Monday, April 27, 2009

Everything's Amazing. Nobody's Happy.

This is a great clip about how SPOILED we are in this generation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Things I'm Sad About

My Starbucks has closed. It was located in my Chapters store. The one I have gone to for ten years. I'm sad, I loved Julio - my favourite coffeemaker who used to work at my favourite 7-11 before making that career jump to the Big Store. And despite the fact that I love that Chapters and know the manager, I'm considering changing stores because I am so First-World-Self-Absorbed that I can't walk around the book store without a Venti Soy Tazo Chai in my hand.

CBC Sunday is shutting down. I admit to not being a very big CBC fan, but I did love CBC Sunday. (For my 'merican friends, CBC is our public broadcasting company) Mostly because they cover topics I'm not interested in - in such an interesting way that I can't help but watch.

The fact that everywhere I turn there are people who are hurting... lately every other blog I click onto has a sick child, or they know someone whose child is sick or who has even died. It's horrible. I try my best to donate a few dollars here and there, but mostly I can just pray and be sad.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: Superparenting for ADD

After a psychologist told us that M had ADD, I struggled greatly. In fact, I still do. It's almost as though I'm split right through the middle. One half saying "yes, this makes sense" and the other half saying "no, he's just a boy, this is just the way he is". It wasn't until I picked up this book that I realized both could be correct.

The book had me from the jacket cover description, which left me in tears in the bookstore aisle. It spoke about "unconditional love", "viewing the mirror traits", "the cycle of excellence" and "identifying and tapping the source". I have long known that when a child is born, they are born to their parents... I feel that God gives us the children we are meant to have, and I have always felt that I was meant to be M's mother.

In parenting him I've learned about myself. Even reading the "problems" with his ADD I see myself and it is now so easy to see the mirror traits.

Stubbornness = Persistence
Impulsiveness = Creativity
Intrusiveness = Eagerness

Within the covers of this book I learned about the three core symptoms of ADD: distractibility, impulsivity, restlessness or hyperactivity. M isn't hyperactive, his version is the "inattentive" type of ADD or ADHD. He has what the author calls "a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes" and I've used that description to talk to M about his ADD gift.

Because that's what the authors - Edward Hallowell, MD & Peter Jensen MD - see ADD as being. It's the way his brain works and it's not "bad", "wrong" or in need or "fixing". Now at this point I expect some parents to say "yeah, but my son/daughter had issues much bigger than your son" and that's going to be true because there is no ONE way to have ADD. That's the point. That's why it takes "superparenting".

The book is overwhelmingly positive. From encouraging parents to "always listen for the song your child is trying to sing" to asking them to finish the book with a "cheer and a smile". The authors don't come across as patronizing, but supportive and caring.

Dr. Hallowell himself has ADD, as do two of his children. Dr Jensen is a world renowned child psychologist. Together they have written a book that is like a light to parents who to find their role as parents of children with ADD.

One of the best things I found in the book was the Kolbe Y Index that was created by Kathy Kolbe to determine what sort of learner your child is. M is still too young for that test, but I'm considering doing the "IF" test they offer.

I wish the psychologist had sent us home with this book. But then again, all he wanted to send us home with was instructions on where to get a prescription.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teh new sleeping routine!1!

Every night. Every. Single. Night both of the children crawl into bed. Sometimes M brings his own blanket and pillow (he's seven. SEVEN). E on the other hand, sneaks in and wiggles between us. Most of the time I don't even notice until E is kicking me or attempting to stick her feet down the back of my pants for warmth.

The "family bed" was kosher for a while. I'm ok with the family bed as long as it works for everyone. It no longer works for me.

It's taken me a while to actually STOP FEELING GUILTY for kicking the kids out of bed. Because - obviously - it means I do not love them.

And let me admit to another one of those horrible parenting habits... E still has a bottle. Yes, she's 2 and a half. Yes, me, the crazy breastfeeder.... M was still nursing at this time but E weaned early (where early = 18 months). She also had a milk allergy early on, but now loves milk. She only gets one bottle at bed time.

And... (it gets worse) I still rock her to sleep. Yes, the great trifecta of crazy parenting. Bottle, rocking, co-sleeping.

Factor in potty training. Now I'm cutting back her milk so she can stay dry at night.

So, do I stop rocking her and cut out the milk at the same time? Do I cut out just the rocking, just the milk? Cold turkey?

Tonight I gave her the bottle, rocked her for one song and put her in bed. That was an hour ago and she's still up and down. I'm not a patient woman and this whole supernanny-walk-them-silently-back-to-bed routine is wearing thin.

I'm hoping that if she goes to sleep without being in my arms, she'll somehow stay sleeping longer. At least that's what the "experts" said would happen if I let her cry it out as a baby. Not that she's crying now... oh no, she's playing with stuffies, reading in the dark, asking for the potty so she can pee a teaspoon full (I swear, she's holding it in for more trips), needs tissue for a perfectly dry nose...

My main problem is in the middle of the night. My love of sleep and inherantly lazy nature means that I can hardly bring myself to get up and put her back to bed or deal with fussiness. It's always "fine, climb in, lie still."

But mama needs her sleep.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Being a Leader

In the paper this past week there was an article "Seven People a Leader Should Avoid". I'd given it a cursory glance but hadn't really read it. My main thought was "Hm". I'd given it about 0.7 seconds thought.

Until my husband walked by. Let's remember he's been practically dead for a week. Sleeping as many hours as he can, sick as all get out. I swear his version of strep must be worse than mine because it really knocks him on his butt. He simply cannot eat.

I hear an exclamation. A scoff. He asks me if I read it and I say no, not really.

"A leader never avoids people."

I try to say that I think the writer means that these are the people to avoid when creating your team, but Major Man is having none of it. You don't avoid people, he says, you manage them or you deal with them. Sometimes you fire them. But you don't avoid them.

This is the Army speaking, I know. I see nothing wrong with that. I have to admit, my leadership training has consisted mostly of reading the Art of War, asking my husband's advice and stocking up on books that might guide me. I stopped short of buying "Management for Dummies". Because I don't so much want to be a manager as a leader.

I don't often post about my job here because a) I don't want to get fired and b) it's not writing related. But Monday to Friday from 730 ish to 330 ish I'm a Team Leader of about 10 sales people. As much as I love writing and identify myself as a writer... I love my job. I don't love some of the administrivia, but I love being a Team Leader.

There are days I feel like I have everything under control and days where I can barely keep my chin above water. But when I think about it, Major Man is right. There are many personalities out there, many flaws (just like mine) and many opportunities for growth - and avoiding them is not an option. You can defer until tempers cool, you can give space, you can wait for things to calm down... but you can never avoid.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

There was a time...

There was a time I thought I knew what kind of mother I'd be... and then I had M.

There was a time I thought I knew what my priorities were.... and then I had M.

There was a time I thought I knew how to be a parent.... and then I had M.

This weekend he learned how to ride his bike. It seemed like it would take him forever. He's seven and a half and we used to see 5 year olds riding around on their bikes and I'd think "He'll never learn! He'll be shunned! He won't get into the right college!!"

But I soon realized that with M the rules are clear: don't push.

No matter what the task - bike riding, skating, swimming, homework - you have to let him work at his own pace and encourage without pushing. Eventually he'll figure it out, but on HIS time.

Yesterday he was riding on a bicycle with training wheels. We looked out the window and he was holding the handlebars and standing on the middle bar (whatever that bar is between the handlebars and the seat!). I had already vowed not to suggest he take off the training wheels, so I suggested instead that he try the two-wheeler that we had in the shed.

He did. It took 5 minutes for him to figure it out.

There are days I feel a little guilty that E has a better mother simple because her brother has gone down this path before her.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

No One Said It Would Be This Hard

Back when I was in school, life felt really hard. There was pressure from parents, teachers, fellow students. Conform. Be creative. Do what I say. Study hard. Pay attention. Add in a cup of divorce and a pinch of bullying and you have your sterotypical crappy school years.


I loved school. I loved the learning and the teachers and finding out things I was good at. I still keep in touch with at least two teachers. (Grade Two and Grade Ten teachers)

But now that I'm a mom, I see this whole other side and it's HARD. It took me a year or more to learn the names of the other moms. My daughter was two weeks old when her brother started school so I couldn't volunteer as much as the rest of them. Then I went back to work and had even less time.

Just this year I started on the PTA/School Council and I am getting to know a lot of other moms. And they are all great. I've missed a few meetings and I feel bad about that, but getting to know the other moms has been great. As well as getting to know the teachers a bit better.

Yet still. There's politics on and off the playground. Which teachers are doing great, which aren't. Who is the best teacher to get next year and who to try avoid. Conflicts that I know are THERE, without actually knowing what they are about <- that's a big one. I'm heavy on the intuition and I can usually tell when I walk in a room who likes who, who doesn't like who... and sometimes that's helpful. But sometimes I feel the stress and strain and there is nothing I can do about it.

I want to be a peacemaker. I want people to get along and I do believe that every parent, volunteer, teacher, administrator, etc... is in this to help the kids. None of us would have chosen to be together if it weren't for our children.

But it's so .... emotional.

Something happens in a classroom or on the playground or after school and feelings get hurt or egos get bruised. And I'm just talking about adults here. Nevermind the underlying pulse of "your kid doesn't like my kid" that can happen occasionally.

I'm never sure where I fit in. I like my child's teacher a lot, but when I hear another parent say "none of the kids in that class are happy", I want to scream. Because no one can make a blanket statement like that and it's SO frustrating to hear. I don't have to be a teacher to know that every classroom is going to have kids that click with the teacher and kids that don't. Parents are going to click with one parent and not with others. Administrators are going to rub some people the wrong way and others not at all. Kids are going to love each other one day and hate each other the next.

But we have to remember that despite the fact that we are all the main characters in our own stories... when it comes to school, we are the supporting actors. It's the KIDS who are the main characters. Each one of them starring in their own show with us all behind them. Can we stay focused on that?

I struggle because I want to do the best I can for my son. What does that mean? Does it mean I have to be on the PTA or Council? Does this have to be my experience? I want to help out and do my part for all the kids... but there are days when I forget that I'm doing something for my son. There's a fundraising letter or an event or a topic of discussion and we start talking about fiduciary duty and casino funds and AGMs and budgets, and I think "where do the kids fit in here?"

I loved school. I thought it was going to be like that. That I'd be loving it. I didn't think it would be this hard.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Amazon Deleting Reviews Online

Recently, I was forwarded an email from Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, Author and Book Marketing Coach. It seems that she started to notice some of her reviews were being deleted. Not just ones for her books, but reviews for other books.

I am sending this to ALL writing associations I belong to because I really want you to have this information before Amazon deletes all your reviews.

A week ago I found that all 85 of the reviews I've written for other books had been deleted. It has been a very difficult and stressful week dealing with Amazon. They are not very accessible and I was given at least 3 different reasons for why my reviews had been deleted. After numerous emails, this is what it's come down to:

Their final ruling: "Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews."

If you sign your review with anything other than your name, your reviews could be deleted. If any of you are in the habit of signing your reviews with something like ".., author of Whale Song", which has been common practice for years, Amazon has deemed this as "inappropriate" and will be deleting them. It seems they're on a campaign to go through reviews posted. They recently made changes to the Amazon Connect program and all our blogs were temporarily gone too. Most are back up.

They also will delete your reviews if you have added the book link (that they supply) and directed it to your own book title's Amazon page. Many authors have used that in their signature line. It can lead to deleteion and suspension, according to Amazon's latest email.

I argued the fact that thousands of authors sign their reviews like this, and that it's common practice in our inductry. I was told by my last publisher to sign my reviews like this; he even wanted us to include the ISBN, which I only did a couple of times then stopped. It made no difference to Amazon that this is what my publisher wanted me to do; they aren't accepting signatures with titles.

Amazon is starting to take note of such practices and you'll get no notice; they'll just pull all the reviews you have written. That's what they did with me, even though many of my older reviews were signed with just my name.

So to clarify, according to Amazon, when posting a review, you are not allowed to have a signature of anything more than your name, and NO links to or mention of your books whatsoever in the review or sig line. I am giving you the heads-up now so you can go in and edit your reviews if you choose. That's what I'd do, to be honest, because fighting with Amazon is not easy. There is no one who will talk to you by phone, and waiting for their response is not easy. This rule also applies to any comments you leave on a book review. Amazon does not want authors to mention their own books anywhere on the reviewpages.

I haven't heard from yet, but I expect this will be funneled over to all the Amazons, so I'll be working on editing my reviews there next week.

Please forward this on to all authors you know and any writing organizations or associations you belong to.

Thanks for letting us know, Cheryl! By the way, you can find out more about her latest book, Whale Song, over at her web site!

Pretty Things

Sorry that my photos are substandard, they don't adequately show the beauty of these pieces. One of the fellow moms from school makes these and had a jewelry party at her home last night. I indulged.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

So there ya go...

So the other day I had that yearly physical that we all dread. I actually think it's a bit of a blessing to be able to say "nope, no health concerns" because you can never be sure about when something might pop up and change your life.

Now I know why I am so mellow in a crisis (like my daughter knocking herself out, the economy, cheques - not mine! - bouncing... etc...). I like to say "all is well with my soul" because, honestly?, you can't worry and pray at the same time.

But also, according to Ms Dr, I have low blood pressure and a low heart rate. Something, she says, she expects with really "fit" people.

Implying, um, that I'm not? Haha... I'm definitely not.

However, my question is this... does low blood pressure and a low heart rate mean something for my health? I know I should have asked the doctor, but it didn't cross my mind at the time.