What I want for my daughter

London turned 7 years old back on March 10th and I wanted to write a post about the dreams and aspirations I had for and what I was hoping to accomplish as a parent. Although I had a lot of great ideas and thoughts turning in my head, I never could get them on paper.  I wanted to get it perfect but in doing so I came up with nothing, when I should have realized that when it comes to showing your love imperfection would have been better.

Lesson learned.

I started to read The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience by Dr.Martin Selgiman and he addresses how we are experiencing an epidemic of pessimism and hence depression, even in our children, which needs to be addressed. In doing so he reminds us of ultimately what we want for our children and that is ultimately a life of success, physical and mental – overall well-being.  I have slightly modified his words to address what I am aspiring for my daughter.

  • I want more for my daughter than simply a healthy body.
  • I want my child to have a life filled with friendship and love and high deeds.
  • I want her to be eager to learn and be willing to confront challenges.
  • I want my daughter to be grateful for what she receives from us, but to be proud of her own accomplishments.
  • I want her to grow up with confidence in the future, a love of adventure, a sense of justice, and courage enough to act on that sense of justice.
  • I want her to be resilient in the face of setbacks and failures that growing up always brings.
  • And when the time comes, if she wants children I want her to be a good parent.
  • Our fondest hope is that the quality of her life will be better than our own, and our inmost prayer is that she will have all of our strengths and few of our weaknesses.

My ultimate goal is to parent London in whatever way is need to promote resilience and a lifetime of optimism and well-being, where she can truly overcome and setbacks or challenges.


Things change when you are 7, apparently!


IMG_7794-001Although London is very proficient at Grade 1 math, I started to do some math exercises with her back in the fall using the IXL online program. My intention was not to advance her unnecessarily but rather to stretch her brain a little to off-set the time she wants to spend on the ipad.  We got into a great routine up until Christmas and then totally got off track without doing any exercises from the holiday season to now.  I don’t know how she got off so lucky, lol.

So this Saturday, I mentioned to London that I would like her to do a 1/2 hour of math. This was her response, with one hand on her hip:

First, she looked at me in horror, as if I just asked her to clean the toilet.

Then she said, “When I was 6 I loved math. Things have changed, I am 7 now and don’t love it. So…” and then silence.

The “So” and then silence meant that it is not her problem but mine and implied we had to move on now that she 7.

Of course I looked at her in disbelief with the attitude demonstrated but had to laugh at the same time.

I inquired cautiously “so, now that you are 7 you don’t believe you need to do any more math?”

She said “right, things have changed now.”

I told her that although things might have changed when she is 7, there was still lots to learn and I still wanted her to do some math exercises.

She stomped off.

I needed time to figure out how I was going to still coax her to do these math exercises without making her hate them, so I backed off temporarily.

Later in the day, she proudly went to her father to show how she created her own math problems – 4 pages worth. Not only did she create all the questions on the sheets but she answered them all.  Although her questions weren’t exactly the ones I wanted her to do, I was impressed by her initiative and also the creativity she showed in some of her questions.  Phew, we are still moving forward in the right direction.

Write it down

Before the New Year arrives I have a few areas in the house that I want better organized, although it is silly to think that one day can create such a cleansing divide it truly does for me.  In one of the paper stacks that needs to be dealt with I came across a book where I wrote out our Must Haves and Nice to Haves when looking for a new house in Calgary.  In writing out the list we were up against a few challenges, including not knowing the city, needing a house that was wheelchair accessible or could accommodate one, and be within our price range.  Here was what was on our list.

Must Haves

  1. 3 bedrooms or 2 bedrooms, 1 large one for the girls
  2. No more than 15 minute drive to Reilly’s school
  3. Good school for London
  4. >1200 square feet
  5. No immediate highway (noise)
  6. No L or curved staircase
  7. At least a single car garage
  8. Not on a busy street, such as Leslie, Bayview, Bathurst equivalent

Nice to Haves

  1. Neighborhood with young families
  2. 4th bedroom in the basement
  3. Large Bungalow
  4. Excellent school nearby for London
  5. 30-40 minute commute to downtown
  6. Near a park
  7. Near pathways/Outdoor stuff – ice rink
  8. Double car garage
  9. Only 1 lift in the house

Actual house characteristics:

  1. 3 bedrooms main floor
  2. 5km to Reilly and London’s school – both are great
  3. 1200 square feet
  4. Bungalow and straight staircase to the basement
  5. Double car garage
  6. Not on a busy street
  7. Lots of young families (under 4) on the street
  8. 4th bedroom in the basement
  9. Large Bungalow – we have successfully had 15 people over for a sit-down dinner
  10. 17 minute bus ride commute to downtown
  11. Park is 2 minutes away along with an outdoor ice rink

I would have to say in looking back on this list we pretty much got what we wanted given what we penned to paper.  Of course we had to make compromises in making this move, overall square footage, closet space, master bedroom en-suite, etc but I have to say this is the first house that really feels comfortable.

So comfortable that London and the previous house owner’s eldest daughter have become school BFF’s (they ended up in the same Spanish bilingual class) and I have become good friends with the mom.  On one level it is weird that we have forged these bonds but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me given that they were in this house for 11 years and we fell in love with it just the same. It certainly has been put to the test over the holidays as we host and entertain family and it just shows you that you don’t need a massive house when you have a very functional layout.

This past year has been full of challenges, especially since we have arrived in Calgary but looking at this list is a good reminder that when we envision something you want, it can be made possible.


Kids say the darnest things

IMG_6478 R1The other day at dinner this little girl asked us, “how come there are very few men with blonde hair”?

We have no idea where this came from.

She then said “there are a lot of women with blond hair but not men”.

Under his breath Mike made the comment that “the curtains often do not match the carpet” and thankfully it was out of earshot of London.  Or else he would have been responsible for trying to get off on explaining that one.

In my head, I started scanning on all the men in my life – close and distant friends/family/former work colleagues and she is right there are very few men that truly have blonde hair but far more women who have legitimately blonde or dirty blonde hair.  I didn’t have a good reason for her.

Mike mentioned that there are more men with blonde hair from Scandinavian countries but that truly didn’t give any further clue as to the disparity in hair colour between the two sexes in adult life over here.

London’s 3 year old male cousin has very light blonde hair and apparently Dad also had the same hair colour when he was young and now sports dark brown hair.   It is typical for sure that as you get older your hair colour gets darker but going from pale blonde to dark brown is quite a stark change.

Well London, you have stumped us on this one. Go ask your teacher.


What dirty socks can teach you

By SimpleCrafter

By SimpleCrafter

This morning London taught me a very important lesson.

Back in the late spring I started insisting that she put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Given how busy life was at the time for me, I gave her very little direction and it became habit that almost every morning she would put her PJ’s in the laundry basket and at the end of the day her school clothes.  Needless to say I was doing a lot of laundry but at the time it worked.

Since being in the new house I feel that I am doing even more laundry than before and asked London to use the same PJ’s for at least three days before putting them in the laundry and with respect to her school clothes, if it isn’t dirty, put them away for another use.   I gave her no other directions and just assumed she would know what to do.

So this morning I went to get a jacket from her closet and noticed the dress she had on yesterday afternoon was put in the laundry basket. I essentially berated the girl when I questioned why it was in the laundry basket when it was only worn briefly the day before and was far from dirty.  Then because we had a late start to the morning I helped her get dressed.  She asked what she should do with the underwear she had on from the night before, as she had an evening shower and had only worn it over-night.  She was now visibly confused about what should go in the laundry basket and what shouldn’t.  Doh!  Poor girl, how should she know the full ins and outs of what goes in if I never broke it down in great detail.  I wrongly assumed that she would learn through osmosis or mind reading or something else unrealistic.

I apologized for not giving her all the rules so to speak about laundry and told her the following:

  • Underwear and socks from the previous day always go in the laundry.  You start fresh each morning – she already knew that you get a fresh pair each day but I totally think I threw her off this morning and it is always better to clarify or over communicate then under communicate
  • School clothes go in the laundry if they are dirty – obvious signs of dirt or doing something that makes sense to wash the clothes (i.e. farm field trip/sports activity/etc)
  • Pajamas every 3-4 days unless they are dirty
  • Towels – use them more or less for the week
  • If she is ever not sure just ask!

I just assumed she would know what to do but that was so unrealistic given that I gave her such a broad request to keep her room tidy which included putting her clothes away and using the laundry basket.  It was an important lesson not only in parenting but also as a former manager (and hopefully another one some time in the future), especially working with a diverse workforce that may not necessarily be familiar or accustomed to local norms/customs/practices.

It all comes down to communication, not just one way directives but two-way communication that involves a feedback loop.  This laundry situation is such a simple little thing but for me it was an eureka moment that as a parent I just assume that London will just know what to do, especially since she is so precocious with other things.

I believe all of us need to ask ourselves when someone doesn’t meet our expectations, whether they even had a realistic chance of meeting them to begin with, especially if we fail to communicate what we are expecting a person to do or give them the appropriate resources as the case may be to even attempt to be successful.

Now off to do some laundry…

Kids say the Darnest Things

While I was doing London’s hair in the bathroom she asked “Do we have meat inside of us?”
I said, “well our muscles are technically meat”.
She then asked “where do our ribs come from?”
Now here I am thinking she is wondering how do our ribs come to be inside us and so I answer “they grow inside us.”
Apparently I didn’t answer the right question as she immediately interrupted and asked about the ribs we eat.  So then I become confused for she is asking about our ribs and eating ribs in the same conversation. So not so delicately I ask her “do you think they (the ribs we eat) come from humans? How?”
She then cocked her head, stuck our her tongue to one side, closed her eyes to represent being dead.  I couldn’t keep my laughter in and said “NO, the ribs we eat certainly don’t come from humans.  They come from cows and pigs.”
Of course her reply, “oh okay” as if her inquiry was nothing more than being confused with pigs/cows and chickens. LOL.
At first I wasn’t sure why she would ever think we would eat parts of dead humans, trust me when I say we don’t practice cannibalism. However, I have to admit that I have joked with her for many years now that I would like to nibble on her leg for desert, as it is full of lean muscle, which she would recoil in horror, but I would always let her know that I am teasing.
In thinking through this further though we are probably like most families and don’t talk about where stuff really comes from, for all London sees is meat being nicely packaged from the supermarket and generic terms like ‘we are having chicken for dinner’ or ‘steak’ or ‘meatballs’ but for all she knows ‘meat’ could come from some crazy factory that recycles human parts – ooh gross.
Here is to greater education on the meat side of life!

Panic on classroom size

The Friday afternoon before the school year started we received a welcome call from London’s new teacher introducing herself and giving us some information about the upcoming year.  My husband took the call and took down all the information and afterwards relayed it to me, which included the fact that London would be in a class with 40 students and 2 teachers.  Immediately I flipped, for having 40 kids in one space to me spelled D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R.  simply from a noise/distraction  know this first hand after volunteering in London’s kindergarden class.  For the last two years (JK &SK), London was in a cramped class of 30 classmates for JK &SK and the noise levels were honestly deafening.  Every time we left her room after volunteering for an hour, it took awhile for our nervous system  to calm back down. So of course when we both heard about the size of London’s class we panicked thinking this was not the right class for her. Oh and did I mention, London was entering a Spanish Bilingual program?

So I immediately phoned the schools principal to understand further how this was going to work and was told she was in a meeting. I left my contact information and a brief message on how I was concerned about the class size.  So then I phoned a couple of other schools, including Reilly’s school to see if they would accept London in case we decided to move her.  The funny thing is when London heard about the class size on her own she on her own was a little mortified, again because of what it could mean on the noise front.  The good news is that Reilly’s school would still accept London if we wanted to make a change.

By dinner time, I had not received any call back from the principal and was still flipping out as to this news.  At 8.15 pm the phone rang and it was the principal phoning from home. You could hear her kids in the background and she said as a mom she didn’t want me to worry about this all weekend and wanted to answer my questions.  I truly appreciated that and she proceeded to tell me that it was the two teachers that wanted to co-teach or team teach this class and by following this approach they believe the kids would have better learning experiences then if the class was split into two.  The principal assured me that this decision was not one to save money, or due to limited space in the school.  She said she could not guarantee that it would work but she does have experience with these types of classes at other schools and they often work.

An hour before that call I was ready to move London but afterwards I was willing to give it a go.  So we are now just over one week into school and the class is down to 36 students, I assume some parents weren’t willing to take the risk after hearing the last minute news.  So far though on our front it is working out well. Each teacher has about 18 students under their primary administration duty and then I gather they coordinate their teaching exercises from there.   We have parent teacher conferences at the end of next week so we will understand further how it works but the fact that London looks forward to going to school is a plus.  Unfortunately when I ask her about her favourite part of the day it is always recess.  LOL.

Photo taken of London this past weekend at Spruce Meadows.

Photo taken of London this past weekend at Spruce Meadows.