Tag Archives: Parenting

Being a Champion for Your Child

Photo from nbc.com

Have you ever done something completely out of your comfort zone; something so unlike your usual behaviour, without a second thought or hesitation, all in the name of your child?

If you can answer yes to this question then you’re like me, thousands of other parents and the character Kristina from the hit TV show Parenthood.

I’ve been a fan of this show since it first aired. I quickly became caught up in the lives of the characters as they made their way through child rearing, relationships and career challenges. When Kristina spoke the line “…haven’t you ever wanted to be a champion for your kid?”, I began writing.

Kristina was advocating for her son Max who has Asperger’s Syndrome. A large part of the show focuses on Kristina’s family and their challenges. One doesn’t need to have a child with autism to identify with them. Aspects of their story are easily relatable and you’re able to put yourself in their position. You will find yourself cheering them on and asking the question ‘what would I have done?’

Kristina’s words struck a chord with me because the other day I did something that surprised me a little. I picked up little S from school and began a quick chat with one of her teachers to get an update on her day. S has been going through a ’testing’ phase both at school and at home so we’re used to getting some not-so-great feedback at the end of the day. It’s usually no big deal. My husband and I will chat about it at home and decide on our action plan if any. On this day, though, the feedback was delivered in a way that seemed unprofessional and unfair to little S. This caused me to feel that on this particular day, from this particular teacher, S wasn’t getting the best treatment possible.

This made me mad furious! I know things can’t be perfect at any school or daycare and my child is not perfect either, but I still expect the best care possible for my little girl. For that reason I let her have it voiced my concern. I wasn’t rude or unprofessional. I just expressed how I felt. This is something that I find difficult. I hate conflict and will often try to avoid it.

I started with a comparison of S’s current teacher with her teacher from last year who “was so great at dealing with S.” I then went on to state that it was rather obvious that she (her current teacher) was getting frustrated with little S and that she was the professional who should know what to do. I also made some reference to government regulations (based on a statement the teacher had made about being alone).

When I got home, I reflected on the event and wondered from where the courage came and from where the words had emerged. Now I know. I was being a champion for my child, and when you’re playing the role of champion, not much can stop you.

I’d love to fill you on the rest of this story, but the end has not yet happened. My husband and I will have a meeting with her teachers later this week where we will discuss the issues that upset us. At this point it seems that her teacher was getting frustrated at being a teacher, which while understandable; the fact remains that neither student nor parent should ever pick up on that.

There are some battles we will have to let our children fight for themselves and there are some where we, as parents, will have to gear up, armour and all and be the champions.

Guest Post: Lossie and Lara

Last week I authored my first guest post on a blog called Lossie and Lara.  This blog is written by two sisters who write about being Gen-Y in the workforce.   They have a very unique format to their blog which is what attracted me to their site in the first place.  I wanted to return the opportunity so I invited them to be guest contributors.  This is another first for City Mom.

We are an unusual pairing.  At first look our two blogs couldn’t be any different.  But at the root we do have some things that link us together; we are women in the workforce and we each have a sister (in my case, I have two) whom we adore today.

Lossie and Lara give us a humorous and interesting insight on growing up together and learning to appreciate each other, against all odds. 

Sibling Rivalry

Lara:  We’ve alluded to this story on our own site, but until now, we’ve never shared it with the Internet.

Lossie:  It was a dark, dark day… I get chills just thinking about it.

Lara:  I don’t know how old we were, but I couldn’t have been older than nine or ten. You must have been six or seven.

Lossie:  I was at least old enough to acknowledge the lack of logic in this argument, but young enough to still lose the fight in the end.

Lara:  I’m not sure what prompted it – maybe I was learning about civics in school?  But I decided that what you had done was very serious, and you needed to be judged by a jury of your peers.

Lossie:  Chances are it all started when I breathed on you, or I was singing along to songs in the car.  Both were common arguments that we would share back in the day.  But looking back on it, creating a jury was ingenious.  How could I argue with that at the time?

Lara:  A jury made up of my stuffed animals.

Lossie:  I just remember saying over and over, “It’s not fair! They’re YOUR stuffed animals! Of course they’ll agree with you!” Again, the logic was somewhat there, but not 100 percent in my case.

Lara:  We really disliked each other from the beginning.  I would even passively smack Mom as I walked by her for months after you were born.  We knew early on how to push each other’s buttons.

Lossie:  That continued for a few years, well not the smacking part, rather, the deep sense of anger with each other. It really wasn’t until you went to college that we really got along.  We just needed space I guess, ha-ha.

Lara:  We had some good collaborative moments growing up.  Remember when we’d tape over cassettes with imaginary news reports and made-up musicals?

Lossie:  Those are still my favourite memories.  We would figure out what skits to create and what we would talk about.  It was truly us being equally creative together.

Lara:  But even though we had our moments of being well-behaved and moderately loving, it took us a while to grow out of really disliking each other.

Lossie:  I think it was partly because we had to accept that we are very different people; we have different ways of just being.  In the end, we had to focus on how those traits complimented each other rather than how they were different.

Once we were really able to accept the fact that our differences were strengths it became clear that we were a very powerful pair of women.

We have different experiences and similar ways of dealing with people.  And after a few years of realizing these strengths, it became clear that a new business venture could actually be very effective.

We talked on the phone one night about how we could collaborate. We were eager to find something for us to be creative together on.  It spawned a blog and maybe in the future an even bigger business venture.

Our parents can now rest assured that they reared two well-behaved young women who really do get along. Though we spent the first part of our lives vehemently disliking each other (and probably driving our parents crazy) we just needed to grow into adults to learn to like each other. 

So don’t worry even if it seems like your children will never get along, we promise it will all work out.

And In case you’re wondering, Raggedy Ann (the judge) sentenced Lossie to probation. They’ve had a tenuous relationship ever since. Rest assured, Lara got what was coming to her:  Lossie’s jury of Barbie dolls evened the score by leaving their decapitated heads under her pillow.

All the World’s a Stage


A friend of mine, who became a Mom 10 months before me, has always been there to give me advice and lend an ear when it comes to the ups and downs of motherhood. I often use her son as a measuring stick to what I can expect with little S in the near future. One of her pearls of wisdom is that everything with young children comes and goes in stages.

This little phrase has come in handy in two ways:

  1. It reminds me to cherish and appreciate the blissful stages
  2. It reminds me to cherish and appreciate the blissful stages

That’s not a typo. When we are in one of the more likeable stages with little S, we are on cloud nine. But when we are in a tough stage it becomes hard to see the light and to ever picture an end.

Today you’ve got me in the midst of a tough stage. I can’t recall when this one started and the blissful one before it, ended. More importantly, I have no idea when this one will stop. So far I see no sign of a cease-fire.

We’re at the bossy-moody-not listening stage. She’s now telling us what to do and if you tell her to sit down, she’ll stand up. If you tell her the sky is blue, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not! This girl has a mind of her own.

I appreciate the qualities she demonstrates. The harder these qualities are to deal with as parents, the better they will serve her as an adult. For example, she often questions everything:

Me: “S, please don’t jump on the couch.”
S (still jumping): “Why can’t I jump on the couch?”
Me: “Because I don’t want you to fall off and get hurt.”
S (still jumping): “Why don’t you want me to get hurt?”
Me: “Because I love you and I don’t want to see you in pain.”
S (still jumping): “Why don’t you want to see me in pain?”

And you can imagine how the rest goes.

This little dialogue is something that I like to think of her doing at the age of 18. Not asking why and not wanting to know more can lead to trouble. No garden path for this girl.

The worst part of the stage we’re in is the blatant ignoring and not listening. We tell her one thing and she does another. We get down to her level and explain our feelings. She says she understands but runs off and does the opposite to what we explained. It’s like she’s a child! Oh wait…she is!

So what gets me through these hair pulling times; my friend’s advice. This is just a stage and it too shall pass! The silver lining is that what follows will be heart-melting, laugh-your-butt-off, happy-tear-instigating, wonderfully beautiful. And when I get to kiss those cheeks and feel those small arms around my neck, I am quickly reminded how worth it this all is.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Photographed by nuttakit.

I Love Bugs! Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway

 CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT.  HE IS THE W INNER OF THE BOBS & LOLO TICKET GIVEAWAY.  ENJOY THE SHOW ROBERT!

Listen up London (literally) because on Saturday November 6th Treehouse TV’s Bobs & LoLo are coming to London and you’ll have a chance to win 2 tickets to their morning performance.  Contest information will be displayed at the bottom of this post. 

If you have a young child then you likely know Bobs & LoLo.  With catchy, toe-tapping songs like “I Love Bugs”, this singing duo quickly becomes a family favourite. 

In our home we all stop what we’re doing when one of Bobs & LoLo’s videos come on TV.  Little S loves to sing and dance along.  When I heard the news of their planned performances I was excited and I wanted to know more about them so I decided to ask. Bobs and Lolo shared the story of how they met, their inspirations and some of their future plans.

City Mom: Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Bobs & Lolo: We first connected at a Girl Guide camp on Vancouver Island when we were kids. After a fun-filled weekend of campfire sing-along’s, silliness and laughter, our friendship was sealed!  We went to different elementary schools but ended up filtering into the same high school (Dover Bay Secondary). Our friendship continued to grow from there and we began singing together in the school choir.  We also studied piano with the same music teacher and hit the courts together as power forward (Bobs) and shooting guard (Lolo) on the Dover Bay girls’ basketball team. Go Dolphins Go!

CM: How did Bobs & LoLo come to be?
B&L: We didn’t start our B&L adventures with a real plan; it really just evolved from our friendship and a mutual interest in working with children. “Bobs & LoLo” were actually our nicknames in high school, so we were B&L long before songwriting and children’s entertainment was introduced to our lives.  

Before we started our musical adventures, Robyn (Bobs) was teaching elementary school prior to which she had completed a degree in linguistics at the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Education at UBC. Lorraine (Lolo) previously worked in the fields of environmental education and non-profit fund development.  Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Human Kinetics (Exercise Science) from UBC.

Songwriting and performing really started out as a side project for us. It was a fun way to create some content for our jobs working with children.  We never dreamed it would lead to running our own small business much less national television!

Our very first show was in the spring of 2003 at an event hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium for patients from the BC Children’s Hospital. We had only written 5 songs at that point and we volunteered to basically sing them over and over throughout the event. That first performance opportunity led to us doing lots of local birthday parties which eventually led to our first CD.  That led to bigger shows and so on. 

Our biggest “break” to date has definitely been the broadcast of our music videos on Treehouse TV. We feel so fortunate to have been able to get our On Your Feet DVD in front of the right folks in Toronto.  The opportunity to connect with families across the country through Canada’s national preschool network has been amazing.

While the partnership with Treehouse is still relatively new, the TV exposure has already opened up new performance opportunities for us, and we’ve been able to build our CD and DVD distribution beyond Western Canada. We’re hoping this is just the start, and we’ll be able to keep things go, go, growing in the upcoming years.

CM: What is it about your songs and performances that you think children like so much?
B&L: We put a lot of energy into making our music educational, family focused and listener friendly for all ages. We want our music to engage and inspire children to learn more about the topic at hand, to care about the world around them and above all to get up and dance!

We think the kids really respond to the music first and the storyline of the songs  second. We also think the kids really enjoy connecting with us as ‘real’ people given that they often live in a world filled with animated or make-believe characters.

CM: What message are you hoping to share with children?
B&L: Our main goal is to really just inspire kids to care about the world around them. We try to use the tools of music, movement and make-believe to connect children with positive messaging about the natural world.  At the same time we want to show them that their actions can make a difference for themselves, the people around them and the planet. It’s conservation messaging at a level that’s appropriate for preschoolers.

CM: What do you like most about being Bobs & LoLo?
B&L: Performing for young audiences is by far the best part!  The things kids say, the way they move and the endless energy our audiences bring to our shows is rewarding, inspiring and motivating. We can both honestly say that we would not be performing or putting in the long hours behind-the-scenes without the kids cheering us on (parents too)!

CM: What is your favourite Bobs & LoLo song?
B&L: It’s hard for us to pick a favourite. The choice for us really comes down to the children`s top picks. Our current favourite songs to perform are Raindrop Pop (they really seem to love this one!), I Love Bugs (interpretive bug dancing by preschoolers is awesome!) and Cindy Seahorse (the best cuddle song ever!).

CM: Do you write your own songs?   Where do you get your inspiration for writing them?
B&L: We do write all of our own songs. We write about things we love like nature, friendship and family.  We usually just try to tell a story with the songs and the lyrics and music come together naturally.  It’s a really organic process for us. We don’t follow a formula or have a real system for songwriting. Writing the lyrics is a fun, creative process that we like to do together. Sometimes the final version of a song is completely different from what we started with and other times we come up with something that works right away. Songwriting is a nice break from the regular office work and occasionally it’s a good excuse to enjoy a bottle of red wine.

CM: What does the future hold for Bobs and Lolo?
B&L: We’re putting together some ideas for a fourth album that we hope to release in the early New Year. We also have many upcoming performances including our shows in London and Brampton this week.  We have a heap of holiday events on the west coast. We are also looking to continue building our relationship with Treehouse TV, and we hope to produce some new content with them down the road. On a personal note, we’re both keen to start families.

Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway
Enter to win a set of Bobs & LoLo tickets.  Tickets are for the 11am performance on Saturday, November 6th at Aeolian Hall in London.  Note:  Performances do not have assigned seating.

How to Enter
Leave a comment and include your name and you or your child’s favourite Bobs & LoLo song. Check out song titles and sample tracks at bobsandlolo.com.

Contest Details
The contest will be open until Thursday November 4th at 6pm ET.  A winner will be selected at random using random.org.  The winner will be notified at the email address used when entering the contest.  The winner will have until 9am on Friday November 5th to accept the prize by responding to the notification email.  If the winner is unable to accept the prize another random winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Find Bobs & LoLo:
Web:  www.bobsandlolo.com
Twitter:  @BobsAndLoLo
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/BobsandLoLo

Ticket Information: Tickets are only $15

London Votes 2010 Part IIII – Eric Southern

Eric Southern

Eric Southern

 

One of my favourite sayings goes like this: “Time is a healer, a friend, a maker of dreams.” I always liked this saying because it shed a favourable light on time opposed to the usual tendency towards it. No one ever has enough of it; it moves too quickly or moves too slowly. In today’s case I don’t have such a positive attitude. It’s because I do not have enough time as a full-time Mom with a full-time career, whom is also a full-time daughter, sister and friend with a giant part-time passion. It is because of this lack of time that I decided to narrow my inquiry into the 2010 Mayoral Campaign down to the two ‘front runners’. I did not see how it would be possible to interview (in person) 14 candidates, dictate the conversations and create the subsequent blog entries, so I only bit off as much as I could chew. 

Thankfully, a persistent Mayoral candidate, Eric Southern, helped me see the error of my ways. Could it be true that we perceive the two front-runners based on the exposure we have received from the various media sources? There are 12 other candidates that I did not interview and that we really haven’t heard much about. 

In the interest of time, I interviewed Eric Southern via email and am happy to share the results with you today. 

City Mom: Can you share a summary of what your 2010 campaign platform will include?  

Eric Southern: My campaign platform includes innovative ways to help correct some of the issues of our city. To address the issue of unemployment and make London a strong leader in technology I am proposing the city build a fiber network infrastructure. To increase the quality, delivery and efficiency of city services I plan on implementing a philosophical change to a Kaizen style of management and procedures at city hall and all city services. A Kaizen philosophy empowers the workers to increase their quality of life as well as their own productivity, which results in a more effective delivery of service as well as a happier and more engaged workforce. To increase the accountability of the city government to the people of London I plan on adopting the principles of open government

CM: I often enjoy walks throughout the downtown core with my husband and young daughter, but we always stay away from Dundas Street, between Ridout and Wellington. I have seen plans for revitalization of that area such as the LTC pilot project to reroute bus service, and the attempts to fill retail space with national chains and large independent businesses. What else are you planning to carry out to bring that section of downtown back to life and make it a family friendly place?  

ES: I plan on incentivizing the development of unoccupied or dilapidated buildings in the downtown area by increasing the tax rates for those buildings. I am also considering increasing taxes on parking lots that do not meet a vehicle occupancy rate which would incentivize creating multi-level parking facilities as opposed to more flat (unattractive) lots. I also plan on restructuring the bus routes throughout London to be based on arterial routes and support changes to the LTC restructuring of routes throughout the area. 

CM: There are many wonderful parks in the downtown core. A new recreational swimming pool was opened in Gibbons Park this summer and the revitalization of Piccadilly Park took place. What other Parks & Recreation enhancements are scheduled for the downtown core for 2011 and on? 

ES: I currently do not know all of the enhancements scheduled for 2011 but would like to have the city highlight and showcase the parks in the downtown area to better attract young families and professionals. I would work with Parks & Recreation as well as non-profits such as Reforest London to help increase the quality of green space in London. 

CM: Will the Parks & Recreation budget receive the same funding as we saw in 2009 & 2010? 

ES: I think that the Parks & Recreation budget is reasonable and hope to help expand the parks in London during my tenure. Considering all of the work accomplished by the Parks and Recreation Program, I will do my best to maintain their $11 million budget. 

CM: City Plaza (formerly Galleria) has seemed to struggle for years now. Do you have any long-term plans for City Plaza? 

ES: I currently do not see very many issues with City Plaza, if you have any please let me know. 

CM: Is there a possibility that we would see a big chain grocery store moving in to make it more convenient for families and individuals living in the downtown core? 

ES: I think there is a definite lack of service for groceries in the downtown area. I am not certain that City Plaza is the most appropriate place for locating a grocery store. I would do my best to have a developer in the area build a ground level grocery store in a new or existing development by using possible tax incentives. There are many factors that will make this feasible such as the fiber network being deployed downtime first, the attraction to downtown for new businesses due to the fiber, and the incentivized tax rates for dilapidated or abandoned buildings. 

CM: I recently created a post on City Mom called a Tale of Two Cities where I made a comparison between London and Toronto. I received feedback from my London readers that there was a lack of Mom & Tot programs available in the city. Do you have plans to increase city funding for such programs or offer incentives to private businesses wishing to open such programs in the downtown core?  

ES: I plan on supporting the libraries and community centers in their execution of services to the people of London. As I have a vested interest in expanding Mom & Tot programs in the near future I will do my best to see that those services are adequately covered by the libraries and community centers throughout London. I will also support non-profit groups in providing these services to families in London. 

****** 

Eric’s Campaign Site:  www.ericsouthern.ca
Twitter: @EricForMayor

Will You Be Working on That This Weekend?

“No!  I will be spending time with my family;  my amazing little girl, whom I only see 3.5 hours a day, and my husband,  with whom I get about half that amount of quality time.”  This was my desired response when asked this question from a colleague at work.  My actual response was a simple “No, I won’t be.” 
This question left me buzzing, antsy fingers and all, with the only possible remedy coming in the form of a good workout on the keyboard.  I wanted, and needed, to dig into this. 

Can a parent be successful and at the top of his/her game in all facets of life?

Let’s look at the main aspects of a typical person’s life:

  1. Family (children, partner)
  2. Extended Family (parents, siblings etc.)
  3. Career (hours at the office, overtime, networking etc.)
  4. Social
  5. Health & Wellness (exercise, nutrition, personal hygiene, hobbies)
  6. Sleep

This list is not presented in any particular order but the items do jump out at me as the six main components of one’s life.  Is it possible to perform the best you possibly can in all six areas or is it inevitable that one or more will suffer?  Do we need to dilute our performance, spreading out our energy and focus or can we achieve top results in all areas?

Am I expected to work on a project over the weekend?  Will I get ahead faster? Will my career suffer if I choose not to?  I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to know the answer to these questions is a big bold Yes!  So where to hone in?  This is obviously a choice made on a very individual level and personally my family comes first…but what area of my life is losing out because of that?

The words ‘balance’, ‘prioritization’ and ‘time-management’ seem to be key in answering these questions but first we need to find time, energy and focus to explore those areas to put our skills to the best possible use; and all this is making me dizzy.

What are your thoughts?  How are you finding harmony in your life?  Share your tips, ideas and thoughts and have a relaxing weekend!

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net photographed by Stefano Valle.