Sticks and Stones Belong in the Forest

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About seven years ago, I was working with a security company and one of the duties we had to perform was scanning the worker’s badges on buses.  Well, some of the buses were school buses and we all know how they are…cramped with a narrow passage way.  With so many workers on the bus, I had to turn sideways to make my way down the bus to scan everyone.  Near the back, I overheard someone say “Look, that big chick has to turn sideways just to move”.  Now I’m not huge…sure I’m a bit overweight but ANYONE would have had to turn sideways to move on and off that bus.  To make a long story short, that comment was the reason I no longer volunteered to scan the buses.

I’m sure at one point or another we’ve all been taught the lesson “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me”.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think that this rhyme is a pile of nonsense.  The reality is, words can cause more damage than some realize.  Words can affect your emotions, your self esteem and more.  Bullying in schools is no longer limited to big kids beating up on the smaller ones.  Terms such as “Loser”, “Fag”, “Geek” and “Fatty” are being tossed around at the innocent and causing more harm than a punch on the shoulder.

So how do we fix this problem?  In my opinion, the most important thing we can do is THINK.  Think about your words before they come flying out of your mouth.  Are they words you would want spoken to you?  Are they words you would say to your children?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people spout out hurtful things that they’ve later regretted.  If you take a moment or two to think before acting,  you could possibly prevent hurt feelings or a messy situation.

We all want our kids to have good manners and to speak respectfully.  It’s no good to tell your children to speak kindly if you aren’t ready to do so yourself.  I believe the old saying is “practice what you preach”.  I’ve learned that even when I think my kids aren’t paying attention…they are!  So in the words of Thumper “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”.

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I Am Not Just a Mommy

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Do you remember the time back before you had kids?  Back when the main focus of your life was you?  If you’re anything like me, you look back upon those times with fond memories, but you can’t picture your life without your kids now, am I right?  Well I would like to share something that I’ve learned about myself…or rather rediscovered.

In 2012, I moved back to Newfoundland after having been away for almost eight years.  While I gained many wonderful things living away, I had all but forgotten about the “old me”.  I did not enjoy being away from the province which I love so dearly, not one little bit, and the fact that I was away pushed me into a low time of my life.  Well after moving back, the little cloud which hung over my head seemed to disappear overnight!  I started to enjoy life again.  One day, I ran into my old music teacher and mentor and he suggested that I join the town band.  At first I thought he was crazy!  Me?  Become part of a band again?  How could I?  I had two children to care for!  No matter how hard I tried to rationalize why I shouldn’t join the band, there was an old spark inside of me that seemed to yell “DO IT!  FIND A WAY!  YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS!!”  It’s true, I did want this…very badly in fact!  So I found a way to attend the weekly rehearsals (Yay for Tuesday nights!).

Having music back in my life has brought me so much joy!  I couldn’t believe how much I had missed playing percussion.  What’s more is that I had rediscovered a small part of myself which had been forgotten.  It made me think to myself “What else have I forgotten about me?”  One day while my two little ones were playing in the back yard, I started to paint a clay flower pot.  I love to paint and I had forgotten how relaxing it can be.  The latest thing I’m doing for myself is this blog.  I may not be the best writer, but I do love to write.  I find it to be freeing and almost therapeutic.

My hobbies don’t take up much time at all.  Nap time and after the kids go to bed are perfect times to do things me.  Not only do I feel wonderful about myself for having these little hobbies, but I can share them with my children too and I find that really special.  As parents, we strive to help our kids learn new things, discover talents and find themselves.  Why deny such things from ourselves?

We are not just parents.  I am not just a Mom.  I am a percussionist.  I am a painter.  I am a writer.  You, my friend, are YOU.  What makes you passionate?  Are you an avid reader?  Perhaps singing is what makes you tick.  Give yourself permission to explore your passions and take up old hobbies which excite you.  Join a choir!  Volunteer at the SPCA.  Dust off your camera and start to take pictures.  Do what makes your happy and be proud of it!  I know I am.

Just One of Those Days…AGAIN!

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Have you ever gone to Walmart just to get a break from your kids?  I sure did today!

Today was one of those days where every half hour, I had to deal with my two “angels” in some way.  First, they wouldn’t settle down in Church.  After coming home, they wouldn’t sit down to eat their lunch.  Next, they got into an argument and struck each other in some way (nothing major, but still…).  After naps, they got into a shouting match over blocks.  During supper, they were both whiney that their desserts had been taken away.  Finally, at bedtime, they thought that constantly jumping out of their beds would be funny (it SO wasn’t!).

Right about now, my kids sounds like a bunch of crazy crazies!  However this behavior is definitely not typical of them.  I could handle one of even two disruptions to the day, but an entire day of naughtiness?!  Come on you guys!

Around supper time, after yet another round of time outs and “talks”, despite the terrible weather I decided that *I* needed a time out!  I left the kids in the care of my Mother and went to Walmart to run a few errands.  Was going to Walmart necessary?  Absolutely not!  The errands could have easily been taken care of the following day.  However I needed a little bit of me time and going to the store was the perfect excuse to get out of the house for half an hour…well…I managed to stretch it out to 45 minutes!  Don’t judge me!  I have no regrets about looking at cookware that I didn’t need.

The day is over now – the kids are in bed (YES!!!), dishes are washed and the laundry is folded.  The only thing left to do is to let go of the events of today.  I used to get so stressed after days like this.  I would think to myself “Is tomorrow going to be like this?”, “Is this the start of a bad behavior trend?”.  That was the old me.  The new me is much better at letting the small stuff go.  Tomorrow is a brand new day that has not been lived yet.  There are no scripts.  If I enter tomorrow with hope and optimism, then hopefully the day will go well.  🙂

My Thoughts on the LeapPad Ultra

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Both of my children have LeapPad Ultras and I’m a really big fan of them!  At first, I was a bit skeptical of the whole notion of my kids having any sort of tablet.  I didn’t want them to become overly dependant on an electrical device for entertainment.  However, I knew that with moderation and proper management, this problem could easily be avoided.

I must say, I was surprised to see how much my kids actually learned from this tablet!  Of course I do my best to enjoy daily educational activities when them – coloring, counting blocks, homework with my son, etc – however the lessons learned through the games they play are really amazing!  Just today, my two-year old correctly identified the number 13 on a bingo card!  My Mother and I were floored!!  She can count to 10 on her own and recognize some of those numbers, but since playing with the LeapPad Ultra her understanding of numbers has increased dramatically.

The neat thing about the apps is that one game/ebook can grow with a child.  Games start off very basic for Pre-K children and become more challenging as the child ages.  The same can be said for ebooks.  A Pre-K story will have short sentences and easy-to-read words while the same story in Grade 4 mode will have larger words with much more details.  It’s nice to know that the money I spend on apps can actually go a long way.  If you have more than one LeapPad Ultra in the house, an app purchased online can be added to a maximum of three devices.

I don’t just consider the LeapPad Ultra a toy, I consider it a tool.  Typically, the limit is between half an hour to an hour a day.  The more ways you introduce an educational concept to a child, the faster the concept will be retained.  Playing with this device helps to reinforce the lessons which my kids are learning daily.

I really like how you can add personal touches such as your child’s name and their picture.  The LeapPad Ultra comes with a built-in camera and video camera, so selecting a picture will be no trouble at all!

The only thing I can think of for a “heads up” on the device is that, to an adult, it will seem to run a little slow.  It does not have the reaction time of an iPad or even a laptop, but you have to keep in mind that it’s meant for children.  Neither of my kids have complained that their LeapPads are slow.  I’m the only one that notices that.  For example, after clicking on an app, it will take 4-6 seconds before the game actually loads.  Not a big deal but, for some reason, this seems to matter to some people.

Overall, I think that the LeapPad Ultra is a wonderful device!  For a detailed overview of the LeapPad Ultra, including product description, features and more, please click HERE.

What’s the Plan?!

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We’ve all had those days.  You know what I’m talking about…you’ve planned the perfect day or the perfect event…the big day arrives and bam!  Nothing goes right.

Take my day for example.  I had today completely planned out – skating in the morning with my daughter, a play date in the afternoon for both kids and bingo in the evening with a good friend.  Three guesses as to which of my plans actually happened.  If you guessed none, you would be correct!  My daughter did not want to go skating without her brother (who was in school at the time), my friend and her son (our playdate) came down with a cold and my bingo buddy was super tired after a few bad nights of sleep.  Am I mad at anybody?  Of course not!  Not in the least.  How can you blame a friend for being sick or tired?  I completely understood and all events of my day are being rescheduled.  No big deal at all.  Still, there’s that tiny voice inside my head that’s saying “Really??  ALL of my plans were cancelled?!  REALLY?!  What luck!”  LOL.

As a Mom, there have been countless times when my plans for the kids haven’t gone the way I was hoping.  On days when I have a fun afternoon of sliding planned, my kids will have tantrums.  Mornings at the park will get rained out.  Family photo days are met with stubborn faces.

It’s not just the everyday things either.  Major events in their lives have gone awry.  One of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing how my first child would react to their first birthday cake.  I had seen so many other children celebrate their first birthdays and the cake was the moment that just made the day awesome.  Fast forward to the day of my son’s first birthday.  I had my professional camera ready to capture those lifelong memories, the video camera rolling for future viewing, and the iPhones ready for instant pictures to send to family.  We placed his birthday cake (which took me hours to bake and decorate) in front of him…I am practically ready to burst with excitement…my son sticks a finger in the cake…and then cries for 25 minutes straight.

In the beginning, these hiccups truly bothered me.  I am a planner and when my plan or visions didn’t go the way I wanted, it made me upset.  However, I soon came to realize that when you have kids, anything can happen.  My plans won’t always coincide with what their day brings them (moods, illness, etc).  Rather than dwell on what might have been, I’ve learned to adapt to the situation.  It really helps to keep things as stress free as possible, which is important to me.

Tomorrow, I think I will plan to NOT have a plan.  😉

“I Have NO Idea What I’m Doing!!”

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My Sister was the first in our family to have children and I remember her first pregnancy so well.  I was so excited to learn alongside her about what it really takes to raise a baby.  At first we did a lot of reading both in books and on credible websites.  We watched TV shows which featured parenting segments.  Then it happened…the advice started to come!

“Oh you definitely have to breastfeed, it’s the best thing for your baby.”

“You need to bottle feed your baby.  That way others can help during feedings and it will give you more time to take care of yourself.”

“Do you plan on co-sleeping?  It’s a great way to develop a bond with baby and get some extra sleep.”

“Make sure you never co-sleep with the baby.  It’s dangerous and you may smother him/her.”

By the time my Niece was ready to be born, the only thing I could think of was – I’m sure glad it’s my Sister having the baby!  Holy moly!!  So many choices, so many things to think of!  How on earth do you decide what’s right?

There is a question that I’m sure the majority of us ask ourselves, and perhaps others, several times a week – “Am I doing the right thing?”  It’s a question we keep asking ourselves until well after our children are grown.  Make no wonder we are second guessing ourselves!  There are mountains upon mountains of information out there which seem to dictate how we should raise our little ones.  We read one article and then another pops up which contradicts the first.  Then there’s all of the free advice we receive from the people in our lives.  Mothers, Fathers, Siblings, Aunts, Cousins, Co-Workers, Friends, Strangers…and the list goes on and on!  It seems that everyone has something to say about how we are raising our kids.  So which way is the right way?  Well come closer, I have a secret to tell you!

There is NO one way to raise a child!  There are countless parenting styles out there.  If there was one “right” way to parent, then someone would have written a book about it and that one person would be very rich!  The fact is, there are so many ways to parent our children.

The key to our journey is to find the way which works for us and to be comfortable with that “style”.  People are going to question your methods.  They will share their own experiences and stories.  They will make suggestions.  Please, try to not let things like that bother you nor make you second guess yourself.  You have to do what works for you, not what other people think is best.

You also have to remember that just because something works for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for someone else.   Not only that, but the parenting style you use for your first little one may not work with your second or third.  That’s the reason there are countless books out there on the many different aspects of parenting.  They all present different solutions for different problems.  Take discipline for example, a child from one family may respond very well to time outs while another from the same family may respond to having a toy taken away.  Every child is different.

So take a deep breath and relax!  As long as you are doing your best to help your child grow, learn and thrive, then I’m sure you are doing just fine.

Motherhood is NOT a Competition!

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When I joined the ranks of Motherhood, I knew there were many roles associated with being a Mom – Caregiver, Teacher, Role Model, Nurse, Taxi Driver, Advisor…Competitor??  Yes that’s right.  I was surprised too.  Apparently, Motherhood is this huge competition between all Moms and there are many different aspects to it.  Whose child will crawl first, whose will say the first word, who is the best at coloring, and so on.  Personally, I think it’s all very silly and it’s one competition I choose not to participate in.

When my son was 5 weeks old, he slept through the night for the first time and has continued to do so since then.  When different people would ask me about how he was doing, I would obviously tell them about his new sleeping patterns.  Some people took it for what it was…what it was meant to be…news about my son.  Others (who happened to be Mothers) seemed shocked by the news…almost offended!!  This threw me for a loop so I spoke to my sister about it.  It was then that I learned about the “great competition”.  I just couldn’t believe it, nor understand it.  I mean, I did nothing to make my child sleep through the night.  I gave him a bottle like I normally do before his bedtime, we said our prayers, I layed him down and put on his music.  That’s it.  I never asked for credit for this achievement, nor did I brag about it.

Let go of the race my friends!  Take off those running shoes and toss them in the closet.  Motherhood is not a race for who can get their child to do whatever first.  It’s not a competition about who can raise their child better.  Motherhood is a precious gift that is so often taken for granted.  We should be spending our time playing with our children, taking them to playgrounds, preparing healthy lunches, reading them stories and giving them lots of hugs and kisses…not worrying about what high chair Mikey’s Mother uses.

So let’s work together, all you Mommies out there.  Do not judge and do not feel judged.  We do what we can for our children and as long as we do our best, that’s all anyone can ask.  Let’s not compete against one another, let’s help one another.  We all have something in common, we have children to raise and it’s nice to have help along the way.