Five Worthy Causes For Your Kind Consideration On Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday.

What’s Giving Tuesday?

Well think of it as the Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) of charity.

Giving Tuesday is like “opening day of the giving season.”

It is a day to think about others and to take advantage of a doubling of your dollars because many charitable organizations have a “matching” sponsor. This means that you literally double your donation in some cases.

Give $20 and your organization receives $40.

Donate $50 and voila $100 goes to your favourite fund.

How cool is that?

You can learn more about Giving Tuesday here (please do!) but I want to quickly share with you a handful of my favourite organizations, in case you want to make a donation before midnight!

Free The Children Free The Children is the brainchild of Craig and Marc Keilburger and you can read all about how they founded this amazing organization and the subsequent We, Me To We, and We Day awesomeness here.

David Suzuki Foundation – I have been a fan of David Suzuki for as long as I can remember. A few years back, he actually stepped down as the head of his own foundation to take attention away from his own struggles with a government that seemed determined to paint him as a radical. Oh! He’s radical alright! Radically awesome!

World Wildlife Foundation (Canada) – I hope you know about WWF Canada, for the love of our planet. This organization is famous for its symbolic wildlife adoptions (which make fabulous gifts for Things of all ages), Earth Hour, and many other initiatives. I wear my feelings for WWF Canada on my sleeve and I make no apologies for it. I wrote a guest blog way back when. I have written about it here on my blog and also here. We have one home. It’s the planet we live on. It’s time to show it the respect it deserves, isn’t it?

Because I Am A Girl – I am! You might be. Thing 2 is. My sister is. My mother, too. You either are one, have one or were made by one. Girls matter! Educating girls improves the lives of everyone. BIAAG Canada is taking this knowledge and sharing it around the world. You may have heard about their Pink Lemonade Stands and their using small actions to drive big change initiatives. How wonderful! We are big fans and my face goes all gigantic grin every time Thing 2 emerges from her room in the morning sporting her pink BIAAG T-shirt. “Girls’ rights are human rights.” Your darn right they are!

BIAAG, Thing 2,

Malala Fund – Oh Malala! What a wonderful human being! If ever there was a person with a higher purpose than she ever could have known, it is Malala Yousafzai. Malala is an education activist and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She was in school when the call came that she had won. She told her teacher she would finish her studies for the day. Malala is walking the talk. I am a fan. Her book is beautiful, the children’s adaptation is great, and now there is even a movie!

So, whether you donate, share, learn or do some small act of kindness today you have taken part in Giving Tuesday and you have made a difference.

What you do matters.

I, for one, appreciate it.

Thank you!

Thankful Thursday: Bloggy Goodness Edition!

time to blog

Oh gee! Is that the time?

Whoopsiedoodle!

Normally, I might ask, “How did this happen?” or wax poetic about the day getting away from me, but you know what? Thursday was a bit kooky and I know exactly how this happened and where my time went.

Today was a very weird day. It felt at once like a Friday (Yay!) and a Monday (Boo!). That is simply not a good feeling for tired parent brains.

We had the day off yesterday for Remembrance Day and tomorrow is an Assessment and Evaluation day for teachers, so for the second time this week the Things don’t have school.

Thursday was just a weird day from beginning to end.

The chaos of the morning took its toll and I decided it was better for my kids to make their buses happily than it would have been to have a couple of cranky curmudgeons, stressed to the max, running late.

This meant, of course, that Mom’s Delivery Service was going to have to hit the road with lunches, etc.

This also meant that my morning was gone in the blink of an eye.

Oy!

Oh well. That’s life as a parent. It’s a constant pull between enabling and teaching.

Is this the right time for natural consequences?

Am I doing them a disservice by bringing them the things they need?

Will they never remember to hand in those assignments that are in their backpacks?

Should I let them squirm a little wondering if they will have lunch today?

Let me save you some (precious) time.

The answer is no.

No. Natural consequences happen naturally all the time. The chaos of the morning was out of the ordinary today and certainly not the fault of anyone in particular. It wouldn’t have helped to assign blame. It would have added to the tension that was already brewing, though, and no one needed that.

No. I am not doing them a disservice by remaining calm and making sure they get to school on time.

No. One day they will remember all the things they need all on their own. (Though, not perfectly and every single time because they are human just like me. Just like you.) Since today was sandwiched between two “no school” days (and because it is a Fake Friday, the last day of the week) it was also the last day of the term and therefore the last day to hand in assignments and have them count towards this term’s grades. No brainer! If you understood executive function, you’d see things (Things!) my way. (Perhaps a post is in order.)

No. No. That’s just mean. I don’t want them to worry that they won’t be fed. Who would want that? No one, right? I hope no one would want that. Life is stressful enough without tossing fear of food security in the mix. No. Just no.

All this to say, I thought maybe I would share some of my favourite parenting blog posts here tonight instead of writing very much myself. (Oops! Too late!) Sometimes the best cure for wondering and worrying about whether or not you are doing the right thing, is to read what other people are doing. Sometimes it makes you think. Sometimes it makes you laugh. Sometimes it makes you cringe. Sometimes it simply takes your mind off of your own private little internal conflicts long enough for you to realize there’s nothing to worry about at all.

So without further ado, I give you 5 blog posts I really appreciate.

First there was this gem from Yummy Mummy Club which made me laugh out loud, lament my own, ever present, Mt. Laundry, and then think, ‘Heeeeyyyy! She’s onto something!’

Next up this touching post from Curtains Are Open that highlights the, seemingly, crazy lengths great Moms will go to for their kids (and everyone else’s, apparently!) and the beautiful outcomes that can happen when you do.

Have you been spending too much time with your iThing and not enough time with your eyes on your Things? Maybe we should all consider this post from Mommy’s Weird a litmus test. We have the power to unplug. We do!

If you feel a sudden and acute lack of confidence about how you are raising your girls, at any time, please read this truly excellent post from Yummy Mummy Club. It’s all about the honesty. You’ve got this.

Finally, I enjoy so much over at Schmutzie.com so often, I would be remiss to not include it here. I especially appreciate Grace In Small Things because well, I really do appreciate grace in small things. Who doesn’t? Go read. You will not regret it.

So there you have it.

I am tired.

It’s so late.

I have so much to get done tomorrow.

Tomorrow will take care of itself, right?

First, this tired Mamma needs some serious zeds.

How was your Thursday?

Source

In Which We Express Our Frustrations About Toothpaste

Ramona Quimby Toothpaste Waster

I have been using the same brand of toothpaste for my whole life. I love it. It makes my teeth feel clean and my breath fresh. It is just the right kind of mint and provides the perfect level of teeth cleaning frothiness while I brush.

I have stuck with the same brand and upgraded to different “new and improved” variations within the same brand when one would appeal to me (and as I got older and was the one paying for it). I went through all the developments; paste, gel, cool mint, baking soda, tartar control, and finally my favourite extra whitening. Oh the joy when that little innovation entered my life!

I like taking care of my teeth. I smile a LOT. I want to be an old woman with a great and happy, healthy, smile. So, I prided myself on getting the best for myself and for my family.

I am not big into make-up and all that goes along with it, but I fell for whitening toothpaste –  brush, paste and flosser.

So, imagine my chagrin upon learning that my toothpaste is among the worst offenders from an environmental and health perspective. The very product I was so enamoured with is loaded with microbeads!

Do you know what microbeads are?

Microbeads are invasive little specs of plastic that are showing up in places they should not be. They are in so many cosmetics that it is easier to list the products they are NOT in than to name the ones they have invaded. It is pervasive. It is terrible.

Would you voluntarily give your kids plastic to swallow?

Never!

Would you choose to eat a healthy meal of baked, plastic microbead infused fish?

Of course not!

Do you think that rubbing your body with plastic makes it cleaner or worse do you think you need microbeads to have a good complexion?

Well …

I, for one, am horrified at the lengths we humans seem to be willing to go for the sake of some arbitrarily conjured beauty standard.

I feel betrayed.

I miss my favourite toothpaste.

We immediately threw out the offending brand and vowed never to use it again.

Then we had our teeth cleaned at our Dentist’s Office.

I bet you know where this is going …

You know those little tubes of toothpaste the Dental Hygienist hands you – along with a new toothbrush and a teeny travel sized floss – as she tells you you have no cavities, but you should floss more (even though you floss all the time. Seriously. Is there some kind of Dental Hygienist pact wherein it is written that they have to bring up the flossing at every, single appointment? I really want to know, but I digress .. where was I? Right! Dentist gifts!)? Yes the teeny tube of National Brand name toothpaste.. you know the one, right? Well it was the very same offending brand we had sworn off.

We had to ask.

Why is this brand being handed out? Are you concerned about the microbeads? How can we avoid them?

Now, you need to know that we happen to have a lovely Dentist and a fantastic Dental Hygienist. We asked our questions out of true curiosity and not at all with righteous indignation*. We intended to strike up a conversation about our concern not because our concerns are more important than anyone else’s, but because our concerns were (and are) very real and though in this case they are very much our concerns, they really ought to be your concerns too.

We had a good chat about it and the conclusion was they are in “everything” and you “can’t avoid them”. How scary is that?

I’ll tell you how scary. PFOA scary. That’s how scary.

You don’t know me well enough to know all my stories yet, but we here at Chez Peady are pretty savvy when it comes to the environment and we try our best to not make the planet – you know, the ONE place we have to call home – worse off by living our lives with nary a concern for our fellow humans, the water, the wind and the woods. Sometimes that means we need to take a stand.

And stand we did.

We went on the hunt for a toothpaste that had fluoride, but did not contain microbeads.

This was not as simple as walking into our corner drug store and simply selecting the competing National Brand. Oh, no, no. I won’t try to convince you, but suffice it to say that most of the alternatives also have microbeads.

We settled on a natural (and there’s a branded word that gets tossed around like a hot potato!) brand that doesn’t have microbeads. We purchased two – one for the kids, one for us – and went on our merry way.

And we brushed.

And it tasted weird.

And it didn’t froth.

And it wasn’t minty fresh.

And my teeth didn’t feel clean.

And all I wanted to do was grab my old whitening brand and use it so I could have the fresh from the Dentist feeling I had come to expect from my toothpaste.

It was terrible.

There was no going back though. My health and health of my children is too important.

We continued to use the natural brand of toothpaste and we survived. I have since found one that suits me better, though it will never be the same as what I was using, and we keep our eyes peeled for changes in the toothpaste aisle at the pharmacy.

There is good news on the horizon though. We have a new Prime Minister who is making a point of getting Canada’s good reputation as a world leader – in matters of the environment and otherwise – back to the standard we, as a country, would expect.

We have a Minister of the Environment & Climate Change. Her name is Minister Catherine McKenna and she is one of 30 smart, capable, forward thinking Cabinet Ministers (50% of whom are women – “Because it’s 2015.” – Oh that just never gets old!), who are charged with the task of getting Canada back on track. This is so logical and amazing to me that even a full day (almost 2, now) after all the oaths were taken I am still emotional about it all.

I am so hopeful that we will see the real change we have been hearing so much about and that we will begin to see an action plan take shape. One that is designed to keep our environment healthy and our children safe.

No, not from big scary monsters and men with pointy teeth, but from itty-bitty, minuscule, invasive, pervasive and utterly unnecessary pieces of plastic.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Yes. Yes it would.

You can read more information on microbeads here, or here, or here.

I really hope you do.

*A crucial life skill, by the way. There’s a whole post in those two words, actually. Another day!

Source

(Ramona Quimby is a beloved character from the talented mind of Beverly Cleary and she is, quite frankly, near and dear to my heart. We are kindred spirits!)

Get Out The Vote!

Tomorrow is Election Day!

I am so excited!

I can’t wait to cast my ballot and then wait and see the results from riding after riding after riding come pouring in.

We always take our kids and talk about it a LOT leading up to the election. As you can imagine, my Things are pretty well versed at this point because it has been 77 days since the election was called. Tomorrow will be day 78 and every single day has involved a conversation about what Canada means to us. We can’t wait!

It matters.

It matters to me and it should matter to you.

I love this country and I have great hope for its future.

I know you have heard it a bazillion times over the past few months, but please, oh, please, oh, please go and exercise your right to vote tomorrow. The polls are open for 12 hours. That is a long time. Make sure you take the time to go and cast your ballot.

There are people in this world who would die for this right that we so often take for granted.

Think about that.

There are women who fought in this country for this right. It wasn’t all that long ago. It is shamefully recent history if you really think about it. Do not disrespect them by disregarding what they laid their lives on the line to accomplish.

They fought for you and me.

They gave us the right.

It is yours.

Exercise it.

Here’s a helpful video!

Once you vote and pat yourself on the back for taking part in the direction your own country takes, you will want to find out about the race and who is winning it. Who is doing well in your riding? Did your candidate win? Is your chosen party getting new seats in Ottawa? It’s all so exciting! You just want to know!

How will you know?

There are so many ways!

You will absolutely be hearing election coverage on radio and television both locally and Nationally. It will pretty much be unavoidable! Yay!

Here is another helpful tool from Elections Canada!

Since I am an avid Twitter user, I will definitely be following along on Twitter. You can follow Elections Canada here.

Essentially, the only way to not hear about the election on Monday October 19, 2015 would be to bury your head in the sand. And you don’t want to do that, now, do you? I mean, you’ll be in the dark and you will have sand in your ears. And that just sounds awful! * shudders *

Since we are all on Social Media why not go ahead and pledge to vote and show it? You can change your profile pictures! Check this out! Fun!

Okay! So we are ALL voting right?

Cool!

I knew I liked you guys!

Let’s do this!

So tell me, did you already vote? Will you vote tomorrow? Are you as excited as I am? Are you taking your kids with you? Will you be following along on social media and waiting to hear the exciting news at the end of the night?

I know I won’t be alone.

Twitter will be all, well – a twitter – with politics.

I hope to tweet you there!

AFTER you vote!

Source

A Labour (Day) Of Love

Sun setting on summer 2015.

Happy Labour Day! (That’s Labor Day to all my awesome American readers!)

We might have to give up our lazy, hazy, crazy, days of summer, but we sure as heck don’t have to let the joy of summer fizzle. We took the weekend and made the most of it and just like we try to do with most of them, we carpe-ed the heck out of this diem!

There was an epic board game last night, a movie in the theatre today — complete with extra butter on the popcorn and peanut M&Ms, followed by a special dinner out and ice cream for dessert. Stick a fork in this Labour Day weekend. It’s done!

We are saying goodbye to our beautiful summer break and even though my Things have already started back to school, I am well aware that lots of children are starting their school year tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Oh, it is never easy, is it?

Even if your kiddos are great students and love all things scholastic and extracurricular, it is still a bit daunting to have to say goodbye to summer.

Of course summer isn’t really over, you still have until September 23rd to check those things off the summer bucket lists. Yes. Yes, I am here to bring you a loophole. sings That’s what friends are for! You’re welcome.

Anyhoo!

Where was I?

Oh yes! Even the happiest little pupil might not be so thrilled with Labour Day and the unofficial end to summer, so I am here to bring you hope! (Also, loopholes. We can’t forget the loopholes.)

You may or may not have noticed my absence here this summer. It was not intentional.

I was on a technology-fails-us-all-just-when-we-need-it-most sabbatical. It was, as you might imagine, not planned.

I will expound on all things technological (I may even have my IT Department contribute to a very techie blog post about the trials and tribulations we have been going through) in the not too distant future, but tonight, dearest, darlingest, readers I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I am here and I am going to be here every single day from now until the end of days. So, I hope you are happy and feeling like some chatty blog action because that is what I am in the mood for and that is exactly what I am going to do. I am sure you will let me know if you want something else. More photos. Fewer words. More words. More cowbell. You name it. I will deliver!

In the meantime, thank goodness for excellent blogging friends who allow me to contribute to their amazing blogs.

Just in time for my kids to start school, I wrote a post for Life In Pleasantville about how we can lessen the stress associated with back to school in a post called “6 Steps to Ease Back to School Stress“. Since many of you have children starting school tomorrow, you might find it helpful. I’d absolutely love it if you made your way over there to read my post. As always comments are greatly appreciated. I make a point of replying because I love the connection and conversation that can emerge from a simple comment. That is the whole point of my being here, there, and everywhere.

So, now that I have written nearly 500 words, I feel slightly less terrified about posting tonight. I will be posting earlier in the day, eventually (maybe), but until I get my blog mojo back, frankly, getting something posted – at all – is way more important than what time of day it is posted. SEO be darned!

snorks

As if I know anything about SEO.

Two questions:

  1. Are you ready for back to school?
  2. Do you want more cowbell?

May I confide in you? I kinda-sorta, really-really, hope you missed me.

There. I said it.

Phew! There goes a weight off my shoulders.

After you read my post over at Life In Pleasantville, why not come back and share something about your summer and maybe a hope for the new school year?

I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.

 

Panda Hugs and Electric Cars or Why I Love WWF Canada

The PandaI love charities.

I am a fan of fundraising.

I have this cockamamie dream that one day I’ll reach the pinnacle of my career as a volunteer and become a philanthropist extraordinaire and spend the remainder of my days making people’s lives better.

It’s a lofty goal. I admit it.

Oh, but what a great story that would be.

I’ll keep dreaming and doing my part to make the world a better place one little act of kindness at a time.

 

In the meantime I am so glad there are organizations like WWF Canada making steps towards reversing climate change and keeping our planet, our one true home, safe, so that my children (and yours!) will have a home for a very, very, very long time.

Clearly, I am a fan. Yes, of the planet, of course, but also of WWF Canada. I’ve written about it here before. I’ve also written about it there.

 

On Monday, I received the latest “Panda Mail” from WWF Canada and one of the featured pieces was called “First Dates with David Miller”. This is a three part video series wherein Canadian celebrities go on a first date with former Mayor of Toronto and current WWF Canada President & CEO David Miller and chat while riding around Toronto in an EV (Electric Vehicle).

You could go ahead and let your imaginations run wild, but I think it would be best if you checked out the silliness for yourself.

But I will share one.

Enjoy!

Yes, that is Kid In The Hall, Mark McKinney.

I wonder if he tried to crush David Miller’s head.

 

So that was fun, wasn’t it?

I thought so.

But…

Now I can’t get this out of my head!

 

How *can* you deny an electric car?

 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

I love Dr. Seuss. I have loved him for as long as I can remember. I am convinced that Dr. Seuss is the reason I learned to read at an early age. Well, Dr. Seuss via my brilliant mother and big sister who would have reading races with me using the very famous “Fox in Sox“. What a wonderful way to learn to read!

You never feel like you are the only one making mistakes when the mistakes are so utterly ridiculous and impossible not to make as is proven by your brilliant Mummy’s tripping over phrases like, “First, I’ll make a quick trick brick stack. Then I’ll make a quick trick block stack.” and reinforced by your beautiful big sister, whom you admire more than any other (still do!), who struggles to spit out, “Who sews whose socks? Sue sews Sue’s socks. Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir? You see Sue sew Sue’s new socks, sir. That’s not easy, Mr. Fox, sir.”

The goal was to read as far as you possibly could without making a mistake. When (not if!) someone made a mistake it was time to pass the book and give the next person a chance to beat the record. On and on it went until eventually we reached the end of the book. Great fun! The excellent repetition a beginning reader needs in a funny, colourful, entertaining book through a fantastic activity. Perfection. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. Honestly. There were some serious belly laughs shared over “Fox in Sox”.

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on Sunday March 2.  If he was still celebrating birthdays he would have a BIG cake with 110 candles this year!  Isn’t that remarkable? I bet he’d have a pretty amazing cake, but I digress…

Every year on Dr. Seuss’ Birthday at Chez Peady we celebrate by having Green Eggs and Ham. Oh yes we do!

Green eggs

“Greener-than-Green” Green Eggs! How? Blue food colouring because yellow and blue make green! Yay! Science & Art!

Green eggs and ham

Here is a plated portion of green eggs & ham with a tortilla.

Green eggs and ham (Tex-Mex)

Green Eggs & Ham + Tortilla, cheese and salsa! Olé!

So, you must tell me…

Do you celebrate the Birthday of Dr. Seuss?

Is it a formal occasion? Do you really let loose?

Are there Green Eggs and Ham on all of your plates?

How do you mark this most important of dates?

Do you have a big battle in a bottle with paddles?

Do you tell lots of stories, some tales and some tattles?

Is hopping on Pop more of your scene?

Just tell me right now, you’ve got to come clean!

P.S. We will also be reading all of our Dr. Seuss books tomorrow and there will definitely be a “Fox in Sox” race! After all Thing 1 and Thing 2 have Dr. Seuss built right in!

P.P.S. Here are a few links to help you with your own Dr. Seuss Day celebrations!

P.P.P.S. Please come back and tell me what kind of fun things you did to celebrate! Thanks!

Random House maintains this most excellent “Seussville” site. http://www.seussville.com

An interesting set of surprising Seuss facts. http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-dr-seuss

Terrific list of Dr. Seuss’ books. How many have you read? http://childrensbooksguide.com/dr-seuss-books-list

Here are 10 interesting facts about Dr. Seuss books. http://visual.ly/10-facts-about-dr-seuss-books

This list of 30 quotes is simply awesome! I especially love #17! http://www.mamiverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/30DrSeuss_quotes.jpg

This is an amazingly comprehensive collection of Dr. Seuss goodies! Yup! Totally obSEUSSed!

obSEUSSedLinkCollection
You can even follow @Seussville on Twitter, but it seems like there isn’t anyone manning their account lately. That’s a shame! Twitter is such  great way to engage and celebrate.

Olympic Spirit: Go Canada Go!

Wow! What an amazing day for Canada’s Olympic athletes and Canadians at large!

Currently Canada has a total of 7 medals – 3 Gold (WOW!), 3 Silver (W00t!), 1 Bronze (Yippity biscuits!) and is tied with Netherlands and Norway for the most medals. That is a great start, wouldn’t you say?

With so much speculation leading up to (and political buzz surrounding) these Sochi games, I am glad that, so far, the athletes have been able to focus on their individual and team events (aside from some funny tweets, a few crazy bathroom photos, a trapped athlete and some judging rumours) without too much controversy.

We spent much of our weekend watching Olympic coverage on CBC (So thankful for the CBC!!) and talking about all the cool and interesting sports with our kids. Watching the Women’s Hockey Team on Saturday was a definite highlight of the weekend and I am so glad that Haley Wickenheiser is playing. She was the flag bearer for the opening ceremonies and is quite the amazing ambassador for Canada and sport. During one of the breaks in the coverage of the Canada vs. Switzerland game, they showed the most awesome clip of Haley Wickenheiser after the Canadian Gold medal win against the USA in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Winter Olympics. This quote has to win something! (Even if we’ll never really know the entire story behind it.)

The Americans had our flag on their floor in the dressing room and now I want know if they want us to sign it.

Whoa! I was amazed at how calm and pointed her question was. It, at once, raised her level of cool while pointing out a pretty awful example of sportsmanship on the parts of the American players. Nothing more needed to be said. She got her point across and her little dig in. I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge by now. Right?

Are you watching all the action from Sochi? Are you lucky enough to be there? Are the games making you feel extra pride for your country, homeland or heritage? Does seeing all the amazing athleticism make you want to go out and play more than usual? How are you using the Olympics to foster the joy of sport or activity with your kids and family?

Me? I got a Silver medal just for showing up today. Mondays are hard and Thing 2 is a very generous judge. Sure, I didn’t win Gold – that was reserved for Thing 2, but I received Silver, while Daddy-O only got Bronze, so, you know …  WINNING!

Silver!

This is *my* Silver Medal. Not too shabby, eh?

You should know I am not competitive at all. Nope. Not one bit. Yup. *wink*

If you are interested in making some medals of your own (or with your kiddos) here is where Thing 2 got her templates. There are also some great activities and printables here, lots of good information here, and some good Canadian stuff here.

Let’s talk about sex, baby.

And by baby, I mean BABY!

Can it possibly be that my baby is ready to have the entire world of human sexuality laid out (Stop it. Be a grown up. Just for a few minutes. I beg of you!) in front of him to dissect and question and explore? Apparently, the answer to this question is yes. At least, according to our school board.

"The" Talk book

Oooh! So colourful and intriguing! No title. No one will even know what you are reading!

Education is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. However, assuming that every kid is ready for the same information pertaining to sexuality at the same time is no different than painting them all with the same curriculum brush in any other subject. Not every kid will be ready to process this information. Not every tween will be curious. Not every prepubescent student will even have a single question. On the other hand, many will have questions. Many will already know plenty. Some will know too much and not for nice reasons. Some will be even less ready than others. This is definitely an area where a parental preemptive strike is a very good idea.

A very good place to start.

“What’s happening to me?” (Usborne)

We live in a very confusing world. On the one hand, sexuality is splayed on every billboard and commercial for kids to see and decipher through their developing brains. On the other hand, we hear pop songs where the word “sex” is literally censored out so a blank space is left. Dangling. Mysterious. Dangerous. Why? Why is this very basic thing left blank? You know not one of us would be here without it, right? I mean unless one of you has experienced immaculate conception and has withheld this info, in which case I am, a) ticked off that you didn’t share, and b) I have questions, so don’t leave without seeing me. Poor Bruno Mars! He has been censored in the weirdest of ways. He has also had the phrase “throw my hand in my pants” censored and I swear to you as if I were there when he wrote it, he meant it in that “cozy” way. (You know, like Paul Buchman explained in that episode of Mad About You? Remember? No? Okay, you are just going to have to trust me. Not in some lewd reference to making himself “extra” happy, but I was not there, and I digress…)

The point is, that even if kids are sprinkled all along the developmental continuum – here, there and everywhere – in the end it is probably best that schools cover the topic of sexuality and all that it entails. There are plenty of parents who shockingly -even in this day and age- never talk about sex, sexual development, puberty, or sexuality. My poor Things. They have parents who are pretty much impervious to embarrassment. Sure, we may blush at a compliment or a funny jab, but when it comes to the topic of sex and the well being of our children we have nerves of steel. We will not be swayed. We are “the” source for “the” talk and I, quite frankly, wouldn’t have it any other way.

My tween might not have had any questions last week, but he certainly does now!

This is where Thing 1 is: “If you talk about it, that’s Oral Sex and now everyone is having it!” Direct quote from last night. Seriously.

So, we, the parents, have some explaining to do. Obviously.

Now, do you have any questions? If so, you ought to brush up on your human sexuality because, like it or not, the day will come when your little babies will be physiologically capable of creating little babies of their own. Wouldn’t you rather they are well equipped to handle that? Me, too!

Book ’em!

Today is Family Literacy Day in Canada. It’s one of my favourite days. We love books. We are a family of readers – even though some of us don’t have a lot of time and one of us is a reluctant reader – we are definitely a book loving, read-it-one-more-time, oh-please-just-one-more-story, I-promise-I’ll-go-to-sleep-after-this-chapter, kind of family.

It is a common occurrence for Thing 1 to read into the wee hours. He should be sleeping. He needs to be sleeping. We know this. Yet, the little solar powered, wind up radio/flashlight that he keeps with him when he “sleeps” is remarkably long lasting (way to go Lee Valley!) and how can we deny him that last chapter? No really. I’m asking! We are usually asleep. So it’s impossible, right?

Thing 2 is a reluctant reader. Don’t get me wrong – she loves books and having books read to her. She even likes reading with her brother or her friends at school, but she doesn’t have the undying need to unlock the code that leads to being a fully independent reader. It’s just not her style. Yet.

I am confident it will come. I see sparks and glimmers of it more and more these days. The Reading Detective with her spy glass and Sherlock Hemlock (Yes. Hemlock.) hat. The spending time with books surrounding her little body as she sits in her bed after school for some much needed and well deserved alone time. The excitement when she finds a new series to start at the library (Thea Stilton is her latest discovery.). The thrill of reading a book from start to finish. It’s happening. Slowly, but surely, it’s happening.

Actually, today was an exciting day for Thing 2. She got to participate in “Reader’s Theatre” as a part of her school’s Literacy Week celebrations and she was the narrator. Best of all, she came home very excited to tell me all about it and how they might get to perform for the Grade Fours. GRADE FOURS YOU GUYS! This is the Grade Two equivalent of Broadway!

Since today is Family Literacy Day, I thought it might be fun to ask my children what kinds of things families should do to encourage children to read. I was right. It was fun (for me). You can let me know if it was fun for you, but not right now. Right now I have some interviews to conduct.

Here are my questions:

1. When did you learn to read?

Thing 1: “Grade 1. I read a Geronimo Stilton book.”

Thing 2: “Senior Kindergarten. I read BOB books.”

2. How did learning to read make you feel?

Thing 1: “Pretty good. I was really excited when I finished reading.”

Thing 2: “Horrible! I didn’t want to learn how to read!”

3. What is your favourite thing about reading?

Thing 1: “That there are books about pretty much, almost, everything!”

Thing 2: “I like when I am reading a book and I’m right in the middle of it and I just have to get to the end.”

4. When is your favourite time of day to read?

Thing 1: “When I’m supposed to be sleeping.”

Thing 2: “Bedtime, because I get to snuggle you {Ed. Awww!} and read with you.”

5. What would you tell concerned parents to make them feel better about their child’s reading abilities?

Thing 1: “They’ll learn to read at their own pace and don’t read them, “See Sam. See Sam run. See Sam run around the track.”, books. Try reading them a little more interesting and bearable stories.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them just let them read a book and encourage them and just watch them grow in reading.”

6. What would you tell teachers to help them get their students excited about reading?

Thing 1: “I’d tell them to start reading books in class and let their kids choose what books they read and not say “I know you want to read this chapter book, and I know you can, but you haven’t passed the test for that book yet, so here read this it has three to four words. Have fun.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them that the child should have a little push and picture books and then they can grow into chapter books with no pictures and well, it will be funner for them.”

7. Do you think Family Literacy Day is important?

Thing 1: “Depends whether people actually read books on it or not. ‘Cause it’s not really Family Literacy Day unless you read. It’s even better when teachers do something with their classes. Like a special event.”

Thing 2: “Yes, because reading books is important, too!”

8. What is your all time favourite book?

Thing 1: “It’s not really a book its more of a series of books and I can’t decide between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.”

Thing 2: “Thea Stilton books because they are like Geronimo Stilton books, but – no offence Geronimo – they just have better adventures.”

Today is a good day to be just a little bit more mindful of how great it is to have access to so many books in a city with great libraries and bookstores

How are we spending Family Literacy Day? Pretty much the same way we spend every day. School and work. Dinner together. Just like everyday there will be lots of reading. Maybe tonight there will be an extra bedtime story – or ten.