Category Archives: Mini-Van Mom

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.

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The Unicorn


A mythical creature.

A story passed down.

Often describes things that we cannot fathom or dream of.

Things that are outside of our scope of experience.

For example our eldest son’s new school.

I got a call this week asking if I could come in for a meeting. “Of course!” I said, hoping that our honeymoon period wasn’t over yet. When I signed in at the office the principal came out of his office to say “Hi.” and ask how things were going. He seemed genuinely happy when I said that I was thrilled that our son was making friends and choosing to hang out with them outside in the school yard rather than reading in the library or office. Not only did he not think it was weird when I said that alone made our year a success for me, he agreed!

The SERT met me in the office, and together we went upstairs, chatting along the way. Our son was again offered an opportunity to join us but chose to take the bus home with his classmates! Anyone who knows an aspie realizes just how big a step this is. Oh and did I mention that instead of sitting near the driver, he chooses to sit at the back.

With the other grade 8’s.

Because that’s what grade 8’s do.

The meeting consisted of two teachers, an EA and the SERT.

And you know what? There were no major issues. Just some questions about how to handle certain situations. All asked in a “What do you suggest we do/try?” tone of voice.

I made sure to repeatedly tell them how thrilled I was. That they can feel free to contact us at any time. That being proactive like this can only ensure his success. That for the first time he is coming home talking about his day.

And most importantly, he is happy.

I sat in my van afterwards and realized that I no longer had to hold back the tears.

I’m so glad that we made the difficult decision to transfer him. That the school we chose is that rare mythical creature that actually encourages and supports him.

If only every Autistic child had that opportunity…

7 Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before I Became a Parent

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a city far, far away (well a 45 minute commute anyway) I had a life. It was civilized, and people spoke politely to each other (with the exception of road rage) and we never spoke of body parts unless we were drunk or laughing at some celebrity who forgot she wasn’t wearing underpants. It was peaceful there. And drinks at noon were cool.

Then I became a parent.

black mini van parked in my driveway

black mini van parked in my driveway

And I found myself saying all manner of strange things. Things that once repulsed me were now topics of everyday conversation. In fact, I often find myself desperately seeking some adult conversation. A mere sentence or two that has nothing to do with the contents of one’s diaper or where the damn permission form has gotten to now.

When I stop to think about it, some of the things I’ve said are pretty horrifying. So, just to brighten your day a bit (as you revel in not having to say those things, or that you managed to escape them), I thought I’d share with you some of the most awful things I’ve found myself saying:

7.  A mini-van? Really?

6.  Yes, someone needs to be sober in the house at all times.

5.  No the baby doesn’t count.

4.  Oh, that diaper smells delightful! Think we can make it home without causing another rash? That mom over there is about to ram us for our spot.

3.  Seriously? You’re picking your nose and eating it? At the table? Instead of this dinner I slaved over?

2.  I know it’s fashionable to wear tight shorts, but honey, do you know what camel toe is?

1.  Sure I can take three more kids in the van. Pile them in!

 

 

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

The End of Competition Season

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Checking costumes, extra practises, getting to competitions, squeezing in a teeny room to change and another one to warm up.

We all enjoy it though. And this weekend brings us our final dance comp of the season. There is an element of relief, but it’s pretty bittersweet. I, who was always a rec soccer player has found that I love being a dance mom. No one in our studio is the scary kind of dance parent, we all help each other out and love to hang out. I’ve made some wonderful friends through my daughter’s dance. And for anyone who thinks I push her she comes home from practise and immediately starts dancing and perfecting her acro tricks. All of the girls do this. Dancing is in their blood, part of who they are.

IMG_2577

One of our moms posted this Dance Mom Prayer on Facebook tonight and I thought it so wonderfully captured it all that I had to share it with you:

A Dance Mom’s Prayer

For Competition Day

Dear Lord, it is competition season and I have a few prayer requests. Please let our day begin well. May our directions from the internet be correct. May we arrive at the venue on time and find ample parking.

May we have every shoe, costume, costume accessory, tights, extra tights, make-up and any other thing you know we will need, but I have failed to list.

Dear Lord, we need to pray for the venue, yes the venue. May the dressing room space we have be shared with a nice studio, with polite girls and parents and may everyone be provided with the understanding that while we would all like more space, this is what we have to deal with and make the best of it. May said dressing room not be located three stories up from the theater. While I know I need to exercise more, I do not want to start today and dancers in tap shoes hustling up and down three flights of stairs makes me nervous!

May my dancer’s make-up be flawless and Lord bless those applying mascara for their dancers. May the hair process go smoothly. May buns be slick and poufs be poufy. May my dancer have a sweet and cooperative attitude so I do not have the urge to push that last bobby pin in a little firmer. 🙂

Prayers to the parents attaching wigs to their sweet little dancer’s head. Give them guidance to adhere those wigs firmly for I have yet to meet a child, tween or teen who wants to be dancing on stage in a wig cap.

Dear Lord, we must pray for the performance. May my dancer be even more beautiful than she was at dress rehearsal and please dear Lord may she stay upright throughout her dances. If you recall, we have experienced that life lesson in the past and survived; but, we would prefer not to have a repeat.

May our quick changes seem effortless and our tights remain intact. Lord, let the fishnets remain free of giant holes. May we be free of costume malfunctions for I have witnessed them and would not wish them on anyone. May hats stay on heads and shoes stay on feet. May Props remain propped. May we not hear the announcement “Can someone from XYZ studio, supply a back up CD”.

Vision – Dear Lord, this is a big one, please provide dance parents and dancers perfect vision for today so they can see when they enter an auditorium at a dance competition there are dancers performing on stage. I repeat, there are dancers performing on stage. Dear Lord provide them with the awareness that now would not be a good time to stand in front of others or talk loudly.

Dear Lord, may parents, friends and dancers understand that hootin’ and hollerin’ and shaking noisemakers for a lyrical or ballet dance just breaks the mood.

For the awards – may the announcer be courteous and entertaining, but not long winded. May the announcement of the awards be quick, but not so rushed that we can hardly understand what scores the dances received.

Dear Lord, at the end of the day….

May I have had an enjoyable day with the other Dance Moms from our team

May I be appreciative of the other studios we shared our day with

May we have been well entertained by talented children who enjoy performing and sharing their talents

May I continue to be amazed at how hard our dance teachers and studio owner work and how much they genuinely love their students

and most importantly

May my dancer leave today with the same confident spirit she had when she arrived.

Amen.

Source: Your Daily Dance

Have a great competition this weekend girls!!!

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 🙂

And then reality sets in…

We know that our eldest child, the one who has autism, really doesn’t have any friends. Honestly he has just one. A boy, very similar to himself whose family we know. It’s very unfortunate that they do not go to the same school and only see each other some weekends.

But knowing he has issues with social interactions and seeing for myself are two completely different things.

The other night I watched him for a few minutes in his hip hop class. He has come a long way, following along and not getting overwhelmed by the music and moving mass of kids. He impressed me with his dance moves. Watching that part of the class, and you would never know… yet it was impossible for me not to notice him in the downtime, the moments of instruction or waiting his turn.

He stood to the side. Looking at anything but the other people. Staring into space. Not as relaxed as he tried to appear. Apart from the others.

It was a small moment, but it pierced me. I began to question the wisdom of putting him in the class. He enjoys it but does not love it. We want him to have these opportunities but I wonder, at what cost to him? How much does he understand? We know that the older he grows, the more he “gets” it, but I honestly don’t know how he feels about it.

Some days he talks about wishing he had more friends, more people to hang out with on the weekends. But most of the time, he operates without seeming to need that social connection.

It breaks my heart every time we do something as a family and he hangs back, chilling in his room or the basement. I know that to a point that is stereoptypical teenage behaviour but still… I want to connect more with him.

And seeing him in a group of age-peers like that, standing to one side, not connected with any of them, drives it home. That he does not connect on a level that we understand. No matter how much we can wish it away, or try to change it, that is who he is. It will never diminish our love for him.