Audrey & Bethany NEED your help meeting a need!

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Every year at Christmas, one of the company I work for (my parent’s company) has a “Food for Friends” drive that pivots around our company open house. Suppliers, trades, customers, friends and even, at times strangers make donations to our local food bank and each year blow our minds with their generosity. It’s overwhelming to stand, at the back of my Mom’s Honda Pilot, looking at the mass amounts of food, diapers and supplies given out of the goodness of people’s hearts.

For Bethany & Audrey, it’s one of their favourite parts of the Christmas season. They love having the privilege of helping us deliver the food to the local Salvation Army and eagerly help load food hampers with us for families in need in out community.

When we had kids, Corey and I set out to raise women who have “Jesus’ heart”, who are kind, generous and loving. Little did we know that HE gave us girls with so much more than we could ever teach them. Their love for helping – whether it’s me in the kitchen or kid who’s sad is such a beautiful thing. They were born with the desire to serve and we try, as often as we can to give them avenues in which they can do it.

Recently, a need in our community came to our attention and its direct connection to our lives & our hearts resulted in all of us feeling like we HAD to do something…and so we are! (secret: We’re inviting YOU to help too!)
Most of you know that a year and a half ago Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The means that for the safety of her body she can’t eat anything that contains gluten! It will harm her, both in immediate physical symptoms and long term permanent damage to her little body. It was a hard diagnosis to swallow, but one we have grown to appreciate and embrace. It changed her life and it has made us so much more aware of a different kind of need.

Someone with Celiac disease needs to eat “Gluten Free” foods (certified) for their body to function properly and be safe. That means it can’t contain wheat, rye, barley or triticale (among other things), nothing that contains gluten. In general, we have found this to be not so difficult. Fresh fruits, vegetables & meats are all naturally gluten free, as are non-gluten grains (rice, millet, sorghum) etc. Where you run into the cost, and potential problem in this diet is when it comes to bread, dairy products, pasta, cured meats, crackers and canned goods. Many things, MANY of them that you would think are gluten free – like a can of mushroom soup, are not. They are filled with gluten – and there for seriously dangerous to a Celiac.

The items that are gluten free are significantly more expensive than their wheat counterparts and this diagnosis can take a real toll on your grocery bill. For those living on meager means, or needing assistance, this can feel or even be nearly impossible.

See where I’m going with this?

Last week we learned that our local food bank and food banks around Canada have very little in regards to gluten free foods. In fact, the lady I spoke to said there are times they have almost no gluten free foods to offer to a family in need who are facing Celiac disease, or wheat allergy. She said there are times they come and look through the canned foods available and can’t find almost anything safe for them. Unfortunately, the majority of what gets donated to a food bank, the things they are able to keep in stock for families in need are things that are packaged & canned. These are the very things that people like our Audrey can’t have.

When we learned this our hearts broke and the girls were filled with questions – “How did we not know this was happening?”, “WHY is it happening?” and more importantly “How can we fix it?”

The answers are simple – we didn’t know it was happening because we didn’t think to ask. The reason it’s happening is because NOBODY else knows there’s a need either, and what we can do about it why I’m writing this blog post!

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From August 15 – 18 2016 Audrey and Bethany are holding their first ever GLUTEN FREE FOOD DRIVE! And as an added bonus they’re raffling off 2 Chilliwack Chiefs Kids Jerseys (you earn an entry when you donate)
We will be collecting Gluten Free donations for our local food bank, doing our best to not only fill their shelves with foods safe for everyone but also to create awareness in our community, and communities around Canada about a need that needs meeting! This is a problem we CAN fix – if you’re willing to help us.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. If you live in the Chilliwack/Fraser Valley area purchase some gluten free food and contact me. We will have a collection location for you to drop off your food
  2. Tell your friends about Audrey & Bethany’s Gluten Free Food Drive and invite them to participate
  3. If you live ANYWHERE else in Canada purchase a few gluten free items & donate them to your local food bank.
  4. Consider running your own Gluten Free Food drive and help your local food banks
  5. Share this blog post/Facebook event and help spread awareness to a growing need
  6. Leave a comment and share with us how YOU would like to help

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Helping someone else isn’t a chore friends, it’s a choice. Today we care daring you to make a choice to acknowledge a need and do what you can to meet it!

3 Things That Aren’t Helping in the Wake of a Mass Shooting

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1. Throwing Racial Slurs/blaming actions on race (actually, this NEVER helps anyone. With anything).  From what I can tell the only choice the color of one’s skin effects is their lipstick choices, everything else comes from the condition of their heart.
 
2. Starting a debate about gun laws, it’s not going to help anyone!  I’m not looking for one here, we all have our opinions – arguing about them won’t change anything.
(For example: there’s a law for legal drinking age & another about drunk driving – yet we still have drunk minors driving on our roads…apparently laws don’t always stop people)
 
3. Pointing the finger at ANYONE other than the person holding the gun.
 
The only person responsible for our actions is us. The end. It is not the fault of the parents, the teacher, the sister, the gun manufacturer, the guy at Starbucks or the person dancing in the club that one very sick and disgusting individual decided to act in such a horrific way. It is HIS fault, and his alone.
 
Today my heart hurts for the people who’ve lost someone they love and for the hearts of the ones who’s loved one did such a horrible thing.  It’s not their fault either (even if they were a sucky parent) but today their lives are forever tainted – first with loss & then with the judgment, shame and pain of knowing that someone they love did something so hateful.
Love people my friends.  Just how they are, without judgement and with all that you have.  You never know when the love you choose to show the unlovable is the difference between a destroyed heart and one that’s saved.  None of us know what the next moment will hold.  

Your Children Are Only Young Once: Your Dishes Can’t Wait & Your Clothes Are Starting To Smell

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“The dishes will wait, your children are only young once”, “Leave the housework until later & play with your kids, they grow up so fast”, “There will always be work, your kids won’t always be at home”.

Whether you’re having tea with a mother who’s children are all grown, or scrolling through Facebook – these platitudes are everywhere.  They’re based in good intentions, said by those who miss the “yesteryear” and shared by those who’s children are asleep after a day of terrorizing their home (you know, when they look so sweet & peaceful that you feel like your heart is going to explode with love.  It’s the opposite feeling to when your brain is going to explode from hearing “But MOOOOOM, SHE….” and “You are the WORST mother EVVVVER!”).

Regardless of who shares it, I believe they all have the best of intentions – to encourage parents in busy, fast paced world to prioritize their children.  In an effort to make them feel special, loved & important & to avoid regrets later in life. 

I get it, we DO need to pour into our kids.  We need to put down the devices, close the laptops & look into their eyes when they’re speaking.  We need to soak up the snuggles, read stories, have “yes kids” days (we plan those days where they throw out suggestions and I do my best to say yes to all of them) and be present with them.  

There are times it’s OK to do a puzzle instead of the dishes & dress Barbies rather than fold yesterday’s laundry.  We all want to LOVE them and doing those things sometimes will absolutely make them feel just that, valued & loved.

Which is great, but we also have a job to do.  Those platitudes & the behaviour they promote are threatening the successful product of that task.  

Our #1 job as parents is to raise upstanding, responsible, compassionate, confident people, who not only have the wings but the skills to take flight when the adult years come.  No matter how much we love them, no matter how much we’ll miss them, they won’t stay at home forever and when the time comes for them to leave – WE need to be confident that they’re prepared to succeed.

And that, my friends is where I call BS on the whole “it will wait” movement.

Now, more than ever we are living in a destructive, self centered, selfish world.  The statistics coming in show that children & the young adults coming up through the ranks are the most narcissistic, entitled generations we’ve ever seen – and that scares me.

These brilliant young people lack social skills, struggle to maintain a job because they don’t have good work ethic, & they seem sad, missing the self worth that comes from a job well done. They also feel very strongly that the world owes them something.  

Um, HELLOOOOO – NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING.  If you want it, WORK for it!

I can’t help but think that our desperate need to full fill our kids, paired with the fact that we’re so bloody worried about not hurting their feeling is one of the major contributing factors to why we’re looking at such a social mess. 

Maybe if our kids had to wait a little more, maybe if they had to self entertain (without the aid of technology), maybe if they had to pitch in a help & even have to re-do a job 3 times over until it’s done right – they wouldn’t grow up feeling like victims.  Maybe they’d grow up feeling like warriors, capable of doing anything, being anything & achieving it all through hard work.

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As the mother of a 9 and 7 year old, I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on parenting, then again I don’t really think anyone can.  I am however, the product of parents who invested in us while still managing to do the laundry & provide home cooked meals served on clean dishes.  I’m walking proof that this theory doesn’t damage the heart of your children, I always did & still do feel overwhelmingly loved & important to my parents.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t EVER put aside your chores and focus on your kids.  I’m just saying you shouldn’t ALWAYS make your kids the most important thing in the room.

I believe whole heartedly, that it’s OK to make them wait until you’ve finished a conversation to speak to you.  Just like it’s OK to do the dishes and ask them to help, do laundry instead of playing Lego and pass out consequences when there is attitude dripping off their words (even in public).

I Want my Children to Know I Believe in Them!

Desperately I want our children to know I believe in them.  By giving them jobs, I’m teaching them I believe they can do it.   By making them wait, I’m showing them I believe they have good manners.  By doing the dishes instead of playing with them, I show them I believe they are capable of creating their own fun.

No matter how much time we give to our kids, I think those regrets will still come.  Not because we didn’t do enough, but because we will miss them.  Sadly, no matter how many hours we do or do not invest, nothing will stop that growing up from happening.  It’s the inevitable part of life, like grey hair & acne (at the same FREAKIN’ time over here?!!).  

I don’t know about you but if I can’t slow down the growing up process, I’d rather spend my years building into our girls in a well rounded way.  I’m going to guess, since you’re here and you’ve made it this far, that you feel the same way too.

So, I want to encourage you today!  Go ahead, wash those clothes so you don’t stink and grab your kids to help put away those dishes.  

Then when the jobs are all done, gather them up, curl up on the couch (with leftover Easter chocolate) and “fill their buckets”.  You can tell them what a great job they did, how proud you are of them and you’ll all feel accomplished loved.

The Colour of a Lie**

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“Oh, it was only a little white lie.”, “It wasn’t a lie, I just didn’t tell you about it.”, “I didn’t lie to you, I was trying to protect your feelings.  After all sometimes the truth hurts.”

There seems to be a never ending list of excuses attached to a string of painful lies.  The thing is, that’s all they are – excuses, hollow, empty, hurt filled excuses.  Sometimes I guess lies are told with a good intention in mind but most of the time, in my opinion ALL of the time lies are told in an effort to hide something, as an “easy” way out.

The reality is at times the truth does hurt, it either hurts the person being told the truth or it hurts the person telling the truth.  People do stupid things, and end up with painful consequences.  Kids make poor choices and have to face parents & the punishment they have to enforce.  Sometimes the dress does look bad, the glasses aren’t your style or your choice was the wrong one.

We are imperfect people, living in an even more imperfect world we’re bound to make mistakes and screw up.  It’s those mistakes and screw ups that make lies look & feel like a golden road of freedom.

What they know can’t hurt them (or me), right?

WRONG.

What they don’t know WILL hurt them, and over time it’ll hurt you too, I promise.

I can’t handle being lied to.  Other than being manipulated (lying’s first cousin) lying to me is the fastest way to lose me, or at the very least to lose my respect.  Being lied to leaves me hurt, feeling vulnerable and extremely angry.

I do my best to tell the truth.  There have been many times, I feel sick to my stomach because I’ve had to say the “thing” that nobody else wanted to and tell someone I love that I think they’re making a mistake.  I’ll take mud on the face, have other’s dislike me and apologize because I’d rather tell the truth than lie about it.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve definitely told my fair share of lies and I’ve also faced their share of consequences.  I’m not perfect (see: imperfect human above), I’m as faulted as anyone else, but I’m trying.  

When I talk with the girls about lying I tell them that lying tells the other person you don’t trust them.  It tells them that you don’t believe they love you enough to forgive them or that you aren’t strong enough to handle the truth.  It tells them that you don’t respect them and that hurts, deeply.

The truth-telling is something I extend to our girls too.  When a picture didn’t turn out how they wanted, I’ll tell them so.  I do it gently, and find the redeeming qualities (there is ALWAYS something redeeming to be found) but I tell the truth.  If it was supposed to be a fairy and they don’t think it looks like one, I agree but tell them it does look like an angel.  

We talk about those moments and I remind them that the reason I tell the hard truth is so they can trust me completely.  They know that if I’m willing to tell the gentle truth now, I will tell the truth later.  Ultimately they will know that when I say “I Love you” that I mean it, from the deepest part of my soul because I promised, I’d always tell them the truth.

Lies don’t have a color, nor can they be weighed on scale of small or large.  A lie, is a lie, is a lie and the pain that comes with it runs just as deep.  Relationships are damaged and hearts, especially the heart of the person telling the lie begin to harden.

The lie doesn’t help the liar either, we all know it.  It starts with that feeling in your stomach, the whisper in your mind and the guilt that follows you around.  Even if nobody knows about it you do and its weight just never goes away.

So, what do you do?  You’ve told the lie and now what?

If it’s at all possible, go and tell the truth.  Trust the person you love enough to forgive you.  The truth is something we can face, something we can work through, something that can be fix.  A lie is a fictitious thing that can’t be touched, it can’t be seen and you can’t fix what isn’t real.

I know it’s scary, whether you’re telling the hard truth from the start or you’re having to face the lie and telling the truth now, it isn’t easy.  Sometimes, those moments are of the hardest we’ll ever face but when they’re over, when the person you thought would hate you offers you the olive branch of forgiveness, you’ll feel better.  The truth doesn’t just come with consequences, it also offers the lightness of freedom.

You no longer have to be afraid of the truth being found out or look for the shadow of a past mistake.  Instead you can look forward into the beauty of a clean slate, and make better choices as you move forward.

**We have recently felt the deep sting of being lied by someone(s) we love very much in our home.  The result of that has left me feeling seriously hurt and in desperate need of a vent.  Rather than spill the messy details of a private matter, I’ve decided to address the bigger issue – lies and the damage they cause.

How do YOU feel about lies?  Have you felt the deep pain of being deceived by someone you love?

I want to “Be the Change” but I don’t know how

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Ok friends, I need your help.  I have a conundrum, a problem if you will and I want to do something about it.  However, I don’t have a blasted idea on how to go about making that happen.

You hear everywhere that we are supposed to “Be the change” we want to see in the world.  And while that’s all pretty & nice and everything, it’s kind of an empty platitude if just simply living said change, doesn’t do a bloody thing to help anyone else.  Or worse yet, if that change won’t happen just simply by behaving differently in your own life.

I want to change a law.  More specifically, I want to have a law put in place that requires drug companies to be transparent about their ingredient and list (at minimum) the top allergens in their medication.

Currently drug companies aren’t required to divulge if their medications (both OTC and RX) contain gluten, soy, etc.  There are no “Contains” labels or even “May Contain” ones on medications.  They don’t have to tell us if there is a chance that the medicines we need to gain health, to control symptoms to relieve pain could cause us physical damage, more pain and in some cases, life threatening results.  

They basically have to tell us diddly squat about what’s in the “magic pills” we take to make ourselves better.  Sure the labels list the ingredients but some of those things are derived from all sorts of sources, including those of high allergen base.  It’s also hard to research the source of those ingredients online because we often don’t know their supplier.   And to top it off, while you can call the manufacturer, it can take sometimes days to get an answer back as to a medications ingredients/safety, leaving the affected person in a really bad place – take them & hope they’re safe, or wait & risk getting more ill.

It scares me.  Not just for Audrey with her Celiac but for the kids we know who have severe food allergies, and selfishly for me with my corn allergy (see sidebar).

Side Bar: So corn is NOT on the top allergen list, but I’m holding out hope that one day it will be.  I have yet to find a pill form of antibiotic that I can take and it’s scary.  I either take it orally and suffer to the point of almost not being able to stand up straight or I go for IV medications.  Neither of which are useful and/or viable options.  

I’m willing to do something to change it, I just don’t know what.

How does one go about lobbying for this kind of change?  Where do you start?  Who can help?  How much money does it cost?  What else do I need to know?

I realize it’s not a cut and dry sort of situation, and I certainly don’t have all the details ironed out of what we even need, but I do believe we NEED a change.  I do my best to live authentically and to tell people exactly what’s in the food I make.  Which is all good but my own personal transparency isn’t going to do a thing for this cause.

So…I’m reaching out to you.  To the internet.  To my friends.  To your friends.  To the world and asking for help – how do we make a change?   More importantly, who wants to make the change with me!

Please comment below if you have any suggestions or feel free to comment on our Facebook page or email me at admin@ourfamilystone.org.   If you’re so inclined I’d also appreciate a share of this post.  You never know, who knows whom and what banding together can do!

We do need to Be the Change we want to see in the world, even if that “being” means, being persistent enough to fight for what is right!

5 Bad Behaviours – Social Media Style

You know what’s annoying?  Bad manners.  Bad manners are seriously, annoying.  

Actually, let’s be real – they aren’t just annoying they’re infuriating.  Depending on the extend of their “manner deficiency” some people make me wanna punch them – in their face.  Except that, that’s not nice, and it’s kinda bad manners, and I have children to set an example for…so I don’t.

In the past 10 or so years, the introduction of regular social media interaction has taken our lives and how we interact with people by storm.

We can connect, share & engage with each other in ways that didn’t exist before.  Our computers, tablets, & cell phones allow our “voices” to be heard without ever opening our mouths.  Those screens give us a false sense of security to say, share & post things we wouldn’t in “real life”. In short – manners grow wings and fly right, straight out the window!

You see, that security we feel is false.  The things we say, the pictures we post & the actions we have are still shaping the world’s view of us, but now in a more dangerous and cloaked way.

The Internet is like Las Vegas

 

The internet is like Las Vegas – “What happens online, stays online”.  

Which means, nothing you say, nothing you do, nothing you see online will ever really go away.  It is there forever and your lack of manners now, may potentially be spoiling your future.

Employers will Google you, check your Facebook, search your Twitter and if you’re not careful, they may find things that cost you the job.  The same can be said for the people you’re going to date, the in-laws you hope to have (“Sir…may I marry your daughter?”, “Sure Son, right after you explain this picture from 2011…what is that in your hand & who are all those girls?”) and one day even your children’s opinion of you (they will look you up, I promise!).

So, what do you do?  How do you avoid destroying your future?

You pull out some manners, install a little common sense and make better choices.

To help you out, here are the top 5 WORST Social Media Bad Behaviours.  Avoid these things at all costs in an effort to not only preserve your future but to not annoy the living daylights out of your family & friends.

  1. Tasteless Photos: Do not EVER share photos of naked or nearly naked people (you or anyone else) or of doing anything illegal.  Avoid sharing photos of heavy partying (eg. the “Spring Break” photos…), alcohol consumption, the morning after etc. 

    Why: They make you look irresponsible, dangerous, carefree and sometimes down right pervy.   Also, it’s not just family & friends watching your social media.  If you’re involved in illegal activity (STOP IT NOW) the police, FBI and special agencies are watching too.

  2. Complaining: constantly.  Everyone has bad days, & it’s totally OK to share that once in a while.  After all, if you had a really rough day you’d share it with your girlfriends.  However, don’t make every update, post, comment negative, and/or a paragraph long of “oh woe is me”.

    Why: It’s annoying.  Sometimes life is hard but seriously, it doesn’t suck ALL of the time.  At least it shouldn’t, if it does then you need to seriously look at how to change it!  People would stop being your friend in real life if you complained like that all the time & they will “unfriend/unfollow” you on social media too.  Sympathy is not and endless stream, it will run dry!

  3. Bragging: While the polar opposite of complaining, bragging is just about as bad.  Again, share your happy news, give people a chance to celebrate with you – and then stop.  Be especially cautious to not rub other’s faces in whatever it that is making you so happy, particularly if they are struggling in the same area. 

    Why: This is often unintentional but overly sharing great news can make someone feel inferior and you look conceited.  We all run the risk of this in real life too, so just be careful.  Share it but don’t rub it. 

  4. Selfie-ing: The occasional “Hey I got new glasses” or “I lost 25lbs!” is totally acceptable.  However, flooding my Instagram feed with 31 pictures of you with a weird sucked-in-cheeks-kissy-face-lips pose stating “Random no make up #unfilterd” is SO not cool.  In fact it’s lame, I can see your eyeliner & do you really have that halo glow around your head all the time?

    Why: I can’t necessarily say that an overload of selfies is going to cost you a job, but I can say for certainty it can cost you a whole lot respect & friends.  You look conceited, or like you’re fishing for complements and it’s stupid.  You wouldn’t walk up to a group of your friends, flip your hair, pout your lips and sadly say “I’m feeling positively disgusting today” *dramatic pause*, would you?  Probably not, so don’t do it online.  I have unfollowed many who seem to have selfie-itis.  

  5. Over Sharing: I do NOT need to know the color of your daughter’s poop, the smell of your husband’s shoes or the way you do your “personal grooming”.  I don’t want see a photo of your inner thigh gap, the nasty mole on your back or snot running down your toddler’s face.  Don’t detail the struggles in your marriage, things that will embarrass your children later or how you really feel about Aunt Ida.

    Why: Really?  I have to explain it? Ok.  It’s like this – nobody wants to know & most people don’t care. It also falls under disaster waiting to happen. It appears that you don’t have good discression and that makes an employer nervous.
     
    Would you sit in a job interview and show the guy how your butt now has the “smile crease” thanks to all those squats?  Probably not (and if you would, then we can’t be friends) but if you put it out there, he may find it. Besides, cousin Cody let Aunt Ida use his Facebook this morning and you’re now seriously screwed out of your Christmas duck socks.  It’s also often kinda gross, so please – just don’t.

  6. Fishing: I know I said 5 but I just couldn’t leave this one out.  It may be a little redundant but it is seriously one of the most annoying.  DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA to fish for complements.  Don’t fish for complements in real life.  It’s lame, makes you look so insecure, and weak.  We all have our insecurities but we need to be careful how we let them control us.  Just like you shouldn’t brag don’t berate yourself either – you are worth WAY more than the horrible things you say to yourself.  
    And, if you’re really having a rough day why not try something new – tell the truth.   If you can’t find anything positive to say to yourself, don’t post a stupid selfie, maybe admit that you need a few words of affirmation and see what happens.

There are more, I could go on but I won’t.  

Instead, I’d love to know what social media bad habits totally drive you cra-ZY? 

Dads Put Down your Shotgun & Hold Out Your Hand

Walk with me Daddy

Over the years, on this journey of raising daughters we’ve done a lot of learning.  Starting with “everything you thought you knew, you didn’t” and ending with…HA, I’m funny, like learning ever ends!  We’ve had best laid plans go straight to hell and have had to learn to adjust to surprises along the way.  Many of the things we thought we’d do – we haven’t, the things we thought would work – didn’t and things we thought were ridiculous – worked like magic.

By far, one of the most powerful discoveries we’ve made is that we aren’t actually responsible for the actions of our children. You can’t make them eat their peas (seriously, you can jam those suckers in there but they can spew them out just as fast!), you can give consequences for bad behaviour but you can’t stop it.  You can teach them the difference between wrong & right but you can’t make them do the right thing.  You can love them completely but you can’t protect them from everything.  Trust me, you can try until you feel like you might physically die but you can’t stop all of the hurt, all of the time.

God has given us these precious children with a responsibility to guide, educate, love & encourage them as they are becoming the people He wants them to be.  We are shaping their futures with who we are and we need to do it so carefully. 

As mothers of daughters we know the power of our words.  We’ve been warned to keep negative self talk silenced because it will become our daughters’ inner voice.  We don’t let them hear us call ourselves ugly or pick at our “fat”, we do our best to shelter them from our worst so they can become their best.

The thing is, I don’t feel like fathers are given the same message.  You can buy DADD shirts – “Dads against Daughters Dating”, sideways comments of “oh, she’s not going to date until she’s 30”, or “no daughter of mine’s gonna date” easily slip from their lips and the jokes of dads wielding shotguns are endless. 

It’s all done in fun, in that twisted way that guys use to show a female that they love her but it’s destructive.   The message that our daughters get is completely the opposite of what they need.  These words tell them men are bad, & dating is wrong.

The reality is our girls will one day become women, ones who will want a partner, want children, want someone to spend their lives with and deep down we want them for them.  They deserve to be loved, cherished, respected, protected and guided by their mate, but if we don’t tell them that who will?  

In a world where female sexuality is being exploited our girls need more love, guidance and support from their fathers than ever.  They need to be shown that their worth extends past the size of their clothes, or their willingness to take them off.  As they learn from us that being confident and self sufficient is strong, they also need to learn that asking for help, leaning into someone else’s strength doesn’t make them weak.

Dads, right now you are the man in her life.  You are her world, the strongest, smartest, funniest man she’s ever known and she adores you.  Take this time, while she’s wrapping her self tighter around your finger to wrap yourself even tighter around her heart.  

Instead of telling her tales of how your going to pull out your shot gun the first time a boy comes over, tell a different story.  Tell her how you can’t wait to meet him, to talk with this boy who’s caught her eye.  Remind her that you expect great things from him and she should too, if he’d like the gift of dating your little girl.

Rather than being against her dating, be involved in her selection.  As she grows teach her, her value in the world and what it feels like to be special to a man.  Open her door, pull out her chair, complement her, laugh with her, dry her tears and encourage her heart.  Tell her how you know that the right man for her will respect her, will listen when she’s talking and will look in her eyes when he speaks.  

She may have to wait to a certain age to be allowed to date, but remind her that in those years leading up to “dating” she has the opportunity to get to know these boys truly.  Invite them into your home, let them be her friends and become theirs.   Those boys who are friends may never become her dates but they will become your eyes and her guardians.  If they do become her date, you’ll be so glad to have taken those years to get to know the men they’re becoming.

Dads these sweet creatures that you call your little girl need you, in a way so much bigger than kissing “boo-boos” and killing spiders.  They need your help to determine their future, and shape their hearts, it’s serious business and I’m begging you to treat it that way.

So, next time your little girl says to you “Daddy, Aaron at school is sooooo cute, I have a HUGE crush on him” bite back the urge to crack a joke, bury that cringe deep inside and hug your girl.  Put down that shotgun, stretch out your hand and say, “Oh honey that’s great, I can’t wait to meet him.”

Disney Princesses Don’t Make Girls feel Unworthy – We Do.

Disney Princess Girls

I am SICK of hearing about how Disney Princesses are the reason that millions upon millions of girls & women suffer with self esteem issues.   Women around the world are griping and complaining that these figures & dolls, with their “perfect bodies*” are unrealistic and make our daughters feel less than, ugly, fat (you KNOW how I feel about that word) – unworthy.  But here’s the thing….

No.  They don’t.

Have you ever noticed that the women complaining are simply that – women.  They are people of many shapes, sizes & ages who’s hearts, bodies & self-esteems have been damaged over the years by the media, the vicious voices of others and the “perfection propaganda” swirling around constantly whispering “You’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough”.   And now as grown women they’re looking at these characters with the same critical eyes they look at themselves with. 

It makes me sad, none of us should ever look at anyone, especially ourselves the way that we do.  We’re all worth more than the horrific things we say to ourselves (trust me I know, I say them too) – but Disney didn’t put those words in our heads…..we did, the “real world” did.

Now, turn around and look at your little girl and see these characters through her eyes. 

Do you see it?   The wonder, the awe, the inspiration? 

I do, here let me show you…

Belle isn’t teaching our girls to be a victim, oppressed by the hand of man (as is often implied).  She’s teaching them to look deeper than a person’s outward appearance, to replace cruelty with compassion and when you do, you’ll get a chance to see their hearts.   

Ariel isn’t telling them to be rebellious and sneaky, battling for a man’s attention at all costs.  She’s showing them someone like them, someone with dreams and curiosity, someone who sees the beauty in new things, in other worlds.  Her story also shows them that sometimes we make poor choices, and that our parents will always find out (because we will always find out) and that comes with consequences.  Push come to shove though, no matter what we’ve got their backs, because again we will always have their backs.

Merida teaches our daughters that women can be strong, independent and brave.  Merida lets them see that a lady can be both polished (it’s a work in progress) and adventurous – we don’t have to choose one or the other.  They see that we don’t need a man to be OK, we’re strong for who we are, not who we’re married to.   

My best part of Merida’s story is her relationship with her mother.  Let’s face it, if you’ve birthed daughters then you’ll know the mother/daughter dynamic is like nothing else.  As our girls watch their story unfold they see they are not alone – everyone has battles with their Mama from time to time, it’s normal and it will be OK.  Even, when you think you’ve done the worst thing possible, the smoke will clear and she’ll still be there.  You’ll forgive each other and move on because that’s the part that makes us so unique, our love & our bond run deep.

Anna & Elsa aren’t just princesses – they’re sisters and they’re hurting.  As the music captivates the audience (and the soundtrack makes mothers’ ears bleed…), and teeny Anna begs her sister, “Do you want to build a snowman” our girls not only fall in love with her sweetness, they start to feel a connection to the sisters.
Every little sister has a moment she feels the bond with her big sister begin to change, when the “best friend” dynamic starts to melt into their individuality and when the loneliness sets in.  Alternatively, the big sisters know the pain of that change, feeling their bodies, their lives becoming something new, uncharted and even scary in a way that can drive a wedge between sisters. 

Then our daughters see it, the message, the thing that I want more for my girls than almost anything else – loyalty, family, love.  If we teach our children nothing else in this life I want them to know that not only do Corey and I have their backs, but that no matter how dark, how scared, how alone they feel they will always have each other.  Elsa & Anna did an incredible job of showing them exactly that.

These princesses our girls love so much are teaching them to be compassionate, adventurous, and determined.  They’re giving them glimpses into the consequences of poor choices and the forgiveness of a parent.  They allow them to be strong, independent and courageous, and remind them that when all else fails, and your world is shattering, your family, your sister (brother fits in there too…trust me I have one) will be there to help you pick up the pieces.

Disney isn’t teaching our girls they’re unworthy, ugly or fat – instead I think Disney is doing quite the opposite.  They’re walking along side us, helping us to raise joyful (just listen to your 7 year old belt out any Disney princess tune, you’ll find her joy), confident girls who hopefully will maintain some of those beautiful values as they grow into powerful, strong women.

(*Perfect is all relative and seriously, I’d like to talk to whomever it is that decided that a plastic perma-panty wearing doll was a perfect body?)**For disclaimer sake – this is in no way a sponsored post.  Disney doesn’t have a clue who I am, and they certainly didn’t ask me to write this.  It’s my heart, my soap box and my voice, alone. In case you were wondering**

Striking – Fighting for the heart of the classroom

photo1Bethany’s teacher from Kindergarten. (there will be new teacher photos soon!!)

Here in BC, we are facing the beginning stages of a strike by the BC Teachers’ Federation.  To get the full details of what & why the striking phases are being implemented check out the BC Teachers’ Federation website – it’s not something I know enough about to paraphrase.

To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever really taken notice of a teachers’ strike.  Up until now it didn’t directly affect me and as selfish as this sounds, as it was – I honestly didn’t pay much attention to what was happening.  I knew enough to know it was throwing a wrench into the days of my friends who are teachers, or who had kids in school but that was about as much as I knew.  My opinion on the whole thing was nil because you shouldn’t have an opinion on something you know nothing about.  So I did.

Then it began to affect me, affect my children and I took notice.

As I read through all the information last night I began thinking about our kids, about their teachers, about their futures.  And then I got a little bit angry.   I still don’t know all the nitty gritty details of what’s being negotiated over but what I do know is that as parents we need to stand beside & behind our teachers.

Next to their families, teachers are the next most influential people in our children’s lives.  They spend the greater part of many days with our kids, guiding, educating, laughing, disciplining, influencing and loving them.  In their hands rests the future of our kids – will they see the adventure in a novel beyond the words on a page?  Will they discover the world that lives under the microscope?  Or learn to run, jump, swing, kick and soar their way into health & strength?   We may play the starring role in those outcomes but the teachers leading their days have a pretty big supporting role.

Long before the school day begins and hours after it ends for our kids, their teachers are there.  Reading, marking, planning and organizing.  Decorating the walls, cutting out the pictures, building the world where our children will learn.  Kissing each wall, desk and worksheet with their version of love, for education.  For our children.

These teachers need to be respected, encouraged, appreciated and supported.  As parents that is the very least we can do for the people who are walking along side us to raise our children.

Bethany  & Audrey have been so very blessed with the teachers God has placed into their lives.   They have embraced our shy, anxious daughters with a love that brings tears to my eyes.  They have not only taught them ABC’s and 123’s they’ve gently guided and coaxed them out of their little shells into flourishing, knowledge seeking little girls.

I see tiny glimpses of these people in our girls from time to time and it makes me smile.  I don’t know why these people chose to get into education but it’s apparent they are there for so much more than that.  They along with the schools & administration they work with are building UP our children.

These people deserve to be paid appropriately, to have class sizes that allow them to not only learn our children’s names but continue to discover their hearts as well.  They need to be given the support staff it takes to run things smoothly, not only for their classroom structure but the kids who might slip through a crack if they aren’t there.  They need to be shown they have value, because they do.

It’s something worth fighting for.

As this point I don’t know what we can do as parents to make an actual difference in the course of action in these teacher strikes but I do know what we can do in the day to day life of our teachers, our librarians (Bethany’s is phenomenal) and our administration – we can say “thank you”, “we are with you”, “we appreciate you”.  Then we can guide our children to do the same.

To all those who keep our schools running, our classrooms busy and our children learning – thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

*I understand there will always be an exception to the rule when it comes to teachers, like everything in life this isn’t perfect either.  There will be some due to retire, others due for an attitude transplant and others still who are just plain grumpy shorts but they are the minority.  Please don’t let one or two bad experiences taint your view of all that is there.*

Let’s talk White Poppies

Peace

Originally this post opened up with me telling you I’ve got a few rants rolling around in my head and I need to vent and get them out.  That’s still true and one of these days (soon) it’s going to happen but somewhere along the way I got consumed with a rant that’s of a bigger variety.

It’s obviously bothering me more that I realized by the length of what’s to follow and that is, in my opinion of greater importance than they annoyance of those Bitstrip comics on Facebook.

White Poppies – yes I know Remembrance Day is over but remembering our veterans, acknowledging our soldiers and accepting the reality of the world we live in should be a daily occurrence.   Let’s make something abundantly clear here – RED POPPIES DO NOT GLORIFY WAR!  In fact, I’d say they are one of the clearest symbols of anti-war & peace spread throughout our country, they are gratitude in the loudest silence imaginable.  Let me tell you why.

When we wear a Red Poppy we say to the veteran sitting in Tim Horton’s “Thank you.  Thank you for the years you sacrificed away from your family, the diseases you encountered, the friends you lost, the tears you shed and the person you were before you left.  Thank you for the freedom I have to wear what I want, to say what I want, to watch my children ride their bikes in the street and to remain blissfully unaware of what bombs & gun fire destroying lives looks like, smells like, sounds like.  Thank you for suffering all that time so that I would never have to.”

When we wear a Red Poppy we say to the widow, the fatherless child, the woman who let her husband go off to war and welcomed home a stranger, “Thank you.  Thank you for letting them go.  Thank you for the nights you spend worrying, the tears you shed then and the ones that still fall now.  Thank you for the soccer games played with an empty seat on the bleachers, the school events missed, the walk down the aisle alone.  Thank you for standing strong, breaking down, and coming through to the other side – we’re broken for those moments with you.”

When we wear a Red Poppy we say to the soldier awaiting deployment tomorrow, next week, next year “Thank you.  Thank you for loving other people so much more than you love yourself that you’re willing to fight a war that’s not ours.  Thank you for being so desperate for peace around the world that you’ll sacrifice everything to give others what we have here, in Canada.  Thank you for doing a job that we could not do, so that one day maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to say this world is truly at peace.”

When we wear a Red Poppy we stand up and say – we say thank you, we say we’re sorry for your loss, your pain, your heartache and we say we Remember.  We remember that behind those poppies isn’t the wars being fought but the peace that has come, the hurt that was felt and the people who did it unselfishly for us.

When a person wears a White Poppy to me they say “I want to create controversy.  I’m not willing to remember all that was lost, all that IS lost and say thank you.  I’m ungrateful.  I’d rather pick a fight, in the name of “peace” and forget all that’s come before me.  It’s completely lost on me that the freedom to even wear this white poppy was given to me in the sacrifice of war.”

We will wear a Red Poppy in our home, every year to say thank you to all those men & women, to say thank you to my Grandpa who fought, to his brothers, to their friends and to my Grammie who let him go.

 

 

If you wore/wear a White Poppy and feel like I’m completely off base, please feel free to let me know.  This is a hot button topic for me (obviously) and I stand by what I’ve said, as I always do.  That’s not to say though that I’m not interested in at least hearing the other side, even if we do have to agree to disagree in the end.