The long lost art of writing… like actual writing
I was writing out my Christmas cards the other evening, tuned into National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and sipping a sicky sweet cappuccino. I looove writing out Christmas cards… I actually “save” this holiday to-do because I look forward to it so much. I bust out my best writing pens and get my cursive swirls on. And I realized this year that I’m writing things out long-hand less and less these days. Other than signing the occasional check (ick) I rarely write in longhand, let alone in script.
Which made me think: my toddler will probably hardly ever write things out longhand by the time he’s in school. He’s already growing up with technology (I have NEVER shown him how to use my phone and yet he’s broken into it and even moved apps around… I think he’s even deleted apps from my husband’s locked tablet). The cartoons have this futuristic computer-generated glow that makes me shudder (even though the hand-drawn cartoons I love from “my time” look decidedly dated). He’ll learn from a laptop and PowerPoints instead of by writing on a chalkboard or in a notebook, and he’ll look things up on Google and (gasp!) Wiki instead of a dictionary or encyclopedia. He’ll copy and paste instead of actually copying it… like with a pencil.
I had a number of pen pals growing up, and I loved sending letters and cards to my long-distance aunts and grandparents. And by learning the structure of letter-writing and envelope-addressing, I think it helped me to hone my skills in penmanship, storytelling, punctuation, spelling, and more. How will Cameron practice this other than hitting “spell and grammar check”?
Don’t get me wrong: technology can be a wonderful thing and has allowed us to show our son all kinds of cool things (like actual videos of construction trucks and places around the world and animals and more), things my hubs and I never got to see in real-time action. But the art of writing is dying, especially in a social context.
Will you teach your kids how to write letters?
Why I’m proud to be Canadian
I AM CANADIAN! And here are some Canadian inventions that make me extra proud to be a Canuck!
Poutine- Anyone who has indulged in this warm, greasy, classic Quebecois dish knows just how freakin awesome it is that we concocted such a delicious treat.
The walkie-talkie- If you’ve played with your friends in the yard or relied on walkie-talkie communication in an emergency, you know how important this Canadian invention is.
Superman- Toronto comic book artist Joe Shuster came up with the Man of Steel, the Metropolis Marvel, Clark Kent, and most widely known and beloved as Superman!
Basketball- Just check out the NBA site: “The roots of basketball are firmly embedded in Canada. In 1891 the game was invented by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian who hailed from Almonte, Ontario.”
The pager- OK, so not so noteworthy today, but in its time, the pager was the first form of remote communication available to the masses. And who can forget beeper codes – I spoke in numbers throughout high school, the first form of hashtags (143).
Trivial Pursuit- A classic. It’s Canadian. It was thought up by a photo editor at The Gazette in Montreal.
The Jolly Jumper- THANK YOU, Olivia Poole, for inventing this. Parents everywhere… we ALL thank you!
The snowmobile- I mean, who else would invent this cool snow machine?!
Wonderbra- THANK YOU, Moses (Moe) Nadler, for inventing this. Women everywhere, ta-tas everywhere… we ALL thank you!
The Bloody Caesar- A Calgarian came up with this libation in the late 60s, a mix of Clamato juice, vodka, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Cheers!
Peanut butter- Likely the most beloved childhood indulgence of all time, peanut butter was first patented by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884.
Why do we do nice things?
My dad and I love to have “deep chats” about moral issues, and one reoccurring one is the question of why we do nice things. My dad is an awesome person – he likes to see the best in people, he’s courteous and friendly, he volunteers, and he is a regular church-goer. I’d like to think that I’m a “nice” person too in that I like to do for others as much as I can. I’ve always lived by the motto “do unto others…”
I will always hold the door for a person, or let someone cut in in traffic. But if that person doesn’t say thank you or do “the wave” to acknowledge my niceness, I can’t help it: I’m pissed!
My dad feels the same.
And, when I go out of my way to make a holiday all the more special, even if everyone has had a wonderful time, it means that much more when Mike says, “Thanks for doing so much this weekend.” I appreciate the recognition.
Which brings me to mine and my dad’s eternal question: Why do we do nice things? Is it to be nice or is it to get the reaction that we expect or the praise that we apparently crave?
Isn’t that selfish?
But that got me thinking: I don’t think my dad and I are the only ones who think this way. I presume that the majority of people would agree that it is friggin’ frustrating when you go out of your way to hold the door open for some crusty old person and they just saunter by through the open door without muttering a simple “thank you.” That’s common courtesy. There’s no grey area here: everyone would agree that you should say thank you. Period.
But am I holding the door for the crusty old person because I want a thank you? No, I’m doing it because I want to be nice and that means unconditionally holding the door for a grump, without expecting anything in return.
But I do… you should say thank you.
I love making pinatas for my friends’ kids’ birthday parties and losing sleep staying up late to cut out 400 Mickey Mouses (Mice?) for my son’s first birthday. I love doing it because I love to be crafty. I love doing it because the kids love it. But there’s still a small part of me that is tickled when someone says, “Wow, you made that pinata? Awesome!” It’s nice to get compliments, isn’t it?
So does that mean that suddenly my nice act has become a selfish one because I’m reveling in my creation as well as secretly doing a happy dance because others liked it?
Why do we do nice things?
I’m A Half Organic Parent, And That’s Okay
Yep, I’m trying to be an organic mom. Well, somewhat. As much as I can be.
And I get slammed and challenged for it at every turn.
I’m a child of the 80s, a generation who thrived off of new and excitingly convenient packaged foods. I love it all: Kraft dinner, Cheese Whiz, bologna, frozen pizza, bottled salad dressing, cheese slices, the works! But when I had a baby I realized that I could help create a new little person’s tastes and preferences, encourage healthy eating from the get-go, and I ran with it.
I breastfed… reluctantly, and I hated it every single moment, and I held out for four months until (thankfully) he started refusing it. But I’m glad he got it. When it was time for solid foods, I started him on only organic veggies and fruits… and so the bullying began. “Are YOU eating only organic too?” “Organic is such a hoax.” “What’s the point – he’s going to have regular food eventually.”
OK, I’m by no means an expert on organic, but I do know that in order for companies to be certified organic, they have to adhere to certain guidelines, and personally, with all the crap that is going on with our food, if my organic options are being a bit more scrutinized, then I’m happy to pay more and go with the organic for my child.
I hit a bit of a wall with the organic options once the baby moved onto meat… first of all, organic meat is exorbitantly priced. It’s outrageous. As much as I was paying extra for organic produce and grains, we couldn’t afford to go all organic with meat too, so instead, I researched. I looked into where the meat at my grocery store and local market was coming from. I scrutinized labels. I went to farm websites. We visited a farm and stocked up on their hormone-free meats after seeing what a great place it was. We spoke to our butchers and fish guys and sourced the freshest meats and seafood we could find. We even have an egg guy at the market and get our eggs the day after they’re laid.
Now we’re into toddler-hood and this kid eats everything (and when I say everything, I literally mean we’ve given him everything from pickled eggs and Brussel sprouts to smoked salmon, trout, lemons, and humus, and he has never refused a single thing). So going organic is difficult… my entire kitchen would have to be filled with organic options and my bank account would be in the red. My halfway solution: no processed foods. Whole grains. Organic and local as much as possible. And food with labels that I understand
I try and make everything from scratch, from dips and salad dressings to cookies, soups and stocks, breads, and more. I’ve mastered an array of Popsicle flavours and fruit roll-ups are a cinch to do yourself. We eat whole wheat pasta and bread. We even got our son involved in our veggie garden this summer, where we made daily trips to pick tomatoes and berries, and took him apple picking (if an apple a day keeps the doctor away this kid will live to be 130!) – he was excited about all of this.
And I go local. When there are two bins of broccoli and one is from Quebec and one is from California, why would I choose the latter? Local produce is always fresher, meaning healthier, and you’re supporting a local company. Do you pay attention to where your produce is from? If you’re buying fruit from Chile, consider how long ago that fruit was picked.
Being a fan of organic is like being a Nickelback fan: it’s hard work. You find yourself constantly defending your choice (when it’s a better healthier one, so go figure!) and constantly having to research food sources to ensure legitimacy.
“What are you going to do on Halloween?” Um, go trick-or-treating, and get candy, and have the occasional treat.
“What if your son goes to a birthday party and they’re serving hot dogs?” Truthfully, he’ll have a dang hot dog. I’m not crazy! Even though I’m trying to encourage my son to enjoy healthy foods, and even though he still genuinely wants a pear instead of a homemade peanut butter cookie (seriously… this happened the other night), I know kids are going to have junk at parties and sporting events and at school. And that’s awesome – if anyone is a fan of the junk it’s me! But the junk shouldn’t be your go-to food choices (like they are for me), and if I can encourage that, awesome!
Top 10 Challenges of having an active toddler
Want to know what’s challenging about having an 18-month-old who is always on the go? EVERYTHING!
I love that my son is so exploratory and has such great energy, but there are times when it can be absolutely exhausting as a parent! Here are the top 10 challenges of having an active toddler.
10- Mornings. Early mornings. Like 6am mornings where you go from a dead sleep to chasing around a kid who is tearing through Tupperware while munching on Cheerios that he’s littering across the floor after leaving a trail from his bedroom to the kitchen of clothes (socks, PJ top, blanket). By the time I’ve made my coffee I’ve done more than I used to do in an entire morning of my pre-baby days.
9- The messes. By the time I’ve tidied up his bedroom he’s dumped two more bins of toys in the living room. While I’m cleaning that up I can hear the sound of books being tossed here and there in the kitchen. Sigh…
8- The PVR backlog. It literally takes me all day to get through a one-hour show (thank goodness for “Pause”). My husband and I were religious followers of a number of series and we’re now seasons and seasons behind. How can I keep up on my TV viewing when I have to constantly watch my son?!
7- Staying one step ahead of him. I am constantly anticipating what he’s going to get into next. One day he can’t reach the top of the counter and the next day, he can, meaning knives and cutting boards and hot beverages all need to be rearranged so they aren’t within reach. Twenty-four hours ago he couldn’t open doors but now he can, so there are even more things to get into, more messes to make, more dangers to keep mummy and daddy on their toes.
6- The shot nerves. My son loves to “dive” off of the very top of the couch. He’ll climb up shelves, onto the kitchen table, or on top of stacked toys. He shows his older friends how to turn his toy bins upside down and stand on them while pounding his chest like a gorilla. Seriously… my nerves are shot. Seriously.
5- Figuring out mystery marks. Does your kid all of a sudden wake up with a little dot-shaped black-and-blue on his forehead or shin? A strange little scratch on his cheek or finger? A rip or a stain on a shirt? Or am I the only one?!
4- Keeping up on snacks and drinks. Active toddlers need lots of fuel, so we find ourselves constantly filling sippy cups and putting out snack plates to ensure our bean is topped up.
3- Discovering the hiding places. Maybe it’s just our kid, but because he’s all over the place, he seems to stash things while he’s on the move. I’ve found socks, washcloths, bottles, puzzle pieces (that sometimes I’ve looked for for days), stickers, diapers (clean, thankfully), Tupperware lids, spoons, and electronic devices (like our TV remote and cellphone) stashed just about everywhere.
2- Not being an active adult. My husband and I like to do things, and I’m a busy bee at home with my own little projects, but for the most part we have a rep of being homebodies. So keeping up with a kid who is buzzing more than the Tasmanian devil is, well, challenging (to say the least).
1- Witching hour. You know: that hour leading up to bedtime that seems to draaaaaag on forever and ever? By 6pm (God love him) I’m ready for some quiet alone time. But it seems that in that hour, our bean is especially rambunctious, running here, there and everywhere, making messes just for the sake of the mess and the noise, yelling, dancing, and basically running amok.
Hooray for fall, my favourite season of the year after summer and winter.
Pinterest is all aflutter with great ideas for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and general fall merriment. What’s your favourite thing about fall?
Yep, who doesn’t love apples in fall? This is a fun way to jazz up those crunchy autumnal gems: peanut butter apple nachos!
Such a lovely table setting in such unique and unconventional (yet oh-so-PRETTY!!!!!) colours
I love handprints. And feathers. And clothespins.
Q-Tip art – fun!
Come follow me on Pinterest!
Am I the only one who can’t turn my brain off? Like my brain is literally thinking until the moment I fall asleep and then kicks back into gear the second I open my eyes.
No wonder I wake up with migraines!
I’ve taken yoga that involves meditation and I concentrate and listen to the instructor tell us, “Clear your miiiiiind. Let everything goooo,” and I open my eyes just a crack to see if anyone else is sitting there running through to-do lists in their heads and they’re all peacefully sitting cross-legged in their Zen-ified states. WTF is wrong with me?
How in the hell do you clear your mind?! The closest I get to clearing my mind is thinking of white…. like actually making myself THINK of the colour white, which is technically not clearing my mind because I’m stressfully repeating to myself, “You’re not thinking of anything but whiiiiiiite. White. White. Think white dammit.” I don’t think that’s what the yogis have in mind.
I wake up to pee in the middle of the night and the gears are immediately turning. I’m lying in bed trying to fall back asleep and not wake myself up too much, but it’s usually too late: my brain is running through a laundry list of tomorrow’s chores, errands, and work assignments. I’m going through dates in my head and schedules. DING! I forgot to send so-and-so a birthday card. Crap. Must remember to do that tomorrow.
Now don’t forget: tomorrow is gym day. And you always forget to bring a towel and that stick-in-her-butt at the front desk chimes after you. Don’t forget to bring a towel.
We need milk.
When is that article due again?
I should be writing all this down…
OH MY GOSH SHUDDDDDDUP!
I can’t stop thinking! Can you??
Now that my birthday is over I’m looking forward to the next holidays: Thanksgiving and Halloween! Which brings me to my latest pins…
Such a cute way to make fun personalized candy pails
I remember doing potato stampers when I was younger. Cameron LOVES stamps so this will be perfect this year!
He can make a mess and it STILL looks like an actual Jack-o-Lantern. Love this. Look for a messy stamped pumpkin or two outside our door!
In theory these are super cute… it’s more a matter of trying to get my son to hold still long enough to paint the undersides of both feet and stamp em…
Hooray for turkeys, handprints, and candy!
Truly the scariest word to me: migraine.
I fear them every day.
I worry about when they’ll strike next… will it be on vacation, on my wedding day, on my birthday, or the day of the big concert? I hate worrying about migraines but I’ve had them since forever and there’s simply no rhyme or reason to them.
They started when I was a teen and everyone chalked it up to puberty. I’ve tried cutting out all caffeine and then all sugar from my diet for months at a time. I’ve kept sleep and food journals. I’ve tried aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and prescriptions (that are as much as $30 a pill!). I’ve tried home remedies like potato peels on my forehead, rubbing lime wedges on my temples, massaging that fleshy piece of skin between your thumb and fingers (yep, it’s supposed to do something). I’ve hydrated with water and Gatorade. I’ve caffeinated with Coke and coffee. My migraines still strike at random times and stay for an indefinite amount of time.
The doctors are clueless when it comes to migraines. There are too many possible triggers to narrow it down to one, they say. We can just keep looking for common variables and trying different medications.
And yet, the more I seem to talk about my migraine suffering, the more common it seems to be. I know so many people, especially women, who suffer from regular headaches and migraines.
Here’s what I do… I need to catch a migraine from the onset. That means taking extra strength Excedrin right away. I also need to drink lots of water. Many times my headaches are brought on by not drinking enough water. And I need to eat – an empty stomach will always bring on a migraine for me. Hot baths helps, especially soaking my feet – it helps to draw the blood and throbbing away from my head.
What do you do when you feel a migraine coming on? Share your stories and advice here and maybe you can help a fellow migraine-sufferer.
Jenn: The Dreamer
Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I’m pretty naive. I like to see the best in people (even though a lot of people do not give it their best) and I try to always see things in an optimistic way (when things often don’t… well, you get the point).
Because I was one of the last of my friends to become a parent, I always attended birthday parties and religious rites of passage sans baby. It all looked so fairytale-like as the parents leaned in with their 1-year-old to help them blow out the candles, or smiling as the priest poured the holy water over their head. And that’s what I thought motherhood was all about: storybook snippets of time that culminate to one giant satisfying super life.
You can roll your eyes now.
Don’t get me wrong – I definitely had those incredible moments with my own bean. But it’s the other “firsts” or new activities that make me completely set myself up for disappointment. And it’s not just with my own kid but kids in my family and friends’ kids.
Cameron’s first haircut… how sweet it would be to see him sit there as they transformed him from a baby to a little boy. We decided to do it after Christmas while his grandparents were visiting. We’d make a wonderful memory together.
Instead, he screamed from start to finish. Huge tears rolled down his red cheeks. One grandparent fretted in the background at the sound of his cries while another mouthed to us “Make them stop.”
It was awful. A memory, but awful.
A food fight with my niece. She wasn’t a girly girl and was down with getting dirty so I planned it all- I bought pie pans and aerosol whipped cream and made two kinds of jello and a huge bowl of pudding. I thought it would be fun to surprise her with a whipped cream pie to the face to get things started. Wrong. She burst into sobs and then nailed me as hard as she could with her own pie.
Niece: 1 Auntie: 0
I need to just let things happen. I need to understand that making memories can’t be forced. I need to stop planning good times and just let those good times come to be in due time.
But first, I have to start planning Christmas Kids Day. All of the children are going to have so much fun and be kind to one another and not make a mess at all and they’ll walk around with little shining halos over their heads… I can’t wait…