What Would We Do Without Our Trusted Umbrella?

What A Wonderful Poem For A Wet Day...

What A Wonderful Poem For A Wet Day…

Vancouver Umbrellas

Impatiently the umbrellas wait throughout the summer
Cheerfully, they greet you in the fall
They know they are needed
Fabulously and graciously they unfurl all over
Aggressively the umbrellas attack rain snow and sleet
Filling the city with their own musical sounds
As protectors they will give cover
They fight till turned inside out
Polka dotted or striped
They creatively color the greyest of days
With an assortment of colors
Dependable
They prevail every time

By Arabella

Is There A Perfect Parent?

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Let me just dispel all the myths right now… “There are No Perfect parents!” From the first moment as a new parent when we hold our new born baby in our arms until they grow up and move out of the house our life will be filled with First Time Experiences. As a first time parent we are all new to the game. So, what does anyone do when they are new they make mistakes and learn from them and try, again, again and over again throughout their child’s life. Of course by the time the second child comes along (if there is a second) we have a little more knowledge and experience under our belt and can make different choices. Even then sometimes the methods that worked with one child may not work with the second.

The hardest moment in parenting to deal with is when a child is really upset or having a temper tantrum. Kids can push us beyond our limits and when you have an angry parent and an angry child sometimes not all the best decisions are made as my kids love to remind me. One time when my daughter Anya was little and totally out of control I was at a loss on how to help her calm down. Then I remembered a show I had seen where they put a hysterical person into a cold shower clothes and all to calm them down. The cold water shocked the person and chilled them out of their hysterics. I had tried everything else to no avail so thought it might work. Lets just say what works on TV doesn’t always work in reality. As soon as the cold water hit her body she totally lost it and was so mad she came out of the shower kicking and screaming then threw all her clothes and toys out of her drawers and all around her room.

What I didn’t understand at the time was what triggered her anger. She would lose control when she felt disrespected. She had already been feeling disrespected by whatever happened in the first place to upset her and the cold shower was definitely not respectful to her. After she calmed down I apologized and we talked about what we could both do differently next time.

It took some trial and error but I eventually learned what she really needed was to be heard and understood. If I could catch her before she lost control, sit with her and hear her side of the story she would feel heard and calm down. When she did lose control we found Cool Down Time worked better than cold showers. I would give her some paper and crayons or pencils in her room and ask her to draw me a picture of how she felt. She did draw some very angry pictures but it gave her a more positive way to vent her feelings and art became her escape and passion.

Anya also taught me a very valuable lesson. When disciplining a child remember, they are just like you. If you wouldn’t want to be treated a certain way yourself do not treat a child that way and if you do over react a bit like putting your child into a cold shower it is always ok to say you’re sorry after all we are only human. Sometimes it is better for you both to walk away for Cool Down Time rather than carry on. As a mom on more than one occasion I gave myself a cool down time until I calmed down enough to be able to help my child deal with their emotions.

Being a parent I guarantee you will make mistakes or if your children are older you have already made mistakes. What is important to remember is we all, even our children are doing the best we can with what we know in this moment. So be gentle with yourself and your child. When our knowledge changes through experience or parenting books or courses we will learn a different way to handle the same situation for the next time and as parents we know there will always be another opportunity to try again.

Let The New Year Begin!!!

May Your 2015 Be Filled With Love, Health And Joy!

May Your 2015 Be Filled With Love, Health And Joy!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season! Have you set your New Year’s Resolutions for the year? My 2015 resolution is to work less around the home and make more time to play with my family. As a mom my life is so jam packed with everything I have to do in the day I find I don’t have the time to enjoy just being with my family as much as I would like. Even when my children were little I was always more the caregiver/housemaid and my husband the playful parent. Not that we didn’t do lots of things together just that I wish I had done more.

One of my kid’s favorite activities when they were little was blowing bubbles outside. They loved watching the way the bubbles, especially really big ones reflected the light and scenery around them, turning different colors with the sun’s reflection. We used to blow bubbles in the rain too so they wouldn’t pop when they hit the ground and the kids would run around trying to stomp on them all.

Their next favorite activity was playing with sidewalk chalk. We would draw roads all over the end of our street and the kids would draw a house each and ride their bikes and toy cars over the roads to each other’s homes all day long. My daughter Anya still loves drawing with sidewalk chalk only today it is road art being created instead of roadways.

Now that my kids are getting older there are still activities we enjoy doing together. My kids love hosting games nights with our friends where we play board games, card games and electronic games of all sorts young and old. We love going for walks out in nature or just up to the mall, and going out for lunch or movies together one on one. These are some of the things I want to do more of in 2015. I would also like to make sure we get in at least one if not more camping trips this year as it is something we all love and haven’t made time for the last couple of years.

So this year I encourage you all to join me and make a promise to yourself and your family to spend more time playing and less time being busy with chores. Our children are only young once and we will never have this moment with them again in our life time. I hope you enjoy the family time you create in 2015.

Cheers!

Karen

Merry Christmas To Everyone!

Wishing You All The Best This Holiday Season!

Wishing You All The Best This Holiday Season!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has checked out my blog over the last year. I have enjoyed the experience of being creative and am happy you have come along for the ride. I would like to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May you each share a special moment with your family and friends and do something wonderful for yourself in this busy time of year. Take some time to reflect on all the loving people in your life, appreciate everything you have and all you have accomplished this year. Time flies by and if we don’t stop to appreciate our life we may miss the opportunity to learn from our experiences. See you in the New Year!

Cheers!

Karen

Reach Out To Those In Your Life Who Have Made A Difference….

Give The Gift Of Love This Christmas!

Give The Gift Of Love This Christmas!

Family and friends are such an important part of our lives. Make time this Holiday Season to let them know you are thinking about them. Imagine just for one minute what your life would be like without the people you care about and who care about you….Not a very comforting thought is it. Now, think about all the things you appreciate about each person and what they bring into your life… Feel your heart fill with love for each person who has touched your life. It truly is a wonderful feeling.

Now think about ways you can tell each person how much you care and have appreciated them being a part of your life. You could send them an email, just a short message telling them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Christmas cards and letters (almost a thing of the past) are wonderful to receive especially for someone who does not receive mail other than bills. Have your child/children make some handmade cards and send them to all their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Who wouldn’t love receiving a card someone actually took the time to make for them? If you enjoy baking you could bake some special treats and deliver them to your friends who maybe don’t have time or can’t bake anymore (a busy mom, sick friend or elderly family member would love a visit bringing treats). A phone call to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time to let them know you are thinking about them is a great way to let them know you care. Just hearing the voice of an old friend or lost relative can brighten someone’s day.

Life is so precious and can change so suddenly never put off till tomorrow what you can do in this present moment. Tell people you care about you love them, they can never hear it enough. Call the friend or family member you haven’t spoken to all year and let them know you are thinking about them. Every effort you make will create a warm feeling in your heart because when we share love it grows and grows and everyone including yourself will feel its glow. And that my friends is the True Spirit of Christmas no matter what time of year it is. So to all my family and friends out there I love you, I truly appreciate every moment we have shared and all the lessons we have learned from each other!♥

How Do I Tell My Child About Santa?”

How Can A Parent Tell The Truth And Still Keep The Magic Of Christmas?

How Can A Parent Tell The Truth And Still Keep The Magic Of Christmas?

When my daughter Marie was little and had asked this question I always told her that I believed in the spirit of Christmas and I did wholeheartedly. I loved Christmas time! The magic of it all, the excitement and build up to Christmas Day everything about it! I loved watching my children’s faces light up each Christmas morning. They were so excited that Santa had come to their house and knew he only came to those who believed!

As my daughter got older I knew I would have to tell her someday. I felt really bad. Here I had spent her whole life teaching her the importance of honesty and telling the truth and now I had to admit that although I thought it a good cause, I had not been completely honest with her all these years. How could I break it to her gently so I wouldn’t shatter her dream?

I remember when my mom told me about Santa after I had asked if he was real. She had been doing dishes in the kitchen and she just turned around and said, “No honey, your dad and I are Santa”. I was so hurt and disappointed. My dream of Santa was shattered and my mom and dad had been part of the charade. I trusted them! However once I got over the initial shock and had some time to think about it I realized I wouldn’t have traded my years of believing for the world. Christmas is always a magical time of year for me. Everything is lit up and beautiful and there really does seem to be a magic in the air that brings out the kindness and generosity in people.

As the time approached to tell Marie I had thought a lot about what to say. She was nearly 11 years old and really wanted to believe. It wasn’t until her friends started talking about it when she finally came to ask, “Mommy is Santa Real?”  I told her I truly believed in the Spirit of Santa and Christmas which was completely honest. I loved the magic of it all and in order to keep the magic alive Santa needed the help of parents to create the magic for their children. No the Santa in the mall was not a real Santa but they were people who helped keep the magic alive too.

We talked about the importance of keeping the magic for her younger sister and brother and how if it ever got out to either of them or any other little kids from her that maybe Santa was not real he might not come anymore. She was still a little disappointed but the best part about knowing the secret is being in on the magic.  Marie was able to stay up a bit later on Christmas Eve and be a part of the Magic of Christmas for her brother and sister. She helped to stuff their stockings and put them under the tree. She enjoyed being in on the “secret” and being able to help create the magic for someone else. When other kids asked if she believed in Santa she could honestly say to them, “Yes, I believe in the Spirit of Christmas.”

Christmas Gifts…What To Buy For Someone Who Has Everything?

In our family the grandparents are the hardest to buy for. What do you give to someone who has everything, buys what they need when they see it and does not want any other mugs, sweaters or slippers? We have tried everything over the years even gift cards and sometimes they sat in the drawer collecting dust.

It can be tough to come up with different ideas but with a little research and creativity you can give gifts they will love and have fun putting it together. One year I gave my grandma a selection of Birthday cards and stamps for all the people she mailed cards to over the year, her sisters, children, grandchildren and other family members. I put the cards in the order of when their birthdays were so she could just take the top card, write her message and mail it out. She loved it and it made it easy for her to keep track of the many people she sent cards to each year. Another year I went through my grandparents bathroom and kitchen, wrote a list of all the products and brands they used then put together a care package for them each, one of bathroom and household products and another of foods they liked. They really appreciated receiving gifts they could use throughout the year.

Restaurant gift certificates are Great! My parents live out of town and it can be difficult to get together for birthdays. I have a list of all their favourite restaurants where they live and arrange a gift certificate at the restaurant they are going out to for their birthday dinner a couple of days before they go. They enjoy a delicious Birthday dinner on us! It is a nice way to give something they will enjoy and it will not clutter up their home. Massage or pedicure gift certificates can be another service making a great gift especially if they go regularly.

Craft Fairs Can Offer A Variety of Delicious Edible Gift Ideas!

Craft Fairs Can Offer A Variety of Delicious Edible Gift Ideas!

Give them something they can eat! Craft Fairs can offer a delicious variety of gift choices. There is always an abundance of food at craft fairs from jams, jellies, pickled beats and asparagus, honey, cookies, chocolate and more. If your special person is into baking or cooking themselves you could give a ready to make treat in a bag. I have seen everything from soups, stews, cookies, bread and crackers with all the dry ingredients packaged beautifully into a bag or jar and all that has to be done is add an egg, water, milk or soup broth to make a delicious edible gift. Some of the stalls even have hot chocolate in a bag together with marshmallows and a mint stir stick. They make great gifts for a quick meal or treat and are sure to be eaten throughout the year. You could even create your own. Kids love to help make something special for Grandma and Grandpa!

People love something homemade! A plate of baked cookies or treats they can bring out when they have guests is a great gift idea. Even frozen made from scratch savory pies, casseroles or a lasagne they can heat up and have for dinner can be a heart warming gift for the person who has everything.

Give the gift of time! A date with you and their grandchildren might make the perfect gift for a grandparent who doesn’t get to see you very often. Spending time with loved ones is something they treasure most! Take them out for lunch or to their favorite park for a walk or just go over and have tea with them. I guarantee they will love every minute of it!

There are so many ideas out there I would love to hear some of yours! Have you ever received the perfect gift or given a gift that was really appreciated?

Christmas Baking, A Family Event…

Yummy Christmas Shortbread!

Yummy Christmas Shortbread!

Kids love to bake with their mom or dad. It can be a rewarding experience for the parent and child. Not only do they get some one on one time together there are delicious treats too.

Okay, so the kitchen may get a little messier than normal and take longer to clean up. Oh, and when it comes time to cleaning the child has already lost interest and moved on to something else leaving the parent with the baking mess. It is still a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Other than muffins or cookies throughout the year the only time I bake is it Christmas. Years ago my cousin and I started a tradition of getting together for a baking weekend to prepare our Christmas treats. When she moved away I carried on the tradition with my Aunt. It is a wonderful weekend and the kids have always loved it as they got to bake and try many different treats instead of the usual cookies or muffins. The kids would come in and out of the kitchen working on their favourite recipes and leaving when they had had enough. It usually took about three days for us to get everything finished.

This year for a change I went over to my aunt’s house for our annual baking weekend and unfortunately my kids missed out. My aunt and I however, worked like busy bees and had all the shortbread, biscotti, butter tarts, squares and nuts & bolts baked, with icing and wrapped in a day and a half. We were both surprised how quickly we finished everything and it was so peaceful, no fights over who could stir the batter, crack the eggs or add the ingredients. It was a great mommy time weekend and although I felt a little guilty doing it all without including my children I think I would try it again.

My kids loved tasting samples of everything when I came home and I saved a couple of their favourite recipes to make with them too so they could get in on the Christmas baking experience with me.

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

2/3 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of butter (room temp)
2 eggs
3 tbsp of marmalade
2 tbsp of grated orange peel
2 1/3 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
Pinch of salt
Half a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 of a cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Method:
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, marmalade and orange peel until combined. Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, stir into creamed mixture, add nuts and chocolate chips and work into a dough. Turn onto a floured board surface. Shape into 3 to 4 logs about 1/2 inch thick. Place on parchment paper lined or lightly greased pan. Bake 25 minutes @ 325° until firm and light brown. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Cut diagonally 3/4 of an inch wide. Place back on the cookie sheet leaving space around each slice. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled drizzle with melted chocolate.

This recipe has become a family favorite and is an easy recipe to make a double or triple batch of.  My Aunt found it in The Toronto Star one year submitted my Marion Kane

Looking For Something Different To Hand Out This Halloween?

Over the years I have seen a lot of candy come home with my children after an evening of Trick or Treating. Sometimes, we would get little surprises in their treat bags, when people had given out something more creative. There have been Halloween pencils, Dracula teeth or mini decks of cards pop out over the years. One year they all came home with a brand new toothbrush thanks to a dentist living in the area. I loved that one although they were not quite as excited about it. The best was when my son was about four years old and came home with a Doctor’s Kit. I was totally surprised and my son was thrilled! It meant more to him than any of the candy and he played with it long after the candy was gone.

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Turned out one of the families in the neighbourhood had collected all the small toys their children did not use any more and put them in a large bin to give out on Halloween to the children they knew. There was everything from small stuffed animals, toy cars, trucks, Barbies, small books, bouncy balls, dolls, restaurant toys and whatever else they could find stuffed into the bins for kids to choose from when they came trick or treating. The neighbourhood kids loved it and their house quickly became a must stop every Halloween Night!

I thought it was a brilliant idea, not only was it healthier for the neighbourhood children collecting treats but the house got a good clean out at the same time. I tried it the next year with the surplus toys my children were finished with. They were happy to let them go especially when they realized their toys were going to a new home and not just being tossed. We would sort through their rooms together before Halloween and they could choose what they wanted to pass on. The smiles and surprised looks their old toys brought to some of their friends coming to our door made it all worth while. We always had a little bit of candy to give out too just in case the parents didn’t want their child to have another toy!

Am I Really A “Helicopter Parent”?

The Helicopter Parent... Could You Be One???

The Helicopter Parent… Could You Be One Too???

I had never even heard the term “Helicopter Parent” before until my daughter in grade 12 at the time accused me of being one after I came home to pick up and deliver my son’s school project to him that he had forgotten. Slightly embarrassed, I had to ask her what it was to which she smugly said, “Mom, a Helicopter Parent is a parent who takes care of everything for their child! They hover over their children like helicopters making sure everything is always just fine. How is James ever going to learn to remember to take his homework if you keep bringing it to him?” She had a good point. When I read up on it a bit more I didn’t think I had all the traits of a Helicopter Parent but there were a few. Sure maybe I requested certain teachers each year for my children or I helped them sometimes a little too much with their homework when they asked or maybe brought their forgotten lunch and homework down to them once in a while, …ok, all the time.

Was I really being a Helicopter Parent? I didn’t do Everything for them; I wasn’t following them around hovering and watching over their every move so they never got hurt or experienced disappointment? I didn’t control everything in their life only a few things. I started to think about it. Maybe I was a bit of a Helicopter Parent. After all how was I really helping my child to learn for themselves if I was doing all these things for them? How was I empowering them to make their own wise decisions in life or to learn from their mistakes? Maybe if I stopped delivering my son’s homework to him he would smarten up and pack it the night before. If he didn’t get my idea of a perfect teacher maybe he would get the experience he needed with a different teacher.

In reading more about it I read about College professors complaining about parents coming in to tell them they are giving too much homework to their child and their child was overwhelmed. There were managers telling stories about parents coming in to ask for raises for their children, complaining their child was being worked too hard or treated unfairly and they wanted the manager to make changes to improve their child’s work experience. I know being a parent we all just want the best for our children in life and if we could, we would fix everything for them but when is enough, enough!

Sometimes it is tough to know the difference between guiding our child and taking over for them. When we take over we send the message to our child that we don’t think they can do it themselves. Not only do they not learn how to make decisions for themselves but they lose their self confidence and coping skills relying on us or others to fix things for them. If a parent fixes everything the child may never learn how to deal with their own mistakes or disappointments in life.

I realized as hard as it was to watch my babies make mistakes sometimes I had to let them fall on their own so they would know how to pick themselves up again and keep going when I wasn’t around. By rescuing them all the time I was not letting them experience their life lessons so they would keep repeating their mistakes knowing Mom would take care of it instead of getting the lesson and moving on. The next time James called me from the school to bring down his homework I told him he would just have to run home at recess and get it as I was out. He never forgot it again. It wasn’t as much fun going back for it himself as it was to inconvenience mom to bring it down to him.

I learned something very important through my daughter’s simple comment. We can guide and teach our children the best we can but ultimately they will have to figure things out for themselves. If we keep preventing situations from happening in their life they will never learn their life lessons and will always be fearful of taking risks and failing in life. I wanted to empower my children and teach them to have enough confidence in themselves to take risks. To do so I had to take a step back and watch, sometimes guide but ultimately let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviour and do it themselves while they were at home so when they grew up and left they would have the knowledge to take on lifes challenges on their own!

For more information on Helicopter Parenting check out this recently published article “How to avoid being a Helicopter Parent” by Jennifer Chung in the Toronto Star.

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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