This is me (Amanda) and my husband Saïd. Globetrotters at heart, we’ve settled down in Quebec and are proud to be raising our three young children to be bilingual citizens of the world. We’re yin and yang, and while sometimes it seems we have nothing in common, the most important threads in our lives unify us: strong sense of family, belief in God, desire to stretch our comfort zone, passion for learning new things, unwillingness to coast on the surface level, and love for deep discussions. We also like puzzles, homesteading projects and HGTV. I’m the dreamer, he’s the doer. We balance each other out.
This is Zahra. She loves everything and is willing to try anything. It boggles my mind how one kid can be good at art, science, reading, music, sports and more. When I come up with a spontaneous plan, I can always count on Zahra to back me.
This is Noah. He is an amazing storyteller. He throws himself completely into whatever project he’s into at the moment. He’s passionate and full of ideas. He makes me check my skepticism at the door.
This is Leila. She’s easy-going and deeply curious. She’s bored by objects’ typical uses and will always find a new way to do things. She’s flamboyant and likes to make people laugh.
And these are Izzy, Lavender and Atwood—because, oh yes, our chickens are very much part of our family. They live in a small coop that Saïd built and free range in our big backyard.
What else do you need to know about us? How about our family culture? We believe in:
We won’t know unless we try. This is a huge part of our family culture. Exploration is deeply engrained in our everyday lives. We win some, we lose some—but we don’t miss out on any because we were too afraid to try.
Throwing out the bar.
Set the bar high? Set the bar low? Forget the bar. We give it our all and see what we can do. Can a four-year-old make it up to the top of a rock-climbing wall? It turns out she can!
Knowing it’s ok to do nothing.
Sometimes your entire afternoon can be spent with some tea, a book, a beach towel and a chicken. And that’s ok! In fact, it’s more than ok. We’ve vowed to throw the brakes on life on a regular basis.
Jumping on a learning opportunity when the mood strikes us.
Just because we’re not dressed yet and breakfast is still on the table doesn’t mean we can’t whip out a quick science lesson. I already hear the naysayers saying for everything, a time and place, and children need routine, and all that, but in this house, we’re ok with shoving everything else to the side when someone comes up with a great idea.
My youngest likes to wear dresses and fancy shoes; she wants her hair up before I’ve even finished my coffee. Eating without a napkin is a traumatizing experience for her, and in a couple short years I’ve gone through more nail polish for her tiny nails than I have in a lifetime for my own. Since I don’t wear makeup and don’t even get a shower every day, and her older sister is a tomboy, and we’ve sworn off everything Disney-princess—I don’t know where she gets it from. But it’s in her. And we’ll celebrate it.
Seeking out the experts.
Each member of our family has talents and expertise to share. And we learn still more from books and field trips. But our most memorable learning experiences have always come from seeking out true experts who help us dive deeper—like in this picture, where a local farmer came to our house with an ancient machine to candle our eggs.
Libraries are one of our favourite places. As are book stores, especially when there’s an author signing. Reading is very much part of our family culture. Saïd tends to read more non-fiction, staying current in his field of work as well as reading on DIY projects and politics. I tend to read more on philosophy, education and also fiction. The kids see us reading every day, and we always have a family read-aloud going.
Taking the long road.
There’s more to see, to do and to learn on the long road. We’re not always focused on the end results. The process is so important.
Being inspired. And inspiring.
When we learn about famous artists or architects, writers or makers, we want to try to do what they do. The world is rich in ideas and inspiration, and the follow-through is in putting your own spin on it. Likewise, what we choose to do with our time can be inspiring to others.
Living our cultures, with an s.
Neither Saïd nor I were born in Canada, nor have we lived most of our lives here. But we’re here by choice, and we recognize that our children will feel more Canadian than anything else. And those are the two reasons why, in addition to celebrating our own very different cultures, we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into Canadian culture and the Canadian experience. Neither Saïd nor I can ice skate, but our kids can play hockey. We celebrate Canada Day in the summer and tap the maple trees each spring. Last winter, to our delight, we got to try ice fishing.
Getting our hands dirty.
We don’t shy away from hard work. We pick projects that interest us and engage us, and we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. From raising chickens to planting a vegetable garden, building a treehouse and undertaking home renovation projects—these are things that bring our family together and teach us something new.
If it sounds rosy, don’t let us fool you. It’s messy…and loud…and sometimes chaotic. But we’ve decided to embrace it, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.