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Family Matters

What I see Dear Daughter

Simpler times

Dear Daughter,

As you sneak into our room for yet another night of us playing musical beds, I know I should be convincing you to stay in your own.

With your freezing cold feet, kidney kicking and tendency to lay sideways which drives both Daddy and I to the brink of crazy, you force our hand. Sometimes one of us moves to another room..sometimes both..and there you are.. cozy as a bug, snuggled down in the big duvet.

You are one smart cookie.

Where else should you go when you love being warm and toasty and cuddly? (For the record, I love cuddling up to you too) Is it worth pushing you back to your bed when we know that this habit will be stopping soon anyways?

Simpler Times
Simpler Times

You see dear daughter, you are growing up so very fast. I blinked and you went from little girl to an O..M…G… trying to find your place in the world, Moooooommm, cuddling with mom in public is just too public, boy crushes and bully stuff, the ebbs and flows of female friendships, the you’re-not-coming-to-my-birthdays, the trying to keep quiet in class and focusing, the competitive at sports and working to make the team, learning responsibility chores, the teenager-esque schoolager.

You are giving Daddy and I some serious grey hairs  (if only daddy had hair).

As much as I think we have a great ability to talk things through, I see in your eyes already a wavering self-confidence.

You are 7.

I see those intense personalities in your life and how mean they can get with you. I find it hard to find that balance between explaining that many of them are dealing with their own issues and wanting to punch them in the face.

I see you struggle to understand Autism and why your brother acts so differently, pained one day when he is laughed at and embarrassed the next when the “cool kids” point out that he’s your brother.

I see you feeling caught. Mommy & Daddy talk about the importance of having each others back and protecting one another but I see you wonder where your support is? Why doesn’t he have your back? (We are working on it trust me) I see you burning hot with frustration more often than not lately in how he doesn’t adhere to typical aged kid behaviour.

I see you trying to be that strong girl and the beauty of your heart when you fight on behalf of the underdog.  I will keep filling your bucket with reinforcements on that one but I need you to believe it yourself more because you are most definitely strong.

I see you challenged by the desire to be part of the beauty squad. Those friends who are already into make-up, hair and looking so fancy. You think Mommy & Daddy totally don’t get it when we start talking about the importance of natural beauty and inner beauty. I see you rolling your eyes.

You're so fancy.
You’re so fancy.

I see you having to deal with so much of this when it feels all together way too early.

I see us as parents wanting to instill Kindness, Strength, Confidence, Loyalty, Work ethic as core values in your world and I see you decidedly convinced that we are aliens from another planet.

All we want is for  you to see what we see. A beautiful, kind, protective, effervescent young girl…who steals the covers.

Wonderkid. Wishing you all the superpowers you can muster
Wonderkid. Wishing you all the superpowers you can muster

 

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Healthy Living

Peace & the need for nature

Briars Resort

Mom Says:

I sit here watching the snow softly stream to the ground below. The retro notes of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita playing softly in the background  and a steaming cup of cappuccino on the table.

When my dear friend, Leigh suggested getting out of town for a day or two I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I love the bustle of Toronto, love the access to culture, sports, entertainment, the vibe and the energy. It’s fast. It’s dynamic.

Recently I have started recognizing that without the influence of nature in my world, I start to feel claustrophobic. The cottage affords us that reconnection piece throughout the summer and fall but as winter starts peaking through the clouds I crave that time away to just breathe.

My view  - Briars Resort
My view – Briars Resort

I was inspired by a post Erin had written on All the Little Lights earlier in the year about checking into a hotel to give her some space for writing and time for herself to regroup. I have to admit at first I looked at her post enviously, taking a day a month to regroup for yourself seemed…luxurious but then as I thought about it, I started thinking about how much more present I could be if I took the time to take care of myself.

Someone recently mentioned to me the fact that we budget money to pay for maintenance on our car and yet we tend to not provide ourselves the same budget for maintenance. Hmmmm?

The Briars Tower. Such a cool room
The Briars Tower. Such a cool room

We rely more heavily on our body, our mind and and our hearts than we do on our car & yet we don’t stop to think of what our maintenance schedule looks like.

Guys are great at Boys weekends and Fishing trips. Yes I am TOTALLY generalizing but I am talking from my personal experience. Our exchange in terms of him heading out for the weekend tends to go like so. Chris will simply say “Hey, thinking of a boys weekend” at which point I say “Hey. Cool” .

I am really great at being active in the building business, networking and charity events kind of space. When I start to think about time for myself, like actual downtime and relaxing, I think of how often I have been away and then promptly sabotage the idea.

Why do I do that?

What misdirected sense of responsibility drives me to replace healthy & well for crazy & overwhelmed?

FullSizeRender-12

Thing is, I have a pretty stellar husband who almost forces me to make the time for maintenance. When I mentioned the chance to head up to Briars Resort (which by the way is beautifully out of the way, full of nature and just on the edge of Lake Simcoe) to find a little peace spot for writing and focus on some strategy plans, he didn’t even question.

He just said GO.

Dad Says:

Illustrious husband weighs in: Yes, most of the accolades are true. and when it comes to mental self-preservation, I have an edge.  More often than not I get the cranial shutdown opportunity of tickle fights, cookie creation, pancake production. Hells ya I wanna build a snowman Elsa!  I think a forced attendance at the ‘simple thing’ class sets me up for a calmer mind.  That said, I have also heard the question ‘Do you take ANYTHING seriously?  Seriously?!’  Well, I try not to.  And when it comes to an opportunity to get away to front load a bit of boy time,  I am so in.

These events are seldom as ridiculous as they seem.  The get-togethers have make believe themes, like gentlemen’s book club or the laborious sounding ‘take the snow off the roof at the cottage’, but in reality its a bunch of lads chillin’.  We eat well, drink well, make up better endings to stories we have all told and heard before.  It’s an interesting dynamic; everybody finds their own way of letting go. A walk in the snow, staring at the fire, too many adult beverages, everyone finds their way.  Sorry ladies. Good to be a guy I guess. Oh, and we talk about how awesome our wives are. That’s a given. Regardless, in order for us to stay healthy and strong together, we got each others back in those moments when we look forward to being apart.

Skating rink

 

Briars Resort
A winter wonderland walk through the trails at Briars Resort

 

 

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Family Matters

Tea Cup Ornament & memories of a loved one

Teacup ornament

The tree went up this weekend. This could very well be a record breaker.

With a hubs who isn’t quite as “Christmassy” as I am, normally all Christmas decorations are sequestered until Grey Cup weekend. A beautiful tradition developed over our years together that entails putting on a crock pot of chilli, watching the game and getting ready for the holidays.

But something had to give this weekend. Whether it’s the intensity of combined projects or the intensity of the internet, I was feeling like I need a bit of Christmas Cheer to lift my spirits.

You see for me, Christmas is truly THE most wonderful time of year. It feeds my soul and restores my faith in humanity.

I love that people think more about giving. That social good becomes a higher priority and kindness for the most part leads the way. Don’t you think we need a bit of that these days?

Christmas cheer

When I think of Christmas, I think of my grandmother. The matriarch of our family and the one who so vividly instilled the importance of family and Christmas spirit in all of us. This will be the first Christmas without her and it feels all kinds of bittersweet.

I have small reminders around the house of her. A little decor piece here, a photo, a group of teacups in the cupboard,  her sweater hanging on the back of my door and her jewellery I wear often when I want to feel close. I was trying to figure out a way to keep her close in our Christmas celebrations this year and then it hit me. If there was something that so intently reminded me of my Grandmother, it was her Tea Cup. Always one to stand on ceremony, it was essential to her to drink her Cuppa in a china cup. (A mug would most certainly not do). Those tea cups remind me of talks around her dining room table, of her beautiful smile and her way of letting me know that bar none, she was in my corner.

So rather than keeping the collection of tea cups I got when she passed away tucked away in the cupboard, I thought what better way to have her nearby than to turn those teacups into Christmas ornaments. A simple ribbon and voila, you have a fun vintage ornament to add to your tree.

And a perfectly simple space to remember a loved one.

Teacup ornament

 

Teacup Ornament

Teacup Ornament

Teacup Ornament

How to make a TEA CUP Ornament

(or ornament remembering a loved one)

– We simply took beautiful ribbon to tie a bow around our tea cup and then secured the ribbon both to the item and to the tree so that is was as safe as possible. Anything can be used. It simply depends on how creative you get & how much fun you have on how to present it.

Other ideas:

  • Favourite book
  • Glasses
  • Jewellery
  • Binoculars
  • Sweater turned pillow
  • Cutlery

Here’s hoping your Christmas Cheer is ready to kick into high gear.

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Family Matters

Curly Hair Cues & To Do’s

Curl Ambassadors Hair

It was like finding a secret club that took 40 years to discover.

I have curly corkscrew hair. On any given day I can do an epic impression of Donna Summer, Carrot Top or Macy Gray depending on which way the wind blows, the humidity, the full moon or god knows what.

When it comes to beauty and creating my own fancy hairstyle I am a complete luddite. I appreciate the curls because it gives me some sorta style when I have none. Albeit the style has been the same for 20 years, at least it has some volume.

I have some wonderful social media friends whose curly hair I simply adore.

So when one of them mentioned places like the Curly Hair Institute and the Curl Ambassadors, I was flummoxed. What? Hold on. There is a salon specifically and only for us curly hair peeps?

I was in need of a refresh cut and had just seen the post not too long ago, so with a cup of skepticism I set out the Curl Ambassadors in Vaughan to try out this whole new “Curl Process”.

The ambience was wonderfully salon-esque, the stylist suitably expert in curly hair antics.

My A-ha moment of discovery once I got there..one that truly blew my mind, was that I was doing about a dozen things wrong in caring for my hair.

I can’t remember all of them (because that’s why you go to places like The Curl Ambassadors) but here are a few things I picked up while I was there that I NEVER knew:

1) You are supposed to cut curly hair dry instead of wet

2) You don’t shampoo curly hair every time you wash your hair. You just use conditioner otherwise it dries it out. (No kidding!)

3) You should use a clarifying shampoo once a week to get rid of all the product build up then condition, then add a leave in conditioner

4) You put styling product in your hair while your hair is still sopping wet (as in while you are still in the shower)

5) You shouldn’t use a brush (which I have for life eternal) but instead work out knots with a wide tooth comb or your fingers

My curls when I got out- Curl Ambassadors
My curls when I got out- Curl Ambassadors

6) You do not dry curly hair with a towel (my harem look I guess is going away). Instead you use paper towel or a microfiber towel

7) You scrunch upside down from root down to wring out your hair but you softly push up your curls upside down when you are drying (with a diffuser)

8) To get added volume you put clips at the top part of your hair and let them stay there while you dry upside down

9) Try not to use hairspray as it also tends to dry out hair out

10) Silicone based products are not our friends.

For those wanting the scoop, they used the DevaCurl No Poo Conditioning Cleanser, DevaCurl One Condition, DevaCurl B’Leave-in and for extra styling Kinky-Curly Original Curling Custard.

http://store.devachansalon.com/-strse-128/Curl-In-Motion-Trial/Detail.bok
There is a Trial & Travel Pack on sale for $29.95 right now

With these new products I am seeing my curls last 2- 3 days without frizz which is quite a bit longer than my past Fro Frolicks.

So if you are looking for a little help from your friends, All in All I would give an A+ for the Curl Ambassadors experience.

 

 

 

 

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Family Matters

Missed Connections and Corrections

Mayhem at home

Dad Says:

Ok, so here is the deal. About an hour ago, Jenn came home with a sore neck and shoulder, needing a fix after a long day of work.  So here is the solution I proposed.  Hot soak in an Epsom salt bath, massage, stretch, relax.. I even drew the bath, nice and steamy to loosen up the muscles. Pretty sweet deal I’d say, even if I wasn’t the heart-throb who had implemented the plan.

Again, an hour ago.  The water is now somewhere in the lukewarm range which is nowhere near as therapeutic, as Jenn decided that file management was more important.  I could hear the files moving around with the Mac soundtrack tracking each move. Thank smokey I hadn’t lit an aromatherapy candle, the whole house could have gone up if it was left alone that long.

Now, I know that stuff needs to be addressed.  BUT.  If you are suffering some physical discomfort probably related to the posture formed by working on the computer, and someone who loves you proposes a kick ass solution, stop working on the computer and embrace the cure. This is one of those times you need to listen to your hubby and take a break from the world. Admittedly I am not always in the right, but come on, this is a bit of a no-brainer.

I am aware how much you put into every day.  I am in awe of your stamina and work ethic as you jump in feet first to any number of appointments, duties and required attendance. I am also appreciating that you hate filing and paperwork, and the fact that you are organizing vs creative must be killing you and that the demon called administrative duty is being conquered.

The files will wait, at least until you towel off.

This was sent to me via text
This was sent to me via text

Mom Says:

He’s right you know.

But I have an answer to the above. It was taught it many years ago and it dramatically shifted the way I look at how I work and how others do as well.

You see, there are two types of communication cultures in the world. Monochronic and Polychronic.

Monochronic people put emphasis on time. They are always early. They do one thing at a time. They make lists of lists and get everything accomplished well before the deadline looms.

Polychronic people thrive in a space of organized chaos.They are the multi-taskers. They work to deadline and find they do their best work under pressure. They tend to be late.

Monochronic focuses on the job. Polychronic focuses on relationships & connections.

You will often see Capricorns and Virgos as Monochronic.

Libras and Geminis are Polychronic.

I AM POLYCHRONIC. CHRIS IS MONOCHRONIC.

<!-- HTML Credit Code for Can Stock Photo--> <a href="http://www.canstockphoto.com">(c) Can Stock Photo</a>
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / HaywireMedia

We frustrate the crap out of Monochronic peeps.

The best way to support a Monochronic in the work place is to publish information well in advance, clearly lay out expectations, provide a detailed list of exactly what you would like.

Best way to deal with a Polychronic in the work place is when you see them organizing their paper clips and cleaning out their desk in the midst of an insanely stressful deadline, let them be. Polychronics love being creative but often times they need to clear their head. They do so by organizing a part of their space which helps clear the cobwebs to a really solid stream of working.

So with that, I have a major proposal due tomorrow that I am having trouble wrapping my head around just how big, how unique and how awesome of an idea we want to present. Ergo, the hubs found me deleting files and cleaning up my desktop as my go to solution in clearing the way & writing up a stellar project.

I don’t want to be working that hard (trust me). I would rather be working on relationships.

But I think the above is a hint I need to go check in on mine.

We would love to know. Are you Polychronic or Monochronic?

 

 

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Family Matters

The Meaning of Lice: Hello friends

Simian monkey picking

They’re baaaaaack.

Every year around this time we can count on a few things. A copious amount of leftover candy, fear/excitement/stress over the upcoming Christmas season, general complaints as the weather dips below zero, and that proverbial letter home….The school has seen a case of lice. 

By the mere mention of that word, I start scratching my scalp. I can feel that heebie jeebie grossness and am convinced they are everywhere in our house.

Chris watches as I go on high alert. Raising it up to Defcon 2 and start mimicking that of a simian monkey mom, carefully hunting for dinner in my children’s locks.

I 100% desperately don’t want them back. Desperately.  I OCD over toys, sheets, brushes, you name it. If it has any textile possibility of getting an egg on it, I will steam, cook and hot water bathe that sucker till the cows come home…

The reason why?

I have never heard my kids scream and cry like that before in my life.

You see we got that letter home last year around the exact same time (for those of you new to the world of school, keep an eye out…’Tis the season).

We google searched the crap out of how to get rid of lice and combed methodically the kids hair nightly. They both ended up having it. Every day we would go to school to go through the check before heading into school. As much as we thought we had gone through every possible nit and combed it out, they would find one and send us home.

Nooo, we were THOSE parents. The ones getting the look like we were trying to pass off kids with lice back into the school. Admittedly maybe once on the second week of this going on, I looked at Chris and said “Good enough right?”.

No. Not good enough. Thankfully we have very diligent nit-pickers at our school.

For reference, a nit looks like a piece of dandruff. If you can flick it off the strand of hair, its dandruff. If its stuck, its those fabulous Mother f’ers.

We quickly put up the surrender sign and sought professional help. We went to a professional lice removal clinic and while it was fabulous because it got rid of the lice, but it was one of the hardest things to watch the kids go through.

To truly get rid of the lice requires methodically coming through the hair with a specific fine toothed comb. For kids with straight hair this might not be too bad but for kids with curly, natty hair this led to getting snagged, having to comb it out reduced the kids to screaming, begging to stop behaviour which is not typical of our kids.  As they work out more knots out, it becomes awful and near unbearable. It finally got to the point where I had to run the comb through under their supervision because the kids were just so upset. NB: Autism and anything unexpected DOES NOT mix. Not only was it a shift in routine, it was a painful one. You can only imagine.

I have never given more “treats” after an experience like I did that day. If they had asked I would have bought them an Xbox One.

My monkey picking (c) Can Stock Photo

So as we are hanging out in the “season”, here are a few tips to keep watch for lice.

1) When you hear of lice doing the rounds, add Tea tree oil to the kids shampoo (Lice tends not to stick to it)

2) Keep long hair in pony tails to prevent “jumpers”

3) Check, check and double check.

4) Put all toys, stufties, etc…into plastic bags for 3+ days outside & suffocate those suckers

5) If they do get lice, its as simple as going to the store to get a treatment.

6) Do not panic. It totally freaks the kids out.

7) Notify any friends the kids have hung out with in the past week

8) This will be the hardest to do…take a deep breath. You will get through it but in the thick of it, it feels never-ending.

May the force be with you.

If you are looking for a Toronto Lice clinic, the following are two we recommend.

Nitwits  & LiceSquad

 

 I am on a writing challenge and participating in #NaBloPoMo which encourages posting one a day for the month of November. 

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