Wisdom from mom to children

Just over eleven years ago, I gave birth to an amazing baby girl. Her birthday is a gut-check for me as a parent and I’m never sure that I’ve said or done enough. I’ve penned this column, to her and her brother, as though it were my last, to really cut to the chase.

Be yourself: originally you. You are amazing just as you are. You don’t need to be like your friends. You are perfect in your imperfections and it would be a shame if you became a bad imitation of anyone else.

Find your own voice. This is no small task. Sometimes, you have your voice, but are afraid to use it. Sometimes, you aren’t sure what your voice would say. Take the time to think before you do use your voice, words can echo out into the community and have a ripple effect. Continue reading

Enjoy your snow days

I know that I’m not the only one who is getting down about the amount of snow we’ve had so far in November. Sources vary on the extend of the dump, but it is safe to say that we’ve had over 50 cm more than we would normally have by now.

Since there are on average 81 days of snow in our city, we may as well find ways to make the winter as pleasant as possible.

I’ve been thinking about what upsets me the most about winter in order to figure out how to beat it, and so far it boils down to a few key categories: it’s cold outside, it gets dark so early, it’s a pain to shovel, you miss out on seasonal activities, driving is hazardous, did I mention that it’s cold inside too, and it’s just depressing.

To beat the “it’s cold outside” sentiment, the first thing to do is prepare oneself with the proper outdoor gear. A good coat, boots, and mitts are key. Waterproof fabrics are the best bet, as is something breathable. When my feet aren’t cold, winter doesn’t seem so terrible. Continue reading

Circus different, joy the same

As a child, a trip to the circus was marked by smells and colours, sights and sounds. This past week, I took my kids to their second Cirque du Soleil show, Dralion, and I can’t help but reflect on the differences and similarities in the experiences.

The most remarkable part of my first circus experience was entering the big top tent. The bold, bright colours of the tent reminded me of a present to be unwrapped; surely something good would be inside! Once seated, I smelled popcorn for sale from trays hung around vendors’ necks, and I also smelled animal feces; a strange and exotic? combination.

 I remember that my view was partially obstructed by a tent pole, and I kept looking at the tent ceiling. The show itself had me laughing with clowns, clenching the underside of my chair during the tightrope performance, and awed by the sight of a beautiful woman in a sparkly outfit perched on top of a huge beast of an elephant. I also remember some furry animals “dancing” on balls and more beautiful people doing acrobatics, sparkling, atop galloping horses that went round and around the ring. Continue reading

Home is not belongings drop the s and it becomes clear

People say that “Home is where the heart is,” but I want to restate it to: “Home is where the fart is.” It’s a bit crude, but truthful. I got there after careful consideration and a greeting card-style poem.

Home is a place: a physical structure that houses our belongings and lives. We look for a solid foundation to build upon, strong walls to hug in our worlds, and a consistent, patient roof to keep out the elements. However, houses with leaky roofs can still be homes, and super luxurious dream houses may never qualify as a home. Why? Perhaps because the right people or emotions are missing.

Home is people: our loved ones. Only twice in my life, looking into a man’s eyes, I’ve felt a powerful surge of emotion, and the only words I could put on it was that I felt like I was home, now that they were in my life. I felt similarly looking at my babies. Nowadays the house doesn’t seem like a home until their laughter fills it.

Home is where the heart is, however, even when we take our loved ones (our “hearts”) on vacation with us, where we visit does not become our “home.” We have fun, and new experiences, but after a while, we get homesick. Home is more than the people and place that comfort us.

Home is also memories and history. Continue reading

Happy hunting ladies

One in four new hunters in Ontario is female, according to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. This was one of the interesting statistics presented during the Hunter Education course that I took in September at Sault College from Jane and Reg Perry. Looking around my classroom, where women outnumbered the men, the numbers would actually show that 2.56 out of every four new hunters is a woman. When did women become so interested in hunting?

Since moving to Northern Ontario, I find women hunting less unbelievable. Granted, had you told me that I would be sitting in a hunters’ education course voluntarily when I lived in Ottawa, I would have probably choked on my chai latte.

I didn’t think about hunting at all then. Now though, I get it. I am exposed to more hunters and more reasons to hunt. Whether discussing the 100-mile diet, the obesity epidemic, or atrocities in mass food processing, the health benefits are certainly in favour of hunting. Continue reading

More women take aim

When I walked into the firearms safety course last weekend, imagine my surprise when I saw that the women in the room outnumbered the men. Like the Aerosmith song says: “Janie’s got a gun” or at least she wants to get one, or else she wouldn’t be in this room. Why were so many women interested in the ability to purchase or own a gun?

On every break we had from learning about the different types of rifles and shotguns, including firstly knowing how to make sure each gun was safe (i.e. unloaded), I started asking the women why they were taking the course. Some women wanted to hunt, some women wanted to target shoot, one needed the certification to apply for a job, and one wanted to be able to inherit her father’s firearms.

In stark contrast to the United States, here in Canada, if you want to buy a gun, you can’t simply walk into Walmart and throw down your credit card. Canada also doesn’t have the perks of opening a savings account that some Michigan banks, among others, offer: “Open a savings account, get a free gun.”

Canadian firearms laws state that you have to take a one and a half day safety course, called the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, pass a practical test and a written test (multiple choice and true false questions), and then mail in some paperwork to obtain your Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) … assuming that you pass the RCMP background check. Only then can you go shopping for your gun. The process takes several months. Continue reading

September is about learning

It was just two years ago when I learned about the little arrow on the dash of most vehicles that indicates which side of the car the gas tank is on. It was but four months ago when I noticed that my car gas tank panel had a slot to hold the gas cap while fueling. It’s back to school time, and I wonder if there is a course on practical “life hacks” like these.

Since I appear to be on a gas and car theme, why didn’t anyone tell me that gasoline expands, and that you shouldn’t fill a jerry can to the top unless you want it to later overflow all over your car or garage?

(Perhaps you already knew all of these things.)

Maybe it is heredity that is the problem? My parents didn’t teach me these things, so by heredity I don’t know them either?

Regardless of why I am vehicle ignorant, I feel the need to learn, perhaps “fueled” in part by the fact that it is September. Continue reading

Cold bucket, warm hearts

On social media lately, I’ve been deluged with posts of songs from the movie Frozen and now most recently, with the ice bucket challenge. If you, like me, have been living under a rock, let me bring you up to speed. The movie Frozen has one really great song, “Let it Go,” that children and parents everywhere are singing and the #icebucketchallenge is a fundraising and awareness campaign for ALS that has gone viral across the continent and is fast spreading around the world. Both of them are apropos for our unseasonably chilly summer.

The ice bucket challenge was inspired by baseball player, Pete Frates, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. His friends banded together and challenged other friends and family, sports icons and superstars to donate $100 to an ALS charity or dump a bucket of ice water over their heads (and some people did both). A video of accepting the challenge, then doing the challenge is to be posted on the Internet providing exponential word of mouth to the cause. After the icy dump, the person who completes the challenge then nominates specific individuals to take up the challenge. Continue reading

Don’t use your tablet to swat a fly

While I certainly don’t want it to happen, it seems inevitable that printed newspapers are going the way of the dodo bird. Preemptively, I’d like people to consider what we’d be losing, and perhaps we can have a renewed renaissance and remove newspapers from the extinction list.

There was a joke circulating on the Internet, of a man asking his son to pass him the newspaper. His son, mocked his dad and said: “Get with the times dad, use my tablet.” The father shrugged his shoulders, took his son’s tablet, and smashed the tablet against the table. The son sat in shock, and the father said: “That fly never saw it coming.”

Tablets and computers can’t wrap a fish or help to light a fire. They would be useless to clean mirrors and windows. A newspaper is also much more cost effective as a drop cloth for painting, masking off areas to paint, and cleaning off paint brushes. Continue reading

I’m working on running

I recently decided to take up jogging. The thing is, I don’t like jogging. My joints don’t respond well, I have zero cardio ability, and shin splints abound. So why do it, you ask?

I’m also asking that question. My butt is resoundingly happier when firmly seated on the couch, but even it knows that exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. I have hundreds of reasons to run, and only a few not too, and yet the neighs have been winning for too long.

I did cross-country running in elementary school, and some sprinting in track and field, but jogging is not something that comes naturally to my bloodline. I’ve always been happier running with a purpose; whether running from someone (say a game of tag) or running towards something (like a basketball net). Now, I am trying to run for the sake of running. It seems futile. Continue reading