Tag Archives: parenting

Teaching Kindness and Training Warriors

As a momma-to-be, there are already so many things I worry about for this sweet child I’m carrying. Am I eating the right foods to help her grow big and strong? Am I picking the right bedding, toys, and accessories so that he’ll be safe, secure, and happy? How do I prepare for the unknown worlds of birth, feeding, and tireless newborn care?

My biggest worry, though, is the overall prospect of bringing this little one into a great big world that is so bright and beautiful, but can also be harsh and mean and scary. For a while she’ll be protected by the cloak of babyhood – being constantly supervised and surrounded by people who offer nothing but kind words for this tiny new being. But in a brief few years she’ll grow up and go out on her own – at pre-school, at the park – and someone will say something unkind to her or another child. And the thought of that shatters my heart…

So how do I teach my child to embrace kindness even in the midst of a sometimes unkind world? How do I let him know that, no matter how strong meanness may seem, kindness will always win? How do I encourage him to face each day, brave and strong, as a warrior fighting for kindness for all those around him?

With small daily acts and beautiful inspiring words.

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Fortunately, my lovely sister-in-law, Katie Moore, has recently published an incredible children’s book on exactly this topic. Her book – You Are A Warrior – tells a beautiful, whimsical, and truthful tale of a little girl who is doing just that – being a warrior by fighting back against bullying with seemingly small acts of kindness that yield huge results. What makes Katie’s book even more special are the delightfully happy illustrations that are a compilation of her four talented children’s artwork combined with her own wise words. Without a doubt, this is an inspiring book and a meaningful message for adults and children alike.

Since I’m fortunate enough to know this witty and wonderful author, I asked Katie a few questions about the book in hopes of absorbing some of her awesome, love-filled wisdom:

What was your inspiration for writing this book?                                                               

My inspiration for writing this book was to give my kids something to hold and read and know that they contributed to a real book. Something tangible that they helped to create and build and feel that they could put it in their hands and say that they were a part of. I’m working on a novel that is aimed for an adult audience so it was important for me to get this one out first. Also on my blog I write a lot of things that are adult humor that I would never (ever) want them to come across, but a book that is for kids helps confirm that their momma really is a writer. It gives me some street credit. Plus (and most importantly) I am a huge fan of children’s books that send out a positive message. I want my kids and kids everywhere to be kind and aim for good every single day.      

As a mother of four (incredible) kids, why do you think this is an important book and message for children?                                                                                                                 

I think that it is desperately important that children realize that small acts can make a tremendous impact on this world. Bullying is rampant in schools, playgrounds and probably the most detrimental of all, on all sources of media. Kindness isn’t a slight thing, costs nothing and has the potential to bring hope to every generation. Children of all ages have the power to bring change.

I love the artwork in the book! Can you tell me more about your process for creating the beautiful and inspiring images?                                                                           

Thank you! I am in love with collage work with mixed media. I wanted to create something whimsical with my own kids’ artwork and add some words and light to bring each page its own type of faithful magic. The process is really glue, hope, glue, repeat. Roll with the mess and the mistakes… perfection is overrated.   

What is the number one lesson that you hope anyone reading – both children and adults – will take away from your book?                                                          

Show up. Be kind. That really would be a dream if that was the takeaway. Oh and have fun too. Warriors are rockstars.                                                                                                                                                                            

Thank you dear Katie!

There is still time to get the perfect Christmas gift for kids of all ages (including those grown-up kids who may need a little kindness reminder) by ordering Katie’s book on Amazon: You Are A Warrior.

While you’re there, be sure to pick up a copy of her lovely inspiration journal – Dream a Bigger Dream – to spark your own creative potential.

For more of Katie’s wit, humor, and wisdom, check out her blog, The Naked Momma, at www.thenakedmomma.com.  Or get her daily dose of inspiration and fun on Facebook and Twitter @thenakedmommakt.

PS – it just so happens to be Katie’s birthday today, so share the love!

What small but mighty acts of kindness have you seen or done this week? Leave a comment below with ways to share some joy this season and beyond, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of You Are A Warrior – a beautiful gift just for you! Happy kindness spreading friends!

It’s A…

With all the traveling and moving and settling in and exploring we’ve been doing the past few months, it’s hard to believe that just four short months from today is when our little one is expected to make his or her entrance into this world! Now that we’re over halfway there (eek!), without a doubt the most common question we get is: “Are you having a boy or a girl?!”

Well, since inquiring minds want to know, it’s a…

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Surprise!

Yes, we decided we’re going to do things the old fashion way and wait and be surprised when we meet our sweet babe for the first time in the delivery room.

Since deciding to wait to find out the gender, I’ve found people’s responses incredibly amusing. Of course there are those that made the same choice and encourage you, proclaiming: “Waiting and being surprised is the best!” Others are supportive and admiring, saying, “I wish I was patient enough to just wait, I think that’s so great.” But then there are those who so obviously disagree with your choice that it’s comical. Their reactions range from confused and incredulous looks to flat out stating, “You’re crazy!” Though most of these have come in good humor from great friends, I’ve found it funny that it actually seems to annoy people that they can’t know the gender of the baby.

Then there are the questions…

“How will you know what to buy?”

“How will you pick a baby name?”

“But if you can find out, then why wouldn’t you?”

Our reasons for not finding out our baby’s gender are both personal and practical. First there’s the obvious – the element of surprise. In this modern world of information overload, there are so few great surprises left in life. I’ve always loved surprises; never wanting to know the contents of my gifts before Christmas morning; insisting that Andrew not tell me where we are going on dates. So what greater surprise could there be than finding out whether we have a new son or daughter in that miraculous moment when we bring him or her into the world. The greatest gift of all.

From a practical standpoint, we’re hoping that keeping the baby’s gender a mystery will help cut down on what we acquire both now and in the future. It keeps me (and others) from going out and buying every pink or blue outfit, blanket, and accessory in the store. Instead we end up with a few carefully selected gender neutral items that we really love. And since we are hoping to have more children (perhaps of different genders), we don’t want to stock up on gender specific major items – carseat, stroller, nursery decor – only to have to re-buy everything the next go round. Besides, our style doesn’t lean towards the pink ballerina girl or blue sports boy. We prefer a mix of colors and styles as unique as our child – regardless of gender.

Additionally, not knowing the gender may just help keep unwanted opinions and assumptions at bay. It seems that one answer leads to so many more questions: “What are you going to name the baby?” “Do you think he will be into planes like his dad?” “Do you think she will like to read like her mom?” Rather than trying to define this little person with a name or personality before her or she even takes a first breath, we’re glad to let our babe spend these last few months in the warm womb relaxing without the opinions or expectations of the world. There will be plenty of time for that in years to come.

Our final and most important reason for deciding not to find out the gender of our baby is not really a reason at all. The fact is, it really doesn’t matter whether our child is a boy or a girl, we are going to love him or her just the same either way. It’s a baby, and its needs are the same regardless of gender – love and nurturing, attention and affection. Our lives are going to be turned upside down in wild and wonderful ways no matter what. So we are embracing the unknown that is a necessary part of parenthood.

There are so many reasons behind each personal parenting decision, and by no means am I trying to claim that others should make the same decision with their child. But for us, with this child, it’s what felt right.

I’m curious – if you’re a parent did you find out the gender of your child beforehand? Why or why not? 

The Blessing of Babysitting

The last couple weekends, I have spent my rowdy evenings babysitting. While this would be a burden to many people, for me it’s an absolute blessing.

You see, I’ve always loved babies and children. Through the years, as my family and friends thought (hoped) this fascination would fade, it’s remained constant. Just last weekend, as I was proclaiming my philosophy on cloth diapering, my aunt remarked, “Well I guess you never really got over that baby thing did you?…”

Nope, not one bit. And while I don’t yet have children of my own, I have been so incredibly blessed over the years with the many many children I’ve gotten to care for and their kind parents who trust me with this task. As with ones own children, of course I don’t have favorites – each child and family is wonderful and unique and has taught me something different. But there is one family, one set of boys, who will always hold such a special place in my heart, for they were the first ones for whom I really truly babysat.

And today is a big day in our intertwined lives, because this happy little fella, Parker, the very first child I babysat, is turning sixteen. Sixteen!

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While it does make me feel old, it also makes me feel so very proud. So proud to see him grow from baby to boy to amazing young man, and so thankful to be a part of it all.

Our relationship started early. Shortly after Parker was born, I would wander over, a shy ten-year-old, to my new neighbors’ house and hesitantly ask his parents, “May I hold Parker?…” They never turned me away or told me I was too young; they welcomed me into their home, trusting me with their first sweet little baby. My visits became more and more frequent, often daily, and as time went on, his parents eventually began paying me to watch Parker. I was simply amazed that someone would actually pay me to do the very thing I loved most in the world – watch over little ones. I would, both then and now, happily do it for free. Yet, the fact that they paid me, that it was a real job, brought with it responsibility. So while I was watching over Parker as he grew, I hardly realized the growing I myself was doing. How this little boy was shaping the adult I was slowly becoming.

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When I graduated from high school, Parker’s momma, Julia (who has become a dear friend), wrote me the kindest note that said, among other sweet sentiments:

“You’ll know what you’ve meant to me when you have children of your own. When that time comes, I hope that you are lucky enough to live next to a ten-year-old girl just like yourself.”

Though that is the most amazing thing to hear, I already consider myself the lucky one. Lucky to be part of such an incredible child and family’s lives. Lucky to be trusted with the most sacred task of caring for their babies. Lucky to be taught so many invaluable lessons on life and parenting that only a child can impart.

So thank you Julia, Taylor, and all you other wonderful mommas and poppas who have blessed me over the years with taking care of their children. I am forever grateful for the the blessings and joy that you and your lovely little ones have brought to my life.

And happy birthday Parker – you rock!