Raising our Kids with a “Legacy List”

As we start a new year, I’ve inevitably begun thinking about things I want for this coming year. Since my  track record with New Year’s resolutions is shaky at best (ie. thinking I’d do the whole 30 diet for all of January was a joke last year), I’m trying to keep it simple this year.

Over a year ago, I posted a list of legacies I wanted to live out with my family. That post must have struck a cord with a lot of parents out there because it received a lot of blog love. That list is obviously near and dear to my heart as well, so I wanted to revisit it to remind myself for the coming year. Not only that, but I would love to give you some ideas for how to make your own legacy list.

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Make Your List

My list was comprised of 10 values we wanted for our kids. I could have brainstormed a longer list, but I kept the list to 10 so I could prioritize and not be overwhelmed by setting an unattainable amount of goals. I picked an overarching statement: “I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well” and based my top 10 off of that. Choose priorities for your family based on your main goal. For us, faith is a top priority, so that took the first couple slots. The rest are characteristics and values that we hope will teach them to love God, love others, and love who they’ve been created to be. Here is my list:

  1. Worshipers of God
  2. Live out the gospel 
  3. Adventurers and explorers
  4. Culturally-aware
  5. Family time to be important and fun
  6. Individuals
  7. Respectful
  8. Hard-workers that know making mistakes is okay.
  9. A sense of humor
  10. Little givers

Explain What Each Item Looks Like 

You don’t have to go into a lot of depth here, but it’s good to verbalize what each priority looks like in everyday life. It’s easy to say you want “respectful kids”, but how would you define that? Jot down a few ideas for how this might look so that you’ll be able to set clear goals for how to attain a certain value. Here is an example of one of mine:

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We

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Paella at a Spanish Restaurant

want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us.

 

Explain How to Instill Each Value

This is where you get to put your desires into action. I’d imagine you can des-

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Our daughter and foster son

ire to be a really great parent, but that desire has to be paired with action. After each priority and it’s description, I included a practical way that Albin and I were going to try to instill each value in our kids. Here is an example from our hope that our kids would learn to live out
the gospel like Jesus did:

We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.

 

The Results After One Year

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Scarlet Macaws at an Animal Refuge Adventure

Amazing. I am incredibly thankful I made this list because it helped our family live out so many things during 2016 that we may not have made a priority otherwise. For example, we want our kids to be adventurers and explorers. To make that a reality, we started going on at least one family adventure a month. We started planning our monthly adventures and putting them on the calendar and they quickly became a priority. As a result, we made some amazing family memories and we looked forward to time together.

So as we look forward to 2017, I’m excited about our little family and about being a parent. I love that God entrusted me with little lives to care for and I want to do that to the best of my ability. This little list has helped me set and meet attainable “goals” for our family, and as I look back over our progress, I’ve seen my own confidence as a mom be raised. Some days are great and some days I feel like I’m failing, but I’m reminded that all those days are worth cherishing.

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Regrouping…

This past weekend we decided to do a little family “regrouping.”Not surprisingly, moving to another country can be pretty complicated and things have been pretty nuts around here. On top of that, having to say goodbye to our foster son was emotional and left us feeling a little out of sorts for a few days. We aren’t unaware that fostering implies something temporary, but frankly, it is weird to do life with two babies for ten months and then to suddenly go back to bathing/feeding/taking care of one child.

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Mariah wore those sunglasses the whole weekend… loves ’em

So naturally, we decided to go to the beach…because obviously the beach is a great place for a family regroup session. We found a deal on the Costa Rican equivalent of Groupon and we high-tailed it out of the city. We had an incredible time together. We had great weather, great food, and time to process and take a step back from the madness for a second. Minus Mariah pooping in the beautiful pool (which was mortifying I can assure you), our trip was nearly perfect and I’m so thankful.

We’ve been thinking it would be a good idea to make a little getaway a family tradition each time we transition a foster child out of our home. Sort of a way to process and reconnect with each other. It was a quick, three-day trip, but it did wonders for our souls.

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January Adventures

In January we had two great family adventures that we would totally recommend if you live in the central valley of CR. Both outings were fun and cheap- which counts as a major success for this mama.

One Saturday we hit a park called Bosque de la Hoja (Leaf Forest), where we had a picnic, hiked, and Mariah went down a playground slide a thousand times. The trails were just long enough to feel like we got some exercise and the picnic area was really nice.

On another Saturday, some friends invited us out for a play date at the Museo de los Niños (Children’s Museum). The museum is an old, restored prison, which I thought was cool (the baby room was in an old jail cell lol). The last time I was there, I was on a field trip with 25 kindergartners and I was more concerned about one of them running away or dying than I was enjoying my time…so needless to say, this time around was much more relaxing. Highlights of the trip: the little kid grocery store they had set up (adorbs), the archaeological sand “dig” where you could dig up a fake (human) skeleton (weird. Why couldn’t we dig up dinosaurs and not dead people?), and an excellent cheeseburger on the way home from Bobby’s Burgers. Overall, it was a win for everyone.

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December Family Adventure(s)

It’s taken me two weeks to recover from December, but I’m back. I wasn’t overly-motivated to blog again, but Albin assured me a lot of people were waiting for me to write again. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but his undying enthusiasm could not be ignored. For those of you that were losing sleep while waiting for me to post again, this one goes out to you.

My family came down to Costa Rica for Christmas this year and we had a fabulous time. It was slightly nontraditional for those northerners (i.e. the weather was in the 80’s, and we spent our days hiking rainforests and volcanoes), but incredible nonetheless. My house was full, my heart was full, and my children were spoiled.

Our family loves being outside and exploring new places, so we set out every day and did something different. We hit a volcano, the beach, the rainforest,  some waterfalls, and the artisans market downtown. By the end of it, the kids were a mess from not taking naps, my dad was insane from driving the rental car all over CR, and we all needed a vacation from our vacation- but it was totally worth it.

Here are some pictures from our adventures:

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God blessed us with a clear day to see the usually clouded-over crater.

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In the rainforest at La Paz with the babes in tow.

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Clearly the babies were excited about the toucan.

November Family Adventure

We kept our family adventure this month pretty low-key since we had a newborn baby in tow. Hiking or hitting the beach seemed a little presumptuous with a six pound, fresh out of the womb human. Since the amount of planning and packing involved to leave the house is equivalent to that of a short vacation, merely getting out the door seems like a great adventure to me. Hopefully I’ll get quicker as time goes on, but I just really like to be overly prepared (you never know when a poop explosion will hit).

Anyway, this month we just decided to go try some new food and broaden our taste buds’ cultural horizons. Albin and Mariah had never eaten true Indian food (and try as I might, I haven’t perfected my Naan bread and curry dishes). Needless to say, our family date over Indian cuisine was a hit. Eating butter chicken and roasted ginger lamb with naan was the perfect remedy for our newborn baby induced cabin fever. Mariah was literally yelling out with joy over her meal and Fuzzy slept peacefully in his seat until we had finished eating. It was a win for everyone.

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Mariah loved drinking water out of the silver goblets. Who wouldn’t?

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Indian Food

 

Ps. If you live around here and craving some Indian food, we would totally recommend Naans and Curries.

Raising Our Kids: Top 10 Legacies We Want to Live

In my head, our 30’s will involve raising of A LOT of kids–biological, adopted and fostered. As we embark on this journey of being surrounded by little humans, I want to establish some healthy patterns that will hopefully stick with them throughout their lives. I’m thinking the word “legacies” works to describe the ideas we want to instill in our children. We’ve also realized that if it’s going to be a way of life for our kids, they need to see it from us- so I’ve included in italics how we’re trying to integrate these things in our lives.

IMG_3057First and foremost, we want worshipers of God. I want my kids to have the joy of the Lord
and realize that bringing glory to Him influences atmospheres, changes situations, and provides communion with our Maker. I want them to learn to worship him with their voices, but also with their actions and their lives. To initiate this, we’ve started to have “worship night” once a week at our house where we turn off the lights, put on some (good) worship music, and spend time with Jesus.

Second, we want kids that live out the gospel. Not just kids who are well-versed in all the right answers and know what looking like a good Christian is. We want kids that get their hands dirty and whose first response is to help those in need. We want our kids to know our house is open to the homeless, our food is shared with the hungry, our clothes given to the naked, and our hearts are willing to love well. We want them to stand up for the kids being bullied and make friends with the lonely new student. We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.


We want adventurers and explorers.
We don’t want our kids to be afraid of getting hurt, fearful FullSizeRender (25)of the unknown, or planted to the couch watching TV. We want our kids to love being outdoors, to love finding new places, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. We want to raise inquisitive kids that ask questions and look for answers creatively. We want to teach our kids to look for solutions to problems and to not be limited by societal confines. To live this out, we’ve been planning family adventures at least once a month.

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us. I feel like we have a head-start on this one since our family is a fusion of two cultures, but we also have been intentional about visiting other countries, understanding world issues, becoming friends with people from other cultures, and trying international foods.

We want family time to be important and fun. Somehow my parents succeeded in this area and I am grateful. Growing up, I would often choose to spend time with family over going out with friends. We played games, went fun places, respected one another, and had an honest, open relationship. I want that for my kids. I don’t want to be friends with them in a negative sense, but I want them to feel respected, accepted, and loved. I want our family to be a safe place for all of us. A place of trust and acceptance. To do this, one thing we’ve started doing is family game night once a week and the family adventures once a month.

We want individuals. We truly treasure different personalities and interests. We want to encourage our kids to be who God created them to be, not what society says they should be. We want them to feel free to express themselves and be different. I hope that we can encourage their different talents and try to provide them with opportunities to achieve their personal goals. We want to build on their interests, foster their gifts, and teach them to think for themselves. We’ve been trying to do this in our lives as well–to not worry about what people say, what their opinions are, or how they judge us. We’re taking steps to become more of who God created us to be, and learning that it is beautiful.

We want kids our kids to be respectful. We don’t want kids that talk back to teachers and know that we’ll defend them when the teacher calls. We want our kids to be a breath of fresh air for their teachers. We want sons who grow up to be good husbands and daddies. We want daughters who grow up to respect their bodies and hearts. We want a family that respects those in leadership, even though we don’t always agree with their decisions. We hope for a family built on honor: honoring God and honoring one another. In our lives, Albin and I have tried hard to have a mutual respect for one another and to foster a culture of honor in our home.

We want to raise hard workers that know it’s okay to make mistakes. We aren’t looking for perfect kids here, so we want them to know there is grace for when we fail. We also want them to work hard and do their best, so that even if they do fail, they know they gave it their all. We don’t want everything to be about success, failure, or living up to high expectations. We want them to work hard, live fully, and learn from their mistakes. I’ve learned a lot about what true success is in the last four years, so I’m trying to give up my perfectionist ways and live well.

We want kids with a sense of humor. I want our kids to be serious when they need toIMG_2388 be, but I don’t want to them to take themselves or life too seriously. They don’t have to be the class clown or be naturally witty, but I want them to have the freedom to laugh and realize how having a sense of humor helps us connect with others. Life application: 90 percent of my family’s conversations are based on witty remarks.

We want little givers. Something I have strived over for the last few years is being a good giver. I am selfish and I’m not a natural gift-giver, so I wanted to improve in this area. I want our kids to grow up with giving in their blood. I want them to come home hungry because they gave half their lunch to the kid who didn’t have one. I want them to pass a granola bar out the window of our car to the man begging on the street. I want them to value giving over acquiring. I want them to learn to use their money wisely so that they can give as much as they can to those in need. I want them to give their hearts, talents, and treasures to the glory of God. Since I turned 30, I’ve tried to be intentional and give one thing to someone everyday (whether its time, a treasure, or a talent).

Maybe trying to raise kids with all the above ideas is a lot to ask. That’s fine; but I want to have a guideline and start these kiddos young on a culture guided by these ten ideas. From the beginning, I want little people that know they have intrinsic value, but know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I really feel like this super long post could be summarized into one simple statement:

I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well.

When you love well, everything else falls into place. That makes this list seem way less daunting. When your heart is full of love, the rest just overflows out of you naturally.

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be                                                 something you do but someone you raise.”

–Andy Stanley

October FFO

I was so excited to post about our new foster baby last week that I didn’t post about our family outing for October. By the way, all is going well with our precious baby. Besides the exhaustion that comes from waking up to feed a baby every three hours during the night and then chasing around a one year old all day, we’re feeling great. He is a really chill baby and sleeps well. He’s putting on weight and already losing those skinny, little chicken legs he had a week ago. Albin and I like to think we’re experts in growing chunky babies, so it shouldn’t take too long for this one. We’ve only gone out a little bit, but I love to see how people look at us. Surely they think Albin and I breed like rabbits with these two little people in tow. I LOVE our little family of four.

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Anyway, I committed to documenting our family adventures, so here it goes for October. We decided to make a weekend out of it since I was also celebrating my 30th birthday. We drove south down to a beach on the Pacific coast called Dominical. From there, we explored several different places and tried out a lot of new foods (coconut ceviche and berry stuffed french toast with coconut syrup…life changing). We had SO much fun together as a family and of course I was able to satisfy my deep need to get out the city and try new things, so it was a win for everyone. I’ll highlight our two favorite places:

First, we went and explored Playa Ballena (Whale Beach), which is know for the beach shaped like a whale’s tail and also for the common whale sightings at this beach. We didn’t see any whales, but we did make the trek out to the whale’s tail, which is only possible during low tide. We explored in the rocks, swam and played in the sand. Mariah loved it and Albin is so happy that he finally has someone that will play with him at the beach. When we left, we asked a local how to get to an overlook to see the tail from a distance. We went up a scary mountain road, but it was well worth almost losing our transmission (jk).

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The picture I took…

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The picture I wish I took… Photo credit: youtube.com

The next day, we hiked the Nuayaca Waterfall. Amazing. It probably ties for first place on my favorite waterfalls in CR list. The hike was 8 km and pretty strenuous, probably around an hour and a half each way with a lot of hills. Once again, the waterfalls were well worth the trek. Absolutely breathtaking. I would definitely recommend it.

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I didn’t take this one either… photo credit: tripadvisor.com

Overall, the trip was a total success and I’m so thankful we got a chance to get some hiking in before we received our tiny, fuzzy baby. We’re not quite sure what November’s adventure will look like, but honestly, just leaving the house and running errands with those two littles seems pretty adventurous to us :).

Family Adventures (aka let’s keep mommy sane trips)

I’m currently loving life as a stay-at-home mom. Who knew? I thought I would be restless, but I really enjoy it. I’m so thankful that my husband works hard so I can stay home with Mariah. Most days I’m pretty content to be home all day, but there are days that I get a little stir crazy. Some days Albin pulls in the garage to find all four of us (i.e. Mariah, Rocky, Luna, and me) all waiting at the door poised and ready to jump on him in our excitement.

On one such day Albin came home and saw that crazy look in my eye and made an executive decision that we needed to all get out of the house more. He told me to set aside at least one Saturday a month and plan for a family adventure. Well, that spoke right to my heart since experiencing new things together is basically my love language. In fact, when we first got married I struggled a lot because I had just come off of an 11-country mission trip that was a constant adventure and suddenly I found myself settled down with a 9-5 job. It was ugly.

Anyway, back to the present. We decided to go through a Costa Rica guide book and write down places we’d never been and wanted to go. I also found this great website called “Two Weeks in Costa Rica” which details the travels of a couple that moved to CR after falling in love with it during a vacation. We found some new places and made a point to set apart a Saturday that didn’t involve cutting the grass, birthday parties, or other usual Saturday tasks.

Both of our family fun outings (FFO’s as coined by my parents) so far have been to waterfalls here. There are a lot of beautiful waterfalls in CR and taking a day to hike to them satisfies some innate need I have to explore. Not to mention we’ve really enjoyed being together as a family and getting out of the city. It’s something small that has gone a long way to make all of us a little saner. Totally worth it. I used to travel all over CR during my first two years here, but now our calendar always fills up with everyday stuff and sometimes it is so easy to just settle into mundane routines. I want to document them on my blog for my sake, but also maybe it will motivate you to get out there and plan some FFO’s with your family.

Here are some pictures from our August trip to Las Cataratas Los Chorros:

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September trip to Catarata del Toro with some dear friends:

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