What does our lock-down look like?

To anybody out there who is still reading this delightful blog, I’m sorry we have been rather quiet. To say there has been a lot going on is an extreme understatement.

In January our gorgeous little girl was born, the Coronavirus took over and the world changed. Kuwait went into level 4 lock-down from March, April and in May went to level 5 for 3 weeks. We have since dropped back to level 4 for 3 weeks now and are eagerly awaiting the further drop to level 3 and for things to open up a little more.

So, what has your lock-down looked like?

Ours looks a little like this:

 – Husband working from make shift office at home

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– lots of e-learning

– complete lack of structure and zero bed time

– garden time

– pool time

– baby, baby and more baby

– Coronavirus news overload

– constant cooking and baking

– constant cleaning and eating

– clothes that don’t fit anymore (anyone else have kids in clothing 2 sizes too small at the moment?)

– puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles

– afternoon movies and night swimming

I would love to hear from you all, what are you doing these days to make the most of this challenging situation? As things open up in your countries, what are the first things you’re going to be doing? When Kuwait moved to level 4, 3 weeks ago, and the drive by Starbucks opened up, the queues were miles long for days on end. Today I joined one of them and had my first latte in 4 months.

Now don’t laugh, but other than painting, I actually ordered coloured felt and thread to make the kids little felt craft creations over the summer. Right now, I’m in the stage of looking up cute creations and expecting them to magically create themselves. I can’t sew you see, why on earth did I choose a sewing craft when I can’t sew? Oh, to learn a new skill apparently! Ha!

Side note: I have actually really been very thankful for this down time. We have been one of the lucky ones in all this. We have food on our table, a roof over our heads and my husband still has his wonderful, stable job. We are healthy and happy and above all, we are together. We have had more family time now than ever before. My heart and prayers go up to those who are not safe at home but rather trapped at home in abusive households and to those who have lost income and livelihoods. The overwhelming number of those starving and depressed is beyond anything I can actually comprehend and it breaks my heart. So lets be thankful and collectively look around us with open eyes to see where and how we can make a difference, no matter how big or small.

la

Welcome to this colourful world.

My dear sweet baby girl.

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You were born into a very complicated world my sweetheart. At a very challenging time. In January 2020 you fought your way into this world, bruised eye and all, and in January a little thing called the Coronavirus (Covid-19) started to spread around the world. Now, I’m not going to dive into this too much as I’m sure one day you will learn about it in history, science, biology and most likely health classes.

I do want to tell you a little about you though. I had a vegan pregnancy with you. My only vegan pregnancy out of the 4 kids. Don’t worry, I took all my vitamins and was regularly checked up by a doctor who was happy with my blood work and your progression throughout the 37 weeks, 5 days that you stayed inside baking. I put on about 14kg in total and you weighed in at a very healthy, 3.86kg. You were born with an almighty black eye my girl. You were lying right up against my left hip bone which, I think, must have been painful you as much as it was for me. I’m sorry.

You are the last (yes, the last) of 4 kiddos. You have 2 older sisters who are obsessed with you, and an older brother who is obsessed with making you smile. And a mom and dad who feel so very lucky to have been Blessed with you. You have been such a gift during this time. You have no idea what’s going on around you and with all this social distancing going on, you are completely (and blissfully) unaware that there is a world out there beyond the walls of our home. But there is, and it’s a beautiful one, and it is a terrifying one.

My prayer for you precious child:

Heavenly Father, you have blessed our lives with this sweet baby girl whose innocent face and daily laughter remind us of your good intentions for us. May her life be filled with your blessings and grace that will always light up her face. Lead her to you oh Lord, and may she dwell in your place forever. Amen.

la

An open letter to my readers, and a little surprise on the side.

I know very well that over the last year I have been quiet online. Those of you who know me well, will know why.

When I write, I write from the heart, and when my heart is open, that becomes easy, but when it is broken, then it becomes a lot harder.

Over the next few posts I will tell you the stories of what has kept me from opening up and why things are turning around. I will cover the family tragedy briefly and I will tell you all about the disease I live with and how I do my best to manage it. But one lovely little treat I can leave you with is the main reason for my heart opening up again –

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No, this is not simply additional holiday weight (although there’s a fair share of that in there too), our family has been gifted baby number four. Thankfully, the shock is abating now and I’m starting to enjoy this crazy, magical ride, one last time.

Cheers

la

Dear Girl – Book Review

I found this New York Times #1 Bestseller gently sitting on the shelf of our local book store here in Kuwait. Lucky for me they had two left. I bought one for each of my girls and I’m so glad I did. I hope my girls read through their books often over the years and I hope that they remember that, above all, they are dearly loved for who they are and not for who they aren’t.

Here are a few pics from the book without giving too much away, but if you have a little girl, then this book is a MUST.

Now I just need to get my hands on the Dear Boy book.

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Cheers.

la

The Last Rose

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What’s in a Rose? Usually, it’s a symbol of love. We give roses to people to show them that we love them, to let them know we are thinking of them, and perhaps that we wish them a speedy recovery. It is also a popular flower come Mother’s Day.

This rose is very special to me. You see, 9 years ago, I had sent my mother flowers for Mother’s Day.  She saw them, smelled them, they made her smile, they sat lovingly in our home. I was in Kuwait and my mom was in and out of hospital at the time, but doing pretty well considering three years of failing health. A few weeks later she was booked in for major surgery, I sent her more flowers. roses. They made it to her, she saw them. And then I received a phone call in the middle of the night that no one wants to get. “Your mom is struggling, they don’t think she’s going to make it” I was on the first available flight home and as I landed, headed straight to the hospital from the airport. I made it in time to hold her hand and rub her feet as she slowly lost her very loose grip on this life. Finally when I made it home to the house in the early hours of the following morning, I saw the big bouquet of roses that I had bought for her only a few days before.

I picked one of these roses, placed it in her sunglass case and kept it safe all these years. The rose we had both laid eyes on. Like a weak substitute since our own eyes never got to meet again.

This Mother’s Day, as I remember the rose that I lost, I also celebrate the rose that I have become to my 3 beautiful children and more so, I celebrate the roses that stepped up to comfort me and lead me from that day on. My mother-in-law, my stepmom, my grandmother, my friends, my great aunts, my close circle. My bouquet of people.

So today I write this post to honour ALL moms out there, the ones with children who are naturally theirs, the ones with babies still in their bellies, the ones who have lost angels in their wombs, the ones who choose to parent blessed adopted children, the ones who have suffered the unspeakable loss of a child, the ones who become stepmothers, mothers-in-law, grandmothers, the ones who become mother figures to friends, the ones who mother their communities with love and pride.

Mothers come in all different ways, shapes and forms, but one thing is without doubt, they are to be truly treasured and appreciated every single day.

Happy Mother’s Day.

la

It’s a…

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Thank you to everyone who commented on last weeks update video, we definitely felt all the love! It’s so fun to share this journey with you!

Without further ado it’s a BOY! A third Boy!

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Yes, to answer the obvious question, we were trying for a girl. It was a little sad for me, at first, to know I will not be braiding the hair of a daughter of my own, but that’s ok, I have plenty of wee girlfriends to borrow!

I’ve also been having lots of revelations about being a #boymomforlife over the past few days and I realized it suits me. As my husband reminded me, I do actually like superheroes, Star Wars, and “boy” things.

I was also reminded that as a boy mom I have the honor of raising my boys to be good men. Men who are respectful, supportive, gentle, strong, loving, compassionate, and faithful. Men that could be humble leaders with integrity, wisdom, and discernment. Future husbands who would love and cherish their wives and encourage them to pursue their dreams too. To be fathers that would be present, involved, and willing to model THE Father’s grace-filled love for their own children. Simply put, to be men like their daddy (full disclosure: he would say to be better than him).

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These are my prayers for my boys and I’m humbled at the task of raising these three arrows.

That said, we’re not perfect, I mess up daily, but that’s where the grace and loads of prayers come in. That’s why we have mommy mentors, grandparents, and teacher friends to lean on for help and to give advice. “It takes a village to do life well,” as Emily Ley says. What a relief right?!

Whelp, it’s going to be a wild, noisy, dirty, sweaty adventure filled with sweet moments and I look forward to sharing it with you, in addition to the usual creativity, inspiration, tutorials, and fun here on the blog!

cheers,

kdg

Squash and ME!

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I was 11 years old when I started playing squash. As kids, my brother and I would sit and watch my mom and dad play and one day we picked up rackets and started to fool around on the courts ourselves. At first I was completely and utterly useless. I would literally swing at the ball and miss every time. I got it in my head, however, that this was something I really wanted to learn how to do. My brother refused to play me because I was so bad. But I slowly learnt to hit the ball, and eventually that ball made it to the front wall, and back again. My mom signed us up for the kids academy and over time I went from strength to strength. My brother still didn’t want to play against me, but this time it was because I started beating him!

As a child and teenager, I went on to play in provincial tournaments representing my region and at my very best, 17 years of age, I reached a ranking of 14th in South Africa for the under 19 girls age group. It was such a big part of my youth and weaved itself into the very fibre of who I am today.

Setting aside the trophies and the titles, my favourite memories of the game were playing my mom. Her and I played in the same women’s team together, myself as player 1 and her as player 3. It became our thing, once a week, without fail, we would head off to our games together. I loved playing against her too. I wore my teenage ego with pride. It really brought us together and as much as we would have our arguments, we always knew that we could hash it out on the court! Looking back, I think it was most likely the stand out element in our relationship that bound us together.

I finished school. Started working. Moved countries. She passed away. I had children. I got sick. Squash became a distant memory, a distant joy. I needed to get my head around this new version of myself. Slowly but surly I am doing that. And with the pockets of relief that my medication brings me, I am starting to get back into this beautiful, feisty game. And it brings me so much joy!

I feel so close to my mom every time I walk towards those courts. And now with my 7yr old and 5.5 yr old daughters, I feel I am coming full circle. I will be taking them to their first squash lesson on Saturday. I’m desperately hoping they like it but don’t want to force them into it either. If it’s not this it will be something else. What matters to me, is finding something that I can do with my kids one day.

I have come full circle on the court too. I used to be the young, energy-filled kid playing against the adults, giving them a decent run for their money and now I find myself playing kids like this, playing their hearts out. I am so envious of their energy yet I’m thankful for the skills I have held on to. I feel old for sure. But I feel so much joy for the multifaceted role Squash has played in my life.

I simply can’t imagine a Lindy-Ann without Squash. I hope this post encourages you to let your kids be free to explore whatever sport, interest or extra curricular activity your child shows an interest in. And find a way to get involved with them. You never know, it may end up being one of those character defining elements in their lives too. All because of the extra support of a parent.

Cheers

la

 

A Love Culture – part 1

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A lifetime ago, when I worked full time (and then some) for an amazing architecture firm in DC, we talked a lot about mentorship. There was always the debate about what was better, organic mentorship or assigned mentors. I can see it both ways. I personally prefer to mentor, and be mentored by, people I’m drawn to. Alternatively, what happens to those that don’t really connect or are too shy to put themselves out there to be mentored?

For better or for worse, my firm chose the organic approach in mentoring, as with design in general. It became a sink or swim situation for people; a culture that you either fit in or you didn’t – and you simply moved on. In addition to mentorship, we used to discuss personality types. The thought process was if you understood where your bosses, peers, or subordinates were coming from, then you would know how to relate to them better. Again, this was a part of forming the firm’s culture.

Even though I’m no longer in the workforce, I still find these concepts relevant and important to cultivating healthy relationships. I also believe love languages play an important role in how we can learn truly love the people in our lives. They way they prefer to be (as opposed to the way we prefer).

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My mentor, Anita and I talk about this a lot. She shared with me that their family took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to identify each individual’s personality types and the results helped refine how they relate as a family. It was a revelation! Using what we know about my-ENFP-self, my ESTP husband, and our boys, we can learn to adjust what we do (and how we might prefer to do it!) to create an environment where they thrive and develop into who they are meant to be.

Just like in the firm setting these tools can help us form the culture of our families. From the things we prioritize and value to how we relate to each other. Each child is different and often what works for one does not work for the other, but hey they are our kids, we don’t want them to leave our firm…

er family, due to the culture!

Let’s make the decision to mentor and motivate our kids, love them they way the receive it best, and relate to their specific personalities. Then we can be a generation of families that raise each other up, honor our differences, and spread love.

Here’s to developing a culture of love!

kdg

Check out these resources for more:

Personality: Myers Briggs  | Quick MBTI test | GEMS  

Love Languages: 5 Love Languages | For Children: Love Language

Stay tuned for PART 2 on creating your own family culture in the coming weeks!

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Marbles of Kindness

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A few posts ago I mentioned how lucky we are to learn something from the people that we meet along this path of life. This morning I met Ruth, she is American and her family have been in Kuwait for 16 years. Our conversations with her were wonderful and she was an abundant source of experience and encouragement. The best advice I got this year by far, (yes I know it’s still only January) came from her.

If you have children who struggle with telling on each other, especially when you have more than 2 small ones in the house, (there’s extra chaos and so many more stories to tell mom about), buy a big glass jar. Buy enough marbles to fill this jar. Every time one of the kids tells on a sibling for doing something good or kind, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is filled, the family does something special, like go out bowling or go to the movies.

When I heard this tip, I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments, as it seems so simple, I imagine it to be quite effective. I will most certainly be trying this in my home and I will report back on how it goes. We may open it up to more than just acts of kindness on those desperate days like, “Fine! If you finish your pasta you can put a marble in the jar”. Yup, I can see that happening, but I will do my best to try stick to the plan.

I would encourage you to try it as well and I’d love to know how you find it and if/how it works for your household. In addition, if you have any extra tips to encourage kindness between siblings and less tattle-tailing, I’d love to hear them, please post in the comments below.

Cheers to global parenting, it takes a village after all.

la

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg