11 December 2014

What's A Normal Parents Home Look Like?

  • Normal: There is a room in your house that always stays cluttered and messy, and much like Lady MacBeth’s hands, will never be clean. 
  • Normal: Your laundry is everywhere. 
  • Normal: Your sink is full of dishes, your dishwasher is full of dishes, your table and counter are full of dishes, and you can’t find a clean spoon. 
  • Normal: Your kids’ bath toys are right where they left them after the bathwater drained. 
  • Normal: Some type or types of toys are scattered all over the house and no matter how hard you try, or what bribes you offer, or what god you pray to, you never get every piece picked up. 
  • Normal: Cups and cups and cups. Everywhere. All the time. Normal: Art Damage. 
  • Normal: You can’t see the floor of your car. 
  • Normal: You forgot trash day again. 
  • Normal: You have not dusted. Perhaps ever, or at least since your parents last visited. 
  • Normal: Some part of your house is in do-not-use disrepair, and has been for longer than you would publicly admit.

Read more here.

04 December 2014

Saying When, an app for helping cut down unwanted behaviours

The Saying When app is primarily marketed towards cutting down drinking, but can be used to help cut down other behaviours. The app is developed by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health

02 December 2014

Surviving the Teenage Brain

Watch the documentary here on CBC.

This is CBC's Nature of Things write up about it: "International experts in human development present surprising new research that explains the peculiarities and immense power and potential of the teen brain. This new perspective could change the way we school, parent and motivate these transitional homo sapiens. It might even make them easier to live with!"

29 November 2014

Helping Someone With Depression

Helping someone going through a depressive episode is difficult as a friend, spouse, parent, sibling or caregiver. As with any other mental health concern, there are varying degrees, types, and depth to a depressive episode. So prior to trying to intervene it is important to understand the type of depressive traits or disorder that an individual is experiencing.

Sometimes depression can be related to the environment. There are the ‘winter blues’ or ‘seasonal depression’ that happen as the days get shorter and the temperature gets colder.

Other times depression can be situational. When someone loses a loved one or loses a career they go through the grieving process, in which depressive symptoms are common. Other times the environment may not be conducive, such as domestic violence, which can contribute to depressed characteristics.

In some situations depression can be a hormonal imbalance, such as post-partum depression. Typically in this situation the onset is four weeks after the birth of a child. Depressive episodes may also occur during puberty.

If there isn’t an environmental, situational or hormonal link to the depression, the depression may be organic and internal. It can also be medically tied to someone having a heart attack or cancer.

It is important to note that an individual can experience episodes of major depression without having a major depressive disorder.

When it comes to helping someone with depression the tactics vary depending on which category they fall in. Rushing them to a doctor or psychiatrist for Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibiters (SSRI’s), such as Prozac or Zoloft, is not always beneficial because if the low mood is correlated with the environment, they may not work. However if the depression is organic, SSRI’s may be useful.

An individual in a depressive state may not be talkative, so finding a way to communicate that they are comfortable in, is useful; such as art, writing, texting and so on. Connecting with them on their level helps build a relationship of support that can foster trust.

It is encouraged to not make major life decisions during a depressive episode, such as leaving a job, moving or ending a relationship. While this is logical in that the brain at this point in time is not always capable of making long-term plans, plus judgements are clouded by the mists of depression. There are times where it is illogical, such as if the depression is tied to ongoing domestic abuse or an unhealthy work environment, leaving those situations may improve mental health. So being a support and a voice of reason if there needs to be a major life change is important.

Most of all, it is about the relationship. The help provided will need to fit the individual’s abilities and circumstance. And don’t expect each intervention to respond quickly to helping efforts.

27 November 2014

10 Things Happy People Do

1. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. Joy is contagious. People are four times more likely to be happy in the future with happy people around them.
2. Happy people try to be happy. When happy people don’t feel happy, they cultivate a happy thought and smile about it.
3. Happy people spend money more on others than they spend on themselves. Givers experience what scientists call the “helper’s high.”
4. Happy people have deep in-person conversations. Sitting down to talk about what makes a person tick is a good practice for feeling good about life.
5. Happy people use laughter as a medicine. A good old-fashioned chuckle releases lots of good neurotransmitters. A study showed that children on average laugh 300 times a day versus adults who laugh 15 times a day.
6. Happy people use the power of music. Researchers found that music can match the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy.
7. Happy people exercise and eat a healthful diet. Eating a poor diet can contribute to depression.
8. Happy people take the time to unplug and go outside. Uninterrupted screen time brings on depression and anxiety.
9. Happy people get enough sleep. When people run low on sleep, they are prone to feel a lack of clarity, bad moods, and poor judgment.
10. Happy people are spiritual.

Read more here.

25 November 2014

Seven Things Amazing Dads Do

  1. Be a good man
  2. Love and respect their mother
  3. Work hard, and make regular time for children
  4. Share your interests, but encourage your children in theirs
  5. Influence instead of control
  6. Openly express affection
  7. Don't lose your playful side

21 November 2014

Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows

If you are looking for a song that is annoyingly catchy for your kids, give this a try:

28 October 2014

Schools That Separate the Child From the Trauma

“When kids have undergone a lot of adversity, it changes how they respond to people and challenges in their environment, including very simple things that we might not think about — like how many transitions you ask them to do before lunch,” explains Chris Blodgett, a clinical psychologist who directs the CLEAR Trauma Center at Washington State University. “For traumatized people, changes are encoded largely as danger.”
When a child violates rules or expectations, the standard response is to try to reason with the child or use punishment, he added. “What the science tells us about how stressed brains react to change, loss or threat is that children will often violate rules because they feel profoundly out of control. It’s a survival reaction and it may actually be intended to control the situation.”
This is a NY Times article by David Bornstein, read the full article here.

16 October 2014

12 Ways #Pornography Leaks Into Your Home #Parenting

This list is from an LDS Living article.

  1. Mobile Devices
  2. YouTube Ads
  3. Shopping Catalogs
  4. Previews & Deleted Scenes in your movie collection
  5. Netflix, Hulu and so on
  6. TV Commercials
  7. Your Children's Friends and Peers
  8. Mobile Game Ads
  9. Music & Album Art
  10. Video Games
  11. Books
  12. Apps like SnapChat

13 October 2014

#OHEA Media Release: Pack a Healthful Budget-friendly Lunch

by Maria Depenweiller, B.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Back-to-class or back-to-work spells back to lunch box planning amid news of rising food prices.
Tips for a home-made lunch to save money, reduce waste and boost nutrition:
  • Choose local, seasonal produce. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, grape tomatoes, apples, pears and plums are nutritious, economical and pack well. Check Foodland Ontario for availability: http://www.ontario.ca/foodland/availability-guide;
  • Pack ‘extra’ fruits and veggies for the larger appetite or to satisfy hunger on the bus ride home;
  • Pick the less-than-perfectly shaped fruits or veggies. They can be fun and less expensive;
  • Homemade savoury scones, muffins or oatmeal cookies are inexpensive and a more healthful choice than pre-packaged crackers, chips and cookies. Sneak some veggies or beans into your baking for extra nutrition;
  • Cook large batches of soups, stews or ragouts for dinner and plan for leftovers to go directly into reusable containers for a portable meal the next day or freeze for another occasion to avoid waste;
  • Use an insulted container to keep food safe. (Hot food must stay hot / cold food must stay cold);
  • Wrap newspaper around an insulated container to help maintain temperature. The coloured comics are fun;
  • Hard-cooked eggs, cheese, meat, fish, poultry, yogurt, mayo and milk require a cold pack;
  • A frozen reusable bottle of water or 100% juice doubles as a cold pack that’s drinkable by lunch time;
  • Reuse glass jars to carry food. They are wide-mouthed to accommodate a spoon, easy to clean in the dishwasher and can be microwaved safely with metal lid removed; but are not safe for kids;
  • Use a new pencil case to carry reusable cutlery and a fabric napkin to reduce waste;
  • Make your own lunch box. Repurpose a medium-sized cookie tin or gift bag or sew your own lunch bag;
  • More lunch tips at: http://www.ohea.on.ca/uploads/1/2/6/0/12605917/fuel_up_on_nutritious_snacks.pdf.

12 October 2014

Let Christ Toss The Tables Of Our Souls #LDS #Mormon

I gave this as a talk in Church on September 28, 2014. This is a note that the following contains LDS beliefs, and if that is not your thing read at your own risk.


With the combination of last weekend’s Stake Conference and meeting two General Authorities, this Sunday sitting beside someone with a mission call, and next week being General Conference, reminds me of the time when I was just heading out on my mission and the then Elder Eyring came to my Stake Conference in Winnipeg. He held a special fireside for the currently serving missionaries, and myself and two others with their mission calls were invited to attend. After he was done speaking he wanted to shake the hand of everyone there, he wanted to know their hometown. I nervously stood in line, me and others were wiping our hands on the side of our pants. When it was my turn, I said I was Elder Lockhart, from Winnipeg, going to Perth Australia. He looked deep into my eyes, as if he saw into my soul and saw my whole life history, and said ‘nice to meet you Elder Lockhart.’ When I shared this story with my children that I had met President Eyring, it made him and other general authorities seem like real people, instead of pictures and images on a screen.

Family Home Evening
Anyway, at the start of this month, our family did a Family Home Evening lesson on the importance of temples. We watched the bible video of the time that Jesus cleansed the temple, as recorded in John:

“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:13-17)

Cleansing the Temple
President Howard W. Hunter had this to say about the cleansing of the temple:

“Love of money had warped the hearts of many of Jesus’ countrymen. They cared more for gain than they did for God. Caring nothing for God, why should they care for his temple? They converted the temple courts into a marketplace and drowned out the prayers and psalms of the faithful with their greedy exchange of money and the bleating of innocent sheep. Never did Jesus show a greater tempest of emotion than in the cleansing of the temple. …”

If I may pause here for a Josh insert. Tempest, or anger. We often give the emotion of anger a bad reputation. But here the Saviour of mankind showed anger, and rightfully so. It is alright to be angry, it is what we do with it that matters, there are helpful and non-helpful ways of being angry.

Resuming with President Howard W. Hunter:

“The reason for the tempest lies in just three words: ‘My Father’s house.’ It was not an ordinary house; it was the house of God. It was erected for God’s worship. It was a home for the reverent heart. It was intended to be a place of solace for men’s woes and troubles, the very gate of heaven. ‘Take these things hence;’ he said, ‘make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.’ His devotion to the Most High kindled a fire in his soul and gave his words the force that pierced the offenders like a dagger” (“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 52–53).

We are Temples for our Spirit and the Holy Ghost
So I am going to use this cleansing reference, another quote and another scripture for the foundation of this talk.

One way we can share the Saviour’s attitude toward the importance of the temple is by keeping ourselves worthy to enter the house of the Lord.

Elder Richard G. Scott taught:

“Before entering the temple, you will be interviewed by your bishop and stake president for your temple recommend. Be honest and candid with them. That interview is not a test to be passed but an important step to confirm that you have the maturity and spirituality to receive the supernal ordinances and make and keep the edifying covenants offered in the house of the Lord. Personal worthiness is an essential requirement to enjoy the blessings of the temple. Anyone foolish enough to enter the temple unworthily will receive condemnation” (“Receive the Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 1999, 25).

So we take from that quote the importance of keeping ourselves clean to enter the temple.

Our Body is a Temple
Last part to building the foundation, is in 1 Corinthians, we read:

“...Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

It has been said that we are spiritual beings having a mortal experience (Chardin, 1955), and that each of us has a spirit that is housed within our body (Doctrine & Covenants 88:15).

Let Christ cleanse our Temples
So, spiritually speaking, have we let Christ come into our temple, and cast out “the natural man [that] is an enemy to God” so that we can “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit… [and] become a saint through the atonement of Christ.” (Mosiah 3:19)

To be willing to “give [up] all [our] sins to know [Christ].” (Alma 22:18)

This process of having Christ throw out the tables in our temple, is not easy nor simple. It is like when Professor Dumbledore says to Harry Potter, “we have to choose between what is right and what is easy.”

This process reminds me of the depiction that occurs in C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace turned into a dragon because he put on a gold band and had greedy dragon thoughts. Eustace, as we all do, tried to remove the dragon skin on his own with no assistance. He tried three times to remove the dragon skin off of himself only to find another layer underneath. He eventually gave up.

Eustace is then approached by the lion Aslan, who represents Christ.  Aslan told Eustace that He had to remove the dragon skins.  This is what the Eustace’s account was in the book:

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my own heart.  And when he began pulling off the skin, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel.... He peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker , and darker, and more knobby-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft...” (C.S. Lewis – Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

For a scriptural reference, the Lord said: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

We need more than one cleansing
This cleansing process, the removing of dragon skins or denying the natural man, is not a onetime thing. It starts with the cleansing of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. But each Sunday when we partake of the Sacrament, and approach it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit as we did when we were baptized, that cleansing of our spiritual temples happens again, and again, and again.

What is interesting is that each of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell the story that Jesus cleansed the temple after entering Jerusalem. However, the earlier account I read in John (which to be honest may be referring to the same event as the others, and John just decided to share it earlier) seems to be referring to a cleansing of the temple that occurred near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while the others are near the end of His ministry.

So again, near the end of His ministry

… “Jesus [again] went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12-16)

Sometimes life happens. We have to deal with: the pressures to succeed, self doubt, self pressure, grief, pain (mental, emotional, physical or spiritual pain), fears, memories that haunt us, hard times, a broken heart, uncertainty, fear of failing, depression, doubt, society’s pressure, parents fighting, regrets, insecurities, genetics (such as alcoholism), being called names, jealousy, poor self esteem, our past, emotional turmoil, and so on. (Tyler Ward – Rescue [Fan Video]) That we lose sight, and the commitment we made during baptism, and therefore need another cleansing through the Sacrament.

Christ wants us to be His disciples
This brings to mind Jeffrey R. Holland’s telling of Peter reuniting with the resurrected Christ on the same shores that Peter was first called to be a fisher of men.

“The Savior [had] asked for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” [And] now… Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”

“To which Jesus responded  ([in Jeffrey R. Holldand’s] nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”” (Jeffrey R. Holland,  October 2012)

It is my prayer that we will let Christ into our temple’s, and let Him through the Holy Ghost cleanse out the natural man. 

If we have been greedy, or have had life happen that has covered us in dragon skin, go to the Lord and let Him cleanse us. So that we may say, as Mormon did of old, “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ…” (3 Nephi 5:13)

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

09 October 2014

14 Reasons Why You Are Tired

If your like me, you may be tired more often than not, a Times Health article lists the following reasons:

  1. You skip exercise when your tired
  2. You don't drink enough water
  3. You're not consuming enough iron
  4. You're a perfectionist
  5. You make mountains out of molehills
  6. You skip breakfast
  7. You live on junk food
  8. You have trouble saying no
  9. You have a messy office
  10. You work through vacation
  11. You have a glass of wine before bed
  12. You check emails at bedtime
  13. You rely on caffeine through the day
  14. You stay up late on weekends

01 September 2014

Girls With Glasses - I'm Not Fancy (Parody). Such is the life of a parent.

I've always liked Brooke White's music, and it seems she has recently partnered up in a new duo called Girls With Glasses. And they just released a new parody about not being fancy while parenting a toddler.

27 August 2014


Finally advertising that shows that dad's get it too! And that they aren't useless.

20 August 2014

How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD

Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch.

Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.

When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

15 August 2014

Preparing for the back to school routine

Your Twitter and Facebook feed may soon be cluttered with meme’s about Christmas being under 20 weeks away. Which for me means it is time to start doing my Christmas shopping, in about 19 weeks. However, with the red and green season already being advertised, we are well into the back to school movement.

If you have been like me, you have let certain school routines slip during the summer. Sleeping in, staying up late, more snacking, later meals, more screen time, and so on are now happening daily.

The struggle is, especially with school starting in about three weeks, is figuring out how and when to get back into the school groove.

The following are just some ideas of how to get back into the school routine (I recommend only doing one or two a week, so you don’t stress yourself or your children out):
  1. Wake up earlier. If you have been sleeping in until 9:30 try waking up at 9am next week, 8.30 the week after, 8 the next, and then 7.30 for the first week of school. This allows your body to slowly ease into getting up earlier.
  2. Go to bed earlier. This is ideal to do once you are getting up earlier, as you and your children should be tired earlier. Try the same method as waking up earlier.
  3. Bed time routine. Re-establishing your past routine, or starting a new one. By having a bath, getting in pj’s, brushing teeth, reading stories, cuddles and so on, in the same order each night develops an indicator for the body to know that it is time to get ready for sleep.
  4. Structuring meals. Start having meals at a set time, or as close to the same time as possible. Note that children need a hearty and healthy breakfast.
  5. Start reading. Substitute reading books alone or together instead of screen time.
  6. Have weekly family calendaring. So often scheduling is left do the day off, and it creates frazzled parents and children.  Now don’t have too rigid of schedule, have flexibility in it.
  7. Start deciding on extra-curricular activities. Investigate or start generating interest in what after school programs your child wants to be in, whether it is gymnastics, piano, or chess.
  8. Have a weekly family activity. When the school year starts, balancing life, work and school becomes difficult. By starting a family activity before school starts it creates a tradition that can be carried through the school year.

Again, slowly adjust into a back to school routine. Trying to do it all at once is exhausting. Which might just happen for some of us on the first day of school.

08 August 2014

LDS Divorce Experience Survey

I have partnered with LDS Living to do a survey on members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have been divorced and their experiences when they go through a divorce

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

06 August 2014

Is war play bad for kids? I say no.

And so does this article for Scholastic. But I also understand the fears and concerns that comes with war play, particularly aggression. So that's why it is important to have rules, boundaries, and to know when to intervene when safety is at risk.

01 August 2014

25 July 2014

Couponing ~ An Easy Way to Save

by Sandra Venneri, B.Sc., P.H.Ec.

Consumers often feel at the mercy of retail price tags. With increasingly unpredictable pricing, household budgeting can be tough. Become a smart shopper - take advantage of coupons!

Tips for Smart Couponing

Ø  Know where to look. Find coupons on store shelves, online (mailed and self-printed), in magazines, flyers, newspapers and attached to products and samples. Search online for codes to type-in at checkout. Take advantage of loyalty reward point redemptions that offer in-store discounts. Find discount gift card and group-buying sites. Read the fine print. Speak up to ask for student, senior and employee discounts;
Ø  Keep coupons organized. Use a simple envelope or small plastic file folder to organize coupons into basic categories such as food, household and pets;
Ø  Plan ahead. Make a list of ‘necessary’ purchases based on sale prices first. Pair sales with coupons you have and mark those listed items to avoid forgetting to use coupons at checkout;
Ø  Save coupons. If you don’t need to use a coupon immediately, wait to pair it with a sale price for even greater savings. Monitor expiry dates and check for minimum purchase rules;
Ø  Share coupons. Start a group and meet once a month to share coupons;
Ø  Take advantage of price matching. Some stores will match the advertised lower price from another store. Have the competitor’s flyer with you for proof of price-to-match;
Ø  Use coupon etiquette. Organize items with coupons for the cashier to speed up check out. Do not remove coupons affixed to product packages you are not purchasing at the time.
‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ has literally become a nickel-saved today! And it’s easy to make that ‘dollars-saved’ through wise couponing!

Sandra Venneri is a Professional Home Economist with a degree in Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences. She is currently working towards becoming a Registered Dietitian at Brescia University College. Her passion for a holistic life is evident on her social media sites. Twitter: @nutritionbites8, Facebook: nutritionbitescanada and Instagram: nutritionbites. Sandra is the winner of the 2014 Ontario Home Economics Association Student Media Release Competition.

24 July 2014

Why and who we "unfriend" on Facebook

The article by The Atlantic seems to suggest that we unfriend friends that are polarizing or don't share our same values.

23 July 2014

When we fall in love, what does Facebook see?

These two graphs are fascinating. First one shows the average number of posts in the days before and after the relationship starts.

And then this graph shows the positive emotion level before and after the relationship starts.

What stands out to me, is those two outliers on first day of the relationship.

These graphs came from The Atlantic.

14 July 2014

Awesome Music Video by Colbie Caillat called Try

I have been a fan of Colbie Caillat for a while, but her latest music video, while it may seem that it attacks wearing makeup, is attacking the photoshop beauty world we live in. I love it.

03 July 2014

Why Society Accepts Pornography but Not Littering

An interesting read from LDS Living. While I agree with the notion of pornography being an issue, there needs to be more done to not shame those that do view it who feel guilty. However, the resources at the bottom of the LDS Living article are helpful, plus a book by Jill C Manning titled: What's the Big Deal About Pornography? One of my favourite studies on the subject is Generation XXX.

12 June 2014

Globe and Mail: Cutting Home Economics?

And as the title of the article so aptly says, "that is out to lunch." While I am of a different breed of Professional Home Economists/Human Ecologists, it is sad to see such basic needs, particularly cooking, be cut from schools.

It's unfortunate that Maslow's hierarchy of needs is changing to this:

02 June 2014

CBC Doc Zone: Angry Kids & Stressed Out Parents

CBC Doc Zone had an episode on the relation between angry kids and stressed out parents.

I would embed it, so go here to watch it. below is the trailer.

30 May 2014

Managing anxiety to keep the world open

Recently I went to the pool with my three year old son. He wanted to be brave and jump off the diving board.  My wife guided him along the side until the diving board went past the edge of the pool. He then slowly tip-toed out to the edge of the diving board, and I was in the pool waiting for him to jump in. When he went to jump, he got spooked as he felt the spring in the diving board. Panic sunk in, and attempts at encouraging him to jump in the pool didn’t work. He slowly made his way back off the diving board and said, “I just wasn’t brave enough.”

He wanted to try again later, and made it almost to the edge, but still didn’t jump. With his mom and me encouraging him, he kept trying again and again, but each time he went up on the diving board, the shorter and shorter he went on the diving board, to the point where he didn’t want to try at all.

I liken this to anxiety. That he had good intentions of achieving a goal, but his fear, albeit in this case an expected fear of heights for his age, prevented him from reaching it.

This is when anxiety can become scary for the individual and for parents: that the world of an anxious person gets smaller and smaller, and the trips into the world are shorter and shorter.

Sometimes, when it comes to pressing someone with anxiety, fears and worries, to do something that they just can’t in the moment, and after several attempts they can’t do it, to take a break. Have a break to take a step back, to take a breath or two, and to regain energy. It’s similar to if someone broke their foot in a car accident, we wouldn’t expect them to start walking and driving immediately. There needs to be time to heal, and regain trust that the foot will work again.

I understand that no parent wants to see their child suffer, so it may be natural to avoid things that cause anxious moments, for example not letting my son near a diving board, but avoiding anxiety inducing things doesn’t help people overcome or manage their anxiety. It only makes their world smaller and smaller. To manage anxiety there needs to be the achievement of smaller steps before tackling a big scary task. To continue with my example, a small step may be jumping off the edge of the pool into the deep end is a start, to build his way up to the diving board. Visualizations can also be beneficial.

An important piece is to celebrate, regardless of the outcome, when the large task is tried again. But the most important part is to be alongside and coach your child, or yourself, through the anxious moment. It will be hard, but with the proper amount of preparation and loving support, it is possible to overcome fears and worries.

18 April 2014

Should technology be used as a babysitter?

Last time I indicated that electronics, particularly video games, smart phones, and TV watching, can be beneficial when used to engage, interact, connect and build relationships. Such as family movie nights, face time or Skype, and playing video games together.

However, it is also important to discuss the other side of technology, keeping in mind that we are not throwing out the baby in the bath water, because technology does have a place in our lives.

There is a quote that I like from the late 90’s regarding technology consumption with children: “to be popped in front of a TV instead of being read to, talked to or encouraged to interact with other human beings is a huge mistake and that’s what happens to a lot of children.” Any ideas who said it? Surprisingly it was Madonna. She even referred to the TV as ‘poison’ prior to this statement, rather ironic for a person made famous by the TV, but still intriguing.

Technology can be a ‘poison’ when it is being used as a babysitter or a distraction for children. We have all seen it, a child starts acting up while at a restaurant while waiting for their food, and then they are handed a smart phone to play a game on or stream Netflix. Or the child in the shopping cart, or the child at church, all of who are having difficulty with being bored, they are then handed technology to be stimulated. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of this, and I also understand those times when parents use a TV show while cooking a meal.

But the litmus question is: is technology being used as a baby sitter? And if it is, how frequently is it being used as a sitter?

Again, this isn’t meant to shame, we all have room for improvement. Take this as an opportunity to evaluate, because children need to learn to be bored, patient, and to creatively come up with ways to spend non-stimulated time.

Children need to learn that it is okay to be bored, and that they can find helpful things to do to pass the time.

Children need to learn patience while standing in line, while waiting for food, and so on. That they are capable of being still on their own in the present moment.

Children also need time to not be stimulated to have their own original creativity time. Although over stimulation and exposure to many different things may look like creativity, it is not true creativity.

While it may be tempting and easy to distract your child while you are shopping, put the smartphone away, and coach them through what it is like to be bored, and have to be patient.

24 March 2014

San Jose Sharks make dreams come true

This was a very classy move by the San Jose Sharks. One of those heart warming stories:

21 March 2014

Decreasing Parents Fear Around Technology

I have been noticing that there is a lot of fear around raising children and teenagers in the technology age.

Whether it is because of the shame that the mommy wars creates, i.e. who let’s their child watch TV less; or all of the shame that comes from research connecting excessive TV watching to: ADHD, Autism, poor school performance, defiant behaviour, drug use, etc. And if we dare expose our children to the TV or any other screen we are causing them harm, and therefore are harmful parents.

There has been so much research on this topic that there is instant fear and shame created whenever a new study is released, and ironically it is over-dramatized by the media. Plus, we tend to over generalize the results that we forget that: how each child uses, responds to, and copes with technology, is unique.

But because of this fear response to screen use, technology sometimes gets treated like a forbidden fruit, and then it becomes even more desirable, which creates further strain on the parent-child relationship.

With all of this fear and shame hovering around the screen, we have forgotten to look at the many benefits, and positive uses for technology, which research has shown, that can help ease the forbidden fruit syndrome and the parent-child relationship.

For example, research from Brigham Young University revealed that relationship enhancement can occur when dad’s play video games with their daughters. The University of Victoria has found that teens who play team based video games use and adapt those social skills to real life situations. The lead author in that study, Kathy Sanford, said in an interview: “People criticize gaming because it is sedentary. But we wouldn’t be upset if those kids were reading a book.” Video game playing, especially for teenage boys, has become the 2014 version of storytelling, especially when you consider the storylines for some of the games.

Not to mention that technology has allowed for connection and communication. We can easily connect with family and friends across the country or across the world.

Parents, try to engage with your child in using technology. Let go of some of that fear of not understanding technology and the shame that comes with it, and parallel play with your toddler, child, tween or teen. Yes, there will be moments where they watch a show on Netflix, but as you will parallel play with them and share moments with them, you will begin to understand their world a little more and build a connection.

In the end, the question shouldn’t be “how much is technology being used in the home”; rather, it should be “how is the technology being used in the home?”

21 February 2014

Keeping Parenting Simple

As a parent, and as a person who helps other parents, I sometimes get sucked into the latest parenting trends, or the hottest parenting tips. I want to somehow use someone else’s parenting success that they had with their children on my own. Forgetting that my children and other parents’ children are unique individuals, and what works with one doesn’t necessarily work with another.

My observation with these latest trends and tips is that if you put them into a pot and boil them down to their main ingredients, they relate back to ‘The Attitude’ that Dr. Daniel Hughes uses in his attachment work. ‘The Attitude’ is being a parent who creates a safe environment for a child by being: Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious and Empathetic; or PLACE.

Being playful with a child means that as a parent you are willing to get down on the ground and engage in the world of your child. But it also means at times disciplining in a playful way. For example, when my daughter is mad and slams her bedroom door, I tell her that it is a three slamming door. She will with rage slam the door again, and again, and by the third time, she is still mad, but has a cheerful smile.

Loving a child is not always easy; especially when they have jammed crackers in the blu-ray player, or spilled juice on your shirt. Showing tenderness and compassion in those moments is important, especially during moments of correction. This is the unconditional love that is often spoken about, which is separate from the love that comes with trust.

Being accepting of your child, is simply just that, accept them. Whatever the situation, whatever their behaviour, accept them. They may be more into arts than you or more into sports than you, accept them. Whatever they do or are, accept them.

This often leads to being curious about your child. If they like something, match their interest with your curiosity about the topic. Or just be curious like they are as they explore their world.

Empathy is being able to understand a child’s current emotions from your own past experience or putting yourself in their shoes, not to be confused with sympathy, which is acknowledging the emotion with support. As an example, this means when a child steps on Lego, instead of saying, “That must have hurt, next time you will remember to pick those up so you don’t get hurt,” you’d say, with empathy, and maybe even at eye level, “That hurts” and share the emotion.

If I may add one more that is being present (which probably would happen on its own if you are using ‘the Attitude’). Sometimes in our society we have to quickly jump to the latest sound or blinking light on our mobile device. When we engage as parents using ‘the Attitude’ of PLACE, be present. If you are putting your child to bed, be there with them. If you are playing a game with them, be there.

Using PLACE is not always easy, but as you practice it, it will come more naturally. The goal is to parent using ‘the Attitude’ more often than not.

Let’s get back to the basics of parenting and keep it simple instead of over complicating it by being: Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious and Empathetic.

20 February 2014

Jian Ghomeshi - When going for gold goes too far

I have always enjoyed Jian Ghomeshi and his insights. I have also been a huge fan of the winter olympics. Jian's latest piece about going for gold, I couldn't agree more. I have always cheered and hope that our olympians get medals, but more importantly I hope that they perform to their best, set personal records and represent our country.

Go Canada!

17 February 2014

Anxiety Awareness Presentation

Coming up on February 20th and April 10th are Anxiety Awareness Presentations for Parents in Cranbrook BC. Particularly for those who know their child is experiencing anxiety.

Over 50 participants have registered for February 20th, not to mention the various other presentation requests for community professionals.

The response for this event has been overwhelming, but also a realization that we will be addressing an important issue for parents.

As such, I feel it is important to acknowledge our partners and sponsors:

12 February 2014

The Family as the Answer to Poverty

This is Family Watch International's 3rd video in their three lecture series about "The Family as the Answer to World Problems"

11 February 2014

Family Capital - The Key to International Development

Family Watch International released three lectures on "The Family as the Answer to World Problems"

This is lecture two:

10 February 2014

Mainstreaming the Family in the Sustainable Development Goals

Family Watch International shared three lectures in their series "The Family as the Answer to World Problems"

This is lecture 1 of 3.

09 February 2014

Tired of Winter? Expedia commercial

I love this commercial, as it really shows how winter weather can really get to some people.

05 February 2014

Meaghan Smith - Have a Heart

I have been a fan of Canadian singer and song writer Meaghan Smith since her first album, Crickets Orchestra. She is releasing her second (or third if you count the Christmas Album). The following is the first song released from her upcoming album:

04 February 2014

Alzheimer Poems

The following are more Alzheimer poems written by my mom on the University of Waterloo Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program page:

Sitting in the Dr.'s Office,
He tells me I am terminal,
Terminal, Terminal, Terminal,
it echoes in my ears.
Knew it was coming, but to hear it.
No Cure, No Cure, No Cure,
it echoes in my ears.
What will I remember
I have early on -set Alzheimer’s and so I ponder;
What will I forget, Who will I remember?
I will remember my children, my spouse and grandchildren
but I will forget ME.  

02 February 2014

The Wreck of Home Ec

It is unfortunate to see the dismantling of the Faculty of Human Ecology at the University of Manitoba. I wish the faculty could have stayed intact, whether as a college or a department.

I agree with Past-President of MAHE Debora Durnin-Richards when she said:

"So what is the solution? Society, external to the University of Manitoba, says the professional educational study of Human Ecology is valued and should be retained. I dare say that there are proponents within the institution that would also agree. The President wants fewer Faculties. He is in support of clustering. So why is the dismantling of a well respected Faculty even being considered? So the proposal should be to cluster the Faculty of Human Ecology with another Faculty. Just like all the other clustering proposals. In no other scenario is an existing Faculty being dismantled! Clustering is the approach the University needs to consider. #SaveHomeEc by having the Human Ecology program of study clustered with another faculty that can bring greater synergies for both - each retaining their identity and status in society."

01 February 2014

Healthy Food Cravings

I am uncertain of the research behind it, but the idea of eating healthier food when craving unhealthy foods is beneficial and worth trying...

31 January 2014

From Spouse to Caregiver

The following was written by my mother on The Alzheimer Society of Canada website

The Beginning of Love is the Courtship 
Then the Engagement VOW "Will you marry me?" 
Then the Wedding VOWS 
"To have and to hold; to cherish and love and honour one another, 
in wealth and in poverty, in sickness and health." 

And that is when a spouse turns into a Caregiver. 

Did he know at the courtship that he might one day be changing my depends? 
Did he know at the wedding that he would have to do all the driving and the cooking as I no longer can. 

I wonder would he take those same VOWS again? 

Yet I already see the answer - in the tender looks, in the nurturing. 
The Caregiver loves me more than the Spouse.

29 January 2014

The Importance of Timing

In one of my favourite BYU Speeches, Dallin H. Oaks shared this story to emphasize the importance of timing:

...One university president had come to the end of his period of service, and another was just beginning. As a gesture of goodwill, the wise outgoing president handed his young successor three sealed envelopes. “Hold these until you have the first crisis in your administration,” he explained. “Then open the first one, and you will find some valuable advice.” 
It was a year before the new president had a crisis. When he opened the first envelope, he found a single sheet of paper on which were written the words “Blame the prior administration.” He followed that advice and survived the crisis. 
Two years later he faced another serious challenge to his leadership. He opened the second envelope and read: “Reorganize your administration.” He did so, and the reorganization disarmed his critics and gave new impetus to his leadership. 
Much later the now-seasoned president encountered his third major crisis. Eagerly he opened the last envelope, anticipating the advice that would provide the solution for his troubles. Again he found a single sheet of paper, but this time it read, “Prepare three envelopes.” It was time for new leadership.

28 January 2014

Sesame Street gets healthy food makeover

I sometimes have a reaction to Sesame Street changing, especially when I see the Cookie Monster not eating a cookie! Because sometimes I think a show can't influence our eating habits that much. But it seems that what our favourite characters eat does influence what we eat, as this CBC article suggests. And then I am reminded of the marketing success by McDonald's where children find food wrapped in the McDonald's wrapper (compared to the original or plain packaging of the snacks) six times better!

25 January 2014

22 January 2014

iGadgets class at COTR Kimberley Campus

I am teaching an iGadgets class at College of the Rockies Kimberley Campus on January 29th.

The description is:

Do you have an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch? Get the most out of your device with this course that
will teach you new functions, applications and answer all your "i" questions.  Time will be
divided equally between instructor lead learning and student driven tutorial time.  Please bring
your fully charged i device.

19 January 2014

Kids teased in PE exercise less a year later

Maybe this is a contributing factor to social anxiety, which usually an early indicator that I have observed, is refusal to go to gym. But being teased in gym is correlated with having a lower perceived state of well-being and quality of life (looking at physical, mental, emotional and social).

Read the release of the study here.

18 January 2014

Children with Autism take longer to combine sights and sounds

As "the results" says:
Children with autism had a longer window of time within which they combined sights and sounds, says lead study author Mark Wallace, director of Vanderbilt's University's Brain Institute. It took about twice as long for them to connect the dots, compared to typically developing children.

Read the full article here.

16 January 2014

Kelty Mental Health’s Tool Kit For Families

healthy living

Kelty Mental Health has a toolkit for families that looks at: Health Eating, Being Together, Managing Stress, and Healthy Sleep. There is a website that has all the information on it, or you can download the pdf.

15 January 2014

OHEA Media Release: Happy 2014 to Family Farmers

The following is a release from OHEA. Written by Mary Carver PHEc.

The United Nations (UN) has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. The proclamation aims to increase awareness of the importance of family farming in addressing world issues such as poverty, food security and protection of the environment.

The goal of the declaration is to ‘reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in national agendas.’ The UN hopes that it will spur discussion at local, national and international levels of governments. The decree includes both developing and developed countries, including Canada.

The UN defines family farming as ‘all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development. Family farming is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labour, including both women’s and men’s.’According to the UN website, family farming is important for three main reasons:

  • it is linked to world food security;
  • it promotes balanced diets and helps protect biodiversity; and 
  • it promotes strong local economies when coupled with other policies which serve to protect the well-being of communities.

The Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) supports the UN focus on the family farm and trusts the special recognition will translate into improved public understanding of the role family farms play in society.
While each generation seems farther removed from the farm that produces it’s food, Home Economists understand the plight of farmers as they struggle to compete in global markets against rising costs and climate challenges. OHEA applauds the commitment that local farmers make to future generations and to the environment.

Too often as consumers, we take food security for granted.