26 December 2009

Article Recommendation: Ask Elia

An article by Dr. Elia on Tiger Woods. Dr. Elia investigates if Tiger Woods may be a sex addict.

Creating Christmas Memories That Will Last

As Seen in The Battlefords Regional Optimist.

Creating Christmas Memories that will last forever

Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year? How about the year before? Some of you who have a great memory probably can, but for some of us, that may be a stretch to think what we got 365 days ago.

It’s not that we don’t value what we got, it’s just Christmas seems to be getting pretty ‘routine’ and after a while, the gift goes right into the closet or on the shelf with everything else. It gets lost in everyday life.

Here is another question. Do you remember what you gave for Christmas? You probably remember more of those than what you received. You probably can remember what their face looked like as they opened your gift. But, do you think they remember?

Did you know in the United States alone $66 Billion was spent last year during the Christmas season! Some economists, like Joel Waldfogel from the University of Pennsylvania say that about $12 Billion of that which is spent at Christmas that someone doesn’t want or if it is a gift card, it gets forgotten about. That’s $12 Billion lost.

Think about what $12 Billion could do for all of those around us. It could help out our world community, our world family. However, we are blessed with a lot of wealth and goods on our continent that we can afford to have $12 Billion just get lost. It sure seems like Christmas shopping is very ineffective.

I challenge you to go speak to your grandparents, and also challenge your children to do the same, and ask them what Christmas was like for them. Most grandparents would mention the memories they had as a child. How they had next to no money at all, but the company and the fun they had together as a family is what made Christmas so wonderful for them. Or how there was some random act of kindness by an anonymous gift giver on their door step and this meant that they could have a gift to open in the morning, or a Christmas turkey to eat.

Some of the ways to create Christmas memories is by giving to those who are less fortunate. There are two ways to give; either knowingly, by directly helping someone or by donating anonymously to something like the Empty Stocking Fund.

Getting out of your comfort zone by volunteering usually creates more memories than something that is easy and comfortable. Go out and volunteer with your family at a soup kitchen, or help deliver Christmas hampers. Those acts, and many other acts of kindness will make the difference in someone else’s life. Creating a lasting memory not just for you, but for your children as well, leaving them with a Christmas memory that will not be forgotten.

Those are the gifts that don’t get placed on the shelves and lost in daily life.

14 December 2009

Help your spouse and make a wishlist

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist.

Christmas is on it's away, and if you are anything like me, you still have lots of shopping to do.

I love Christmas shopping, because, well, I usually forget that I was shopping for someone and end up shopping for myself.

It is easy to shop for my daughter, for my mom, and sisters. But what I dread the most is shopping for my wife.

Shopping for a spouse can be so difficult because there is so much at stake. Think about it, especially men, if you bought her the wrong size shoes, dress, pants, the wrong perfume, or just plain bought her something you thought she’d like, but she really didn’t, you have just offended your spouse. We can all see the face of disappointment and disgust that says “you got me THIS for Christmas.”

There is a way to prevent this embarrassment. That is to create a wish list for your spouse. Put items down on a list that you would like to receive for Christmas, and make sure you show it to and give it to your spouse. Sure it may take away the surprise of opening up gifts, but at least you will get what you want. Plus, you will avoid the surprise of opening up something you don’t like.

Please, please know that there is no such thing as the “perfect” gift. It doesn’t exist. All that does is create stress and anxiety. Plus, imagine if you bought that “perfect” gift and you got that disgusted and shocked look, you will feel like you failed. So, both of you, don’t expect the perfect gift, and don’t expect to give the perfect gift.

If you do say to your spouse, “surprise me,” expect to be surprised and also accept the gift no matter what. You asked for a surprise, and you will get exactly what you asked for.

Also, avoid hint dropping. That is, loosely pointing out something you would like for Christmas. Such as saying “I’d love something that would keep me warm,” to you that may mean a new fleece jacket. However, to your spouse that may be a blanket with sleeves, a portable fireplace, a foot warmer, or a coffee maker.

Even if you have subtly told your spouse what you have wanted through hints, they will most likely forget it or it will get lost in translation. Your spouse can’t read your mind either, you need to let them know what you would like for Christmas.

That’s why it is important to make a list and give it to them. So Honey, I would like a Wii Fit, pants, the new Harry Potter movie, and the Carmen Rasmussen book. Thanks.

Article Recommendation: Porn Damages Mind, Heart

An interesting read on the damages caused by pornography.

Recent Research: Purdue University

Purdue University recently studied parents involvement in their children's life.

07 December 2009

Christmas an Opportunity to Surprise Others

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist.

Christmas is close and coming. There is usually a different feel around Christmas time.

I feel that Christmas means so many things to so many people. Also that it has many different names across the world. But I think it can be broken down into one word: Love.

I have always loved Christmas stories. It helps serve as a reminder of the way Christmas once was, and what it can mean for us today. A story also helps bring out the true meaning of Christmas. As such, I want to retell a tale that I heard. I think you will like it.

This story is the experience of Lee W. Maloy who served as a Merchant Marine for the United States during World War II.

It was Christmas Eve in 1944. His ship was approaching the Straits of Gibraltar, heading for the North Atlantic to get to the United States and then to arrive home.

It was a stormy night at sea. The sea was covered in white caps, making it nearly impossible for them to see anything on the horizon. Let alone a submarine’s periscope that was trailing behind them. Naturally, of course, the men were thinking of home and of Christmas, not noticing some of the small details they would have seen on some other day.

Maloy and others eventually saw the plume of the periscope appear off of the port side and knew that the submarine couldn’t be more than 100 meters away. There was no time to ready themselves for a fight or to even protect themselves in some way.

The submarine was already on them. Target in sight. The submarine raised out of the wavy sea. The enemy had them. They knew it. They waited for their destruction.

What happened next, Maloy will never forget. The U-boat started flashing a light. It was Morse code. M-E-R, it began to spell, R-Y-C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. Merry Christmas! Than just as fast as the U-boat had appeared it sunk back into the dark wavy sea and was gone.

They all stood there transfixed on what had just happened. The spirit of Christmas, the spirit of love had prevailed.

May we all let Christmas be a time of forgetting ourselves and our grudges, and a time to help and love others to create peace in our lives and theirs. Maybe then, with our kindness and love, we will surprise those around us.

23 November 2009

Learning to say I am sorry

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

In the wake of public affairs, such as John and Kate, USA Governors, and David Letterman it is vital to learn to say sorry.

Saying sorry is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It is not the time to blame either. An apology is taking responsibility for any hurt that you may have caused. It also does not matter if the hurt caused was intentional or not.

For example, let’s compare intentionally pushing someone off of a cliff to accidently nudging him or her off. The outcome for the individual is the same in both situations; they have fallen off the cliff. Of course, when it is an accident, we like to make excuses that it wasn’t our intention, it was an accident, it wasn’t our fault.

However, this doesn’t make the person who fell off the cliff feel any better. You need to say sorry, and apologize for what you are sorry about. “I am sorry that I pushed off of the cliff.” That’s it. Even if it was an accident, you need to own your actions.

Many of us will say the simple apology, but add: “If you weren’t standing so close to the edge, it wouldn’t have happened.” Saying that transfers the responsibility to the person you are apologizing to. When really, it was your actions, or careless actions that caused harm to the individual, which you need to be responsible for.

Now, to the person who is accepting the apology. Does this mean that you can now trust the individual? No. No! You do not have to trust this person. They need to now, through their actions, earn your trust. Continuing with our example, this means you do not need to be around edges with this person, even if invited.

An apology does not reinstate things to how they were in the past. What it is, is an admittance to falling off of the path of trust, and an commitment to bushwhacking your way back onto the path.

As people see that you are owning your actions via apology, and by your efforts to earn back trust, people will begin to trust you again.

One other thing. Never ask why. That is, never ask why they did what they did. Such as, “Why did you have an affair?” There is no answer to it that will make you feel better. They were being stupid, silly, or arrogant. It was a lapse in judgment.

Of course, apologies could be avoided. The only way for that to happen is to be accountable for your choices. Think before acting. Know the consequences for your actions. It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to apologize and repair.

If you do need to apologize, remember to be accountable for your actions when you apologize.

Stress Inventory

An interesting test to take to check your stress levels.

13 November 2009

Meet the challenge to change for the better

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

Imagine a room full of screaming adults with 80’s and early 90’s music blasting, and even the occasional new hit. They are dancing and cheering.

Now imagine being a 14 year-old walking into that room. The words “crazy” and “silly” may cross your mind. You may even feel embarrassed because this is an awkward situation.

Welcome to Challenge Day at John Paul II High School. Three days full of chaotic adults acting as teenagers while teens are staring in amazement.

I was privileged to attend all three days. Let me tell you that I had no voice by the end of it.

What does all this singing and dancing do? Well, oddly, it creates a safe environment. Think about it. By my dancing as crazy as I want and can, it shows that I am comfortable, real, and not trying to play a stiff role. Also, by my encouraging other youths to do the same, it creates an environment where you can be yourself.

By creating such a safe environment, not only do youth act themselves, they also say things they’ve never said before.

Is your house a safe environment? Can your spouse talk to you about anything? I mean really talk to you about anything? Or do they have set roles that must be maintained.

How about your children? Can they talk to you about anything? Or are there certain topics that are taboo, and everyone has to wear a forced smile?

Well, is there room for improvement? Of course, there always is. In every family there is room for improvement.

First, you need to notice what needs to be changed in your family. Acknowledge it. Write it down, and let others in your family know what is going to change. This is so you can be held accountable.

Second is the choice. That is, you have identified what can be done better, so what are you going to make it better. Think of an action that you can do to substitute the current behaviour, routine, or function.

Lastly, after acknowledging what needs to be changed, choosing something to do about it, you must act! Again, tell your family. A goal is usually not met if it is just one made up in your head. The more you tell, and who are willing to hold you responsible, the more likely you will be to follow through with this act of change.

By doing this, noticing, choosing, and acting, you can be an advocate for change.

The City of North Battleford has such a group that creating change in the community. We meet at JPII. Come check it out and be part of the change in the Battlefords.

Article Recommendation: Couple married for 61 years dies 48 hours apart.

Thought this was cute, and reminded me of the movie Notebook.

YouTube: Father's Song

In response to the Mother's Song, she did a song for fathers.

YouTube: Mother's Song

Too cute.

Article Recommendation: Childhood Obesity

I think it is interesting that we have such an obesity/overweight problem. You would think that the population would be proportionately distributed throughout the weight categories. When really, what we are seeing is an over representation in the top 15%. Read the entire article here.
Weight Status Category
Percentile Range
Less than the 5th percentile
Healthy Weight
5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
85th to less than the 95th percentile
Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

Article Recommendation: Women and Autoimmune Diseases

An interesting article. I thought it was intriguing that women were getting diagnosed with depression, when really they had an autoimmune disease. How quick we are to jump to the conclusion of depression.

31 October 2009

YouTube: Climbing Rehab

Find more videos like this on AMCAP

Listening to the Family's way or TV's way

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

Do your children listen to you or do they listen to the television? Think about it. You tell your daughter she is beautiful, and smart. The television tells her that she is too fat and needs to be thinner and that she isn’t witty enough to get a boyfriend.
Which influences her more? For some reason the television normally does. The commercials or shows are telling her this, and she doesn’t even know them. But does she know you any better?
You need to show your children that commercial and billboard models are not real. Take them to YouTube and show them the “evolution dove commercial.” That should help them realize the falsities behind the TV. But that still does not mean that your child knows you better than the TV.
I remember a cartoon depicting a child’s family during the 70’s; brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa, parents, and other family member surrounded the child. Than it showed a child in the 2000’s surrounded by the TV, computer, Xbox, and other electrical gadgets.
According to the Media Research Council, 91 percent of parents think that the TV is too violent and too sex oriented. However two-thirds of children have a TV in their room, provided to them by their parents.
Children spend more time with the TV than any other activity, including time with family and at school. Your child, despite how entertaining the electronics are, wants to spend time with you, they are just using other things to fill their time.
Dr. Tremblay of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group has given Canadian children an ‘F’ for their activeness.
As such, here are some ideas of activities to do as a family to help your child get to know you and believe you when you say they are smart and beautiful.
This one is a must, have dinner together. If not dinner, have one meal together. Go for a walk scavenger hunt; look for random things like a tricycle, a red car, and the first to spot the list wins. Ask each other “what would you do with a million dollars?” Go stargazing. Play a card game or a board game. Go for a walk and get ice-cream or a slurpee. Challenge each other to crack a smile or laugh with jokes and funny faces.
Most of all spend time with your children. They need to know that you will invest your time with them. Show them you love them. Show them that you care. They will then believe you when you tell them positive things, and will realize that the television is lying to them.
This will put parents at the head of the home, not the television.

23 October 2009

Choosing to live in a circle rather than a box

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

I recently attended a conference for Marriage and Family Therapists in Saskatoon. I truly enjoyed my time. I love being able to network and meet new people. However, I love learning new things. So let me ask you, do you live in a box or a circle?
I would say I live in a box because I live in a house. But that’s not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is a system. Let me explain a little about each.
A circle system is a bunch of rings. Think of it as giant family campfire. In the centre is the creator, who ever that may be for you. The children are the first ring around the creator, women are second, who all support the children. Next are the men who are supporting the women in their work. The third ring is the elderly, providing wisdom and knowledge to those inside the circle. The fourth ring contains leaders of all sorts, political or spiritual, and also warriors or military.
I hope you can see this circle and how everyone is involved in supporting everyone, and how the children are the focus.
Now let’s move to a box system. Simply, imagine a school bus. Throw the children in the back seats. Place the women in the middle, and the men at the front. Notice how everyone is sitting in their seats facing forward. Everyone has their own spots and no one is to move or touch.
The box focuses on money, looking good, judging others, and asks the question ‘what is wrong?’ The most important part is to move the bus forward ignoring everything else, including the children in the back.
The circle asks what is true. It accepts, evaluates, and takes action. There is always a seeking to be in balance and in harmony with everyone in the circle. Everyone has value in the circle.
Does mom or dad drive to work every day ignoring the kids in the back?
Do you, as a parent, ask what is wrong with my child? Or do you ask what is my child doing well?
Are your children your focus? Or is it getting the next promotion?
When was the last time you spoke to your elders? Do you value them and their wisdom? Or are you sitting in the bus, just going forward?
Do you support your spouse? Or do they have their own set role which you think they can do on their own?
It is so easy to miss things when children are behind us. However, it is easier to see what is happening when they are in front of you.
In the circle there is love, caring, and nurturing.
Your family is what matters most. Let them know that you support them, and that they are not being brushed aside.
So I ask again, are you living in a box or a circle?

18 October 2009

What budget item goes first: lunch or cable?

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

I sat down to watch my two hours worth of TV. The digital TV recorder is a quite something, cause I am able to record my shows and fast forward through the commercials! Anyhow, I was watching Global News on August 17, and they were talking about the recession, and some of the effects it has been having on our daily life. In particular scaling back on expenses. What was being scaled back wasn’t wonderful news; meals and medicine were receiving the axe.
Fourteen per cent, of those in the nation wide survey, stated that they stopped buying, or delayed buying prescription drugs. Two percent more opted out of a meal. An overwhelming third of the survey spent less on groceries. This is scary.
Global News interviewed a lady who was struggling to make ends meet, and was one of those people who skipped meals to save money. One of the screen shots showed this woman’s balance book of ways to save money, such as not eating, and what she had to pay for. Her list of bills to pay was: groceries, phone, cell phone, cable, internet, water, and hydro. I was appalled. This woman was not eating so that she could have money to pay for cable. She may have been spending less on groceries so that she could pay for the cell phone. There needs to be some rearranging of priorities here.
I believe that everyone should make a list of their current bills. List them in order of what can go in times of hardship. For example, if the bank account is getting small, cut the cable. You can easily go to the public library and rent movies for free or for a small fee. Speaking of the library, it has the internet too. Usually for free, sometimes, again, for a small fee, but a lot less than what someone is paying monthly for the same amount of use. The library is a wonderful asset. Use it. It can help minimize bills.
There are too many things, little objects, that we think are necessities. Blackberry, iPod, internet, Xbox, and others we feel we can’t live without. But we feel we can live without food, or medicine that will help us live. You can’t chew on your cell phones battery when you are hungry and have no food. That won’t satisfy you at all. You need food. You need water. You need a place to live. A cell phone is a want. Cable is a want.
There are only six things everyone needs to live: air, water, food, sleep, clothing and shelter. Those should be our priorities for our selves and for our families. Those should come first before anything else. Without them, you really can’t have anything else that we value and want so much.
I admit. Even I need to remember to put my priorities in order. Looks like I will be going back to bunny ears and to the library.

09 October 2009

Thanks To Be Given For So Many Things

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist.

Let’s really read the word: Thanksgiving.
Some words and phrases I have said so many times that they really have lost their actual meaning. You know, you have been saying newspaper for years. But then you realize it is called a newspaper because it is news that is on paper!
Or inside and outside. You are inside because you are in something, and outside because you are no longer in that something. Or my favourite, birthday. Used so freely. “It’s my birthday.” Yes, it is, because your birthday is that the day that your mother gave birth to you.
However, there is a holiday coming up that I think has lost it’s meaning. We often associate this holiday with Turkey and having family over for dinner. Thanksgiving. Thanks to be given.
Have you really thought about thanksgiving. Think about the things you are grateful for. House, car, family, the pets, and food. All good, but think deeper.
What are you holding this paper with? Your fingers? If you have ever broken your fingers you know how often you use them. That’s something to be thankful for. Your feet, your legs, your arms. Your beating heart. Your lungs. Even if your health is not stellar, you are still living on this little planet called Earth.
Think of the Sun that brightens and warms our days. Think of the fireplace and how so many advances have come from the creation of fire. Think of all the “things” you may have in your life. Your very own home phone, and maybe even a cell phone. There are places in the world where the street has to share one line. Fresh running water to drink and wash yourself. Electricity. There are so many things to be thankful for.
Your relationships. Your spouse. Your children. Your parents. Your friends. Aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, cousins, and the list can go on of relationships. Some may not be what we expected, some may have turned sour, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for what once was or may be.
I encourage you this Thanksgiving to sit down and write a list of all the things you are grateful for. Write until you have exhausted all thoughts. Post this list in your room, your bathroom, or the kitchen; somewhere you will see it. This list can brighten your day when it seems like everything has gone wrong.
Remember this Thanksgiving to give thanks to all those around you, and to everything. You do have a lot to be grateful for this season.

21 September 2009

Article Recommendation: Couple celebrates 72 years of marriage

I love stories like this, of how they tell their experiences of the past 72 years of how their marriage has survived.

YouTube: Evolution

This movie makes a point about how beauty is so misinterpreted.

13 September 2009

Learning Your Love Language

As seen in the Battlefords Regional Optimist.

I once knew of a couple who said that they didn’t say, “I love you” unless they absolutely felt like they had to say it. Which boggled me. I thought that this was strange! You must say I love you to your spouse. So, me, as an undergraduate student wanted to confront them and tell them that they need to say, “I love you” to protect their marriage.
Well, I was wrong. Saying “I love you” is just one way of expressing your love to your spouse. So they were using other tools to say “I love you”. Neither shared the verbal orientated love language.
There are three love languages. Do you think you married, or are with someone who shares your love language? Doubt it. Sometimes, you may buy your wife flowers, or chocolates, and you give them to her, and all you get is this flat look. Well, this is because she isn’t visually orientated. So let’s look at what these love languages are.
There is the love language of touch. These people like to be held, snuggled, and like to receive a kiss. They would rather hold your hand than have a fancy place to live or eat. They enjoy spending time together. Watching the football game and talking to your wife does not count as spending time together. This love language prefers being one on one with the person they love. In essence, they like to be physically close to the person they care about.
The visual orientated love language is hard work. If your spouse is this love language, they would love to see the dishes done, tasks done around the house, and other chore related activities. They would love the bouquet of flowers, because it is a visual sign that you love them. These people would rather be shown and treated in a way that makes them feel loved instead of being told. They are hands on. Weekends are meant for cleaning the garage, the basement, the entire house. That is fulfilling to them. Doing something like the dishes shows that you love them.
The verbal love language is pretty simple. “I love you,” just about does it. They also like to be praised sincerely. They love those sappy love letters and notes. They love to talk about their hopes, dreams, and goals with the person they love. This person just likes to verbally express their love.
There is a fourth love language. That is a combination of all three. No, this is not good. It doesn’t mean, “I am easy to satisfy.” It actually means you need to express your needs the most, because in certain situations you would like to be held, other times told that you are loved, other times shown. So you really need to let your spouse know what you want.
So was this couple I mentioned earlier really falling out of love by not saying “I love you”? No, they just expressed it in different ways. And so can you.

Please check out these two websites for more on your love language.
This website you can take the love language quiz.
This website talks about the 5 love languages which is an expansion on the three love languages.

Article Recommendation: Men, Society & Sex

Check out this article. I love how it talks about the centerfold syndrome.

Article Recommendation: Make Your Spouse Feel Special

Here are some great ideas of how to make your spouse feel special again.

YouTube: Bride Can't Stop Laughing

Article Recommendation: Dinner Time Should Be Family Time

For seven good reasons for having family dinner, read here.

04 August 2009

24 July 2009

Marriage Quiz; Myth or Fact

As seen in The Battlefords Regional Optimist
There was a study by Benjamin Caldwell and Scott Woolley looking at marital myths. It is titled: “Marriage and Family Therapists Endorsement of Myths about Marriage.” It is a quiz, so let’s take it and see how you do.
Having children usually brings a married couple closer?
Myth. Unfortunately having a child increases a couple’s stress. They are trying to cope and adjust to the changes and responsibilities that a child brings.
Men reap far greater benefits from marriage than women?
Myth. Marriage is a benefit to both. For men it is health related benefits and for women the benefits are economic. Remember, married men and women live longer, and are healthier, happier, and wealthier.
Married people have more sex than single people?
Fact. Simply put, single people just brag about it more.
Cohabitation before marriage decreases the chance of divorce?
Myth. This myth is so popular. It is shown from study to study that those who cohabitate before marriage divorce at a higher rate from those who don’t.
The majority of couples who divorce are high-conflict couples?
Myth. Actually only one in three are considered high conflict.
Children do better in stepfamilies than single-parent homes?
Myth. Even though stepfamilies do provide benefits that single-parent homes do not, such as higher economic standing, stepfamilies come with their own unique brand of struggles that weigh more than the benefits.
The more someone gives their spouse information, positive and negative, the greater the marital satisfaction of both partners?
Myth. Only positive information increases marital satisfaction. It is recommended to have five positives for every one negative.
Following a divorce, the economic standard of living drops roughly the same amount for both partners?
Myth. For women, their standard of living decreases following a divorce, while men’s typically increases.
Single women are at greater risk for violence than married women?
Fact. It is also true for men, both are about four times more likely to experience violence being single, compared to their married counterparts.
The factors most often cited by long-married couples as reasons for their successful marriages are romantic love and good luck?
Myth. Sorry, marriage takes work. It is more than luck and romance. The fire needs to be nurtured. The couple’s perception of their friendship is actually the best predictor of marital success.
Children are better off with divorced parents than with parents who are unhappily Married?
Myth. Note the word unhappy. This is not high conflict; these are those who are just dissatisfied with their marriage. Unhappily married parents can provide better benefits for their children than divorced parents. Divorce itself has a long lasting effect on children.
The quality of a married couple’s sex life is the single best statistical predictor of overall marital satisfaction?
Myth. Sex life ranks fourth, behind affective communication and problem solving skills, common interests, and leisure time spent together. In other words, it is the friendship that is most important for marital satisfaction.
Well, how did you do?

22 July 2009

Movie Recommendation: Forever Strong

Forever Strong:
"Don't do anything that would embarrass you, your family or the team." - Larry Gelwix

21 July 2009

Schools Out; Now What?

As seen in the Battlefords Regional Optimist.

Exams are completed, graduations are coming to an end, and your children are now piling home for the summer. For nine months the home was yours, now your offspring and co. are invading your premises. It is a transition that comes every year, some parents dread it and are like the father in the Staples back-to-school commercial from years ago: ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year!’

Also, your children, who are used to having their planners filled from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., now have eight hours at their disposal and they aren’t 100 per cent sure of how to invest that time. School is out, now what do we do? All of us: children, students and parents need ideas.

We all have the dreams of what we want to do this summer, weekends at the lake, time spent out in the sun, quality time together, and many other interactive activities. However, what usually happens is, hours in front of the TV, video games, and maybe a little physical activity, with the road of least resistance being frequently taken.

There was a study recently released by Statistics Canada that found that childhood obesity and being overweight is linked to low self-esteem. Interestingly these children were also more likely to not be physically active and to do poorly in school. This study also dispelled parental income as being a source of self-esteem. I love the fact that you can’t buy high self-esteem.

Now, I am not saying that all of our children are going to be obese because they play video games during summer. What I am saying is that, that path of least resistance, of playing video games and watching TV can lead to low self-esteem and school performance. So, here are some ideas of how to optimize you and your family’s summer, and build self-esteem along the way.

First, let us be discriminators of the television. According to tvturnoff.org, we spend, on average, 1023 hours watching television in a year. Watch TV and play video games for two hours every day. That’s it. Maybe then we will only watch the shows we really want, and play our favourite video games and spend less time in front of the TV. We can live our dreams instead of watching people live theirs.

Second, become active. Go outside and play. Join a sports team. Get friends together and play ball, of any kind. Go bike riding. Just do something active outside. Make it a weekly event. If not, make sure you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.

Third, read a book. You now have ample time, maybe read that book that you wanted to read all year but weren’t able to during the school year. Maybe read the Twilight series and see what the hype is all about. Most of all, keep those brain cells growing.

Fourth, parents this is for you to arrange. Make sure that you have a night a week to spend with your family. Any night. Do something you have never done before. Go to a museum. Go bowling or mini golfing. Maybe make a cake together. Go swimming. Play that board game that you got for Christmas and haven’t played since Boxing Day. Do something weekly with your children.

Most of all, enjoy the summer weather, together. Yes, some will have to work, but it can still be done. Let us get out and be active, turn off that TV, read a book, and play a sport, and maybe, just maybe, you will have discovered something new this summer.