Real Life

Family Matters

The #CentsAbility of Sharing


Our #CentsAbility Challenge

My dad has a lot of sense when it comes to money.  He can tell you with acute clarity how much my folks have in savings, investments and the cost of running the house.

I somehow did not inherit this trait in terms of good money practice and how to save.

This is why when Manulife put out the call to try a #CentsAbility Challenge for the month of October, I was 100% totally and completely IN.

We are solid in terms of putting money aside for savings like our kids RESP and for our RRSP, but I do find myself too often surprised and asking, “where exactly did the money go?”

The #CentsAbility challenge is setting us on the right path of planning before we go out and stopping the purchase of the “Impulse Buy” in order to take back the money we work so hard to make.

But for us…there is a catch.

We had the opportunity to go to Tanzania last month to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as our way of celebrating the milestones we have met this year (10th Anniversary & 40th Birthday).

We booked our trip through Intrepid Travel (who I personally adore) and because it was important to us to do something more than just go, we got connected with the Intrepid Foundation right before we left.

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund that helps travelers give back to the communities they visit. They are supported by Intrepid Travel, Geckos Adventures and Peregrine Adventures which means all the admin costs for the fund are covered by those companies. They also match donations dollar for dollar which for me, and this #CentsAbility challenge, makes my heart sing.

The Intrepid Foundation introduced us to the which promotes education opportunities within the Kilimanjaro area. We have a #TeamPowell fundraising campaign going (again the match people, take advantage of the match!) and plan to keep it a continued goal in our world moving forward.

You see, when we were on the trip, I had an opportunity to get to know our guides (6 days hiking on a mountain can help with that!) local villagers, children, and “business owners.” I learned about costs of living, costs of education, gas, healthcare, retirement… for them it was “what is retirement?” not “when is retirement?”.

If you ever want to get a hard knock perspective on your life compared to what life could be like in another country, check out If it were my home. It provided us a serious look at how vast life is different between Canada and Tanzania. Tanzanian’s average YEARLY salary is about $1,400.

When we came home to our bungalow in Toronto, it felt like it was a palatial mansion. The clothes in our closet, the toys, everything just made me kind of grossed out.

We just have SO MUCH STUFF and it suddenly felt like we could easily do without much of it, if it means providing dollars that can change someone’s year over in Tanzania.

So our goal in the #CentsAbility challenge is to pull back as much as possible to help raise those much needed dollars for We are totally game in ways in which we can do this and are watching all the #CentsAbility challengers to find ways we can help make a difference.

We apparently are both fans of this image AND of saving money

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Family Matters

A Fresh Approach to Autism

Autism Letterpress Type

Mom says…

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

I started blogging awhile back on a different site and for a different reason. It was a space I used to pour out my anger and heartache (and then eventually positivity and encouragement) when learning to accept and manage a new ASD diagnosis for my son. It was a site that talked about learning to run in order as we learned how to deal.

I cried daily when I ran and when I wrote.  I would talk stuff out with my awesome running partner. (Thank you forever and a day, Jen) and then I would talk it out online. For a number of years, running and writing truly became my therapy.

What I learned about blogging was that everyone has a story to tell, and surprisingly, when you tell it, people want to connect. As I wrote, I discovered my tribe. I got to know other amazing bloggers who talked through the story of Special Needs Parenting. I read and digested their blogs daily; I felt their pain, we shared our stories. I wrote the blog to spin a positive light on Autism, sharing successes and challenges but with a focus on hope and joy.

And then Autism got too much for me.

We had to fight the school board for support; we had to fight for resources and waiting lists; we had to teach our kids, our friends kids, our friends, teachers, swim instructors, hockey coaches and our families that talking about Autism did not have to feel hushed or uncomfortable (trust me, there are still friends and family who can’t seem to get over that piece). We had to learn to manage stranger stares and grocery shop glares, we had to learn to be different parents, we had to learn how to maintain our relationship in the midst of all this, and we had to learn not to turn on each other when you are so angry you are ready to tear someone apart.

I felt depressed. I walked away from the blog and we walked away from concentrating so much on Autism for a bit. We just decided to live with it. Know what? After awhile, it just kind of settled in like a member of the family. It’s funny how a change of perspective can completely redefine how you live your life.

We already know it is ever present in our lives and we SO know that we are about to enter into another phase soon of Autism awful (I see a dear friend going through it with her child in Junior High, and it kills me to see her have to deal with so much heartbreak). But we have decided that we don’t want to concentrate on the awful. Instead, we wanted to launch a new blog that provides a different perspective on Autism, on parenting, on pushing your limits, living life in the moment, travelling, adventure and everything in between from BOTH our viewpoints: Mom AND Dad.

So welcome to It may not be therapy, but we look forward to it being a lot of fun.

Dad says…

This is Dad.  Dad does not (historically) share.  Oh, I share stories, jokes, snacks and time, but feelings? Emotions? REAL stuff? No, no. But I saw how it worked for Jenn, allowing her to get some catharsis by putting herself out there and letting it go. So here we go: I will do my best to open up and give a sneak peak under the hood, I promise.

For me, the diagnosis of Autism for our son was overwhelmingly frustrating.  I don’t mind a good fight, but I couldn’t see this opponent.  I didn’t understand it, I felt guilty about the cause, and truly wondered how the hell I was going to get through it.  WAY too many I’s in that world.

So, I shifted.  I started thinking more about different life views, imagining how our guy would see the world.  I read a lot of books, and did a lot of watching.  I learned so much about how the world might not be as I viewed it. That has certainly opened up a whole new vista for me.  I broadened my horizons by experiencing different viewpoints, cultures, and religions, and I realized they all deserved an opportunity to be heard. And that is what you get today, I hope.

I am still making mistakes, but I am trying to make more honest and educated ones. We have always been told Special Needs parenting is tricky. The catch is, parenting in general is tricky. We hope you get some enjoyment from our experience along the way.

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Healthy Living

Are you IN your (Comfort) Zone? Or OUT?

Skydive Toronto

Mom Says…

A while back, the word comfort (or any variation of that word, see: comfortable) somehow became a swear word to me. In my head, comfort was equitable to not living life to its fullest, to mailing it in, to being happy with status quo. The barometer of our marriage was often determined by the word comfortable. If the hubs heard that word, he knew I was getting fidgety.

I couldn’t imagine that a Groundhog Day style of the same routine was the best way to live the only life we have. I had warned about the swear word but in truth it wasn’t really a reflection on our relationship. We are a good team. It wasn’t fair holding our marriage accountable for what I need, so I started pushing myself to go after things that took me out of my comfort zone in order to feed that need for exploration and adventure.

For the record, I absolutely HATE the squirmy icky feeling of delving into something new. But what I discovered was that by pushing through uncomfortable, I have succeeded to some degree at whatever I have tried. Sometimes the accomplishment is simply the attempt, not necessarily doing well by it. But more times than not, I discovered trying something new has actually brought with it experiences and rewards that I never knew would be possible had I not given it a try in the first place.

This is something I want our kids to learn, and hopefully model as they grow up. It is better to try something new that be paralyzed by the fear of it. So here we are: New blog, a journey to a whole new kind of lifestyle (Heathy, Clean Living, Gluten Free), and a whole new path out of Comfort.

Leaping out of my comfort zone this year by trying skydiving

Dad Says…

There is an opposite side of the coin here; without a comfort zone, you cannot appreciate exiting it.  I believe that you must take time to appreciate everything you have if you are to strive beyond it.

I found an goofy shirt with a cartoon of a guy sitting around a fire with a cup, captioned ‘good life’.  I think that sums it up pretty  well; you have no idea what he did during the day; running rapids, parasailing, who knows what adventures have filled his tank.

What you do know is he is taking the time to reflect on them, absorb them, and assimilate them into his ‘happy place’.  Everyone has a happy place; its where you go when planking…it’s that action where you take all the good stuff and make a leaf pile of it and roll around in it and look at the sky and wonder ‘what’s next?’ while thinking “holy crap, I can’t believe that branch held us 8 kids” or “wow, that home made bike jump was WAY higher than I thought, hope this stops bleeding before mom sees…”

I’m just saying it is important to reflect back on your accomplishments and wrap up in them like a snuggie and M.A.S.H rerun before running off on your next adventure, or else why are you doing them in the first place?

HOW ABOUT YOU? Where do you like LIVING?

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