; I deserve forgiveness. Even though I don’t necessarily believe that all of the time, I am learning that everyone make mistakes, and that if we are sorry and try to make improvements, we do deserve forgiveness.

Because, sometimes when my children look into my eyes, I get this feeling that they can really see me. The real me. And they love that person.  That hopelessly flawed person.  So after I make amends, and am forgiven, I try to remember to give myself that forgiveness too.

What is a Thriving Home?

I don’t think a family can ever be perfect. But I do think that in the midst of the chaos that is inevitably life, we can establish a set of values that guides our actions, helps us navigate the sometimes rough waters, and steers us back to the equilibrium that we deserve.

If I had to pick one thing, one idea, that could change the world, it would be family.  If we could figure out on a small scale how to consistently be good to each other and for each other, and then bring that love outward into the world, great things could happen. 

When I look at my children, and witness who they are and who they might one day become, I am filled with an over-whelming urge to be a better person. Their goodness, purity, and wonder has that effect on me. I think I’ve grown more as a person because of their existence. I’ve been stretched beyond what I ever thought possible, digging deeper than the well would allow sometimes. And so far, I have survived.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to just survive family life. I want to thrive.

What is it that makes a family thrive within their home? I have a few theories. They’re based on the good and bad days that I’ve observed in my home over the past 8 years. They’re also based on the books and articles I have read, and continue to read, to educate myself on this important topic.

I am by no means an expert on your family, but I do feel like I may qualify for a Phd in my own life. I don’t presume to have it all figured out every day (hilarious). But, when I do, my hope is that someone can take that tiny thread of goodness and weave their own truth with it.When I don’t have it figured out, I reflect on my mistakes, strive to make it right, and then try to forgive myself (that usually takes a while).

I don’t think a family can ever be perfect. But I do think that in the midst of the chaos that is inevitably life, we can establish a set of values that guides our actions, helps us navigate the sometimes rough waters, and steers us back to the equilibrium that we deserve.

That’s the magic spot where we actually thrive. But we must be patient with ourselves. We must allow our daily actions and choices to slowly build momentum. Becoming a family doesn’t just happen in an instant. We are our own single beings for so long, until one day we find we are inextricably and forever bound to our partner and children. But with time, consistency, and great heart, we are made whole, and become the solid stone we know as family.

When I look at all the research available, and the truths I witness in my own home, I have come to believe that there needs to be three focuses in a family:

  1. Nurturing Care: invest time and energy in all members of the family, including yourself. Lavishing love, care, and quality time while honouring the unique natures and/or developmental stages of each person.
  2. Nature: connect daily to the real world. The one that actually keeps us alive and provides everything we could ever need. Giving our attention to natural rhythms, beauty, and stillness is essential to our well being. We must learn to protect this precious world by seeing ourselves as stewards and honoured guests.
  3. Nourishing Food: prepare food that feeds our bodies and souls, made from ingredients that are good for people and the planet. We need to make time in our hurried lives for meals and reintroduce the old ways of food preparation that enhances nutrient absorption.

With this blog, I hope to explore these focuses in great detail and share whatever truths I can find. Any wisdom found in parenting is hard won, through tears, laughter, and joy. If we can share our stories, ideas, and mistakes, maybe we can move more effortlessly towards that thriving home we all deserve.

Why Playing Around Needs to be Taken Seriously

Play is becoming an endangered species of its own. Our over-booked pressure-packed schedules and focus on academic enrichment and achievement has left little time for “free child-centered play.”

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” C.S. Lewis

For much of my late youth, my mother would lovingly, rhetorically, ask, “When will Jo stop playing?”  Indeed, I wondered myself. But how could I? Play is FUN! And now that I have children of my own, and a husband who is an avid tree climber, I have a great reason to keep doing it.

I can’t help but notice that whenever I go to the playground with my kids, there are a lot of stiff, bored parents nodding along the perimeter, staring at their phones, while I am heading down the swirly slide or making incoherent monster noises. I also noticed that some kids watching me play seem utterly confused, and are wondering (at first) what is wrong with me. But before long, they “get it” and are joining in our game.

I was almost feeling self-conscious about my easy ability to be so playful. Should I be acting more adult and mature even though I can’t help it because I really am of the Fae? Well, after doing a bit of research, I have discovered that in fact, play is a very good thing. Here’s what the experts say about play:

A book called, Playful Parenting, speculates that play is actually a very powerful parenting tool, one that can build confidence, close-connections, and even solve some behavioural problems.

Play can help children to sort out daily difficulties by re-enacting scenarios and adopting a different, authoritative role. For instance, if a child had a negative experience at the doctors office, she may come home and “play” doctor…only this time, she’ll be the doctor dishing out the needles while you “playfully” beg for mercy. This kind of role-reversal helps a child reclaim any power that they feel they may have lost while they simultaneously explore their world while they are in control.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is so critical to the optimal development of a child that in 2007, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights deemed it a “right of every child”.  And, play is becoming an endangered species of its own. Our over-booked pressure-packed schedules and focus on academic enrichment and achievement has left little time for “free child-centered play.”

And that my friends is the good stuff. That’s where the magic happens. That kind of play develops imagination and creativity and improves cognitive, emotional, and physical strength. Play allows children to try on different roles in a pressure-free environment which ultimately builds confidence and self-esteem.

Play isn’t just for kids either.  Though adults often view it as a luxury, or worse, a sign of immaturity, it is neither of those things. Research shows that play helps improve health and well-being and strengthen relationships and community ties. Play also allows us to transcend our ordinary lives which helps us create new thoughts and ideas (really important for this generation).

Also, it’s fun! Remember fun? I know, it’s been a while.  As we age,  we become so preoccupied with the seemingly important adult world that we loose the ability to let go, be free, and in the moment.  A concept which books like A New Earth tell us is pretty integral for our well-being and spiritual evolution.

I think we all need to reconnect with the amazing child within who still has a lot to teach us. So put down your phone, close your lap top, stop cleaning or doing whatever you do, and give yourself permission to play.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

~ Plato

“The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that.”

~ Nagel Jackson

***For further reading, check out this article from Scientific American, where a 42 year study reveals some very scary things about a world without play.