Posts for Parenting Category

Proud Family

Gay Parenting, Love Wins, Parenting - Allison Kenny - June 26, 2016

How are you celebrating Pride with your family today? We’re keeping in simple- watching the SF parade on tv, dinner with fabulous gay friends and their kid, rainbow gear and THIS BOOK. Right now, Squirrel tells her friends “Pride is celebrating families with 2 moms or 2 dads.” Hoping to dig into this LGBTQ book list this month and round out her answer a little more.

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Can’t help feeling like in the wake of such hate in the Orlando shooting, being ourselves as a queer family is a radical act. Here’s to being loud, proud and queer this June.

One more thing we did as part of Pride- donated to Equality Orlando. Love to hear what actions you are taking to heal your hearts, take care and offer hope…

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6 Ways to Welcome an Adopted Child into Your Extended Family

Forever Family, Foster/Adoption, Parenting - Allison Kenny - June 7, 2016

So, last week we packed up our little Squirrel and hit the road. By now, we were old pro’s at traveling together and navigating the potential stress of hectic airports. She had her stuffy. Lollypop in her mouth. Mama Lynn’s hand. Special snacks in tow. We were ready. What I was not ready for was how beautifully, generously, and authentically my AZ family would embrace her when we arrived. Here are 6 things they did to make my girl feel like their girl…even if they aren’t related by blood. Continue Reading

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Adoption Poem #13: Wild

WILD

What does it mean to be
Raising a black girl
While
Beyonce
Brings us
Lemonade? Continue Reading

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10 Reasons Why Every Mom Needs a Nap Every Day…and How to Get It

Foster/Adoption, Parenting, Self-care, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Allison Kenny - May 2, 2016

Daily naps? Oh, please. Who has time for that? Well, I will tell you that my stress levels got so high that I didn’t have time NOT to take them.

We ALL deserve daily naps because…

  1. We’re f%@king tired. We don’t sleep well enough at night.
  2. Depth of processing. We are taking in information at the speed of light. We are thinking 2 steps ahead of our kids. This is exhausting.
  3. Our houses are cluttered. And that’s okay. It’s part of the deal. But it creates visual overwhelm. And we’d rather play with our kids than clean it up.
  4. We make so many decisions. And decision fatigue is a real thing. Choosing how to respond to the 35 questions a minute wears us out.
  5. We are constantly learning new skills. Each phase of parenting brings new issues to wrap our brains around. Perpetual learning curves take a ton of brain power.
  6. We’re tracking other people’s needs as well as our own. Tuning in to the needs of those depending on us is draining. And it’s what makes us amazing.
  7. Empathy. We feel what our kids are feeling. We model emotional language and coach them through the roller coaster of their hearts. It’s depleting.
  8. We solve problems. In our homes, in our families, in our own lives…all day long.
  9. We forget to feed ourselves. I’m talking food and non-food hungers. We forget to play enough, laugh enough, have enough sex, or take enough adventures. If we’re starving for the things we need, we don’t have enough energy.
  10. We are overstimulated. By the sounds of cartoons and crying, kid songs and light up toys. Our phones are buzzing and our Facebook feed is blowing up. Our brains are fried.

So what do we do about it? For me, finding answers had a sense of urgency. When I’m exhausted, I’m irritated. When I’m tired, I’m yelling. When I’m overstimulated, I truly believe that mothering is too hard for me to do and I better find some way to quit. Not possible. But napping is.

Every day, for somewhere between 10 minutes and an hour, I put on sweatpants (if I’m not wearing them already), turn off all the lights and climb into bed. I turn off my phone. I ignore any mess or anything I have to do. I just close my eyes in the dark and breathe. I don’t usually fall asleep but I lie there and just let my brain relax. I enjoy the silence and the solitude. I truly, deeply rest. Even on days that feel too hard to do. And it’s changing my relationship to stress.

If my kid was too little to go to school, I’d nap during her naps. If she didn’t nap, I’d let the TV babysit her so I could. If I worked out of the house everyday, I’d curl up in my car in a sunshine patch and nap on a lunch break. On the weekends, I ask my wife and daughter to excuse me while I go nap and explain how I am not be interrupted.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Nap at any cost! That’s my fierce belief. Maybe you are not an introvert or as highly sensitive as I am. Maybe you are invigorated by all the stimulation, adrenaline, and multi-tasking. If that’s the case, please offer to take the kids of friend for an hour so they can nap.

Honestly, I value this time above all else because it makes me a saner, happier, more flexible, more playful, and more peaceful version of myself.  Everyone in my family likes this version of me the best. They know Mama’s gotta have her naps. Go get yours!

 

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If I took care of myself like I take care of my daughter…

Foster/Adoption, Gay Parenting, Girl Power, Parenting, Self-care - Allison Kenny - January 26, 2016

…I would…

Rub lavender oil on my feet at bedtime

Cheer myself on when I’m learning a new skill

Add extra hot water to a bath so I could stay in as long as I wanted

 

If I took care of myself like I take care of my daughter, I would…

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The simple DIY project to help out at 35,000 feet

Learning, Parenting, Play Time, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Lynn Johnson - November 24, 2015

As you know from yesterday’s post, our family is traveling to Dallas to visit my family of origin for Thanksgiving. No, I am not from Texas, although my whole family lives there now. For better or for worse, I cannot claim Texas as home.   I always feel the need to explain that.

Anyway, as I write this, we are taking up residence in row 13, seats D, E, and F – living our lives at 35,000 feet. You should see the amount of toys, snacks, reading materials, and media we have managed to fit into a few carry-on bags. On one hand, it seems ridiculous that we would need so much crap. Shouldn’t we be able to pass the time in simpler ways? On the other hand, to keep our daughter occupied, we pretty much engaged every single item we packed while sitting in traffic just to get to the airport. Short attention spans and squirrels go hand in hand.

Of all the crap stuffed into our bags, I am most excited about the personalized coloring book the Squirrel and I made together.

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So Excited for our World Changing Webinar Tomorrow

Foster/Adoption, Gay Parenting, Girl Power, Learning, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - August 4, 2015

Camp 2015 collage

I gotta tell you how excited I am today.

It has been so incredibly satisfying and rejuvenating for both Allison and me to have this opportunity to share our stories on this blog as we make our way down our path to raising a Go Girl!.  We have made this space to write about what we know, what we certainly don’t know, what we wished we had known, and what we are working hard to figure out.  The response we have been getting has been inspiring and has motivated us to keep sharing.

And now, we are taking our storytelling up a notch.

Tomorrow, we will be hosting a free webinar called Raising a Go Girl! where we will share our stories live as we present the art and science behind the learning philosophy of Go Girls! Camp.  We just did a test run of the webinar to work out all of the technical kinks and…can I just tell you…I am so friggin’ excited!  There are dozens of folks signed up ready to hear what we have to say about how the heck we can come together to raise girls to be both powerful and peaceful.

I just can’t wait because I predict this webinar is going to change the world.   I know.  When I say this, it sounds naive.  Like a 1-hour webinar could possible change the world.  When I say this, though, I mean that it will change my world…and that counts.  It will change my world because for years now, I have wished and wanted to be able to share more of my philosophy about raising girls with more people.   But wishing and wanting don’t get us very far.  Doing and planning and intending and trying and expecting, however….that’s what moves mountains.

So, I am excited because I am standing at the base of my mountain and I am ready to push.  I am even going to treat myself tonight to get ready.  Take myself to the mall for a little eyebrow threading and perhaps a new top.  We’ll see what Old Navy has in stock that says “world changing webinar” for about $30 or less.

As readers of this blog, I hope you join us.  Let me know if I picked the right shirt.

 

 

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Can my daughter learn connection through competition?

Girl Power, Learning, Parenting, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - June 17, 2015

The other morning at breakfast, the Squirrel noticed that she and I both had the same amount of orange juice left in our glasses.  “Let’s race to see who can finish first!,” she screamed.  “Ugh,” I responded.  I just wanted to enjoy my orange juice.

This ordinary breakfast moment made me wonder/panic, “What will be my daughter’s relationship to competition?”  And this morning, in the wake of my town’s fervor over the victory of the Golden State Warriors, I feel the need to explore the concept of competition a bit further.

My competition-panic comes from the fact that I have always been a bit competition-phobic.  My grandfather, who was an Olympic-class runner in his youth, used to tell a story about me that I absolutely love.  One summer while I was visiting my grandmother and him in their home in Evanston, IL, he entered me in a little kids’ race in connection with a 4th of July festival.  I was around 5 and was running the race with other 5 year olds.  How cute is that?

According to my grandfather, I was fast.  I took off with an early lead and kept that lead for a long time.  Until, I noticed that I was in the lead.  I noticed I was no longer with all of the other kids.  So, I stopped.  I was waiting for them to catch up.

I love this story because I feel like it so beautifully depicts my values of community, connection, and equity.  I have committed my adult life to examining and promoting how to bring people together; how those left behind can catch up.

At the same time, as a girl advocate, the story troubles me.  Why couldn’t I take my place out ahead?  Why was I uncomfortable leading the group?

One thing I noticed while witnessing the aftermath of last night’s championship game was the massive amount of community and connection that was created by the Warriors’ win.  Right at the final buzzer, I ran outside my door just because I was curious what folks would do to celebrate.  I heard yelps and hollers and car horns and gun shots and firecrackers and general jubilation.  There was even someone on my street playing a horn of some kind.  Not well, but with the sheer joy of someone welcoming home an old friend they hadn’t seen in 40 years.

curry and jamesI was inspired and pumped up by how this simple competitive sport was connecting me to my neighbors.  I thought about how connected the players felt to each other – not just the victorious Warriors but also the defeated Cavaliers – how taking on a task as mighty as an NBA championship can bond you to each other, win or lose.  I meditated on the connections that can even be built between competitors in that moment when LeBron James congratulated Stephen Curry at the end of the game.  It made me realize that, when people are courageous enough to take their place out ahead of the group, they put themselves in the position of not just winning a game, but winning the respect and admiration of others who recognize their efforts and celebrate their hard work.

This is what I want for my daughter.  It’s what I want for myself.  It’s want I want for all women and girls.  As I wonder/panic about how my daughter yields her own power in the world, I want us all to be able to access real competition in healthy and dynamic ways.  My wish is that we can work hard, take our rightful place out ahead when appropriate, and celebrate the wins of others when defeated.  I want my daughter to be known as both a fierce competitor and a compassionate community leader; always looking for ways to use her power to help others who have been left behind.

And I also want her to let me enjoy my orange juice.

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“This is Hard!”: A Go Girls! Moment

Foster/Adoption, Girl Power, Learning, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - May 7, 2015

It’s okay to try something hard.

This is a phrase you will often hear around Go Girls! Camp in response to “This is hard!,” especially when said in that slightly high pitched, complain-y way with a touch of whine.  “This is haaard!!!”

You have likely heard this said before.  I heard it the other day when Allison and I decided that we would walk the dogs around the block while the Squirrel rode her bike.

When you come out of our house and turn right, there is a slight incline to our street.  The Squirrel was struggling with this incline on this particular day.  She had navigated this route before but, for whatever reason, she had decided that, on this day, “This is haaard!!!”

“It’s okay to try something hard,”  I say.

When faced with a challenge, humans who lack or are not able to access their advance level coping skills go into the fight, flight, or freeze mode.  9 times out of 10, our Squirrel freezes.  Upon hearing my “It’s okay to try something hard,” she stopped riding her bike in the middle of the sidewalk, dropped her head as low as it would go, crossed her arms, and pouted.  I tried coaching her to jump off her bike and push a while.  I encouraged her to ask for help.  I even tried to give her a little push to get her started again.  Nothing.  Just like Queen Elsa, she was completely frozen.  After a few attempts to start again, I ultimately wound up taking her back home while Allison gave the dogs their much needed walk.

“It’s okay to try something hard” is such an essential part of Go Girls! culture that, if you were to ask a camper, “What makes you a Go Girl!?,” you would likely hear “I try my best even when it’s hard.”  This past weekend, Allison and I ran our annual Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT) retreat for the middle school girls who work as counselors-in-training at our camps over the summer.  Our opening ritual was that each of us brought and shared a photo of a “Go Girls! Moment” with the rest of the circle.  Pretty much each of the 18 girls shared pics and stories about overcoming some kind of challenge; paddleboarding for the first time; jumping from a tall cliff into a waterfall below; giving a speech; winning a sports competition.  I was so proud of these girls in the this moment, and throughout the weekend, as they continued to say yes to new people and new experiences and build their identity as someone who is ready and willing to accept anything that comes her way.

Our Go Girls Moments

GGLT’s Go Girls! Moments

I thought about how annoyed I had been at my own daughter’s  “This is haaard!!!” and unwillingness to keep going up that hill.  I thought, “I can’t wait until she gets to camp and can spend time with older girls like these.  I need their Go Girls!-ness to rub off on her.”

Then, I thought about it again.  Okay, the Squirrel didn’t continue up that hill on that particular Tuesday afternoon.  But, what about all of the other hills that she has said yes to throughout her life?  Sure, jumping off a cliff is hard.  But so is leaving behind everyone you have ever known to take on a brand new life in a brand new city.  Our Squirrel has never given a speech in front of her classmates, but she has, in just the last 7 months, dared to say yes to new mommies, new dogs, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, a whole new wardrobe, set of toys, and a brand new community of people.  Every day, she learns words she has never heard before, tastes food she has never tasted before, dances to songs she has never heard before.  Every day, she makes the choice to take one more giant step into this new life that has been thrust upon her.  I don’t know about you, but I would say “This is haaard!!!”

I am excited that the Squirrel will be coming to camp this summer and will be inspired by our amazing GGLT.  I do think that these older girls will have a lot to teach her about being a Go Girl!.  I do hope the experience will help reduce the amount of times she freezes in challenging situations.  However, I also imagine that she won’t just be the student.  I imagine that our Squirrel will have a bit to teach us all about what it really means to try hard things.  I imagine that we will all grow from her example.

What about you?  What’s a time that you are your daughter have faced a challenge and said yes to try hard things?  I’d love for you to share your #GoGirlsMoment with us.

And check out more highlights from our GGLT Retreat…

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The Squirrel finds the Squirrels

squirrels

Our good friends, Doug & Johnny, who gave us last week’s date night, have given us many gifts over the last 6 months.  One of which was this amazing set of squirrels in honor of our own little Squirrel.  Like a squirrel hoarding her nuts, I have kept these little cuties locked up tight.  Mine!  I didn’t want her to have them.

This morning, she found them.  I told her, “Doug and Johnny saw them and were reminded of me.  You know…how I like to call you “Squirrel” sometimes.  She smiled.  She loved that.

Dammit.

She played with them for sooooooo long.  In fact, I left her with them to take my shower and, as I am coming out of the shower, I hear Allison’s voice say:

“No hitting.  Hitting hurts.  Please stop.”

…and…

“You two have to work on your relationship problems.”

…and…

“Even though you are hitting, you are still a good squirrel and I love you.”

She had entered into an imaginative play scenario where the two squirrels were fighting.  Allison grabbed my stuffed elephant, Mai Tai, and made her the teacher, helping them work through the conflict.  Not only did the Squirrel immediately take to these new toys, she was able to access that magical inner wisdom that kids get and use the squirrels to get to work playing through her own hitting issues at school.

Oh. My. God.

Well, I guess I may have to give up my squirrels to the Squirrel.  They are clearly her power animal.   At least I still have Mai Tai.

me and mai tai

She can’t take her away from me.

 

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