Sleep: The most important word in the parenting dictionary

Sleep. Arguably the most important word in parenting. That might be dramatic but start losing sleep every night and you’ll be on board with my drama! If I could go back in time and tell my pre-baby self “bitch you ain’t that tired” every time I complained of being tired because I stayed out late drinking on a night before an 8am class, I would. That “tired” me wasn’t walking into door frames and throwing kettle bells at the gym because my hands couldn’t coordinate catching them.

The type of tired you experience when you have a child that does not sleep is the type that you could only understand if you went through it, its simply indescribable. I see now why it is used as a form of torture, it is very effective. I read an article stating that sleep deprivation costs Canada 21 billion dollars annually! As it turns out, people who don’t sleep enough undergo more physical and emotional stress and have compromised immune systems. Who would of thought, oh wait…..

Our journey started May 29, 2015, the day my son was born. He slept his first full night 10 months later after some tough love and sleep training (The Sleep Sense Program…incase anyone is looking!). It saved us. In the beginning of the book the author states that most couples contact her for help when they are on the brink of divorce, I get that. If my husband got 2 more hours of sleep than I did I would turn into a resentful, pissed off human. As if he did it on purpose  Obviously that didn’t do much for our relationship but it was the best I could do at the time!

After this, I started to feel like a real human again, for 8 full months I was a more functional member of society. And then a cold hit, croup, and an ear infection. Cue the two worst weeks ever where there were no rules for sleep, just cuddles on demand. We fucked everything. From that point forward our son would not go to sleep alone and rarely would sleep the whole night alone. We moved him from a crib to a double bed since neither of us are small enough people to fit into a crib! I turned into a co-sleeper, the type of sleeper I absolutely dreaded and did not understand why any other parent did it. I get it now, they did it because they were desperate for sleep and sleeping with their child was their only hope.

Four months later, here I am, writing this article. This past week we have seen the light again. We went back to the basics and showed some tough love and it has been a rocking success. I hate to even say that out loud. Next week I will likely be back here trying to take back these words.

To all you parents and caregivers out there. I get it. I am sorry you aren’t sleeping, I really am. I can only hope that there is a light in your future somewhere that will be your time to get some sleep. Also, I am sorry to the guy who was trying to get me to sign up for a MasterCard at the grocery store a few weeks ago. I owe a roofer an apology too. And my husband. I was tired.

H

13 Reasons Why It’s Not OK

Our guest blogger today is a mental health nurse remaining anonymous due to the controversial opinions of this piece.  Have a read, leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned!

This show has received a lot of attention recently; and I’ll admit, I binge watched it with my husband and it’s well written, it’s creative, and they ended each episode with a slight cliff-hanger that makes you hit ‘yes’ when Netflix asks if you’re still watching. So, one would assume that if binge watched, I must have enjoyed it, right? Wrong. After the final episode, I sat in utter astonishment at Netflix, the writers of this show, and the author of this popular book.

For those of you who haven’t watched this yet, without spoiling the details entirely, this show is based on the young woman Hannah Baker who takes her own life. Hannah had recorded 13 cassettes and left them with a friend, who then passed them on to be listened to by 13 people who contributed to why she ended her life; each tape being the story of one of these people.

I know the argument that many will have; this opens up dialogue between parents and their children, it doesn’t shy away from mental health, death, drugs, sex, or the other no longer taboo topics that are prevalent today. I agree that we need to talk about these things, education and communication is of extreme importance for teens, but this is not how it should be done. Why Netflix has even remotely thought this was okay to share in the world of existential teenage angst is beyond me. So, in the sake of considering my ability of ranting and losing all of you to my rambling, here are my 13 reasons why this show is, an atrocity.

1. Rape – I wasn’t putting these in any order but this seems appropriate for number 1 on the list. In ’13 Reasons Why’ there are two rape scenes, and here I will give Netflix some credit as they highlighted the importance of always believing the victim, and how asking a victim if they said no, or fought back, can further destroy someone’s self worth. There is one particular scene, in which Hannah watches a rape occur as she hides; rather than say something about this when she is alive, she broadcasts it on the tapes. After her death she allows 13 peers to hear the story of her friend’s rape; Jessica was intoxicated and has no memory of this. Hannah… you were yourself raped, you understand the trauma that this is, and yet you further destroy Jessica after your own death by describing this in vivid detail to her peers… this is it’s own form of rape.

2. Blaming – this is quite simple. Hannah has blamed her peers for her death and highlighted why on her tapes. I could write an entire post on suicide and suicidal ideation but for your sake I won’t do that here; nevertheless, when someone ends their own life, ultimately this is their own choice. This is a difficult statement to make and people are likely to disagree and state that there are people to blame, but if people were to blame for Hannah’s death, this would be manslaughter or murder, but it is not, it is suicide.

3. Bullying – what is bullying? What has bullying evolved in to? This show depicts very real bullying of this generation, circulation of photos via social media, stalking, physical violence, and emotional violence. Why is it on this list? Let’s say a teen watches this show without an adult around, they see that these things are why Hannah ends her life, these acts, which are normalized on the show, now becomes a reason why it may be acceptable to end their life.

4. Revenge – Hannah seeks her revenge after death through these tapes. I don’t think I need to explain the emotional torture that places these living and breathing teenagers in.

5. Glorifying suicide – The last episode shows the very graphic death of Hannah, who slits her wrists in a bathtub, and her parent’s reactions when they find her. There is a reason that when someone dies by suicide, how they died is not written in the obituary. Research shows that graphic depictions increases viewer’s chances of becoming triggered by the content.

6. Graphic Images – rape, stalking, car crash, suicide, underage drug and alcohol use… oh, there is no PG rating for this but the consensus which I have found states 13+… seriously.

7. Respecting boundaries – Hannah highlights how important consent is; however, she gives Clay (the main listener) a tape not because of what he did do, but because of what he didn’t do. Clay and Hannah progress through their friendship and end up getting hot and heavy at a party. Hannah, struggling with anxiety says no and begins to cry. Respecting her, Clay immediately backs off and Hannah tells him to leave. Clay tries to talk to her but she aggressively tells him to go and he does. Clay did the right thing, right? Perfect gentleman by societal standards! Hannah, unfortunately, implies that he should have stayed, what a mixed message!

8. Counsellor – Hannah decides to give life one more chance and goes to her school counsellor. As a clinician, I felt that the counsellor didn’t ask the right questions to Hannah who was voicing passive suicidal thoughts; however, when Hannah leaves the office she speaks in to her recorder and states ‘he isn’t coming after me,’ implying that people are supposed to read your thoughts and know what you’re struggling with. 

9. Kindness – what is kindness? This show emphasizes that kindness and friendship can save lives. It’s important, yes, but it is unlikely this would have saved Hannah’s life.

10. Triggers – this show makes the most well adjusted person have feelings of anxiety and low mood; throw in the graphic images and heavy content and you’ve got a recipe for crisis.

11. Rise in Crisis Hotline Calls – this has been reported in many articles as a huge positive. ‘100% increase in phone calls to Australia crisis lines, thanks to 13 reasons why,’ hold on… now there is no context to this statement in these articles but my first instinct is that this may not be positive. This show doesn’t depict how to reach out for help safely, so are people calling in because they are triggered?

12. Abandonment and Adjustment – Hannah blames two friends for her suicide as they abandoned her and she was left alone socially; without the ability to cope with such things leads to what we would call, adjustment disorder. There is no mention of coping, how does Hannah try to deal with this in a positive way? Why does this show not highlight anything positive to show teenagers that they can influence and regulate their own emotions?

13. Legal Action and The Deposition – Reason 13… the parents have taken legal action against the school and each child on the tape is required to give sworn evidence. I don’t know that I can call this vicarious trauma… it may be… it also could simply be trauma, these students are now under scrutiny by not only dead Hannah, but the law, and they are only 17.

In conclusion, if you wish to watch this show please do, just be mindful of these points. If you have children and they want to watch this show, then please watch it with them; talk about these issues, encourage the use of coping skills, of giving and receiving communication efficiently, the importance of life, and the detriment of suicide. Clear communication saves lives. Accessing services saves lives.

Glorifying suicide, does not.

Better luck next time Netflix.

Lastly, if you need further convincing please see this link from the centre for suicide prevention: https://www.suicideinfo.ca/statement-re-netflixs-13-reasons-series/

 

 

The key to ‘melting’ a toddler’s heart

Now that summer is just around the corner, everyone is dreaming of the beach, patio drinks and barbecued everything. One ‘must do’ on my PEI bucket list every summer is a lobster sandwich on  Ben’s® Bakery fresh white bread. I’m already dreaming about it!

Ladies that Life partnered with Ben’s® Bakery to celebrate their 110th anniversary. To mark this major milestone, Ben’s® is giving two of their traditional favourites- Holsum Fresh White and Whole Wheat – a size makeover! For a limited time, these loaves will be available in 630 gram packages (compared to the usual 500g) offering families 4 extra slices for the same price! With these extra slices, maybe I should be trying a barbecued grilled cheese…mmmm…..I digress.

This cute little lady is a newly minted two years old. For her birthday supper she wanted a ‘cheesy sandwich’. While I may not be a mother, I take my role as her (honorary) auntie very seriously, and I know that a Ben’s® grilled cheese sandwich will always be a winner! I also knew this was no time to mess around if I want to keep my ‘favorite’ status.

We loaded up the cheese, tossed on some butter and grilled it to perfection. Paired with an apple, she was one happy girl settling into her spot at the table.

 

 

It was love at first bite! 

 

 

 

 

This got me thinking of other ‘go to’ toddler crowd pleasers. 

  • black bean brownies
  • Apple slices with peanut butter dip
  • celery and peanut butter topped with raisins
  • fruit & yogurt smoothies
  • low sodium pretzel sticks with hummus
  • Graham crackers with apple sauce for dipping
  • Zucchini Muffins
  • Peanut butter sandwich cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter
  • Peanut butter & banana rolled in a whole wheat tortilla
  • Sweet potato banana bites (these are so yum!)

What are your fail proof toddler snacks?

Psss…missed our last post on the greatest recipe for stuffing?! Check it out ->here-<

LTL

  P.S. Ben’s® Bakery products are only available in Atlantic     Canada!

Thank you Madison for allowing me to snap some pictures during our supper date !

Sesame Street for the win!

I need to share how I feel about Sesame Street’s newest character- Julia. Spoiler alert- it’s positive!

Julia came to life a few years ago through a digital storybook, but since she was so well received, she had her tv debut on April 10th. She is autistic (and likes people to know), four years old and has bright orange hair.

Above is the full 10 minute clip where Abby Cadabby and Elmo introduce Julia to Big Bird, with help from their human friend Alan. In brief, Big Bird is confused by some of Julia’s behaviours and Alan and the gang explain that Julia does things “a little different” but they can still all be friends and play together.

Sesame Workshop/ HBO

I was thrilled to see Julia added to Sesame Street mix. In my teaching career, I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting many incredible students diagnosed on the autism spectrum. These students flashed through my mind as I watched this clip and I couldn’t help but tear up. Finally- these kids have Julia. It can be complicated to explain how autism affects children to a classroom (and adults!) but teachers/parents- rejoice. We have this clip. And it’s awesome.

Watch it, share it, and bring awareness to austim spectrum disorder.

P.S. Below is a three minute clip providing a bit more background on Julia and how they decided the puppeteer for this inspiring character. It will hit you in the feels!

Spring Stuffing (Apple, cranberry, pecans, oh my!)

Easter weekend is approaching which means 3 things, 1) 4 day weekend (imagine a 4 day work week every week!?), 2) a Thanksgiving sized meal because we live in the east coast and love a reason to have a big family dinner, and 3) chocolate everything. I can only hope my husband is reading this and fills my Easter treat bag with peanut butter eggs.

This year, Ben’s® Bakery is celebrating their 110th anniversary! As a special thank you to their customers, Ben’s® Holsum Fresh White and Whole Wheat breads will feature more than just a makeover on outside of the package. For a limited time, they will also include a handy 4 extra slices to their loaves. This worked out perfect for the huge demands of dressing from our family! More bread for the same price, sign me up. I will put that leftover money towards some peanut butter eggs in the event my hubby doesn’t pull through.

One thing that we take super serious in my family at said dinners is the dressing (known in other places of the world as stuffing) so we cannot deviate too far from the recipe OR how it is cooked. I took it upon myself to change the recipe this year but I am hopeful that it will be well accepted! I cannot stress enough DO NOT SKIP THE LAST STEP. It is both our family secret and the key to making worlds most amazing dressing (full disclosure, we could have easily stolen this secret from google, I have no idea). Needless to say, you will never see our dressing in a casserole dish, we are ‘dressing log’ people all the way!

Bon Appétit

 

Print Recipe
Spring Stuffing (Apple, cranberry, pecans, oh my!)
This is an Easter stuffing recipe that you must try!
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 30-45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 30-45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375F. Grease 2 cookie sheets and spread out bread pieces. Bake for approx. 8 mins until the bread is dry but not too crispy. Spread the pecans out on a third pan and toast in the oven for 5-6 minutes (if you do not have room for a 3rd pan simply put them in a frying pan on medium heat for approx 8-10mins, flipping every 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, apples, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions start to lightly brown. Transfer into the largest bowl you own and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Grease 1 cookie sheet.
  4. Add the bread, broth, eggs, cranberries, pecans, and thyme and toss together. Using your hands will be the most effective to mix!
  5. Now that your hands are dirty, grab the stuffing mixture with both hands and place on the cookie sheet to form two large rows (see photo below).
  6. Bake for 20-25mins
Recipe Notes

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5: The most important step!!

Step 6: Voila!

 

 

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Disconnection

 Jeff and I recently went to Mexico for two weeks and chose to disconnect from the world. Internet was not included in our resort and we opted not to get a wifi package and we had a blissful few weeks. To be truthful, we did go on about 4 times for 30 minutes each time. We wanted to be able to check in and make sure there were no emergencies. However, we were pretty much internet free. I reflected on this experience and decided to share a few of my thoughts.

 

Four things I learned when you disconnect;

  1. Read more– my goal was to read six books.. and I only read 5 and a bit. But, since I wasn’t flipping through my phone in the morning, I was starting my day with a good book and it was very pleasant. I enjoy reading and I loved the books that I took with me.
  2. Chat more– Jeff and I enjoy each others company, but with no texts/calls/work to distract us, we were chatting, joking and laughing even more than normal. We got totally caught up in the details of each others lives and were able to enjoy true quality time in a stress free environment. It was amazing.
  3. Wonder more– things came up over the week where we would have typically googled the answer (real life example was- who originally sang the song “Simply the Best”? or will the book “House in the Sky” become a movie?) We would discuss it and it was just a reminder of our pre-google life. I did create a ‘To Google’ list and when I look back on it, it reminds me of fun chats we had.
  4. Notice more– Being phone free and watching people go about their life is a fun study in human behaviour. We observed the people around us, made up back stories for them and made a point to notice them as we encountered them through the week. Example- there was a precious elderly man from Britain there with his wife (of 50+ years) and they were so happy to be on holiday that watching their joy was better than an insta story I have ever seen.

To sum up, it is not realistic for us to be phone free in our everyday lives, but it was a fun experiment and we have been trying to be online less. Except for my late to the game addiction- Candy Crush. I downloaded it on a whim before our last flight and now I play everyday. It’s good for the brain, right?

10 to ZEN: Meditation , Mindfulness & Monkey Minds

We are so lucky to have a guest blogger today, Terri Gaglardi, who I asked to teach us a few lessons about mindfulness and meditation. I have seen so many posts lately about schools that replaced detention with meditation and I needed to learn more!!

1. What is your business?

I started a company in Calgary called Monkey Minds that teaches kids about mindfulness meditation. We hold workshops which are designed to learn in fun and creative ways how to calm down their “monkey minds.” Teaching children about the science of how our brains work, in that WE are in control of our thoughts can help them deal with big emotions such as worry, fear, anxiety, & frustration.

2. What does a “typical” Monkey Minds workshop look like?
 
I think being a fly on a wall in one of our sessions could be quite funny actually .. our classes can sometimes be a little silly & loud, but we want children to learn these tools in a fun environment. All of our classes have a theme, based on such principles as: practicing gratitude, positive intentions, kindness, big emotions, breathing as a super power etc. We focus on that theme in our meditation, play , worksheets and crafts. The kids always get take homes that can help them in their practice as well as show their parents and caregivers what they learned. At the end of every class, we get comfy and turn down the lights and I take them through a guided meditation. Honestly, I think its what the kids love best about class. 

 

2. What is your definition of  Mindfulness & Meditation?

Mindfulness, simply put is the focusing on the present moment and meditation is state of just being and calming the mind.

3. These words seem to be “popping up” everywhere lately , why do you think that is?

Mindfulness is definitely the “hot” topic these days as is meditation, but these terms are not new. I do think with all the research on practicing both and the profound positive life changes people are experiencing its just bringing it into the light. Life is active, its go go go , People are looking for strategies that help bring a little peacefulness and ways to slow it down.

4. What benefits do you think children can benefit from my learn these tools?

Already I am hearing such positive feedback from children and parents. Using the deep breathing techniques we teach is helping with anger, worry, frustrations, nightmares … and the list goes on. The research and science behind the benefits of meditation and mindfulness is undeniable. It can help us make dramatic positive life changes for kids and adults.

5. What are your dreams for Monkey Minds?

Grow… Grow… Grow… Raising awareness children and parents.

My ultimate dream goal is teaching this in the school system. I have so many great friends & teachers who are supporters that I don’t think that goal is too far off ? Already I have taught in Grades 2& 3 classrooms at my daughters school and have been asked to teach Grade 1’s at another school at the end of the month. Very exciting!

6. What lead you to this business?

While I was on mat leave I started diving into lessons of the universe. I attended training and received certification in Reiki Master as well as Law of attraction. Through research and classes it lead me into learning more about mindfulness and meditation . Initially I was looking for strategies for my daughter to help her with some worry and anxiety she was struggling with. I had taken mindfulness and meditation classes here in Calgary for myself but when I found a training certification program in Edmonton that specialized in teaching children about mindfulness meditation I quickly enrolled…It was truly a wonderful experience and I left with the feeling I was ready to turn my knowledge into a plan … and Monkey Minds was created.

7. Do you just teach children?

I do teach an adult class as well at Modern & Mindful meditation studio in Calgary. This weekend at Monkey Minds I am holding a parent/child workshop so I am very excited to have the parents come and experience our classes too.

8.What about for adults , how we can fit this practice into our busy lives?

The great thing about being mindful and practicing meditation is that we can incorporate it into our daily routines anytime and anywhere. Everything we do from eating, walking, listening, working out, watching t.v to spending time with our kids, we can be mindful. Its being in that moment right here , right now and noticing what is happening and what your are experiencing.

Driving is a big one for me, that is where I do my best thinking and often over thinking. Sometimes when I reach my destination I think ” I don’t even remember driving here.” I am trying to shift and really focus on what I am seeing and experiencing and not being so much on auto pilot. In our world today we are multi-taskers, we have to be or we wouldn’t get it all accomplished… but start by taking one thing in your day, even your morning coffee .. drink it mindfully, notice the flavors and how it makes you feel. Its the practice of bringing your thoughts back to the present moment – like anything , practice makes progress.

Having said that though, don’t do yourself the disservice of not taking a few minutes out of your day to sit in quiet and meditate … even if just for a few minutes.

9. Any last comments to share?

The most important thing I can share is don’t be overwhelmed on the subject. Change doesn’t happen overnight and neither does this. For years I have been reading about meditation, practicing it, giving up and starting over. Being someone who is living mindfully and practicing meditation doesn’t mean you have it all together all the time, always happy, or totally at peace . It’s knowing that it’s out there and knowing you its available to you anytime you want.

Most people say BUT “I can’t just can’t sit there and not think!”

Trust me I get it .. its tough, but every time we do it we learn to notice the thoughts and instead of attaching to them we simply let them go. I still have days where my mind is just going crazy and to sit and meditate feels like a total waste of time but trust me it isn’t. Just don’t overthink it. I tell my Monkey Minds parents the seeds of mindfulness and meditation are being planted, and it is not going to happen overnight, but eventually it gets in and starts to grow and they will start to use what they are learning.

If you are new to meditation I suggest starting off with a guided meditation. You will find lots on you tube, and there are some great apps out there as well.

10. Where can our readers learn more about Monkey Minds?
Check out www.monkeyminds.net and follow us on Facebook. For your PEI readers , Monkey Minds will be spending the summer on the beautiful island and am looking into a hosting a workshop. Please get in touch if interested in joining.

Millennials and job hopping

I was talking to a friend yesterday about her teaching career that she is considering leaving if she does not get moved into a better position within the next 6 months. The reason: the work is not fulfilling, she doesn’t have a sense of personal growth, and finds it mentally draining. This led my husband and I to get chatting about how uncommon it is for our generation to stay in a job long term despite how perfect the job may be on paper. It seems so common for our parents to have retired from a job they were in for 20 or more years. To me, that sounds like pure hell and I am pretty sure I am not alone in that thought. But what is it that is leading our generation to not even be able to do 5 years without feeling completely stuck?

Now I am in absolutely no position to be pointing fingers, my resume is almost embarrassing I have moved jobs so many times in the past 5 years. In fact, since I graduated with my BSc. in 2009 I have done an internship for 6 months, a masters degree, changed jobs 5 times, moved internally 3 times within 1 of those 4, and lived in Ottawa, Ontario; Shenzhen, China; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Timmins, Ontario; and Charlottetown, PEI where I currently reside. Nothing about my resume screams “She is definitely an employee we will be able to retain long term” despite that I am in no way looking to ever leave a job or give the vibe that I’m here for a good time, not a long time. It just happens. The moment there is an opportunity for a new challenge or growth, I am all over it. Surprisingly enough, none of those decisions were ever financial based decisions.

This led me to a web hunt, why do millennial have a permanent ‘it’s complicated’ status with their employer? As it turns out there is a term for millennials in the work force called “job hoppers.” Apparently, employers are less and less turned off by us Hoppers as well and seeing 52 jobs on your resume isn’t such a bad thing anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that employers are looking for a person who cannot retain a job for longer than 3 months but according to Forbes magazine moving around every 1-3 years is seemingly acceptable.

a survey showed that in the US 71% of millennials are not actively engaged in their work place.

How often are we job hopping? The average millennial is hopping 4 times within their first decade after finishing college/university and the younger millennials are even surpassing that. Why you may ask? Although I think that question still gets an ‘it’s complicated’ status, a survey showed that in the US 71% of millennials are not actively engaged in their work place. 71%???????? We, millennials, are a bunch of employable loose canons. What is interesting that in another survey the number one thing that millennials are looking for when applying for a job is the opportunity for learning and growth while compensation came in 6th place. Basically, we aren’t here for the money although its a nice touch.

I think us millennials get a bad rap for being lazy mooches full of debt and living with their parents. However, I think there is more to us. If wanting to find a career that is fulfilling and provides opportunity for growth is a bad thing, then I think we are doing okay as a generation. However, if employers want to keep us, recruitment and retention strategies may need to be at the top of next month’s agenda.

H