Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

If I knew then……..

If I knew then

By no means do I claim to be an expert in the divorce field.  However,  if I knew then what I know now when I had to start the whole process, things would have gone a lot faster, easier and definitely cheaper.  I just want to share my little bit of knowledge with any of you starting this process so that you don’t fall into some of the pitfalls that I did or if nothing else, I can give you a little hope that it will all work out.

  1. Document, document, document – This is going to be a difficult time for you, especially if you have little ones to take care of.  Documenting everything will just ensure you don’t forget things or conversations don’t get misconstrued.  If you have a verbal conversation, send an email after the fact, outlining what you discussed and have that person confirm the details.  Keep all documents you  receive from your lawyer, their lawyer and anyone else involved all together for easy reference.
  2. Don’t leave things unsaid or assumed.  Do not assume everyone is on the same page as you or going to do you any favors.  You need to be sure you have all your bases covered.
  3. Find a well respected, seasoned lawyer.  The last thing you are going to want to do is spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer that isn’t there to support you and your case.  Even if you and your ex are on amicable terms, things need to be legally documented and lawyers will be able to advise you on items that you wouldn’t even know to consider.    If the first one you hire isn’t doing the job, fire them!
  4. Get yourself a strong support network – friends, families, others who have been in your shoes. There are going to be times that you need to rely on your support system to get you through the day.  There will be good days and there will definitely be bad days. They will pick you up when you are down.   Don’t shut people out, you need people around you.
  5. Find something that you can claim as your own.  Be it a hobby or activity that you didn’t share with your ex.   Find something to help you start becoming your own person again.  Not meaning you weren’t your own person before, but your own person now being single – something that has no ties to your previous life.  You will need an escape every once in a while.  Trust me on this one!
  6. Don’t ask your friends to pick sides.  In my experience, they will do that on their own.  Just be cognizant of what you share and with who.
  7.  If you have little ones, keep them as far away from any discussions whether in person or on the phone as possible with your ex or anyone else involved.  They do not need to hear any disagreements or arguing.
  8. Regardless if your split is amicable or not, there are going to be times your ex upsets you or things they will do that you don’t agree with.  Do not badmouth them in front of your children.  Just because you two don’t love each other, your children still love them.
  9. Try to keep daily life as normal as possible for your children.  In the grand scheme of things, I was lucky.  My son was only 6 months old, so he has never known any different.  Although, as he gets older, I know that consistency in routines and schedule are better for him.  He knows what to expect and when.
  10. Divorce is not the end of the world.  You are a lot stronger than you think, you will surprise yourself. You will get through it!

Thanks,

C.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Pink Shirt Day – putting an end to bullying

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This Wednesday, February 24th is Pink Shirt Day.  Everyone is encouraged to wear a pink shirt to show their support to end bullying everywhere especially in our schools and online.

Pink Shirt Day started back in 2007 when 2 high school students in Nova Scotia, Travis Price and David Shepherd, decided to take a stand against bullying in their school.   You can read more about Travis and David’s message in this article from the Globe and Mail.  

Since 2007, the anti-bullying message has spread across Canada.    Unfortunately, bullying has become a growing issue in our schools and online. Kids need to understand that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Schools and businesses alike are spreading the message about standing up to bullying.  There have been many initiatives started across Canada to help end bullying.

Just a few examples of this initiative……

In British Columbia,  Coast Canada (@Coast_Canada) has pledged to donate $1 for every social media post with #PinkITforward up to $45,000 to stop bullying.

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Image from pinkshirtday.ca

And right here in Oshawa, the OshawaCentre has teamed up with Post-ITs and Shaw Communications for #PinkShirtPromise campaign.  People are encouraged to come to the mall and  post their message against bullying on Post-it Pink wall by Guest Services in Centre Court.  For every Post-It message, the Oshawa Centre will donate $0.25 to Big Brothers Big Sisters Oshawa-Whitby, up to $2500.

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I know that on Wednesday, I will be wearing my pink shirt and promoting the #PinkITforward and #PinkShirtPromise campaigns on social media.  I hope you will too.

Let’s put an end to bullying!

Thanks,
C.

 

 

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

A different kind of Mommy guilt.

We’ve all heard the term “Mommy Guilt” and I am sure most of you have experienced it at one point or another.  We all felt that pang of guilt when we had to go back to work and leave our little ones, or that first “date” night after they were born.  It’s natural and nothing to feel guilty about.  Everyone needs some “me” time once and a while.

From the time my son was 6 months old, I have had a 50/50 custody split with his father.  So half the time, I have time to myself to do whatever I want, whenever I want.  Sounds perfect, right??  WRONG.   I didn’t sign up to be a parent half of time, I signed up to be a Mom 100% of the time.  This is something I will never be happy with, but over the years slowly have come to accept.

I begrudge when other parents tell me I am so lucky to have all this free time.  Sure, being able to have a nap on a Sunday afternoon is great when he is at his Dad’s or getting groceries alone is definitely less stressful.  But I don’t get to pick what days are good days and which days are bad days.  So on those bad days, I don’t always get to come home and get the hug and kiss I need to make the world feel right again.  I don’t get to choose when I get to and don’t get to see my son.  It has been chosen for me.  I think if people really thought about it, they would sing a different tune.

Aside from the regular Mommy guilt that comes naturally, I have suffered for years with another kind of Mommy guilt.  That guilty feeling for actually trying to enjoy the time that my son is away from me and at his father’s.  For years, going out with friends on a Saturday night, although fun at the time, I always felt guilty about being happy and having fun.

I shouldn’t be happy that I don’t have my son with me.  I should be sad and missing him. For years, I struggled with this.  The last thing I would want my son is to think that I didn’t want or enjoy my time with him.   So many a Saturday night, I would sit home thinking that was the right thing to do.

And yes, I know this is crazy talk.

And it took me a lot longer than most but I now understand that I shouldn’t be feeling guilty at all.  I am using that time apart from him to make myself a better Mom.  I have started using “my” time to do the things that make me happy.  For example, I enjoy running.  I may not be fast or able to run a marathon but it is just something where I can just put on my headphones and go to my happy place.  So now, a couple of times a year, I find runs that occur on weekends my son is with his father and enter them.

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I have done a couple with friends and even pushed myself even further out of my comfort zone and did one of those obstacle course runs on my own.  Normally, I would never have done a run such as that on my own, but I knew that it was something I needed to do for myself and at the end I was so happy I had pushed myself to do it.

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So what does all of this mean?  It means that I have realized that I should not feel guilty about enjoying my time that my son isn’t with me.  I don’t have a choice in this schedule we have, so I need make the best of it and use this time to make myself a better person.  Instead of sitting home on a Saturday watching TV, I go out and do things with friends like snow tubing or bowling, or to a movie that I have been dying to see or even it if is just out for a workout at the gym. I do things for me!

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As a result of this, my son is benefiting too.   Being a single parent isn’t easy.  You have to juggle the 2 parent roles, regardless of how you feel and if you are tired or not. I have done the things that I wanted to do on my time so that when he is with me I am refreshed and ready to take on my Mom role.  My focus is on him and the things he needs and wants to do.

I am sure I am not the only single parent out there that feels or has felt this way.  Just know that although you may not have wanted this alone time, it is ok to use it to enjoy yourself.  There is no need to feel guilty about it.

Thanks,

C.

 

 

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

My review of Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bars

Recently I was selected by ChickAdvisor to review the latest product from Brookside, their Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bars. I received 3 different flavors:
1. Cranberry with Blackberry
2. Blueberry with Acai
3. Cherry with Pomegranate

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I decided to recruit my son into reviewing these products as he is a fan of granola type bars and chocolate. 🙂

When I first showed him these bars, he was a bit disappointed to see they weren’t “chocolate bars”. I think he heard the word chocolate and instantly thought it was going to be a candy type bar.  After further inspection, he was happy to be my assistant in tasting this product.

As a Mom, it was nice to see that the product was made with real fruit, a source of fibre, non-GMO and gluten free. At 180 calories each, not bad on the waistline either.

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We tried each and I was pleased at the amount of flavour in each bar.  Each one had its own distinct flavour, too. The amount of chocolate wasn’t too overpowering and the fruit flavour was more prominent.   They were chewier than I had anticipated.  Containing nuts, I would have thought they would have been a bit crunchier.

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Out of the 3 flavors, the Cherry and Pomegranate was my favorite. To me it had the fullest flavour. My son preferred the Cranberry and Blackberry flavor.

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My son’s reactions was ” Mom, you have to buy these!!”  He tends to be a picky eater so this was a great review.

The retails price on these bars is $1.99, which is a bit steep but when they are a good quality bar, I will be looking for them in stores the next time I am out shopping.

Thanks,
C.

**** Please note that although this product was provided to me, all comments and pictures are mine.

 

#brooksidefruitnutbars @brookside_choc

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Liebster Award!

Liebster award

Yesterday, I got a notification on Twitter that I was nominated for the Liebster award from “Beautifully Marked” !!!  I am thrilled that my tiny little blog has been noticed!!

A HUGE shout out to Rachel from Beautifully Marked! Her blog is amazing and you should definitely check it out!

This award is given from one blogger to another to find out more about new blogs.

The rules are as followed:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog in your post.
  2. Show the award on your blog or in your post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  4. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you feel deserve the award.
  6. Create a list of new questions for your nominees to answer.
  7. Once your blog is published, let your nominees know that they have been nominated and link them to your post for more details.

Here were the questions I was asked and I hope you enjoy reading my answers!

  1. What made you start blogging? Blogging is something that I have always wanted to do but never really had the courage to start.  A fellow blogger friend of mine told me to do it and not to be scared and just to have fun.  So, I finally decided to give it a try.
  2. What is one of your favorite childhood memories? I have so many great childhood memories, trying to pick one was really tough. One thing I will always remember is going to Washington, DC in Grade 12 while the Earth Day was happening and saw Tom Cruise.  (He really IS short.)  🙂
  3. What do you hope to achieve in your blog this year? I really should sit down and put together a game plan for the year. Right now, I just want to have fun and hopefully get some loyal followers that enjoy my blog too.
  4. Who is your favorite actor and why? Chris O’Donell. I have love him ever since I saw him in Circle of Friends.
  5. How would you describe yourself in 3 words? Loyal, hardworking, loud
  6. What is it about your blog that draws people in? I hope that people are drawn to my blog because of my honest account of being a single Mom with a great little boy.
  7. Is there a blogger who inspires you? There are so many great ones out there. I have been following Heather B. Armstrong’s blog Dooce for years.
  8. What is your favorite animal and why? I am a cat person. My current cat has a bit of a bad attitude but in general cats are just so easy going.
  9. What are some of your goals for this year? My goal for this year is to lose the 20lbs I told myself I would lose last year.
  10. What is your best joke? What do you call cheese that is not your own? Nach-yo cheese
  11. Who is your role model? My Mom! She is the one that keeps my family together and has always instilled in us that regardless if we fight or argue, we always love each other and are always there to help each other out.  I hope to be that person for my son as well.

11 Random Facts about me! 

  1. I love Math.  I would rather do Algebra than a crossword puzzle, any day!
  2. I won the Most Outstanding Art student award at my Grade 8 graduation.
  3. Running is my favorite escape. I may not be fast or able to run long distances but give me headphones and some music and I am in my happy place.
  4. I was a cheerleader in High School and we didn’t even have a football team. 😉
  5. Remember how as a kid you were always told to walk with the blades of the scissors down? I followed that rule and now have 2 scars on my foot where the blades of the scissors cut me when they fell.
  6. This totally ages me, but I was told I looked like Mary Lou Retton as a kid.
  7. I have a tattoo.
  8. Twister is my favorite movie of all time.
  9. One day, I would still like to finish my Bachelor degree.
  10. Regardless of my marriage ending, I will always look back at my wedding day with fond memories.
  11. This was a LOT harder than I thought it would be.

MY NOMINEES!

According To Amanda

I Don’t Blog

Pragma Mamma

Postpartum Obsession

What Mamma Wears

Questions for my nominees:

  1. If you could only listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  2. Which of your teachers inspired you? Why?
  3. Name one thing on your “bucket list”.
  4. Favorite subject in school.
  5. What do you want to be remembered for?
  6. Best concert you have ever attended.
  7. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
  8. What is the strangest thing people would find in your purse?
  9. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
  10. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  11. Who is your hero?

Again, thank you Rachel for the tag! It was so incredibly nice of you and a real surprise for me!   I enjoy your blog and these questions were amazing.   I can’t wait to contact my nominees and see their answers.

Thanks,

C.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Our Home is Not Broken

broken home
noun
1. a family in which one parent is absent, usually due to divorce or desertion:  (Definition courtesy of Dictionary.com)

So yes, by definition, I have a broken home.

Do I ensure that my son has food on the table, a roof over his head and warm clothing on his back?  Yes

Does my son come home to a house full of love, trust, stability and understanding?  Yes

So why is my home considered broken, just because I don’t have a husband, boyfriend or significant other?  I thought women today were supposed to be strong and independent and we were supposed to be teaching our children to be the same?

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Someone needs to edit the dictionary, because my home is far from broken.  In fact, I have seen homes where both parents are present and it is far more broken than my home.

My son’s father and I separated when he was only 6 months old and now have a 50/50 custody split.**  So my son has never known anything different.  He has never known Mommy and Daddy together.  He has only ever known that he has a Mommy and Daddy, that both love him, just apart.  He knows he has my family and friends that love him all the time, even when we are apart.  This is his norm, nothing is broken.

So stigmatizing any child to say that there is something wrong with their life just because they don’t conform to the stereotypical perfect home with a Mommy and a Daddy and siblings is just plain wrong.  Does that mean that children that live in a home with 2 Fathers or 2 Mothers is broken too?  I think not.

I go out of my way to ensure that my son has all the opportunities that other children from these unbroken homes do.  Sure, having only one income makes certain things a bit of a struggle but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the good things that life has to offer.   There are many great things to enjoy and do in our community that doesn’t require 2 incomes.  We have parks and beaches and great events at our museums and galleries.

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So perhaps we can’t enjoy a yearly trip to Disney or somewhere sunny and warm in the winter, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have happy lives.  We live by the proverbial phrase “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”    We make the best of what we have and live life happy and not dwelling on what we don’t have.

Our home is not broken.

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** Please note that aside from the basic facts that my son's father and I are divorced and we have a 50/50 custody split, no other information regarding my ex-husband and our relationship will be a topic of discussion on this blog.
Parenting/Life

It’s not Crappy Bitter Singles Day

Yes, this week we all will be inundated with the fact that Sunday is Valentines Day.  Every TV commercial will remind husbands, boyfriends, and significant others that they have to buy their significant other some expensive piece of jewelry or gift of sorts to prove their love.  And all the single people evaluate why they are single.

Back in my 20’s when I was single, my BFF and I would not celebrate Valentines Day, we would stuff ourselves silly with chicken wings and celebrate Crappy Bitter Singles Day.  We were single and the onslaught of advertising made us feel that we were somewhat less than worthy because we didn’t have someone buying us these gifts/jewelry.

Now I am in my 40’s and divorced and I have a very different opinion on what Valentines Day is and should be all about.  For me, it is not dwelling on the fact that I am single, it’s celebrating the fact that I have people that love me and are a special part of my life and I don’t need gifts to prove that. Crappy Bitters Single Day – be gone!

Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to have my son with me to celebrate Valentines Day.  We now have a tradition that we have a “date night” and we order in the heart shaped Pizza Pizza and watch a movie.  I have always tried to instill in my son that having friends and family that love us is more important than anything else.

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Aside from the gift shopping, most parents will be spending their evenings this week getting the Valentines ready for their kids to take to school on Friday.  (Reminder to any parents that may have forgotten!).  I will admit that I am one of “those Mom’s” that won’t just settle for the Dollar store variety of Valentines for their child, I am one that scours Pinterest for a week to find the perfect Valentine to be made.   I have been known in the past to pick out the perfect crafty Valentine, only to spend 4 hours getting about 1/2 way done only to realize I didn’t read all the instructions and could have saved myself about 3 of those hours.  Lesson learned going forward.

This year with Star Wars all the rage, my son and I decided on candies wrapped to look like light sabers (inspired by this Pinterest link) with Star Wars themed cards attached (thanks to this Pinterest link).   My son is thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to hand them out at school on Friday.  Sure my hands are covered in paper cuts and completely dried out but as long as he is happy with them, that is all that matters to me.

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So whether you are dreading or thrilled about the thought of the upcoming Valentines Day, just remember it about being loved and loving others and not about anything else!!

 

Parenting/Life

What’s all this hype about the Superbowl?


I am not going to lie, I just don’t get the frenzy that the NFL creates, especially when it comes to Superbowl Sunday.

Maybe it’s because I am Canadian and hockey is more my thing.

Maybe it’s because I am a single gal that doesn’t have a husband, partner or significant other that retreats to his Man Cave every Sunday with beer and snacks in hand to watch the Sunday afternoon/evening game.

I had to really sit and think as to what could possibly be the reason.  Is it because with most other sports  (NHL, NBA, MLB) all end their season with a “best of” series, so no one can determine exactly which day a winner or champion will be crowned?

What is it that makes this one game so important that companies are willing to spend upwards of $5 million just for a 30 second commercial during the game?  I have to admit in years past, some of the commercial that were aired during the Superbowl were pretty fantastic.  I think at the top of my list from last year had to be the “Lost Puppy” commercial from Budweiser.  I could not find a direct link from the company for this commercial but I am guessing if you saw it, even now, a little tear comes to your eye.

Not only is it the game but the Half Time Show is an event in and of itself.  Over the years some of the biggest performers in the world have headlined the show.  There was Michael Jackson in 1993 which has had claims to be the one of the most watched events in American TV history (Source:  Wikipedia). I think some people just tune into watch the Half Time show and skip the game completely. I know I am definitely guilty of having done this in the past.

Speaking of entertainment,  keeping the kids entertained during this whole time is key too.  I was amazed when doing my research all the great Pinterest pins with activities for the kids to do that were Superbowl themed. We got some creative parents out there!

Aside from Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday has to be one of highest ranked food consumption days of the year. When it comes to Superbowl food, people go ALL out. I swear you could feed a small country with the amount of food that is consumed. Some of the statistics are astonishing. And the creativity is mind blowing. Me, I would open a few bags of chips and throw them in a bowl. Check out these “stadium” creations.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been to my share of Superbowl parties, and will be attending one this coming Sunday.  I appreciate the gathering of friends together and indulging in all the yummy goodness that parties like this come with.  I will probably spend more time chatting with friends than actually watching the game, but will have fun regardless.

Maybe that is it?  It’s February, and most of North America is shivering in the cold of winter and people need a reason to come out of hibernation and socialize.  I don’t know what it is and really don’t care what the actual reason is but whatever your reason is, enjoy, have fun and please don’t drink and drive!
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Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

My love/hate relationship with Lego

 

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Let me start off with the basics.

Things I love about Lego:

  1.  It can keep my son quiet for hours at a time.
  2. It allows my son to express his creativity in many ways.
  3. It isn’t a gender specific toy.  We know lots of boys and girls that love Lego.
  4. My lack of creativity doesn’t hinder me too much when asked by my son to play with him. (phew!)
  5. It can actually be used for various education purposes. Here’s a great list of uses from Brick Dave!

Things I hate about Lego:

  1.  No matter how diligently we clean up the Lego at the end of the day, our cat invariably finds that one tiny piece that we missed and has to chase it across the hardwood floor at 3am.
  2. If someone is going to step on a rogue piece of Lego, it will be me.
  3. Trying to keep it organized is futile.
  4. Lego is not cheap!!

My son LOVES Lego.  I think at this point, I could literally get his of all of his other toys and he would be fine with it, as long as his Lego remained.  From the moment he gets up in the morning until I am dragging him off to bed, he plays Lego.  He especially loves the minifigures.  He is continually making different combinations and using them to create stories.  It amazes me at the depth and length of these alternate worlds he creates with his Lego.

Up until now, most of  our Lego purchases have come from Walmart or Toysrus.  Recently, he was gifted some money from his Nana, Poppa and Uncle and he knew immediately that he wanted to spend it on more Lego.  Instead of going to the regular stores, I decided we’d make a special trip to our closest Lego Store. I am not sure who was more impressed upon our arrival, him or myself.  It seemed to have every Lego kit you could ever imagine.  My favorite was the Pick & Build Wall, where you basically self select piece by piece what you need to buy.

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Staff was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, which is always a plus in my eyes.  We were told about their monthly Lego club meetings and I was somewhat forced (by my son, not the staff) to sign up immediately for the next one.

We attended our first meeting this past Saturday.  At our local store, the meetings run the last 2 Saturdays of each month.  When my son is at his Dad’s every other weekend, this works great for us as I am guaranteed he is with me at least one of the meeting days.    At this particular meeting, the kids were told a little story about a polar bear and they then proceeded to make a polar bear with the pieces and instructions that they were given.  They were then given a box (approx. 5 x 5 x 5 inch cube) that they were allowed to go over to the Pick & Build wall and fill it with what ever pieces they wanted.   The intent was they were supposed to build a sled and then create a little story that involved their polar bear and their sled.  Once they completed their sled’s they sat in a circle and each got a chance to tell their stories.    At the end, they were given a little “loot” bag with a Lego catalogue, a calendar with upcoming events and a coupon for extra Lego VIP points with their next purchase.  In addition to their “loot” bag they were able to take the polar bear, sled and the box filled from the wall home with them.  The cost of these meetings is $10 but we definitely came home with much more than that in new Lego.

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If you have a Lego lover in your family, I would check out your local store.  They always seem to have events running for the kids and when you have a Lego lover like I do, it definitely worth it.

Thanks,

C.