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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Dear not so Lil’ J,

I’ve heard people call the 9th birthday “halfway to adulthood” Honestly the thought makes me shudder. I can’t believe I’m halfway through you living under my roof (though I don’t think I’ll mind if you decide to stay a bit longer). But let’s not talk about that right now. Let me tell you how fun your 9th year of life has been, and while doing that, share 9 things I love about you.

1. How excited you get for a brand new day

“This is the plan for today… *sigh*” Is how you like to start a day, with a plan for what we’re going to do and all of the fun you’d like to have. You love making fun plans, and it’s fun watching you execute it.

2. Your hard work

I’ve watched you grow a lot this past year in learning responsibility, and hard work. You’ve set goals and worked hard to achieve them in cheerleading and in school. We all get a little lax sometimes, but once you set your mind to something, you go for it and work really hard.

3. How you love to snuggle

I’m pretty sure if you were in a snuggling contest you’d win. You love hugs, holding hands, and all kinds of affection. Sometimes I get a little over-snuggled but deep down I really treasure it and I hope you keep it up.

4. Your sense of humor

I don’t know when it happened but you seem to be getting funnier by the day. You listen to everything your dad and I discuss, and are really good about putting things together. The combination makes for some really funny surprises that come out of your mouth. I really need to start writing these down more. For instance you overheard me talking about an irresponsible babysitter. Then later when your dad was looking for the remote you said “If I was an irresponsible babysitter where would I put the remote?” Your dad had to try very hard not to let you see him laughing.

5. The way you notice editing in movies

You’re like a little sponge, absorbing so much of what you see and hear. And you’re so perceptive. You’ve caught on to different transitions and editing techniques that I’ve shown you, and you point them out in videos and movies we watch. Now I just need to get you to help me edit more!

6. Your huge smile is the same now as it was when you were a toddler

You’ve loved taking photos since you were just a baby. You still do. And when I look at a couple of photos side by side I can see how your facial expressions haven’t changed much.

biracial toddler girl with a big smile wearing a hear valentines shirt

7. You are so helpful

Not only are you helpful but you relish in it. You like making me breakfast in bed. You’re happy to bring me water, or a snack while I’m taking a bath. And you love helping out with your baby sister. I’m so glad that your younger siblings have you to look up to.

8. Your love of Disney

“Do you want to talk about Disney?” It’s a phrase you’ve started saying a lot and it cracks me up. It’s like you know my weakness. Same with your dad when you bring up talking about Rocky. You forge interests in things that we like knowing that we’ll cave and engage in a conversation or movie-watching whenever you want. It’s pretty smart when you think about it. But I do love that my love of Disney has rubbed off on you so beautifully.

9. That you’re still as sweet and adorable as ever

I thought for sure your 8th birthday was the last time you’d request a new build a bear toy. But here we are, with yet another added to your collection (even though I’m trying to enforce a strict no stuffed-animals policy). You still held my hand as you walked in for your first day of school.

You run out of cheer practice for water and a quick hug and kiss before you run back in. I love that you still like to be around me, even around your friends. And I selfishly hope that never ends.

I love that you are my daughter. A bright bit of sunshine in our home. Happy belated birthday sweet baby J. I hope this next year of life is your best one yet!

Love,

Mom

Isn’t it crazy how our first impressions of someone can be completely wrong? I’ve had people tell me I look more like a Keisha than a Jennifer (what?!). I’ve seen mouths drop when I state that I graduated from BYU and yes, we’re Mormon (though technically not called that anymore). We’ve all had our share of wrong first impressions.

interracial couple in an interracial marriage wrong first impression

Before my husband and I had our first date I had a picture in my mind of what he would look like. We’d spoken on the phone and I knew he grew up for awhile in North Carolina, was a big sports fan, his mom was from Atlanta (like me!) and he served a mission in the Caribbean. I assumed tall dark and handsome. I was not expecting a cute white dude from Utah. Now this is another story for another day. But what I will say is through the years I’ve continued to learn a lot about first impressions.

We met on that blind date of sorts, 15 years ago this week. I thought he was cute, but a bit quiet. A little funny. Based on that first impression, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. I didn’t know if he’d get me. But it only took a couple more dates for me to realize that this guy was made for me. From serenading me with 90s R&B, to introducing me to fry sauce and Cafe Rio.

wrong first impression of interracial families

Throughout our years together we’ve had a lot more first impression mixups. People not realizing we are together in line, people assuming I’m not my daughter’s mom, people assuming he’s not our son’s father, and other things here and there that honestly, (and thankfully) feel most like distant memories at this point. But one thing that’s bothering me more than I realized is an assumption people make when my husband puts on his work uniform.

“Do people ever call you racist?” I asked him one afternoon in passing.

“HA!” He shouted in response. “Are you joking?”

I’ll admit the question was kind of a joke. I knew angry people called him that sometimes but I don’t think I knew (and still don’t know) the extent.

“Every day,” he said. Like, multiple times a day. As in, when responding to a call, while monitoring a protest, or randomly yelled at a passerby driving down the street.

It doesn’t really bother him. He’s used to it. And it didn’t used to bother me. Mainly because I’d resorted to it coming with the territory. But recently an acronym appeared in a comment below one of my Instagram photos that sent my into a fury.

First off, let me say that this wasn’t from any of my lovely followers. The photo was of Lil’ J and I at her daddy’s graduation from the police academy about 7 years ago. I used it for a partnership about helping the homeless. Well the post was promoted across the platform and reached many many more people. Many strangers. Strangers that didn’t like 1. Our interracial marriage. And 2. The fact that he was a police officer.

I can’t even tell you the level of horrendous comments some people had the gaul to write. Most of them surrounding the fact that he would likely kill me, or how disgusting our relationship was. Some dared to say that “given the climate” our photo was insensitive. Excuse me? Are these the same types of people who would say that a black person trying not to sit in the back of the bus in the 50s was being insensitive given the climate? I’m sorry but our existence isn’t a political statement.

I digress…

I noticed four capital letters that seemed to be repeated over and over by numerous commenters (before I shut the comments off completely).

“ACAB.”

After awhile my curiosity was piqued so I googled it and learned it stands for “All cops are bastards.”

Well that’s not very nice.

My entire life I’ve been put off by stereotypes.

Assuming all women are ______.

All black people are _______.

People assuming I got the job because I’m black. Or that’s the reason I got into college, ignoring the hard work and straight As.

Then it brought me back to a section of a book I read that embodies what I was feeling.

A lot of us would get upset if my kids or I was called the N word. My husband would probably lose his mind. But do I get upset when I see someone call him a pig?

There’s a part in Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness where she sums up her beliefs and fully encompasses my conflicted feelings on the matter:

Here’s what I believe:

1. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters called bitch, whore, or the c-word, you should be equally offended and hurt when you hear those same words used to describe Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or Theresa May.

2. If you felt belittled when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” then you should have felt equally concerned when Eric Trump said “Democrats aren’t even human.”

3. When the president of the United States calls women dogs or talks about grabbing pussy, we should get chills down our spine and resistance flowing through our veins. When people call the president of the United States a pig, we should reject that language regardless of our politics and demand discourse that doesn’t make people subhuman.

4. When we hear people referred to as animals or aliens, we should immediately wonder, “Is this an attempt to reduce someone’s humanity so we can get away with hurting them or denying them basic human rights?”

5. If you’re offended by a meme of Trump Photoshopped to look like Hitler, then you shouldn’t have Obama Photoshopped to look like the Joker on your Facebook feed. There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.

My life circumstances have forced me to have a more open mind but I still make mistakes. I’m still learning. Really, we all are. And real courage comes when we’re brave enough to admit that.

In reality you know nothing about a person at first glance. You could make assumptions. But you’re risking being very wrong.

white father with biracial children don't get the wrong first impression

15 years ago I had the wrong first impression of my husband. But I’m glad I said yes to a second date.

 

“Run run! Get ready!!” My kids screamed as the timer on the camera counted down from 10.

“HURRY!” My oldest daughter screams. My son giggles alongside her as they strike up a silly face.

My EOS M50 begins a rapid beeping sound and flashes a yellow light before snapping this picture:

We try again. More screaming and laughing ensuing.

Mother's Day photo with a mom and four kids. Mother's Day interview questions.
A mother posing with her three kids. Mother's Day questions to ask your kids each year.

Rinse and repeat until we all eventually cooperate and get these gems.

Questions to ask your kids every mother's day. A mom posing with her three kids.
Some Mother's Day Interview Questions for kids. Mom posing with her children.

At arm’s-length I was able to snap some pretty sweet selfies in auto-mode.

Mother son photo. Questions you can throw out to your kids each mother's day.
Mother and baby photo.

The goal wasn’t to get the most perfectly posed flawless pictures, but snapshots we can look back at and cherish.

Next I did something I want to push myself to do annually… And I highly recommend doing this at least once. You know those questionnaires our kids fill out around Mother’s Day? I love reading the silly things my kids answer about me. But you know what’s even better? Hearing them!

I set my EOS M50 camera up on my mini tripod and rattled off a series of Mother’s Dat interview questions. Lee Lee even got in on a few.

So this May make it a goal to get in the picture, and record some video moments with your little ones too. I promise you’ll thank me later. And if you want to use the same questions we used you can download our free Mother’s Day Questions printable here.

Happy Mother’s May!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Canon USA. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Canon USA. The opinions and text are all mine.

“Stop and smell the roses.” It’s a phrase we say to remind us to press pause and enjoy the little things.

But with the hustle and bustle going on in our lives, sometimes it can be hard to remember that. I like to find tangible ways to cherish every day.

One way I like to do this is through photography. Taking some time to walk around and notice the little things you’re grateful, then photographing them, is like making a visual gratitude journal.

I pick up my camera, and snap a picture of things that make me smile. This week I zoomed in extra close to the nitty gritty details that make me smile. I used my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 iS USM  Macro Lens and went around our home to take note of the pieces I’m especially thankful for.

Here are some of the things that came from that:

Playtime

The joy I feel when I watch my son play. He’s such a silly boy and from a super young age he’s always known how to push our buttons just hard enough to make me flip out while simultaneously making me laugh. He’s always been one to take good care of his toys and I’ve loved watching his imagination grow. For this image I was inside his room where there was a good amount of window light. My settings: ISO 2500 f/4.5 1/200sec

Nature

I love spring and all of the fresh color that comes with it. We’ve always enjoyed seeing Texas wildflowers while driving down the road but now we’re finding them all over our backyard. The kids and I are enjoying picking them and pressing them into our nature journals. I don’t think I ever paid as much attention to flowers as I have this year as we’ve been noticing the different details we we try to identify them.

I’m all about photographing people but small plants and animals are some of my favorite macro photography subjects. My settings for the flower inside: ISO 4000; F/3.5; 1/250 sec. Settings for the flower outside: ISO: 2500; F/5; 1/8000 sec

Budding Bravery

As we’ve been growing used to our new digs and lots more land, with that has come getting used to more critters. I’ve put on a tough face as I’ve stepped over spiders and through webs. Instead of squealing at a giant beetle crawling through the grass I instead point out how cool it is to the kids. I’m noticing as I’m demonstrate more bravery, so do they.

Lil’ J was terrified to touch this little caterpillar but after a little while she not only poked it, but held it (and proceeded to name it).

My settings for both images: ISO 2500; f/11; 1/200 sec

Baby Chub

There are very few things in life that are as sweet as the chunk on a chubby baby. And mine always have a lot to spare. I love zooming in on it and getting a crisp shot of those rolls. Lee Lee is already pulling up on things and before I know it that chub is going to melt away. I’m trying to enjoy these rolls as long as possible.

I also love capturing sweet details like her tiny toes, her nose, even her little eyelashes. A macro lens is perfect for all of the teeny tiny baby details.

My settings: ISO 2500; f/10; 1/320 sec

Healthy Happy Children

Close up shot of sisters smiling at each other. An Intro to macro photography.

My favorite detail to capture up close are the smiles of my children. Though this isn’t quite a macro shot, I love the closeness and the sharpness of this image of my girls enjoying each other’s company and the details in their eyelashes.

The nice thing about the 100mm Macro lens is it works as a wonderful portrait lens. So you can zoom in for the details of your baby’s fresh new tooth, then step back and get a beautiful shot of her whole face along with her new-tooth grin.

My settings: ISO 2500; f/10; 1/250 sec

A helpful hint: When shooting with a long lens like this you don’t need to open up the aperture as wide to get a shallow depth of field. Especially when taking photos really close. In the photo above the background behind my daughters is still blurred with some lovely bokeh, even with an f-stop of 10.

Some other great macro lens options are the EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macros IS STM Lens if you have a crop body camera (such as the Canon Rebel). Or the EF-M 29mm F/3.5 Macro IS STM lens if you have a mirrorless EOS Canon camera.

It’s not always about capturing the right image, but capturing the right moments and details that mean something to us. Take some time to think about your routines and try stepping in and capturing a closer look.

Are you allowed to say vomit on the internet? I mean, I guess anything goes online. What I mean is will anyone really click on a headline that contains the word “vomit”? Well, you’re here, so I guess some people will. Thank you for not letting that scare you away. Don’t worry, this post isn’t gross. There’s only a couple mentions of poop and one more mention of vomit at the bottom of this post. Word vomit that is. Anyway, on to the point…

It recently came to my attention that my Instagram stories are getting all of the juicy attention lately, and things that I’d normally be so excited to share here on my blog are disappearing in 24 hours. Not good for posterity sake let me tell ya.

And though my descendants may not care about my excitement for tiny blades of grass finally popping up through our septic field, gosh darn it, I’m gonna share it anyway.

Some highlights from the last week:

All my kids got sick. First Big T, then Lil’ J and finally, Lee Lee. One after the next, two days each. I felt so bad for each of them. They were pitiful little things. Lil’ J wins the award for being the most dramatic about it. She missed a day of school and tried to sit out for another but I wasn’t having it.

Lee Lee’s cold is still lingering and now he also has an ear infection. Brutal I know. We just started antibiotics and I’m hoping she’s feeling back to her chipper self in a week because she’s going on her first trip! Where? I’ll let her tell you…

View this post on Instagram

Listen, I have no idea how this happened to me. One minute I was eating and the next minute my mom has magical characters dancing all around me and she actually caught me sleeping in a photo! Maybe she spiked my breastmilk ?. . . My mom has been showing me this big-eared guy a lot lately and says next week I’m going to meet him. I’m not sure what that means but she seems pretty excited about it ✨ . . And she told me I can’t tell my brother or sister. . Apparently they don’t understand baby talk cause I tried to spill the beans and see if they could explain what is happening but they just looked at me and laughed. I guess we will all find out soon enough. . . Knowing my mom she will be taking all kinds of pictures so I’m sure the whole world will know this secret in a matter of time. ✈️//#Cherish365 #disneybaby #make_more_magic #6monthsold #DisneyMomsofColor

A post shared by Jennifer Borget |Cherish 365 (@jenniferborget) on

Also, this is arguably my most adorable stop motion film to date.

It’s my first trip in exactly a year. The last time I was on a plane was when I was flying home from meeting Oprah. I’ve been cozied up with this baby since then, and I’m still not ready to go anywhere far without her. Luckily Disney invited us to do this trip together. The big kids are coming too (though they don’t know it yet). And my mother in law is joining us in lieu of my husband. He’s not tired of Disney per say, he just doesn’t appreciate it as much as the rest of us (and he ran out of vacation time after paternity leave… Oops).

Anyhoo, more on that later.

In the backyard we finally have some grass sprouting on our septic field. Oh, did I already mention that? My bad, I’m just really excited about it. See that patch of bright green behind the kids? That will soon be a fun little picnic spot. Ok, it sounds gross but I promise it’s not.

We also started naming our big oak trees, which may seem silly but it actually is helping is distinguish where we are in the yard.

There’s Oakey that this hoop swing hangs from. Dopey is across the way sitting in the septic field. Then Zeus is the giant post oak dead center a little ways back. It looks like it’s been struck by lightning a couple of times. Off to the side of that one there are two more post oaks that look like twins. At first we named them Billy and Lilly but they were quickly renamed to Apollo and Artemis since Zeus is kinda overlooking them.

A ways back there’s a big live oak tree with a large droopy canopy (see above). I can see us having many poetry tea parties under that one. So we named it Poa (like boa) or Po-A (not sure if the spelling just yet). But do you get it? Like Po-a-TREE!  LOL

So that’s six named and we still have six to go. The plan is to paint some big rocks with the names on them then set them in front of the trees.

Speaking of rocks, we have a ton in our yard and we’re working to move them to be useful. We’re making paths and we heaved a bunch into a circle to make a fire pit. We had our first family fire last week. It was such a simple yet beautiful experience. We roasted marshmallows and our big kids tried s’mores. I’d just set up some battery string lights before the big night and they worked perfectly. Not too bright, but perfect ambient light during our fire. I’m excited for years and years of gathering out here.

I’m still settling into the reality that we really made this dream happen. I hope it’s a testament to our kids of what’s possible. Which brings me to my next thing…

We also set up some kid jobs this week. These are JOBS not CHORES. And there was quite a lot of hubbub about the difference in my Instagram stories. The consensus is chores are what kids do as a part of contributing to the family. Not for money.

In our house chores are done before any screen time is granted. Sometimes they slack off on chores and that means they can’t watch TV or play on their ipads (going outside to play is still ok). We also don’t do allowance though. Some people do allowance and tie in to chores. Others do an allowance but very adamantly DON’T tie it to chores (because chores = a given).

My husband says an allowance = “you do what we say and we ALLOW you to live.” However, Lil’ J is trying to save money for things she’d like to buy, so we created some JOBS she can optionally do for cash. So far those include editing our vlogs, picking up dog poop, emptying the trash from around the house and a few other things she doesn’t do as a part of her chores. I can do a whole post on this including tons of kid jobs for cash ideas if you’re interested.

Here’s an unrelated, but ridiculously aforable photo from their first Daddy/Daughter dance.

I’m using Rooster Money to keep track and so far she’s earned $4. Payday is Friday. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

Man, I feel like I still have so much to say: Big Ts first track meet (he killed it), dusting off my sewing machine, an online video-editing course I’m launching soon, and showing the “after” of our living room niche.

I’ll share all of these in my next catchup post. Maybe I should call these something. If it was Friday maybe it would be a Friday roundup. What’s Happenin Wednesday? I’m not sure I can commit to that.

But I do want to just word vomit over here now and then like I used to. I hope you’ll join me. What’s new with you?

Until next time…

I rarely scroll through my Facebook feed. It’s actually disabled on my computer. But I was on my phone, and probably nursing my baby while absently scrolling with my thumb. I stopped on a photo of a little boy mannequin with a red Mickey Mouse balloon tied in one hand. The shirt was the focus of the photo. It was Disney themed, and on it read the phrase “Lock up your princesses.”

I chuckled and moved my thumb towards the reactions, thinking I’d press and hold the laughing face guy. But before I could, I noticed the popular reactions that were already recorded. Most of them were angry. I scrolled down to read the comments.

There was a flurry of frustration about it being innapropriate, teaching toxic masculinity, or raising sons to be predators, and how they’d never put something like that on their child. I could see where they were coming from, but I didn’t necessarily agree–or at least, didn’t have the same fury so many of them seemed to feel. Yet, I didn’t disagree enough to arm up and jump into virtual battle.

Still, I shared my initial thoughts after peeking at the comments. Just that I initially thought it was funny but the comments made me doubt myself. My friend who had shared the post said it was ok, we didn’t all have to agree.

I responded with a Homer Simpson gif that perfectly represented my thoughts on engaging further.

A friend of mine texted me offline, laughing in response to my reaction. I told her this wasn’t my hill to die on.

“Oh, I die on so many hills,” she told me. And she expressed how she’ll get into little arguments with people online about comments that irk her. I don’t blame her. I completely understand. And I believe we all have our own little battles we’re willing to fight.

For me, I’m viciously passionate about debunking stereotypes surrounding minorities and police officers. Yes, BOTH of those. I know for a lot of people it’s usually one or the other.

I also care so much about education, positive mindsets, and encouraging optimism.

Freedom of religion, or freedom to choose a lack of religion is another hill I’d fall on. As well as the principal of not dehumanizing anyone no matter which aisle they stand on. No matter how much you disagree. Having the respect to treat another human being as such stands above all else.

I would die on a thousand of those hills. To me, those are some battles worth fighting for. It’s important we have something like that to stand for. Something that is true to our own personal principals.

What are yours?

It recently occured to me though these are embedded in my core, they aren’t topics I often delve into. I think part of that is because of the amount of energy it takes to pour my soul into some of these topics–I just don’t have a reservoir deep enough to draw from just yet.

But still, I want to do more this year. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how this would work best but for now, how about I don’t overthink it. I’m just going to share a few causes that I’ve donated and/or contributed to this month, and encourage you to do the same for causes that are meaningful to you.

BYU Black Alumni Association – sponsored seats to a scholarship dinner

Cycle for Survival – donated to a friend cycling for a cure

YMCA– Sponsored an extra child for a track season

Helped a friend raising funds for the adoption of their babies

Not a bad start so far. Try to find ways to give back, or stand up for what you believe in. I’d love it if you shared those with me as well so I and others can inquire further.

Let’s look past the fact that it’s the middle of February while we dive into the goals I have for 2019.

Last year I met my lifelong idol, we built and bought our dream home, and had a baby girl that turned out to be the stuff that dreams are made of.

I had the opportunity to partner with some of my favorite brands. The Oprah Winfrey Network invited me to be a part of their OWN TV Show, and I brought home the Blog of the Year Award at Mom 2.0.

Last year I had goals to save enough to put 50% down on our home, and otherwise survive the changes from having a newborn, moving, and transitioning back to public school. At the start of the year there was quite a bit of travel as well. Until I was too far along to fly comfortably. I survived, and had a better year than I expected.

This year my goals are simple. At my core I want to stay put. This isn’t my season to travel the world and I’m wholeheartedly ok with that. I see us settling into this home and our little piece of land. Learning about nature, and what we can about the world through books.

I want us to slowly conquer our fear of bugs, learn about snakes, and climb trees. I want to read and write and share my passions and lessons I’ve learned here.

So far I have just one trip planned: The kiddos, my mother-in-law and I are heading to Florida next month. If that’s the only time I board an airplane all year I won’t be sad about it. I’m waiving all notions of FOMO and leaning in to our little space.

Speaking of our space. I’m obsessed. Completely obsessed. And I’ll need to dedicate a whole other post about our new home and the yard makeover that’s been underway, and the trees we are naming etc etc. But just know that it’s likely 90% of my pictures this year will be taken in our new backyard.

I am an ambitious woman with go-getter tendencies. But this year I want to let a bit of that cool down and focus on evolving, leading and being present with my family.

I’m not big on resolutions but I’m huge on goals. Here are my goals for 2019. Broken down into categories.

Personal

Learn 5-7 meals I enjoy making and we enjoy cooking: Every time I’ve resolved to cook more I’ve failed terribly. I think part of that is because I make it a goal to cook a certain number of meals weekly. This time I’m aiming to find meals I enjoy making and setting no particular timeline surrounding that.

Find an enjoyable fitness routine: If there is such a thing.

Read for me: I want to dive into books on optimism, and run away to far away worlds. Enjoying reading for pleasure.

Learn 3 full piano songs: This will require a lot of practice but I want to make this happen.

Financial

Open IRAs for my kiddos: I recently opened savings accounts for them and I want to max out each of their IRAs this year.

Pay down our mortgage: By 1/5th!

Sell our other house: This actually should be at the top of my list.

Open a Solo 401k: Another retirement account I’ve been eying.

Business

Publish an ebook

Create a product

Share more causes I care about

Family

Summer (Home)school: Continuing our tradition for the third year.

Summer Camp: A first for my kids! Looking into one week of a nature camp.

I can’t commit to a word for the entire year but one I’m feeling a push towards right now is LEAD. And a phrase that comes to mind is Black Girl Magic.

I’m a little behind the curve on getting this going. And with a baby that still insist on waking me up a couple times a night I imagine it’ll be a while before I feel completely “myself” again. But I’m going to cherish the heck out of this year. And pray it’s a great one.

What are some of your goals for 2019?

I remember when my family first got the internet.  I’m from a long line of tech-loving people, so we were ready to embrace it. My mom was pretty much cool with me logging on and playing whatever game I wanted to play, or doing research on my favorite anime shows. Of course I had to make sure no one needed to make a phone call lest I get bumped off.

We didn’t really slow down to talk about the rules. Back then there really weren’t any.

Much later, my younger siblings had fair warnings about dangers on the internet, which back then usually meant inappropriate pop ups or dirty chat rooms.

A full generation later the Internet is much wider. And there are many other concerns lurking.

My kids have been a part of my internet legacy since before they were born. Naturally they’ve seen their pictures online on my website, and they’ve grown to love re-watching old videos we’ve recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The internet is an incredible, powerful tool. We have a wealth of information at our fingertips. So many connections and so much good. When used wisely.

My daughter used an online homeschool curriculum for about six months. Even now, she and my son know how to log onto the family computer, and navigate to their approved programs and websites for typing practice, math practice, and reading.

As they get older I know their range of requests will grow and I want them to be smart about their choices. And I’m trying to teach them how to discern those now. I want my kids to use the Internet. But I want them to be smart about it.

We want to allow our kids to have some freedom online but we want them to be smart about it. Sometimes navigating those conversations can be tricky. Or we don’t know where to start. Google’s Be Internet Awesome is a great resource to find all of that information.

Be Internet Awesome is home to a Digital Safety and Citizen Curriculum for parents and teachers to help us teach our children important lessons about navigating the Internet:

Being internet smart, sharing with care – How to communicate responsibly.

Being internet alert, don’t fall for fake – Being aware that people and things online aren’t always as they seem.

Being internet strong, secure your secrets – Safeguarding private information.

Being internet kind – Learning how to take the high road, by spreading kindness even in the face of negativity.

Being internet brave – Talking out doubts and questions with parents or trusted adults.

To help children learn all of these lessons Google has created a fun little interactive game called Interland.

Interland helps kids learn how to navigate the internet in a safe and responsible way. I set it up for my kids to try and they love the game aspect but I sat by and watched and it brought up a lot of great conversation starters such as “what do you do if you get a friend request from someone you don’t know?” and “What should you do if someone messages you a juicy rumor about someone from another class?” It dives into the “why” behind some of the rules we set for ourselves and our children online with security and kindness.

There are also sections about deciphering what’s real and what’s not, how to set a strong enough password, what information you should or shouldn’t share online, and how to treat people when you’re behind the screen (hint: the same way you would in person).

Of course each family can go further with their own guidelines, rules and frequent re-evaluations (for instance, I told her she could share her email password with me where the game suggested she keep it private) but I love how the game made a lot of problems that come up relatable and something we could discuss before issues arise.

Our babies are growing up. Not long ago we were stressed about sleep training and starting solids. Now we’re at the age where they’re gaining independence, but we don’t want to just hand over the keys to the world without some gut-checking first. Be Internet Awesome is a great resource, and then the Family Link app takes things a step further and helps parents set and monitor some digital ground rules and help guide their kids as they learn, play and explore online. You can set time limits for different apps with compatible devices. I like that I can let her read as long as she wants in her reading apps, but add a limit to game time. She’s gaining more independence but also learning healthy habits regarding screen time.

The Internet led me to choose my college, find my scholarships, my husband, and eventually was an avenue for my dream job. But online I’ve also witnessed a lot of heartache, bullying, and lies. Let’s give our kids a head start on learning to use it right.

Overall the internet is awesome. Let’s help our kids to be Internet awesome.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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