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Online Tattoos…Social Media Posts are Forever

Talking to kids about their social media presence on www.blessednstressed.comChances are, if you live anywhere in Canada, you’ve heard something about the controversy going on with the Dalhousie dentistry students.  For those who haven’t heard, apparently, some of the 4th year, male students of the program had a Facebook group in which some offensive, unethical and just plain unprofessional things were expressed about females in general, and also specific to several of the female students in the class.

Since the story broke, we’ve had several conversations with our kids about what you post online and the permanence of it – every post you make is like a tattoo, no matter how “private” you think it is.  The content of the posts is awful.  But aside from that, I made the point that putting anything of that nature online is not only wrong, but just not smart.  It’s scary for me to think the message about the importance of being safe and responsible with what you post online isn’t getting through to kids…and clearly, not to some adults, either.

Our conversations at home about this story have centered around making choices and the consequences that go with those choices and our kids seem to understand the students were wrong for posting what they did.  They were, however, a bit shocked at how extreme the potential punishment was…”kicking them out of school could ruin their lives, Mom.”  Yup.  That’s what happens when you don’t make smart choices – you have consequences.  I guess I can see why my kids feel expelling the students might be extreme…they’re kids and as such, there are always second chances (or third, fourth…) and not allowing the students to graduate after all the money and time they’ve put into it…it’s a huge and really awful thing.  But we keep reiterating to them that it’s exactly the reason you have to make sure to listen to what you’re being told about online safety and professionalism. Expectations change drastically as you get older, the stakes get higher and you will be held accountable for your actions.  This is why school boards put so much time into educating kids about it.  It’s a BIG deal.  I just worry about how much kids are actually hearing and understanding…even at the high school level.

Every time an adult talks about their childhood, the common point is “how much harder it was for us when we were kids”….I told my kids that this is one way it was easier for the generations before them.  Kids did stupid things, everyone does at one time or another – it’s how we learn. But for us, we didn’t have to worry about the everlasting “proof”, or tattoo, of that stupid thing.  We didn’t have pictures, or group chats posted online for someone to find years after it happened and bring up/repost again and again.  It lasted just long enough for someone else to do a stupid thing.

Anything you post online is like a tattoo on your social media presence – it’s forever. I can’t imagine how anyone that far into their education (and the ages of 25, 26, 27, or older!) hasn’t learned that yet.  NOTHING on the internet is private.  There is no such thing as a “private” chat room, or “private” message…when it is done on the internet, it can ALWAYS become public and will last forever – all it takes is a screenshot and it can be shared to billions of people in seconds.  Kids have to know that if the messages they write, pictures they share, or comments they put online aren’t something they want publicly known, then DON’T POST IT!  Otherwise, one day, these online tattoos could come back to haunt them.

Tell your kids…and keep telling them.

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Out with the old – In with the new

Happy-New-Year!

Happy New Year!

My family has been more distant from social media over the holidays than normal. I have been very, in the moment. Rarely remembering to even pick up the camera or phone to capture the moments. I have peaked in on Facebook and Twitter, and well I am addicted to Instagram (but for fitness stuff, honest).

New Years Eve, we took the kids to the Canada Games Centre for the New Year’s Eve Family Extravaganza! Not entirely what I expected, however the kids had a fantastic time! My husband and I went in workout gear, thinking it would be like family fitness/games, however it was totally geared to the kids. All three kids experienced the zip lines (it was 6 years and up, Cordi is so tall we just snuck her through). I was super thrilled that Ethan, being our most anxious kid, didn’t even really hesitate to do it. I am excited to take them zip lining in the trees in the near future (perhaps when Cordi is actually 6!) There were also bouncy castles, an obstacle course and swimming. So definitely geared to families with kids 12 years and younger.

New Year’s Eve my husband and I approached it a little differently this year. Rather than staying up late and drinking or what have you. We went to bed relatively early, (although it was close to midnight) and New Year’s Day we woke up early, snuck out of the house and went for a walk. It was a crisp morning yet there was no wind, so the walk was really enjoyable. We talked about the coming weeks and year, our hopes and dreams, and started our new year off active and together. I think it is going to be our tradition for years to come.

As for resolutions and the like, well I will share some of those with you in the coming weeks. I have a few blogging and creativity goals that I hope to work on with Suzanne in the coming year.

Do you buy into the New Year Resolution concept? If so what are your resolutions this year?

We look forward to sharing our thoughts, experiences and stories with you this coming year.

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Well it is official, I am a Hockey Mom!

It is official....As I have become more active, I have pushed for the kids to be more active too. Growing up, my parental figures were not really active. My Dad rode his bike on occasion, but daily fitness just wasn’t a thing. We have always encouraged the kids to participate in sports, but honestly we are not like hard core sports fans, so it was not a priority for anyone. I am more a solitary sport girl. I like swimming, running, hiking not the team sport stuff (although I LOVED softball as a teenager).

As a result, we tried soccer and it was meh. The older two never really got into it. My youngest really wants to play and will this summer. Swimming is definitely a big thing in our house. The older two are on a summer swim team and are amazing swimmers, the youngest is quickly following in their footsteps. We have signed the kids up for the Bluenose Youth run the past few years and it has been a great experience.

Hockey was never on the radar. Like ever. Until this Fall, my children had never even been skating. We have a fantastic outdoor skating oval and the children have been begging to learn to skate for about a year. So this year I signed them up for lessons, knowing I could not attempt to teach three kids to skate by myself; especially considering I had not skated since I was 14 years old!

A friend contacted me asking if I had ever considered hockey for Ethan. She went on to explain there was a program for kids that had no experience with hockey, equipment was provided, the program would last six weeks and the cost was reasonable. Ethan had expressed interest in hockey, however he had no exposure. My husband and I talked it over. I talked to other moms that had kids in hockey. After mulling it over, we decided that it was worth a try.

Ethan loves it. The coaches are amazing. Every kid is treated equal. When Ethan slacks off or doesn’t follow through, he is called out on it and made to do it correctly. It is by far the best experience we have had in sport (although our summer swim team is a very very close second). Ethan is still learning to skate, however he can skate so fast now! The program has a few weeks left (it is six weeks in total) and we were given the option to join midseason at a prorated cost. Ethan is so excited to join a team, and we have completed the forms. I am a Hockey Mom!

The program has been such a positive experience even Becca is interested to try it next time they offer it! We have started skating as a family, I was relieved that I could skate after all those years!

As we watch his practices I am flooded with childhood memories of watching hockey games and playing street hockey. I am in awe how focused and determined Ethan is, I have never seen him so into a sport. I am excited to watch him grow with this!

You can find more information on the First Shift program at their website.

Do your kids play hockey? Have you ever considered it?

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In ALL my FREE time …

In-ALL-my-Free-TimeSeriously.

If one more person asks me what I am doing now that I have all this free time, with all my kids in school, I may just scream.

Sheesh.

Even my good intentioned, husband will ask, “So did you get a lot done today?”

Panic sets in.

Well … I was busy all day … yet it did not seem to add up to much.

Granted for weeks and weeks I had a horrible cold that just would not go away. I also had two houseguests this Fall, so grateful for the time with both my Grandmother and my Mother in Law.

Yet, I workout pretty much daily, prep and cook all our meals from scratch, and organize five lives. I also volunteer at the school and have a few friendships that I cherish that need to be nurtured.

There are times, like when I was raking the leaves, doing yard clean up, I would stop and realize that I am doing this alone for the first time. It is relaxing, to be honest. I miss my kids while they are at school, however now when I go pick them up I am energetic and happy. That was not always the case when I had little ones at home and picking kids up from the school.

Despite not having the kids at home for five hours, I am doing almost everything I did when they were home (aka laundry, cleaning, organizing, appointments, sewing, food prep etc etc). If there is free time, it is eluding me. Even this blog has suffered since all my kids started school.

Sure no one is interrupting my train of thought to ask me to brush pony hair or to build lego, however I find I am still scattered. Maybe those interruptions weren’t that big of a deal!

I do have more freedoms. When I do to the dentist I do not have a four year old peering into my mouth, asking a gazillion questions about the process.

Maybe as time goes on, it will get easier? The legend of Free Time, will be proven to be real. Perhaps I will get bored, as so many people proclaim they would be if they stayed at home all day. Although it is extremely rare that I am home ALL day.

With all my free time, I am taking care of myself and my family. My house at times, is a little cleaner, meals are ready on time most days, yet laundry still piles up, I still don’t see my friends as often as I would like and I am happy. I have yet to get bored, my to do list, my wish list and my Pinterest are overflowing with potential ideas to keep me busy still I have grandchildren. Perhaps people are truly curious, yet the question still irks me.

 

What do you do with all your free time? Is there one thing people ask you that irks you?

 

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Life Lessons my 93 year old Grandma has taught me…so far

lifelessons1My amazing and brave Grandma flew across the country to visit me on Thanksgiving this year. You see, she is very wise and way more perceptive than I ever give her credit for. My Dad rarely missed having Thanksgiving with us, and this is the first Thanksgiving since he passed away. I didn’t have to ask Grandma to come, it was her idea and we had a fantastic visit! She was full of life and stories.

Over this last weekend, my Grandma had to be checked into the hospital. She has pneumonia and is dehydrated and weak. My Aunt is confident she will get better, and we are all praying she will.

The idea of the post had been bouncing in my head for a few weeks, reflecting on our visit and how much I owe to this amazing woman. It is hard to be so far away at times like these.

Here are 10 life lessons, my Grandma has shared with me so far.

  1. Be active and enjoy life. My Grandmother was the fastest runner at her school, she curled, bowled and spent her entire life active.
  2. Family matters. When faced with being a single parent overwhelmed my Dad, my Grandmother rode a bus for days across two provinces, picked me up and rode back. I was only a toddler, scared and sad. She raised me for years afterward. When no one else could, my Grandmother loved me.
  3. You are never too old to learn something new. After my Grandfather passed away, my Grandma got herself a computer and learned the basics of email. Now she reads my blog and has played THOUSANDS of games of computer Scrabble.
  4. Be brave. At 93, my Grandma hopped on a plane and flew from Regina, SK to Halifax, NS all on her own. That is so brave. I am so proud of her and I want to be as brave as she is when I grow up!
  5. Be adventurous. When my Grandpa was alive they went on adventures with my Aunt Carol. Then with my Dad, my grandmother would come see us in Ontario, California and now has been to Nova Scotia three times to visit.
  6. Forgive and let it go. It wasn’t until the last few years I really opened up to my Grandma about my Dad’s struggles with alcohol. She was so gracious and encouraged forgiveness and yet also encouraged me to do what I had to do to prevent further hurts.
  7. If you don’t like what someone has to say, smile and do your own thing. My Grandma, often spoke of her Mother-in-law and all the advice that she would share (My Great Grandma had 13 kids, she knew a lot!) Yet my Grandma had her own ideas, though she never argued, she just did her own thing.
  8. Friendships matter. Although my Grandma has experienced a lot of losses, many of her friends have passed away, she still has many friends she talks to on a regular basis. Some people are past neighbours from the town where she raised her family, or in the city they retired in. My Grandma tells stories of the many escapades her and the girls in the town would get into over the years, giggling like a school girl. She remembers them all.
  9. Cook it from scratch. My Grandma still cooks her own meals and they are so yummy!  We use her recipe for turkey and stuffing. Seriously. Yum!
  10. It is not where you came from that matters, or where you are going so much. What matters is what you have right now. My Grandma lost her mom and sister at a young age and even a young child, yet she did so much and had this amazing family. She always would remind me to appreciate what I had.

My Grandma has lived an amazing life so far. I am so proud of her. I am praying she will recover from this swiftly. I am so grateful she was brave, adventurous and so full of love to share with us. Love you Grandma xoxox

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Fitness Friday – The Importance of Stretching

 

fitnessfridaystretching

Since the start of September I have been exercising consistently. It has felt amazing to get back into living a healthy lifestyle. I have gradually increased the exercises I am doing, I have even increased the laps I am swimming. I was feeling so AWESOME!

I took a teeny tiny break while we had company, I went for a swim but other than that I was pretty relaxed and indulged a little food wise. When I returned to exercising, I guess I over did it a little and my right foot burned with pain. For a week now I have been limping on and off, icing, heating, stretching, going for a massage and not running. It is so not fun.

The lesson I am taking from this experience is that I really need to give more focus to my stretching and flexibility. I have often looked upon those who don’t have to stretch with awe and envy. However I am working on changing my mindset on that.

Clearly, my body wants me to stretch. When I do not pay particular attention to my cool down and stretch my muscles my recovery time is longer, I am more tender, I tend to be susceptible to injuries.

So why is stretching so darn important?

  1. Stretching increases your flexibility and your range of motion. When you are swimming, running or strength training, range of motion is so so important.
  2. When your muscles are tight and rigid, exercise is not fun and rather painful, stretching releases some of that tension and tightness.
  3. Helps you improve your balance. Tightening muscles throw your whole body off kilter, by stretching those muscles out you regain that balance physically. Honestly, mentally I feel more balance after I have stretched, especially after yoga.

After reading tons of articles on the internet there are a lot of “facts” out there on stretching. From what I can tell (without diving way deeper into it, pulling academic articles etc), there have been mixed results from studies on whether stretching improves performance and helps avoid injury.

My own personal experience has been, if I spend more time and energy stretching, I feel better, recover faster, get injured less and experience less muscle tightness and shortening.

Some tips on stretching that are working for me:

1. Focus on the muscles that are the tightest and sore. For me that is usually my quads and calves. That doesn’t mean I skip my upper body stretches, however I do spend more time holding my lower body stretches. My osteopath recommended holding my quad stretch for 2 minutes (which is so LONG, not really but it sure feels like it!) I tend to do this stretch in the pool, after my laps. I sip my water, listen to tunes and hold my quad stretch for two minutes. My legs feel so awesome after!

2. Schedule one or more long flexibility sessions in your week. I am still working on this one. I always feel so awesome after I go to a yoga class, doing so even once a week will help so much. I tend to do short bursts of yoga, early morning or after running. However adding a longer session to my week is so a priority.

3. Set a positive intention to your time stretching. “Arg I am so tight”, “Stretching sucks” should be replaced with better, positive mantras such as, “Damn this is soooo what my body needs” or “Seriously I am getting more bendy and flexy every time I do this stretch, RAWR”. I have found, if I take the approach that stretching is my way of rewarding my body for working out so hard, my flexibility session goes so much better.

4. Dim the lights, set the tone. They do it at yoga all the time right? So when you have worked your tail off, set the stage for your body and mind to relax, let go and stretch. When I work out at home, I always listen to music with a good beat, when it is time for that cool down, stretch I slow the music down and turn off the lights.

 

Ok so we get it right? Stretch. Loads. The following are a few of my favourite stretch and flexibility routines you can find online.

I have mentioned Flexible Warrior Yoga before, I absolutely love love love her approach to yoga, flexibility and sport. She shares some awesome Youtube videos, running yoga, foam rolling and more. The videos are all like 10-15 minutes long, she is super positive and down to earth.

The ToneitUp team also has a video for stretching that feels great and works a lot of muscles.

Do you stretch regularly? What are your favourite ways to work on flexibility?

 

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Personal Reactions to the shooting in Ottawa

jacklaytonquoteI was on my way home after a morning of errands, as usual I was tuned to CBC Radio, when I heard that there were shootings in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill. I felt the anxiety bubbling inside me. Rationally I knew that I was not in imminent danger, however my fight or flight response was working in overdrive. I texted then called my husband, who was blissfully ignorant busy with work. I was actually relieved when it was time to walk through the wind and rain to get the kids from school. By the time I got there, that heart racing panic had subsided, I spoke briefly to people about the situation at the school but none would be the wiser that I had been hyperventilating and shaking half an hour before.

I plan to talk to the kids about what has happened, the little we know so far. We typically listen to the radio at home so they will hear bits and pieces and I think it is best to talk about these situations openly, if your children can handle it. I am grateful we do not watch television, the children will never se the terrified faces of the people involved and yet to witness the police head towards the danger is pretty amazing.

This is a great resource on how to handle the situation with your children, written by the Peel District School Board. At dinner tonight we talked about what happened and answered the kid’s questions. It was so sad to share such tragic news with them. I was amazed how much they have absorbed from the radio, especially the older two.

I am still in a state of shock. These things simply do not happen in Canada. I feel like my security is shaken and it is so not fun. I feel for the people that have been in lock down, all the parents that could not reach their kids, spouses that could not connect with each other. I find it unsettling how much anxiety this generates for me.

Do you react to these events? How are you dealing with the Ottawa shootings? Do you talk to your children about news like this?

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Halloween Mantle 2014

halloweenmantle2014I haven’t always decorated with the seasons and holidays (well Christmas of course but the rest, meh). And yet, I always envied people that did. There was this one lady, in the very first mom’s group I was in that was fabulous at it. Every holiday, season, etc her house was dollied up and fabulous. My envy never motivated me to change, since up until 6 years ago we were always on the move, living in apartments and seriously with my book addiction, his music delights, and the children’s toys, we had enough to pack!

mantle

I love love love, have I mentioned I love Halloween. Every aspect about it (well not the candy but eh nothing is ever perfect) I adore. Dressing up, spooky delights, pumpkin carving (old fashioned, like carving triangles, no special drills for this girl), scary movies, ghost, goblin and all the like. I like to create the costumes for the kids, this year I got off easy since two of them are going in previously made costumes for a party. The youngest I am sewing up a new costume for her.

pumpkins

This year I decided to decorate our fireplace mantle, Halloween style. It is a pretty basic mantle I built myself and had the husband mount on the brick for me. We are not entirely sure if we will do more with the fireplace so this was the easiest way to add a little spunk to it.

skulloldbooks

The decorations are a mix of previous finds that were in storage, old books from the bookshelf and new finds from Michaels. I had printed off the printable a year ago (I found it on Pinterest of course!) I absolutely love the cage (Michaels) and the bats I had cut out a few years ago (although I need to make new ones next year, I used construction paper and it is fading).

printable

Do you decorate for Halloween?

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Summer Ends and Autumn Begins

As the new season starts, it is time for me to start writing again.

Most of my summer was dedicated to house renovations. I am so grateful we were in a position to get some things done, so I could not bring myself to write daily how frustrated I was that things were getting done. Looking back at the process, I see that the stress and anxiety were not entirely warranted. Everything worked out beautifully and I am extremely happy with the results.

Before

Summer Renovations

After

 Summer Renovations

I posted more Before and After renovation pictures on my Flickr account.

Not only is the exterior of the house different, the inner routines are different too. All my children are attending school now. My youngest entered into Primary (kindergarten) bravely, with her cute, sassy, creative, intelligent way that is completely her own. She adores her teacher and has a close friend in her class.

I confess the first few days were very lonely. I missed them all and longed for a few more summer days with my happy children. Sadly the weather here has turned chillier so our days at the beach are over (although we did sneak one last trip out to a local lake with friends after school once!)

Now, my tan is fading and my days are filled with volunteering at the school, working out, catching up with friends on runs or dog walks, organizing closets, cleaning and all the other things I have done even when the children are home. However now I can listen to music that does not refer to the alphabet or the colours of the rainbow while I do what I do.

In my mind, I am trying new recipes, sewing halloween costumes in advance, planting tulips, reading constantly, knitting toques & mittens, always wearing makeup and my house is spotless.

My imagination is fun that way!

I am in a good place, doing what I enjoy.

How was your summer?