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When Natural Consequences Don't Work

Sometimes children do things we don’t want them to do. Sometimes that’s drawing hearts and stars on walls, doors, floors. Sometimes it’s possible to over look the art work, clean it up ourselves, and move on without mentioning it to the child. Sometimes something more is needed.

One of our kiddos likes to draw. On the walls. On the doors. On the floors. Anywhere she happens to be when inspiration strikes. The way we’ve dealt with this shifts each time we find new art adorning our walls.

We only cleaned it up ourselves once or twice. After that, she needed to clean the art work herself. Sometimes this meant needing to clean an entire wall because when she cleaned one spot it suddenly became obvious only part of the wall was clean. I didn’t like that, so the entire wall needed to be washed.

The art work continued.

She’s steam cleaned the carpet.

The art work continued.

We decided to change tactics.

Instead of continuing with consequences for her actions, we decided to prevent her actions. We realized she has a burning desire to create, she also had boredom, and limited personal craft supplies. Often she’d find something wherever she happened to be, and use it.

We decided to create a personal art kit for her, with nice craft supplies and a satchel so she can carry it with her anywhere and everywhere. We don’t know if this will protect our walls, doors, and floors, but so far she’s so excited by her special kit that the art has remained only where we’d like it.

It’s important to us to connect with our children even when we don’t like the things they do. It’s important to us that they know they, as people, are worthy of our love. It doesn’t mean we always like what they do, but as we guide them toward adulthood we want them to know we’ll help them find solutions to mistakes and know that mistakes do not define them. We want them to know we’re on their team, that means most of the time the solution doesn’t look like punishment. Instead it’s us looking deeper than the behaviour to find the root cause and dealing with that. Oftentimes that means just giving more love.

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Life has Happened and We've Been Busy!

I know I’ve been so silent over here, and I’m sorry! We’ve hit a strange point in the year when we’re super busy, but also not really doing anything new. Winter has worn out it’s welcome (more snow flurries today), but besides a few hollyhocks and peonies peeking through the mulch, spring hasn’t really arrived yet.

I’m working on a large sculpture right now, so most of my extra attention is on wire right now – which means our movie themes are on hold. Plus we had a rash of illnesses that prevented us from even going to see Beauty and the beast yet! 😮 I know! I’m shocked and dismayed by this as well! But don’t worry, we’re going on Monday to finally see it! (I can hardly wait!)

Ryan, Ella, and Agatha have been playing a ton of minecraft on our server and having so much fun together! Brom spent some of his own money to buy his very own video game (Lego Pirates of the Caribbean) he’s currently about 60% of the way through it – he’s had it for 2 weeks. If he isn’t playing, he’s talking about playing. Blackbeard is his favourite character. When we told him (one of) his middle names was after Blackbeard he fell right over with the biggest, goofiest grin on his face. He was one happy guy! lol

Last night Ryan and I went on a date – the first childless night out in 2 or 3 years! We often enjoy bringing our kiddos out with us, but sometimes it’s just really nice to get out on our own as well. We went to see Peter and the Star Catchers at the Citadel in Edmonton. We laughed so much and had so much fun. It’s pretty wonderful hitting this phase in life where our children are able to cope with us being out and we can go out and enjoy ourselves. It’s also wonderful to hit this phase in life where most of our children are mature enough to sit happily through  stage production with us. I really miss going to the theatre.

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Why I Keep Going Back to Disney World

So often I’m asked why I go to Walt Disney World so often. Why I don’t travel somewhere else. Sometimes I offer simple reasons: It’s easy to eat gluten-free, it’s fun, it’s relaxing (Yes, I find Disney relaxing!). There are so many reasons. But my reasons go so much deeper than that.

Disney is a part of who I am.

I’m not sure how old I was the first time we went to Disney. I’m not sure if we went two or three times before we moved to Florida. What I do know is each year (for how many years?) our family piled into a van and drove to Florida, to Disney World. Don’t feel too bad for us, my parents had some pretty lush vans complete with TVs and Nintendo before those things were common. Over all, it was a pretty comfortable drive. I loved it!

We drove day and night while my dad wove stories about family and friends I’d never met, or that I’d long since forgotten. I listened to the hum of our wheels on pavement as the stars floated overhead. I daydreamed. I listened to songs about adventure, love, and family. I saw so much during those drives, our family loved so much.

During a time when life was busy and my mom was in school in a different city, my family made the time to drive to Florida. Many people might have flown, but those drives meant the world to me.

Many people don’t know the thrill, the feeling of elation, that happens when you drive under the Walt Disney World Sign. Imagine the feeling of a kid who’s been in a van for three days: Three days of talking about Disney. Three days of thinking about Disney. Three days of wondering what to expect. Three days of excitement as we dreamed about our favourite rides and shows. Three days, and we were almost there. Three days and we saw those words that welcomed us to The Most Magical Place on Earth. In a few more moments we’d be there. A few more moments and magic would happen. A few more moments and we’d hear the words all Disney World guests know and love, “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas”.

When we drove under that sign, Magic happened.

My parents had a unique way of exploring Disney. I remember many times we all spent together as a family. But mostly I remember those times my older sister and I explored Disney on our own. My older sister was my favourite person in the world, so this was a huge deal! She was four years older, so at home our worlds were very different, but at Disney we were equal.

We used to try to scare people in the haunted mansion, waiting until just the right moment to scream. Now I think about how so many people must have hated us lol, but we had so much fun. We’d run through the caves on Tom Sawyer’s Island. We didn’t always go in the entrance, or out the exit the correct direction. We often waited, hidden around a bend, only to jump out and yell ‘Boo!’ at each other. Sometimes we accidentally scared the wrong person. Oops! We’d apologize, then come together giggling. Silly. Fun.

We’d wait in lines and laugh about so many things, tease each other, and have a great time. We had a routine. We’d grab an atomic fireball from the candy barrels outside Snow White’s Scary Adventure, then we’d head to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. While we waited  in line, we’d try to eat the fireballs without taking them out of our mouths. Of course we couldn’t!

I remember the first time I was able to keep my eyes open on Space Mountain. I remember the times my sister and I dashed through crowds to get to the next ride, and the times we slowed down to watch the parade.

Even as an adult, I remember those days at Disney as the most magical, most wonderful days. My older sister was so much fun, and she always looked out for me. We’d take turns choosing a ride. Oh the number of times one of us said, “I want to ride Space Mountain, (or some other ride) but it’s on the other side of the park. We’d better ride the Skyway to get there.” Followed by an hour long wait to get on the Skyway. Of course as soon as we got on the Skyway, the other person would point out that it was a ride, and now was their turn to choose. We both did it. We both laughed.

These are all small, silly memories. Memories that fade over time. But just as Grand Pappy said in Frozen, we can take the memories, but leave the fun. I don’t remember what rides we rode, or when. I don’t remember the lines or specific details. But I remember the fun, I remember the laughter, I remember the love.

I have few pictures of those times. We were children having fun. Who wanted to stop and take pictures when there was so much to do? Details fade, but the magic, laughter, and fun grow stronger each year.

Every time I take my children to Disney, I remember those times. The love my family had for each other was heightened at Disney. Every time I bring my children to Disney, it’s really me bringing them home. It’s really me telling my parents that I love them and letting my sister know she means the world to me.

Disney isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling. When you’re in that magical world of make believe, those feelings take on a new meaning. Happy memories chase away the weight of the world and my children feel more love and magic, just as I did as a child.

When we’re not in Disney, we do the best we can to create the feelings of magic and love at home. We take inspiration from our favourite characters, “What would Tianna do?” We look at pictures and laugh about our adventures. When we’re not in Disney, we’re thinking about Disney. Disney is Home.

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Teaching Thankfulness and Gratitude

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference between a day and a whole life. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference between life and a moment. 

*The words in italics are about my spirituality. Feel free to skip that and just read about how we guide our children to being thankful and showing gratitude. *

Easter is such an important time for me. It has been a time of rebirth and new life in so many ways in my life. But over the past few years I’ve allowed myself  to drift away from the spirituality that brought huge blessings to my life. Not only did I drift aimlessly, truly without direction. I closed my eyes and refused to see where I was going or where I’d been.

Can you imagine a moment when  a great gift is given to you, only to realize you smashed it? 

I’m not sure when, but that moment hit me. Hard. I looked around and I saw my life in shambles. So many blessings that withered. Neglected. 

But the wonderful thing about God is that it doesn’t matter where we end up, He always welcomes us home. 

Easter is the perfect time to renew our faith and rejuvenate our spirituality. 

I want to invigorate my prayer life. And shift my perspective to see the glory of God.

I want to show my children the wonders of gratitude and thankfulness that I’ve known.

It’s taken me a lot of work and a lot of time to figure out how to see those moments as more than a blip on the radar of life. I want my children to grow up able to see the hardness of the world, the sharp points as mere moments, but the joy and wonder as  life. 

Until recently, I saw the hardness, the sharpness, the starkness and could barely see beyond it except in rare moments. But through a lot of meditation, mindfulness and guidance from others more experienced than I am, I was able to shift my perspective. 

In order to bring that fresh way of looking at things to my family, I placed a gratitude poster on the wall. 

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I didn’t say anything at first, but throughout the first couple days, I just wrote down things I was grateful for. I drew little pictures. And I moved on. They watched me, asked what I wrote, and listened with brilliant smiles as I read out words of love and gratitude for them. 

I invited them to write or draw on the poster as well. 

As our poster fills dup more and more each day, I let them know I had more posters and I’d just keep putting new ones on the wall as soon as we filled the old ones. 

It took  few days, but eventually one, then another added their own bits to the wall. It’s been so wonderful to see them noticing the moments more and more. But even more amazing, I’ve seen them looking to create moments to add to our wall!

So young and they already know more about life than I did as an adult.