Friday, February 17, 2017

Read along with us: Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad

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In honor of Black History Month, here's a video review of two books about the Underground Railroad.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How to talk with kids about refugees: Book, video, & resource suggestions plus concrete ways child activists can help

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A story: My old church supported several Karen refugee families from Myanmar. The Karen are a Christian and Buddhist ethnic minority group in Myanmar (Burma) who were forced from their homes, their villages destroyed, and fled from violence and ethnic cleansing in a Burmese civil war into hiding in the surrounding jungles. Not the pretty Jungle Book jungles but mountainous ones that grow cold and inhospitable, with little food to forage.

The fortunate ones were able to cross the border into Thai refugee camps. The very fortunate ones were able to make their way from Thailand to settle in other nations, such as the Karen community in the south Seattle area. This was not their wish, though. They miss their homes desperately and find it hard to adjust to a new life in a new land where they're definite minorities. As one woman said in an interview with CNN: "[I]f the situation in Burma changes, I hope to go back to my country."

Here's the part of this experience that has stuck with me for years now. A group of internally displaced Karen people still running and hiding in the mountain forests wrote our church for assistance. We raised money regularly to try to get supplies to them and sent words of support and encouragement. In this letter back to us, they asked in particular for one thing: a bone saw. They had been performing amputations on horribly injured members of their community with whatever sharp implements they had to hand. They wanted a bone saw to ease the process.

THAT is what a refugee is. It's a person who's thankful for a bone saw. It's a person whose current greatest wish is an appropriate instrument to perform major surgery in the open air of a jungle as they're running for their lives.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A simple bedtime relaxation script for children

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My kids are all night owls, which means they tend to gain energy as bedtime approaches. To help them calm their bodies and minds, I started a simple nighttime relaxation technique with the older two. My nine-year-old appreciates it the most and will ask for it nearly every night. Mikko and I both have the characteristic of needing a looong time to fall asleep, and he can get anxious about it. This sort of relaxation time helps put him at ease.

If you already have a background of relaxation scripts, you can adapt ones you love. I called upon my own childhood, when my parents offered me some simple relaxation ideas when I kept stealing into their room each night to whisper that I couldn't fall asleep, and my experiences with Hypnobabies childbirth hypnosis, which helped me through three unmedicated births.

Have your child lie down and begin in a calm, soothing voice:

Squeeze your toes … and your feet … and your legs … all the way up to your bottom [or whatever word you use; we're a butt family].

Have them practice isolating each muscle in turn. Mikko has coordination difficulties so at first had to use his hands to assist him in highlighting each body part to contract; however a kid needs to do it is fine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Counting for hide-and-seek

I just need to preserve the cuteness.

(Dit-do is the name Karsten has given Alrik. We have no idea why. Dit-do decided on counting to 13 for hide-and-seek. Also no idea. I just go with it.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Why we treat our oldest & youngest children differently

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As a mother of three kids, I've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on how the truisms about sibling order come to pass seemingly by accident.

For instance, I find myself expecting ever more grownup behavior from Mikko, my oldest at nine years old, and considering my youngest, now two, as still a baby. But when I look back on my days with Mikko at two, I recall thinking how grownup he was even then.

Here's the explanation, and I think it's a simple one. It's not that we're callous and indifferent parents who can't let our older kids be kids and who can't have adequately high expectations for our younger ones. It just has to do with our experience of their growth.

When our first child is born, it's our first child. This might not apply to those of you who extensively nannied or babysat or co-raised siblings before parenting, but for the rest of us, we're experiencing each milestone as the first time it's happened.

When our firstborns smile, Whoa! Before they'd just gurgle and poop! Now they're social. When they sit up, Holy motor control! When they stand and talk and wave, everything's an obvious big leap forward, bringing them ever more distant from the last stage they were at.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year + a reminder!

Another turn around the sun with these three:

Feeling a lot of love and passing it along to you as you await
what joys and surprises 2017 will bring!

As we leave the cares and memories of the old year,
may the new one grant you peace and happiness and light!

Happy New Year from my family to yours.