nodding & smiling

ceci n'est pas un bébé lala

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Fitness Friend

My unique, fiesty, caring daughter

My unique, fiesty, caring daughter

I never put much stock in the whole Nature vs. Nurture debate as much as I did after I had kids. It was immediately apparent to me that these kids simply were who they were. Their parenting was the same, after all, even though I was a bit older the second time around.

My eldest was always easy to please as a child, was happiest when making others happy, set (and accomplished) admirable goals, but was never much interested in babies. My younger daughter was so different: not easily content, very fiesty and a true tester of limits (especially mine!) – except when it came to younger or differently-abled kids. In those cases my younger daughter was always all patience and kindness.

I wasn’t surprised when my younger daughter was paired in Kindergarten with a differently-abled student as a “Fitness Friend”, after watching her play with her younger cousins with such enchantment. Fitness Friends assist each other in gym class and make sure everyone’s included in games at recess. Katherine always spoke of her Fitness Friend with sweetness and included her on birthday invitation lists. Year after year, Katherine was placed in the same class as the student.

I’m pleased her inclusiveness is the first things teachers will tell me about her, and I can’t wait to see what my fiesty, bright, and caring daughter will do next.

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Playing University Sports

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Alex wasn’t sure she wanted to try out for a school team this year. Although sporty, doing well at school takes hard work, and Alex is mature enough to recognize that. Without knowing exactly what kind of toll being a full-time university student would take on her time, she was reluctant to add another schedule commitment.

That said, Alex loves sports. She knew that if she didn’t have sport as an outlet, a means to relieve stress and have fun, she wasn’t likely going to be very successful. So, Alex packed up her massive ringette bag and moved it across the country with her.

When she tried out for the Dalhousie ringette team, she knew right away that she was “home” and among her “people”. She made the team, one of four rookies, and now hits the ice with a smile several times a week, often at ungodly hours of the morning.

Her season culminated at the University Challenge Cup, which took place in Calgary. The team had fun and tried their best, but didn’t place. The coaches still thought they deserved a treat though, and rented a bus to drive the girls out to see the Rockies, figuring “you can’t go to Alberta and not take the trip to Lake Louise!” – those are some amazing coaches right there (Phil, Allan, I am so happy Alex has you looking out for her this year!). The team will continue to practice and scrimmage until the school year ends.

Anyway, all this to say that school teams, no matter what level you play, offer such benefits to kids. Friends, fitness, discipline, teamwork, etc. etc. – the lessons learned from sports can go on and on.



Straight As

My amazing 10-year-old who doesn't achieve straight-As

My amazing 10-year-old who doesn’t achieve straight-As

I’ve never put a lot of stock into report cards.

Don’t get me wrong – I value school and all that it exposes my kids to. I want them to do their best and to feel successful. But I don’t think a report card tells the full story, in the same way that my resumé or annual review wouldn’t sum me up as a working professional.

My 10-year-old brought her progress report home last week, and it confirmed that she was progressing along as she should be. Great! I’m happy with that. If it had highlighted an area or two in which we could focus to help her catch up with the class, I’d have been just as happy. I didn’t worry that there were no notes indicating that she was ahead of the class. I don’t push her to achieve As. I simply want her to put forth her best effort.

With a daughter already in university, I now have the benefit of hindsight. I’m no longer iffy about my position on report cards. I firmly stand my ground, loud and proud: earning straight-As on a report card is not the be-all-end-all it’s made out to be. Marks are only one piece of the pie.

Many of the extra-curriculars and hobbies that helped Alex choose her university program of study (Commerce) had nothing at all to do with academics.

If I’d insisted on straight-As, Alex might not have had the time to try her hand at photography and cooking and other pursuits that eventually helped narrow down her interests to what would make her happy, and think about what career she might excel at.

Straight-As and no other experience in sports, volunteering, working, leadership, camps, music, Junior Achievement, art and social settings might not have allowed Alex to be the well-rounded student that attracted Dalhousie to her.

So when Katherine’s teacher told me at our meeting that Katherine was progressing well, I was pleased.

But when she told me Katherine is a good friend in the classroom, volunteers at the kiss-and-ride, helps with the announcements, is in the ukelele club and spends extra time at recess and during lessons to make sure the differently-abled kids in the classroom feel included and to help them keep up, I was over the moon. These are the things that make my child a “good student” in my eyes. An active citizen in her little society at school, and a well-rounded kid. For these things – all of them, “okay” grades included – I am thankful.

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Visiting Her Town – Part 2

Would love to walk through the Halifax Public Gardens. But first, let's take a selfie!

But first let’s take a selfie!

So. Much. Eating! When you’re in a new town, it’s important to taste the local cuisine, right? Not to mention, these girls are pretty much over university meal-plan food already. We have enjoyed lots of lobster and sampled many local restaurants.

It was a great weekend all around. Loved spending the time with my girl, shopping, walking, eating, movie-watching, bus-riding, and being tourists in Alex’s new town.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Alex’s friend Megan invited her own ringette-loving mama (Nancy) for the weekend. Nancy is super-cool and had the same philosophy as me: to let the girls direct, and follow their lead. It was such a good call, because we got to see the town through their eyes, run for a bus we thought we’d miss (only to burst onto the bus in a fit of gasping laughter and probably scaring the other riders), source cute guys (for the record, anyone Nancy and I pointed out was a No), and just enjoy each others’ company in a totally relaxed, unplanned way.

I highly recommend it.


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The Time My Daughter Forged My Signature

At my younger daughter’s school they have a process when kids get sent to the Principal’s office for breaking the rules or acting disrespectfully. They have to think about their actions, and write about what happened and what they should have done instead. Then they discuss it with the Principal.

When Katherine was in grade 2, this is what happened with Katherine and a boy at recess one day:



Katherine talked it over with the Principal, who asked her to bring the “Think Sheet” home to discuss with her parent, and have a parent sign it:




Katherine chose instead to forge my signature. At the tender age of 7.

Turn down for what? 🙂


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Teenagers: They’re Just People

Hoodlums :)

Hoodlums 🙂

When I meet people whose kids are younger than mine and tell them I have a teenager, they sometimes react with feigned terror, “wow you’re brave!” or sometimes I see tweets or status updates that read, “not looking forward to when my kids become teens” or comment about passing by a group of “hoodlum teens” loitering at the corner store.

I find this funny. Don’t these people remember being teenagers?

If you take the time to get to know some, you’ll see that teenagers are just people. People who haven’t been around as long as we have, but people just like us in every other way.

My daughter and her friends are funny, feisty, independent, smart, opinionated, passionate, and kind. They challenge each other to think of things in different ways, they protect one another, they love each other, they socialize, they play games, they celebrate each others’ accomplishments, they provide unwavering support and help boost each other up when feeling down.

I’m so curious to find out what these young people are going to grow up to do in life. I imagine future activists, athletes, social workers, business people, teachers, coaches and police.

In the meantime, I want them to have parties with their red cups and ping-pong balls, loiter at the dairy queen, and enjoy their youth.

I did.



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Handling Conflict

My kids hamming it up for the camera a few years ago.

My kids hamming it up for the camera a few years ago.

Although I want to be able to protect my kids from other kids, at the end of the day, I know it’s best just to arm them with as much self-confidence and as many social tools as they need in order to navigate the choppy waters of youth. I was on both sides as a kid. Sometimes bully, sometimes bullied. It hasn’t gotten any easier this generation.

Recently, my younger daughter told me a friend used physical intimidation on her at the playground. I spoke with the friend’s mom, who was understanding of my concerns. I’m happy we were able to resolve the issue between the kids with no hard feelings. Life’s about learning lessons, after all, and when to give second chances is an important one.

With older kids, intimidation can be uglier, sneakier. When “bad blood” creeps into social platforms, they become rife with bullying, name-calling, rumour-spreading, threats. I can’t imagine going through my teenage years with texting, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the like around.

As a parent, I am very glad I stayed one step ahead of my kids when it comes to social media and that we’ve got a “not unless mom gets the passwords” policy. It can be vicious out there!

As for dealing with cyberbullying, people advise “don’t feed the trolls” (meaning, if someone’s trying to get under your skin, just ignore them). My elder daughter can teach me a thing or two on how to ignore a troll (because my first instinct is to attack back). I have so much respect for her and the restraint she has shown online. That said, my trigger-finger’s always on-the-ready to call the police if I deem it necessary and I’m always watching.

As a parent, have you had to deal with trolls/bullies, online or IRL?




So blurry but taken by a kid! My friends & I. We met at our kids' ringette games!

So blurry but taken by a kid! My friends & I. We met at our kids’ ringette games!

One thing I’ve discovered over my 18+ years of parenting is that it’s important to have allies. Allies in the form of friends and family who “have your back”. Sometimes an ally comes in the form of your child’s friend’s parent, forming naturally by virtue of the amount of time you spend with the same people. Other times, you meet a parent who just seems like “your kind of person” and you make the effort to become their friend.

Even though a few of the kids’ friendships have waned a bit with their evolving interests and groups of friends, I’ve remained friends with certain parents. Other friendships I’ve also let wane, as some relationships are finite and have a beginning and an end. I’m okay with that.

Allies when parenting are amazing. Being able to text your friend about the naughty thing her child and your child just did on their playdate at your house (come on – it was funny!), and know you’re both on the same page and “get it” is invaluable. Having someone you can call in a panic because you won’t be home in time to get your kid after school is also comforting (yes this has happened to me). And car-pooling? Don’t even get me started. With all the driving around we do, it’s nice to have someone to take turns with, or someone cool to share a drive with.

Allies. Get some!




Best friends are the people in your life that make you laugh louder, smile brighter and live better. - Unknown.

Best friends are the people in your life that make you laugh louder, smile brighter and live better. – Unknown.

This Friday marked my elder daughter’s prom. Although not how she had been dreaming it would play out (thanks to the recent break-up of her 3.5-year relationship), she enjoyed a lovely pre-prom event that even welcomed parents (thanks, Ally!), her official school banquet and then a kickass pool party at a friend’s house till the wee hours. She’s a lucky girl to have such a great group of friends with whom to celebrate the end of high school, all their hard work and achievements, and years spent together.

Now, just a few days left of exams and their high school careers will be over. They’ll soon scatter around the country for the next phase of their young lives.

I was recently speaking with a good friend whose son is going into second-year university in the fall, and she said that university doesn’t represent the end of you “parenting” your (adult) child, because they will continue have plenty to learn from you, and will miss you, too. That’s comforting, but I’m still a bit misty. That said, I’m so excited to find out what all these kids will go forward and do.