“I want to get organized”…. this is what I often hear at this time of year. I wanted to share with you a fantastic organizing product for your home office.. STAPLES Canada sent an assortment of items from the fabulous Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery available exclusively at STAPLES Canada. >>> read more
Get the lessons we can all use to lead our best possible lives. My journey discovering myself and learning what Oprah has to teach me while visiting Chicago. >>> read more
A client called me in to discuss ideas for organizing her basement and storage area. She showed me her back storage room. It had a variety of items. >>> read more
I told you a few weeks ago that I had the opportunity to host three of my blogger friends for dinner. So last Friday we got together at my house, chilled some wine, made a meal and had a wonderful time. Our #winewithchicken evening was hosted by these three great sponsors: Chicken Farmers of Canada, Chateau des Charmes Wines and Emily Henry. >>> read more
We relived the stories of that horrific morning with our children so that they could understand what we saw, how we felt, where we where. It was 11 years ago... We were incredulous about what was unfolding before our eyes..his would be our ‘Kennedy’ moment – the defining moment of our generation. >>> read more
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Happpppy Father’s Day! Just wanted to drop you a line and say hello. How are you? I hope you are having a great time. I sure do miss you.
This is a first for both of us, isn’t it? It should not be strange, we have been separated on Father’s Day before haven’t we? When I lived in Montreal and you were in London. When I lived in Toronto, I always came home to see you. To celebrate with you. Long before I had children, when my siblings already had children and they were celebrating their Father’s Day as a family. But back then, Father’s Day to me was my special day with you. No husband or Father-in-law to take the spotlight from you.
I missed out on those Father’s Day when I lived in Vancouver and then Edmonton. It was eight years of long distance phone calls or sentimental Father’s Day cards. Mom told me once that you use to keep those cards, in between the pages of your cookbooks, I think. Just to see them again and remind you of the children that were far away. I was not the only one. We were all far way from you at one point in time.
But fortunately for the last 13 years I have been with you celebrating the wonderful father that you are. During the day, I was likely with my husband and our children as he celebrated his special day as a father. You and I would have seen each other most certainly on that day. When you were still living at home with mom, you would have insisted that I spend it with the father in our house. You so loved my Paul. You admired him for being a great dad and a great husband. You never had one bad thing to say about him…at least to me you didn’t. One year you said, I was very lucky to have him… you paused… then you said, “No, HE is very lucky [to have you]” You made me smile that day.
I find myself reminiscing about the things you use to say. The stories you use to tell. They weren’t all the nicest things or the wisest things but they usually were the funniest things.
It took me years to appreciate who you were as a father. You were encouraging, at times brutally honest and sometimes just plain wrong. But you were my old man and I loved you anyway. We all loved you…we celebrated Father’s Day as a family the last three years. We were never sure if we would have a ‘next time’ with you.
It is the first Father’s Day without you and I fear how sad I will be tomorrow and the days after that.
It is Father’s Day and you are no longer here with me.
It makes me sad to even write those words because it makes it real.
The thing is, I know you are having fun.
You are no longer blind, you are no longer in a wheelchair, you are smoking and drinking and having a heck of a time.
You are dancing and crooning old songs with your best buds.
You have re-united with your parents & brother.
You are eating whatever you want – no diabetes or heart disease to worry about.
You are laughing… oh, y.e.s. y.o.u a.r.e. You are smiling and laughing and waiting for the day that we will all be together again.
I miss you papis… I miss you so much.
Happy Father’s Day Gordisimo...
I love you the most.
Friday, 14 June 2013
When can I go back? When can I return to Pioneer Camp? That is what my 12 year old son said to me as we were pulling away from the zip line & high rope course at Ontario Pioneer Camp. You have no idea what those words mean to me. My son wants to go to camp and I don’t have to worry about him. Worrying is par for the course. My son was diagnosed with PDDNOS on the Autism Spectrum when he was about 9 years old.
What does that mean? It means that there are some accommodations that need to be made because he has some minor sensory processing and subtle socializing issues (too much noise or too many people), reading social cues (stop talking… no, really, stop talking or you’re standing too close, remember my personal space). To complicate matters, H. was also diagnosed as ‘gifted’ so that means he is really, really smart. He absorbs copious amounts of information and likes to disseminate (talk, talk, talk) said information.
So, you have to be patient with him and listen, even when you have lost interest. He is also obsessed with video games… as many boys are but he brings it to an obsessive extreme sometimes. So all-in-all, he is not your typical boy.
Considering an overnight camp 4 hours away from home without his sisters, parents or teachers to ‘buffer’ him from those that just don’t get really him… well, that is a stretch for us. Then I saw a-pot-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow. I was introduced to the very talented and dedicated and faith focused staff at OPC.
We had the privilege of going to Ontario Pioneer Camp for a weekend of family fun and relaxation. Correction: forget the relaxation stuff, there are far too many things to do at OPC to even think about relaxing.
Back to H. and his request to return. I had never considered sending him to an overnight camp as it has always been challenging for any camp leader to have him. We had sent him to day camps before but I was always happy to have him home at the end of the day hoping to have dodged a ‘he’s had a bad-day’ conversation. In the day camps, the schedules were short and more importantly, the sports were limited.
The thing is H. is very cerebral and not very athletic. Frankly, he hates sports. He doesn’t like playing them, he doesn’t like watching them. He doesn’t really like participating in them…. You can see the conflict that would be created in going to a ‘sports’ camp. He doesn’t skate (the ice rink was too cold and he would shut down, quickly), he hasn’t mastered how to ride a bike (it is too tipsy, too fast, too unstable), he doesn’t like team sports (he lacks good hand-eye co-ordination, understanding cues and following rules can be difficult) so any sport that requires co-operation with other players can be a bad thing.
Fortunately, Ontario Pioneer Camp has all sorts of different activities that he could chose from that would be challenging for him and would provide the opportunity to learn new social and physical skills. More importantly, OPC has an inclusion program that works with special needs kids. *BONUS*. The staff is well versed in understanding the needs of autistic children. Let me repeat that for you… The staff is well versed in understanding the needs of autistic children… His needs… My SON’s needs. THAT is HUGE because sometime these kids need a little extra dose of patience when tackling new adventures.
Just a few of the AWESOME staff that helped us and guided us at OPC (photo Credit: OPC Facebook Page)
This weekend he tried the rock climbing wall. I wasn’t sure how this would roll out. He had a tough time at first but as he continued to climb up,the whole group and the counsellors kept encouraging him, yelling to him to keep going, to take one more step. Proudly, he made it to the top to successfully ring the cow bell. I was thinking that this would be a one shot deal… o.k., at least he tired it *sigh… I was surprised as I turned around and found him climbing up again.
All three of my children on the Rock Climbing Wall: DD2 in red, DD1 in pink, DS1 in the striped fleece
This time it was smoother, faster and with less hesitation. He had watched his sister tackle the wall (actually race each other to the top). He was taking in the techniques that he needed to conquer the wall. Then, he just went ahead and did it again!
- successfully Rock Climbing– TWICE check
We then proceeded to the low ropes (obstacle course). This is a series of ropes, swings, boards, & barrels that you climb, swing on, tightrope walk, pull yourself on and balance on. Once again, he tackled it with some trepidation but overall was intrigued by the challenge.
Remember this is a very analytical kid so doing something for the ‘thrill’ of it is not his usual motivation. Being able to unravel the mystery of how to accomplish the task is quite another. I didn’t make the connection with video games until later.
Do you see the connection?
Well if you know anything about Mario Brothers or Kirby or Pikman, you know that they have to accomplish tasks in order to get the prize at the end. So H. was looking at the low ropes as just another puzzle to solve. His take on this physical task was about problem solving not physical strength.
So the fact that he could understand how to tackle the two horizontal barrels and conquer them (as opposed to both his sisters falling off – and failing) was a huge confidence booster.
Ontario Pioneer Camp has a few key elements that would help H. become a more confident boy: a loving supportive, mature and professional staff. Yes, the male counsellors were encouraging and understanding of his hesitation. However true to form, H managed to charm one of the female counsellors. Courtney was incredible with him as she encouraged him to go climb the 45 foot pole and go on the zip line in the more challenging Zip Line and High Ropes course.
The Zip Line & High Ropes course at OPC is new, extremely safe and very, very challenging. I was amazed at how H. climbed up the poll with minimal hesitation. He did not, however, have any hesitation stepping off the zip line platform. I think that the climb up the rock climbing wall helped him overcome the challenge of climbing the very high utility pole. The encouragement from Andrew (Lead of the Adventures Camps) was also very helpful.
- successfully jumping off the ZIP LINE check
Another challenging activity that we tried was archery. First of all, who knew it would be so difficult. I mean it seems simple enough when you saw it in the Hunger Games. Katniss did it with her eyes closed. You just pull out an arrow from your trusty backpack, aim and shoot. right? Seems simple enough. I had a tough time co-coordinating all that I had to do but H. seemed to have master the stance pretty easily.
As per his usual-self, he wanted to just fling a few arrows up above the target so they would go flying into the forest. “Nope” I said, keep it focused. I have to say that this activity made me a bit nervous because H. does not always take in the actions in his surroundings. So he might just pick that arrow that was 5 feet from the platform ‘because its so close’. Ugh… these are the little things that I worry about.
But for naught… there was a counsellor there (Courtney – again) to guide and explain to him the safety issues. So he tried and conquer this too.
- successful launching of arrows check
On to our next task.
I am not a boater. I don’t like going in boats: lasers, catamarans, row boats, pontoons, motor boats, kayaks, you name it in boating and I avoid it. I need to take some serious boaters exam or instructions before I get into a boat again. It is clear to me I need to learn more about boat safety… but I digress.
The one type of boat I really am not keen on is canoes… and not just any canoes but WAR canoes or Voyageur canoes. Why you ask? Well, because you are in a huge canoe with a lot (and I mean a lot) of other people (adults, kids, everyone). As more get in, it gets heavier & heavier. You usually have a few guides and the rest of you are paddling, trying to keep the canoe afloat.
Stop the madness and let me out…I was not keen on getting into these boats but show this fear to my kids… I will not do. So I got daughter to take my son in the canoe without me.
Let me be perfectly clear AT NO TIME WERE ANY OF THE PEOPLE IN THE BOAT IN ANY DANGER. The staff are all professionals and very skilled, there was a small motor boat (that I was in) circling around all the canoes ensuring everyone was safe. This was not their issue… it was (is) clearly mine.
As you can see, my son, was not impacted by my anxiety because he is looking rather happy about the whole thing. So…
- successful paddling across a lake in a war canoe check
Once we were at the Girl’s Camp the kids had the opportunity to go flying down the water slide into the cold, cold water. To say the least, I was stunned when my son wanted to go down it. He was all for it and swoosh… down he came.
- successful sliding down monster slide check
As you can tell, there were many firsts during our weekend at Ontario Pioneer Camp. There was nothing that he didn’t like and wasn’t encouraged to try. He left a happy guy but more importantly he asked: “When can I go back?”
Disclosure: My family was invited to Ontario Pioneer Camp to experience what they had to offer. No other compensation was received. All opinions and reviews of the camp are written by Margarita Ibbott of DownshiftingPRO. This is one of a series of post that I have chosen to write – because OPC is THAT good.. Here was the first.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Every Thursday the lovely and talented Sarah from Journeys of The Zoo hosts a BlogLovin’ Blog Hop. Its always fun to join in and check out new blogs to follow. This week she has asked me to co-host with her.
How could a girl pass up an offer like that? No way, Jose!
If you are unfamiliar with blog hops they are a quick means to an end. The end being you find more friends to follow on bloglovin’ who will follow you back on bloglovin’. It is pretty straight forward:
1. Don't have a BlogLovin account?Check out these step-by-step instructions by Fabulous Blogging and find out what the buzz is about.
2. My Co-host is...Sarah from Journeys of The Zoo is an awesome specimen of hilarity that blogs about all things Family, loves supporting the little guys and excessively using dots... Follow her blog to find out. Note that Sarah may actually have written this
3. Just one Rule.In the "URL" field, please put a link to your direct BlogLovin profile. Mine is: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4900033
4. We Follow Back.Guess what? We will follow you back… that is the bonus you get for signing up. But wait… In order for this to be successful, we hope that you will follow others too.
5. Please Spread The Word.Tweet
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Best Weekend ever! Thanks OPC
Monday, 10 June 2013
Makobi Scribe and Sason and Pobi are bringing you this Amazon Twitter blast. The winner will receive an Amazon gift card for $100. The giveaway is open to Everyone :) Good Luck! If you are a blogger, you can sign up for this blast here.
Sunday, 9 June 2013
Chicken Farmers Partners with Swimming Canada! Help Name the PEEPS - WIN $100 Gift Card! ends June 19
How fun is this?
You can name the two Pool Peeps for the Chicken Farmers of Canada and Swimming Canada summer pool and swimming safety promotion. The collaboration between the two organizations was announced after Chicken Canada has officially been named the “the official protein of swimming in Canada.”
As you know, I am a Chicken Farmer of Canada Brand Ambassador and I was pretty happy to see this collaboration. As a lifelong swimmer, perennial swimming instructor and past Program Manager at Excel Swim School I am a strong advocate of swimming lessons and swimming safety.
Swimming Canada is the national governing body of competitive swimming. They encourage Canadians to embrace an active lifestyle of swimming, sport, fitness and health. The federation comprises 75,000 members and 400 swim clubs across the country.
Swimming Canada and Chicken Farmers (check out this recent blog post on the CFC blog) working to promote healthy living & water safety.
To celebrate the partnership, Chicken Farmers of Canada has created these 4 adorable “Pool Peeps” and need your help naming 2 of them!
WIN by Naming the “Pool Peeps”
Kicker and Splash’s siblings need your help! The two peeps have signed up for swimming lessons at their local pool but don’t have a name to put down on their registration form. Kicker and Splash are asking you to submit a name for the two peeps so they can participate in their lessons this summer.
All you have to do is submit your idea for a name for each “nameless” peep via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 19th and you will have a chance to win one of two $100 gift certificate for Toys R’ Us. The names should be age appropriate and should not include names covered by copyright, represent commercial products or be inappropriate for a family audience.
To see the details, rules and regulations please visit: Name the Pool Peeps Contest.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada program by ShesConnected. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this program. The opinions on this blog are my own. I am a big fan of swimming lessons so I am so happy to support @SwimmingCanada
Friday, 7 June 2013
One of the other reasons I love being on McGill Ave. is that it is steps to St. Catherine’s Street (one of the best shopping streets in Montreal). This is the streets where to biggest retailers in Canada once resided: Eaton’s, The Hudson’s Bay Company, Simpsons, Birks. Alas, there are only two of those four giants left – HBC and Birks.The fortunate thing is that one of the most progressive and fashion forward retailers in Canada has taken over the iconic Simpsons store.
Welcome to the retail game Simon. You are newer to the rest of Canada but you have become an established player on the Montreal scene. I discover Simon a few years ago when I was on another visit back to Montreal and I found myself shopping yet again (yes, my workout is shopping for 6 hours – don’t judge me).
As I said, whenever I am in Montreal I now make a pilgrimage to Simon because it is…well… oh so cool. Whether it is the latest fashions, the extremely helpful and customer focused personnel, Simon is the place to be.
I tell you, there is NO ONE that can beat the shopping experience at Simon. The sales associates are plentiful, they will assist you however they can and if someone makes a mistake in pricing, they gladly honour the price – with a smile. They were also nice enough to let me take a picture of them because I thought they were soooooooo fashionable.
What he is wearing:
I look at his unique style and find myself surrounded by fashionably dressed men – that's what happens when you’re in Montreal. Young, old black, white, Asian, Latino, Anglophone, Francophone – all fashion forward. I wish I had more willing models in my children but alas, they did not want to model my funky purchases so… you’ll just have to imagine these outfits on 14 and 16 year old girls.
This had been a long shopping excursion and I had walked through most of the store browsing every aisle and every rack to see what I could find for my girls. There was no shortage of choices for two teenage girls. So this is what I picked up for them.
Here are the super cool leggings that I got DD2 they were a rainbow of colour and it goes with just about everything. I was a bit worried but I know that she would love it. I was right!
For DD1: I picked up these Buffalo Jeans. They are a beautiful indigo that then shades into purple & pink with a bird pattern in black. I know the description doesn’t do it justice but she was T.H.R.I.L.L.E.D. with the effect.
I wanted these patterned jeans for myself… but I got these for my DD1. Thank goodness for technology as I sent a picture to my daughter before I got them. I remember when I was young that I always wanted to get my very own pair of Buffalo jeans… *sigh* I just want to be a teen again…
Who doesn’t like a little sparkle and sequins? I sure do. I think this bathing suit was so cute. I decided to get DD1 two tops so she can shake it up a bit. You are truly only young once so I think she will look darling in this bikini.
Lastly, I bought a slew of hosiery at Simons because I think it has THE BEST SELECTION of any department store in Canada. I love, love, love this department. I bought some beautiful fishnets, tights and socks but I cannot show you pictures of them because I am saving those for the fall for the girls. Since they read my blog on occasion, I don’t want them to see them yet!
I cannot say enough about the unique and high quality selection of merchandise at Simons. If you can’t be there in person then at the very least shop on-line. Its not the same as the personal touch that you get in this iconic store but it might just be better then you had hoped.
I know I’ll be back… they have a fan in me!
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