Get Your Daily Dose of Funny
Load up on funny stuff at the library.
Laughter is an essential daily nutrient for parents and kids alike.
Get Your Daily Dose of Funny
Load up on funny stuff at the library.
Laughter is an essential daily nutrient for parents and kids alike.
Posted at 09:36 AM in Books, education, Film, kids and media literacy, modern families, parenting, preschoolers, school-aged kids, screen time, teens, toddlers | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Do Some Big-Picture Thinking
Summer won't last forever, after all. (Sob.)
It's a great time of year to start musing about changes you might want to make to your family's usual school-year routine - changes that might help to make the work-school-family juggle a little less crazy.
You might want to consider...
....setting a budget for back-to-school shopping so your kids will know how much they have to spend on necessities and anything-but-necessities before they step foot in a store. It's easier to have this conversation at home than in the middle of a mall.
...limiting the number of extracurricular activities each kid can sign up for so that time for outdoor play doesn't get squeezed out of the schedule altogether. Unstructured play is what childhood is all about.
...acknowledging the effect that over-scheduling has on you as a parent; and how that, in turn, affects the rest of the family. (If you're stressed out because there's no breathing space in your schedule, what are you going to have left for yourself and everyone else?)
Posted at 03:36 PM in body image, Books, brands, bringing them up ethically, Current Affairs, education, environment, kids and media literacy, modern families, parenting, school-aged kids, screen time, teens, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: back-so-school parenting, back-to-school budgets, back-to-school routines, back-to-school shopping, back-to-school stress, decluttering, extra-curricular activities, fall organizing, fall planning, fall routines, fall stress, family time, outdoor play, parents and kids, unstructured play
Your Top 10 List Revisited....
Photo Credit: Ann Douglas, 2009.
Put Your Rainy Day Plan in Place
If Mother Nature rains on our parade - literally or figuratively - it's hard not to take it personally.
But into each Canadian season a little precipitation must fall. That includes summer, too.
So having some rainy day activities in mind (in case an outdoor fun day gets rained out at the last minute) is simply a summer sanity preserver.
Here are a few ideas that could very well save the day.
Inspiration tends to strike when we're at our most relaxed.
Start keeping a notebook so your best ideas don't go AWOL on you this summer.
A blank notebook can be a bit intimidating. Once you've written something in it, it becomes an old friend.
So start out by listing ten things you really want to do this summer.
Then figure out what you need to do right now to start making each of those things happen.
Flickr: Flickr is a great place to connect with people who are passionate about pretty much anything, including keeping a notebook. Two of the groups devoted to the subject include Notebookism and How to Wreck a Journal. You might also want to take a look at Mike Rohde's thoroughly inspiring Sketchnotes set.
Moleskinerie.com: A creative and inspiring website devoted to the art of keeping a notebook. There is also a Moleskinerie group on Flickr. (The notebook brand of choice of devotees of Moleskinerie is, of course, the Moleskine.)
Allen and Unwin: Keeping a Notebook: Excerpt from Making Stories by Kate Grenville and Sue Woolfe
Ranablog.com: A copy of the classic essay "On Keeping a Notebook" by Joan Didion (.pdf).
I had the opportunity to speak at my son's school today. My topic? Being a writer. These were the three key points I made in my presentation. Perhaps they'll be of use to some of the young writers in your life.
Have fun with words
Resist the temptation to hit the snooze button -- or to start a pillow fight. There's too much at stake in the sleep safety wars.
Another infant sleep safety study is making headline news – which means that one of the hottest debates parenting debates is back on again: whether or not you should sleep with your baby.
Here's the dirty little secret about this particular debate. The majority of parents end up sleeping with their baby at some point, whether if it's for a single night or the long haul.
That primal quest for sleep -- to say nothing of that primal drive to comfort a baby who refuses to fall asleep more than an arm's length away from a parent because the baby is lonely, scared, in pain, or simply a baby -- can lead to a rewriting of the sleep rules at any time.
When that happens, parents find themselves in the situation of having to make complex sleep safety decisions when they're at their most sleep deprived and least coherent.
And if they had never intended to bed share (and didn't bother reading up on bed sharing issues as a result), they can find themselves improvising in the area of sleep safety as well.
This is not a good thing.
The lack of any official bed-sharing guidelines doesn't make life any easier for sleep-deprived moms and dads -- or wide-awake moms and dads for that matter, either. They have to make up their minds about a complex situation without having all the facts they need to make a truly informed sleep decision. You see, in an effort to avoid doing any harm, public health authorities have failed to share sleep safety information that has the potential to prevent harm. Talk about a sleep-safety Catch 22.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is one of the few health organizations to recognize this problem and shine a spotlight on what needs to be done. Its sleep guidelines highlight the need to support parents by providing them with information about all sleeping infant environments: "No sleep environment is completely risk-free,
but much can be done to educate parents on the provision of safer sleeping
environments for their infants," the recommendations state.
The CPS, however, tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
Other health authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have taken a much more conservative approach to providing information about bed sharing -- and been much criticized as a result. 'While bed sharing can never be publicly recommended, due to its complexity, blanket recommendations against bed sharing and eliminating safety information for bed sharing families cannot be justified either," respected sleep anthropologist James McKenna, PhD, has stated (.pdf), for example.
So what's a sleep-deprived and safety-conscious parent to do in the absence of comprehensive evidence-based sleep sharing guidelines?
Get informed, regardless of what you think you'll be doing about bed sharing tonight, tomorrow, or next week. Share the best sources of sleep safety information with other parents. And stay tapped into the sleep research grapevine.
Here are some resources you may find useful, whether you're currently bed sharing, thinking about bed sharing, or positive you won't be bed sharing ever. (Never say never, remember.) Because we're still waiting for an evidence-based set of guidelines to be released by a pediatric health authority (and we may be waiting some time for such guidelines), you'll probably want to consult as many of the following sources as possible before making your own decisions about whether or not to bed share.
BE SLEEP SAFETY SAVVY: Steer clear of sleep safety source that promises to offer the definitive set of do's and don'ts for safe bed sharing. No source can make that guarantee at this time; just as no source can make the opposite guarantee -- that your baby can sleep totally risk-free away from you. Nothing about babies and sleep is totally risk-free, just as nothing about raising kids is totally risk-free. "Safer" or "less risky" is the best deal going.
If you live and breathe books, have I got an event for you. There's just one small catch. You have to drive to Peterborough to be part of it. But it will totally be worth it! I can practically guarantee it. And that's about the best guarantee anyone is offering these days.
Here are the event details, in case you decide to make the drive. Note: Peterborough is just 1 hr. and 10 minutes from the 401 and the DVP, assuming traffic is moving well.
I'm the keynote speaker at Frontier College @ Trent University's 9th Annual Literacy Conference. The conference is being held at Peter Gzowski College at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) on Saturday, January 24th. The event runs from 11 am to 4 pm and will feature a variety of speakers on literacy-related topics throughout the day. You can register online. Admission is FREE.
I'll be presenting from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The topic I've chosen is "Books Run in My Family" -- all about the way books and the love of reading have been passed up and down my family tree. (Amazing factoid to entice you to make the drive: There are four generations of published authors in my family, three generations of them still living.)
If you've ever heard me speak, you know that I have a pretty chatty style. I'm big on sharing personal anecdotes, life lessons learned, practical tips and advice -- plus as many from-the-trenches author war stories as I can possibly fit in. (That's the whole reason to come out to an event like this, isn't it?)
If you do come out, be sure to ask me about my worst author event ever (it's pretty awful) and the worst event any author ever had (it's about as awful as you can imagine -- but, thankfully, it didn't happen to me).
Be sure to bring a friend or two -- or your entire book club -- plus your best friend's book club, too. Remember, the event is free. And you know what they say about things that are free. So it's going to be fantastic, right? :-)
Dan Carter has a rather pointed message for anyone who is waiting for the right time to chase after their dream.
"If you look back in history, a lot of the really important social movements took place during hard times. We can't afford to wait for better times. It's the right time now."
I met Dan about nine years ago, when I was a relatively new author out on the book promotion trail and he was hosting a noon-hour entertainment show on the CBC affiliate station in Oshawa, Ontario. Dan was one of those TV hosts with a really warm and relaxed interviewing style – our interview felt more like a chat – and I made a point of keeping in touch with him over the years. I made occasional guest appearances as I brought out new books and, about three years ago, I starting contributing a bimonthly parenting segment to the evening news.
All that time, I worked under the mistaken assumption that Dan was merely a good guy – the kind of TV host and producer who went out of his way to make everyone feel at home on the set. I had no idea he was actually a mild-mannered broadcasting-world Clark Kent by day and something approaching a GTA superhero after hours. You see, I hadn't been brought up to speed about Dan's plans to raise up to a million dollars to launch a centre for kids and seniors in south Oshawa. That changed last year -- I was brought into the loop -- and, frankly, I was awestruck. The centre -- which will be part of the new Oshawa Community Health Centre in south Oshawa -- will provide disadvantaged kids with access to computers and learning materials while providing respite care to seniors with Alzheimers.
What's fueling Dan's dream is his desire (actually, let's make that need) to make a difference with his life. That's because he feels like he has been given a second chance at life and he's determined not to waste a single minute of it. Dan in incredibly generous about sharing what he's learned about hitting rock bottom and finding the courage to come back from addiction – most recently in his book which doubles as a fundraiser for The Hope Centre of Learning. And he is working each step of the plan for turning that million dollar dream into a million dollar reality.
I have no doubt that he will be successful. He will accept nothing less from himself -- not when there are vulnerable kids at stake. Put passion behind a great cause and you've got a pitch no one can resist. Case in point: I dropped by Dan's book launch in Oshawa in late October. It was the best attended book launch I've ever attended – and I've attended plenty of book launches in my time. About 250 people jammed the book store, loading up on armloads of the book. Most stood in line for an hour so they could offer personal congratulations to Dan and his mentor/co-author Reverend Doug Schneider.
It takes a special person to attract that kind of following. It also takes a very special kind of dream – the kind of dream that is big enough to demand an entire community's support. A dream big enough for people to invest their hearts and their hope in.
That's Dan Carter's kind of dream.
My first year of motherhood was all about change: watching my daughter wriggle and crawl from baby stage to baby stage and feeling myself make the mind shift required to move from the intimacy of the-two-of-us to the much more complex family that is born the moment baby makes three. It was no longer me and him: it was me and him and me and her and her and him: three times as many relationship combos to maintain in the same small space. No wonder the house suddenly felt so much more crowded. The house wasn't simply overflowing with piles upon piles of baby stuff, piles that grew by the day as new parcels arrived by mail, courier, or baby-obsessed neighbor. The house was fully charged with the high voltage energy of new relationship possibilities, possibilities that were both brilliant and dark at the same time.
I remember feeling this strange mix of anxiety and joy: being simultaneous head-over-heels in love with my daughter and freaked out about how much my own life was changing, particularly my relationship with my husband. I couldn't believe that a person could be so happy and so sad at the same time. Were he and I destined to drift apart at the same time that we had the best reason in the world to want to stay together? If we couldn't even carry on a conversation without arguing about something,would we ever come out of this dark place as a couple?
I've been thinking back to this time a lot lately, because I've emerged from another year of growth and introspection. At first everything seemed scary and uncertain in the wake of my youngest son's Aspergers diagnosis, but now my husband and I have found our way back to something resembling the new normal again. In the early days, weeks, months, I remember feeling like a new mom again; realizing that I didn't even know what questions to ask in order to figure out what I needed to know.
For the longest time, I felt like I was walking around in a daze that was eerily reminiscent of the isolating fog of new motherhood: unable to concentrate and yet thinking all the time. My husband felt much the same way, and yet we were each in our own, separate fogs. This time, with the benefit of knowledge gained over 20 years of parenting, we groped through the fog until we found one another. We knew we needed to remind ourselves that we were on the same team, not at war with one another; that we needed to support one another while we were supporting our son.
When I signed up for this motherhood gig 20 years ago, I thought that being a mother was all about raising children. I had no idea that my children would also be raising me – providing me with opportunities to learn and grow more than I ever thought possible, particularly during those times when I was challenged to the max as a mother.
Don't get me wrong. I certainly wasn't grateful for those soul-wrenchingly painful parent development opportunities while I was living through them, but, looking back, I know now that I wouldn't have developed the ability to care deeply for parents and children in all kinds of circumstances nor would I have evolved into the person I am today if I hadn't been given the opportunity to experience so many different types of highs and lows myself. If I'd set up parenting digs at 123 Easy Street, I might easily have assumed that all parents and kids live on streets like that street. I would have been terribly wrong.
Because our family has spent time on Infertility Crescent and Stillbirth Street and Learning Disabilities Lane and Eating Disorders Drive and Depression Drive and Aspergers Syndrome Street and at other assorted addresses, I know that Easy Street is a very tiny street; and that some of the families who have houses there are living in a state of self-delusion. They aren't really living the picture-perfect existence they think they are living. At any time, the foundations of their houses and their lives could come tumbling down.
Parents who've lived on the streets that spiral off from Easy Street know what it's like to feel as emotionally downtrodden as a partially stepped on or totally flattened caterpillar -- the kind of feeling you get when your something worrying or terrible is happening or has happened to your child. At first you think you're going to stay in flattened caterpillar mode forever. And then you decide that what has happened to your child will not be in vain: you will find a way to make something positive come from this experience. And so you start to inject life back into your squished caterpillar body even though, at first, your body says, "What's the point?" At some point, you find the courage to wriggle out of the what's-the-point cocoon you retreated into when you were at your most vulnerable. You reach out to the only ones who can truly understand (a group of formerly squished caterpillars who have somehow morphed into butterflies). You work hard to heal yourself and the rest of your family and to recreate your life in a new way. Then you watch yourself soar above the worries of the day, knowing you have what it takes to help yourself and your family weather the next storm.
I've just given my personal blog -- The Mother of All Blogs -- a major revamp. I've moved it over to TypePad and added links to hundreds (there may be over a thousand) of links to parenting resources and articles (with many more to come). If you're used to linking to http://www.motherofallblogs.com, you don't have to do a thing. You've moved with the blog. If you used to link to the blogspot address, you need to change your link for my blog over to the new address.
Posted at 11:07 AM in Autism spectrum disorders, babies, body image, Books, bringing them up ethically, Current Affairs, dads, education, modern families, navigating the system, parental competition, parenting, parenting kids with special needs, preschoolers, school-aged kids, teens, toddlers, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)