I don’t remember what we were talking about but I remember clearly saying to my husband, “just be the better person.” I noticed Lavin watching his parents go over their day together. I thought about what I really just said. I said that I thought we knew more than the other person. It indicated privilege, superiority, and dismissal of another perspective. This certainly is not the message I wanted our son to hear, it isn’t the message I even meant to convey. Read more
Recently Lavin and I went on a short trip to North Carolina. While there we settled in for an impromptu picnic at a brewery. As we sat down I laid out a blanket so Lavin didn’t get dirty, then carefully set him in the middle of the blanket. I placed a teether toy in front of him, kicked off my shoes and sipped a cider. Lavin started pulling at the blanket under him so I carefully placed it back, a perfect rectangle patch on a fresh spring green. Read more
Every few weeks we get out of our normal routine for a Family Field Trip. Just like in school, the goal of the Field Trip is to have an experience to enrich our minds. We have a long list of museums and places we want to go. We have had so much fun exploring the Twin Cities on these adventures. Read more
This week in the kitchen I made Lavin a few weeks worth of baby food. I set him in his high chair and let him sample food as I cooked. Even as a baby it is important for Lavin to be in the kitchen learning about fueling his body and watching how a meal comes together. He loves seeing me add, mix and pour ingredients in the kitchen. I also let him squish around food on his high chair tray so he gets a sensory experience for his hands too. Read more
It was 7:15 in the evening, Lavin displayed signs of being tired nearly an hour for his bedtime. As I nursed him and went about the nightly routine of reading, singing lullabies, and goodnight kisses my mind circled in joy with things I could do once he was asleep. Read more
“Bonjour, Bébé!” A stranger was reaching out stroking Lavin’s arm. She looked at us and started saying something else in French. We were shopping and Lavin was attached to me, facing out, in a baby carrier.
“Bonjour! English?,” we said wishing we’d brushed up on our French. We were on vacation, the island was a Dutch and French territory so we expected a language barrier. The woman quickly turned to find her friend, then motioned for us to wait there.
The two women come back chattering excitedly. The woman told a story to her friend, who said, “She see you on beach… were you at beach? Umm, Happy Bay?”
I said, “Oui, yes, we were there!”
The woman exclaimed again to her friend, who translated, “She saw baby there, she thinks he is sweet! Fun to see a baby.”
Then the woman bent over, took Lavin’s little face in her hands, and lovingly spoke to him in French. This went on for a few minutes. We only understood a few words, mostly “oui” and “bébé.” She smiled and said something to us in French before happily walking away.
At first the stranger’s touching our baby made me uncomfortable but the more I thought about it the more I appreciated it. More strangers touched our baby that week than they had his whole life. On this trip here was a sense of love and care for our baby, an admiration from complete strangers. They weren’t worrying about germs, the exact words to say or if we were anxious about other people getting too close. They were simply excited to see a fresh-faced baby, grateful to interact with him with a genuine interest in seeing his face light up with a smile. This experience, and so many others, is why I want to keep traveling with Lavin.
In America, there are so many hidden rules behind babies. We worry about germs, how close people are to us, and stranger danger. There is an underlying sense of fear around outsiders taking an interest in our children. In St. Maarten it was different. People noticed our baby and weren’t nervous to approach us. They wanted to talk with him and see his smile. They wanted us to know it was exciting for them to see a baby on the beach, in the shop and at the market. They weren’t worried about the last time they washed their hands or even that we didn’t understand their language. They only wanted to share their love and interest.
I want our baby to experience more of this kind of world. The world where people notice and say hello. This is why travel is so dear to me and why we make a huge effort to get out of our comfort zone. Immersing in other cultures and having Lavin experience the languages of the world is important to me. Our interaction with the woman at the store confirmed for me that the language we can all understand is love. I have taken her lead and am overcoming my self absorption to go out of my way to say hi and smile at those around me. Whether it’s smiling and saying, “you’re a good mom” when I saw a mom stand firm with a crying toddler, I made eye contact with the barista and said hello before rattling off my order, and I was the last to stop waving at the 3-year-old neighbor. I have surprised myself with the joy these little connections can bring.
Bedtime is the perfect time for reading. These are some of the books we go back to again and again while we are snuggled in bed. I like to choose books that are easy to read for bedtime. I think the simple language pattern in these books is soothing and calming. Read more
When I taught kindergarten and first grade many parents would ask me questions about reading with their children. What books should they read? What questions should they ask as they read? What should they pay attention to? How often should they read, and for how long? The answer is, “it depends,” but that parents are even thinking these questions they are probably already doing enough and doing it well enough. I have complied some simple ideas you can use for the next time you pick up a book wth your child. Read more
This is my “best of the best” picture book list. There is something special about these selections. These are the books I reach for when I need a great book to start a conversation with kids, think about what really matters, or read for just pure joy. I have read them aloud, to myself, to groups of children, in classrooms, in bed, on the couch…basically everywhere in every way and they are not yet old or stale.They are true treasures and would be perfect for your child’s library. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below, I’d love to add to this list! Read more
Building a library in your home is important for your child’s literacy development. The research in literacy development indicates that the number books in a household directly impacts a child’s vocabulary development and even greatly impacts a child’s success in school in the later years. Early and frequent reading is an important part of childhood. So, what does it mean to have a “library” in your home? Fortunately, this does not mean shelves and shelves of books lining every wall. When I write about a child’s library I am talking about a curated set of many books that are high quality, interesting to your child, and accessible to your child. Read more