Category Archives: life lesson

Never Say Never (Especially When It Comes To Parenting)

2007

Husband to me: “I will never allow a mini van in my driveway.”

Me: “Thank God. I hate those things.”

Christmas 2007

Husband: “I hate those tacky inflatables that people put on their lawns. My house will always have the classic white lights. We can drive around in the evenings so our kids can see those things.”

Me: “Ok.”

Fast Forward to Today:

Christmas 2014.   Not one, not two, but three inflatables on our lawn, a random assortment of coloured and white lights and of course a mini van in the driveway.

Christmas 2014.
Not one, not two, but three inflatables on our lawn, a random assortment of coloured and white lights and of course a mini van in the driveway.

I swear that our names are not Griswald. Honest!

We hope that maybe one day, when our youngest (now 22 months) is old enough that we can go back to the classic white lights, that I can give up the van and drive anything else again…. before we have grandkids!

That time frame could potentially be very small though as by the time our youngest is a teen the older two will be in their mid-twenties… and the cycle will start all over again 🙂

Just another time where I’ve learned never say never.

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Please Don’t Dumb My Daughter Down

Build up our children

I have always found it a shame when I have seen girls or women dumbing themselves down, portraying themselves as the stereoptype ditz or bimbo in order to fit in. And I’ve always wondered where it comes from. Especially in light of all the empowerment campaigns we are exposed to.

And then this morning I had a conversation with my daughter. It started talking about where our youngest is with his speech (on track) and the fact that she had been a very early speaker. That she picked up French in the immersion program very quickly and that I could probably throw two more languages at her today and she’d be fluent by Christmas. It’s her thing.

As part of this she has a huge vocabulary. Words have always come out of her mouth in the correct context long before she was “old enough” to use them. We have always encouraged this, teaching her new words and explaining the meaning of anything she (or any of our kids) don’t know.

So you must understand my frustration this morning when she told me that her teacher told her that no one in her class would understand something she had written and that she needed to change the word so they would. The offending word? “Foliage.” As in the “Colours of the foliage in fall.”

]How about “Great word. I’m not sure that everyone knows it though, so how could you add another sentence to teach them that word?” That to me is teaching.

Being told to remove the word is telling my daughter that it’s not ok to have a big vocabulary. It’s not ok to be smart. That she has to dumb herself down to fit in to her class. That dumbing down her vocabulary is the way to get a good mark.

My daughter will always have to fight against assumptions about her. She is a cute blond with an athletic competitive dancer’s body. Who will ever look beyond that when she’s only using the vocabulary of a child? When she’s too afraid to use the words she knows because she may be perceived as “smart” which her teachers have taught her is “bad”.

I told her not to change the word. To add that second sentence. That it’s not her job to dumb her work down. That she is always to do her best, to strive to be better.

I just hope that next time she isn’t intimidated by the teacher. That she has the inner strength to say “No. I will not change my work for the lowest common denominator. I will do my best. And I will teach and share.”

Parenting is hard enough. And now I realize that we can’t just rail against the ridiculous standards of the fashion industry, and the silliness of the pop music industry, we now have to be on guard from the very adults who we are supposed to trust are the role models in our children’s lives.

My message to all of you: Your only role is to build every child up. If in the process of doing this you manage to teach them history and geography, math and science then you are worthy of the title “Teacher.” And as your momma used to say if you can’t say something nice, if you can’t build a child up, then don’t say anything at all.

Chance Encounters

Last week when I was driving our daughter to dance we saw this license plate:

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

And it prompted us to talk about the fact that vanity plates are often about being vain, yet this person chose to spread positivity to complete strangers wherever they drive.

And then it got me talking about Chance Encounters which I learned about 11 or 12 years ago when I attended a conference hosted by Toastmasters. Each session was with a person embarking upon a career as a motivational speaker.

The session I remember most vividly (actually the only session I remember) was about Chance Encounters.

The speaker (If you know who he is please contact me as I would like to give credit where it is due) spoke of the concept that every choice we make in life affects someone one else. And he called these choices Chance Encounters.

For example, a driver cuts you off in traffic and you respond with a hand signal and some choice words. You then go on about your day. But this driver knew he made a mistake and tried to say sorry to you. He just got fired today and yesterday his wife left him. No one, not even random strangers (you) can’t stand him. What’s the point in living when no one thinks anything of you? When he’s driving over the bridge, he takes a sharp right and drives into the river.

Take the same circumstance, the same driver with the same crappy day. He cuts you off. And he tries to mouth “sorry” to you. You nod your head, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes. You continue on your way not realizing that you just showed him that strangers can be kind and that life is worth living.

It’s a pretty dramatic example and of course not every situation will lead to such an awful outcome. The point though is that everything we choose to do from hitting our snooze button to letting a driver in to going to bed early has the potential to have an impact on other people. And most often we will never know the implications of that impact.

Every Chance Encounter/choice we make is an opportunity. We can choose to be positive and forgiving or we can choose to be negative and spread misery.

And this driver ahead of us chose to make our day a little brighter 🙂

Best 2 U

I did it! #bikinibodymommy 90 day challenge

Back in January, I was ready for a change. I was unhappy with the weight I had hung onto after my third pregnancy, and wanted to do something about it.

I was looking at options, and while I know I would have had results with an aggressive program, I also knew that sticking to it and more importantly, enjoying it would be very difficult for me.

I blogged about my visions for the year here.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to choose when a friend posted on Facebook about the Bikini Body Mommy Challenge. I read about it and quickly decided it was for me.

The premise is quite simple: strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while cardio is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All of it can be done at home with simple equipment (timer, mat and 10lb weights.) And usually the workout is around 20 minutes. Oh and did I mention that it’s free?

There is an optional meal plan as well for a small monthly fee. I tried it, and used several of the recipes but found I’m not very good at being told what to eat each day, so used it as inspiration instead.

The first six weeks or so were amazingly successful and I saw results quickly. However, I found that the six day a week program was very hard for me to maintain when our toddler was cutting his molars and up half the night or when I got sick or for many other reasons.

I chose though to make the 90 days really about 90 days straight through. So at the end of a week, whatever I missed was missed, with no going back and starting where I left off.

Eventually I settled into a routine of about four days a week and I’m quite happy with that. Honestly anything I do is better than sitting on the couch, but now that I’m into the routine I find that I miss working out on days that I don’t.

The last week of the challenge was really sad for me. I got hit with that nasty cold going around and only worked out on the Monday, not feeling up to it at all the rest of the week.

However I have some amazing results that I want to share:

-I lost a full 10 lbs.

And some of my measurements are incredible:
-I lost 4 1/2″ off of my hips
-4″ off my bust
-3 5/8″ off of my chest and
-3 1/4″ off of my waist!
-arms were about 1″ and thighs 1 1/2″

I’m thrilled! And I plan to keep up with it. There is a transition program to keep going until the next set of videos is posted starting May 5.

I’m happy that I have been keeping up with my vision for this year and when May 5 rolls around I will be up bright and early that day 🙂

We had “the talk”

Last night my 10 year old daughter and I were watching one of those house hunting shows. There was nothing spectacular about this one, they weren’t in any exotic locations or looking at million dollar homes. The couple was just an ordinary every day couple.

About halfway through my daughter turned to me and said “I’m confused mom. Are those guys friends or are they married or something?”

“They’re married honey.”

“Oh.”

I could see she needed a little more explanation so I decided to keep it basic.

“It’s pretty simple. Sometimes two men love each other, sometimes two women. Sometimes it’s a man and a woman, like Daddy and I. And we are lucky enough to live in a country where we can marry who we are in love with.”

“Ok.”

“Do you have any other questions about it?”

“Nope.”

And we turned back to the show.

And that is exactly how complicated it ever needs to be.

If everyone took that approach with their children for topics ranging from same-sex marriage to special needs, we would be raising an entire generation of people who accept differences as merely the things that make us unique. That’s the world I want to grow old in, and the one my children will grow into. An accepting, open world.

Start a Conversation

Social media is an interesting phenomena. Lots of bickering, mommy wars, and one of the best ways to keep posted on what’s happening in the world. And when that’s all overwhelming and too much, there are always the feel good stories. They pop up, get circulated around and everyone shares them to further spread the warm and fuzzies.

The latest one to get circulated is about a boy with challenges similar to autism who asked his mother not to have a birthday party for him because he doesn’t have any friends. Mom set up a Facebook page and the media picked it up and now he’s being inundated with birthday cards.

How heartbreaking that his mom needed to do something like that. I get it, I truly do as I share in her despair every day. Kids with autism face so many challenges that it just doesn’t feel fair to add a lack of friends on top of it all.

So many people got on board for this, that it seems like one of those heartwarming do-good, feel-good stories. Teachers were even getting their entire classes to create and send cards. Mom was even getting notices from the postal service that there was too much mail!

But…after a friendless card-opening party with his mom, that boy will go back to his lonely existence. Neither your life nor his will be any better.

So I’m sending a big ‘ol shame on you to all of you who shared the story and/or sent a card. Yes I said shame on you. Because you all saw a feel-good story. Some of you even spent the $5 to buy a card and a stamp. And you all patted yourselves on the backs for a job well done and went on with your lives.

Nothing has actually changed. Tomorrow that boy will wake up and still face the prospect of going to school and not exchanging a single word with his classmates. If he’s really lucky a teacher might ask him about what he did last night, but more likely he or she will only direct him about his schoolwork.

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you should be using this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about exclusion and loneliness. How inviting everyone but “that” kid to your party or giving out a valentine to everyone but “that” kid is causing very real harm. Kids with special needs can’t help their behaviour, and if it seems odd to you then you need to learn to get over it.

If you don’t know how then ask. As a parent, I would much rather be asked by a child or a parent about how to interact with my son than for him to be ignored and ostracized. If you are too uncomfortable to ask me, then ask a teacher. If you’re the teacher and you don’t know, ask your SERT, or me, or call the special education expert at the board.

Please notice that I said “interact.” I did not say “fake friendship with.” Pretending to be someone’s friend when you really aren’t only causes harm to both people and frankly they don’t need you in their life. I’m talking about basic human interaction. A conversation. Try starting one. You might be surprised at what you discover.

In fact, as parents and teachers, you should be modeling this for your children. What’s stopping you from having a conversation with a lonely person? You all know someone. Whether they are a freak, a geek, a loser, a senior, someone with physical, developmental, or mental disability; you all know at least one lonely person.

To really, truly make a difference in the world, you need to speak to these people.

And saying “Hi” only barely qualifies for good manners. I mean truly have a conversation. If you’re Canadian then complain about the weather with them. If you’re not, then comment on something in the news. Ask them how they’re doing. And wait for an answer. Be patient. If they are truly a lonely person then they aren’t used to being spoken to like that. They might be caught off guard or need to formulate an answer. Whatever it is, it’s not likely to be what you were expecting. And it will be worth it.

Your conversation doesn’t have to be an hour long marathon to count. Just a few minutes while waiting in line for coffee or while waiting for the bus or while waiting to go inside after the recess bell. Just long enough to connect with someone who is desperate for that connection.

Do it daily. It doesn’t even have to be the same person. And you never know, you might actually like someone you didn’t speak to before.

And when you are doing that regularly, and only then, can you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, a difference made in someone’s life.

Let’s see how many people you can engage in conversation:
Tag your social media as #startaconversation
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Will Dance Always be our Family Sport?

Our family sport is dance.

I never meant it to be. In fact I didn’t know anything about it or what we were getting into. I’d been a soccer player and dreamed of coaching my kids for years. But then reality set in and I went with the flow.

It all started when our then five year old daughter started a dance program at the rec centre and was hooked. Soon she was enrolled at a well respected studio and then that morphed into her dancing competitively.

Our eldest son enjoys the rec hip hop class, and it’s a good fit for him.

I, who previously danced like *that* guy at the club, am even enjoying the ladies hip hop class.

So it’s a natural question that seems to come up frequently about our littlest one. “Will he dance too?” There seems to be a lot of opinions on whether he should or not, though I find most of the moms at the studio lean towards the yes vote. And the dancers are all hoping to one day have a strong male competitor to partner with.

Certainly for me, it would be easier. We are already at the studio five days a week, so we wouldn’t be going out of our way.

I do sometimes hear comments though about how he should play hockey. And it bothers me that there should be a perception that to be “manly” he needs to play a “manly” sport. Um have you seen the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team? We kick a$$! But seriously, if his heart is in dance then why should he not pursue it? It would be the same for swimming or soccer or hockey. I want active, happy kids. Not coerced, miserable ones. We will certainly expose him to dance, but ultimately it will be his choice as to whether or not he becomes a dancer. Or a gymnast. Or a hockey player.

For now though, I need to have patience, as the little guy is just shy of a year old. Lots and lots of time for him to find his niche. And lots of opportunity for us try out new things that we’ve never experienced before.