Wednesday, March 30

The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up For Your Child With Autism or Other Special Needs

Let's start with the bottom line: if you have a child with autism or other special needs, you must read the hot-off-the-press "The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up For Your Child With Autism of Other Special Needs" by Areva Martin.

The absolute only issue I can find with the book is that it's American, and therefore the legislation, School Board procedures, etc. aren't necessarily the same here in Canada. Other than that, it is the perfect textbook for any parent raising a special needs child.

Areva Martin is a legal authority (who, notably, doesn't endorse unnecessary litigation), autism expert, and mother of three (including a son with autism). She has appeared on programs such as Dr. Phil, and has now translated all of her knowledge and experiences into a must-read book for parents.

The title doesn't even do the book justice. Not only does "The Everyday Advocate" walk parents through the child's diagnosis and therapy right through the teen years, but it's like a life guide for the parents themselves, with sections on dealing with denial and grief, keeping your relationship with your partner strong, helping siblings adjust, balancing a career and a child with autism, and financing therapy.

I think Martin is right on when she says that when it comes to autism, "too much speculation about causes and cures is a distraction". She goes on to say: "The parents I know who focus on addressing the practical issues - such as accessing services and integrating their child into their family and community - express the greatest level of acceptance and the least amount of anxiety and stress."

She even offers word-for-word scripts to help parents with sticky situations: a restaurant patron complaining about your child, an employer who is wary of flextime, or school staff who question your child's inclusion.

To be totally honest, I was more and more relieved the further I progressed in the book, as I know some parents believe that "advocacy" is defined as "calling the media and/or Superintendent of the School Board whenever mildly displeased with something". Martin's "7 Principles of Advocacy" (e.g. "Take Responsibility", "Speak With Authority", and "Document") are so much more valuable than that sort of reactive thinking.

Don't get me wrong: I know there are situations where parents are rightfully displeased that their children are not being provided with placements and programs to which they are legally entitled, and there is a time and a place for working your way up the chain with such issues. Martin shares a wealth of legal and personal information about safeguarding your child's rights should this be the case.

My bias is that I work in an inclusive, exceptionality-friendly school, and in fact for a School Board that I consider to be a model of Special Education programming, and I know that such cases (where students' rights are truly being denied) are the very rare exception rather than the rule.

This book is an absolute must-read for parents of special needs children, as it covers both the big picture and the small details.

Dr. Phil sums it up best (of course): "If your family is facing special challenges, Areva Martin's new book is THE guide for getting the best life possible for your child. Her personal and professional experiences with autism make her expertise invaluable."

Friday, March 25

Gail Vaz-Oxlade: The Money-Wise Momterview

Television personality Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a busy woman. On her show "Til Debt Do Us Part", she helped couples tackle their money issues, and on her new show "Princess", Gail forces women to stand on their own two financial feet and stop depending on (i.e. taking advantage of) others. Mother of 17 year old Alexandra and 15 year old Malcolm, she is also a columnist and the author of several books, including "Debt-Free Forever", which was the 4th best-selling book in Canada last year.


Gail kindly agreed to help give me and my readers one of her trademark financial reality checks.

This Mom: What do you think is the biggest money mistake that parents of young children make?

Gail Vaz-Oxlade: They don't take the opportunities of everyday life to teach their children about money. Whether you're banking, shopping, or paying bills, every day presents tons of opportunities for parents to tell kids what they're doing, and encourage them to ask questions about how money works. We are our children's best teachers. We should be doing more to raise money-smart kids.

TM: I know you're in favour of giving kids an allowance. What's the right amount, and should it be tied to chores?

GV: It really depends on your financial circumstances, but I like the rule of thumb of one dollar per year of age, so a seven year old would get $7 a week. I do not believe allowance should be tied to chores. Who pays you to do the dishes or make the bed in your house? Chores are a part of a familial responsibility. An allowance is to put money into childrens' hands so they can learn to manage it. The lessons of working for money will come soon enough when kids get jobs to make more money. They won't always be happy with their allowance! In the meantime, we should set some expectations about what the allowance is for. Teach them to save. Encourage them to share. And get them differentiating between needs and wants in planning their spending. Yup, there's fun money too!

{I really like the idea behind the Save/Spend/Share compartments in the Moonjar Moneybox that we gave Frannie last year, but I have to admit that we certainly haven't been consistent with it.}

TM: Experts seem divided on whether or not parents should pay for their children's educations, or expect the kids to take the responsibility themselves. What camp are you in?

GV: I think those of us who can afford it should save for our children's education. My daughter went to university this year and it's cost about $18,000 a year to keep her in school. I would not want her to graduate with almost $80,000 in student debt for an undergrad degree. She knows I've saved for her. And she knows the rules of the game: she has to pay for 1/3 of school, so she has to work during the summer to make some money. And I don't pay for the same credit twice, so pass, or prepare to ante up to retake a credit! As far as how much to save, you should aim to put away at least as much as it takes to get the total grant money the government is offering {for Canadian RESPs} so that means a total of $2500 per year, per child, assuming you can afford that.

TM: What are some of the earliest tricks for teaching your kids about money?

GV: No tricks! A solid, well-planned and determined approach to giving them a financial education. They learn to save by setting aside 10% of their allowance. They learn to defer gratification and accumulate money for larger purchases by practising "planned spending", which is setting aside some money each week towards a particular goal. This is the same skill that helps us plan for Christmas shopping and paying our annual insurance costs. And they learn to shop smart because we talk to them about how they are influenced as shoppers and we encourage them to comparison shop and look for ways to make their money go further.

{I love using the PBS Kids "Don't Buy It!" website with my class, as it covers advertising tricks, buying smart, etc. in a really engaging way.}


TM: I'm really enjoying the new show "Princess". Why do you think there seem to be more "princesses" than ever before, and how can I keep my girls from going down that path?

GV: When our daughters idolize starlets, and try to measure themselves against these girls and what they wear, do and have, we run into Princess Syndrome. What most of our girls fail to get is that these starlets are making a lot of money doing the dumb crap they are doing. All that posing and bad behaviour gives them enough money to pay for those shoes, those extensions, those implants. Sadly, our girls who wish they could imitate the starlets just don't make enough money to keep up with the Kardashians. How do we stop our girls from falling into this trap? We talk about what's real and what isn't. We raise them to be independent thinkers and not measure themselves by stuff they can acquire. And we encourage them to be great in real ways, not just based on the length of their lashes or the size of their breasts.

{At least I have long lashes.....}

TM: I love how you always stress that people shouldn't get carried away with saving for the future to the point of not enjoying the present...or keeping others from enjoying the present! Why is this so important?

GV: Hey, life is for laughing and for making other people laugh. If we become so focused on the future and amassing money, we forget the really important things. I used to be very focused on saving for the future because I was afraid of ending up old, alone and poor. When my best friend died at 45, it changed my thinking. I think saving for the future is important, but it's equally important to laugh in the present.

{By "laugh", I'm going to take that as approval for a vacation somewhere warm and tropical this summer, RRSP's be darned!}

TM: How would you complete the sentence "This Mom Loves..."?

GV: This mom loves audio-books, house plants, lavender, ginger-peach candles, David's teas...all kinds of them...bedtime, writing, TV, cooking, and listening to my children's laughter. This mom also loves to listen to her daughter sing.

My thanks to Gail for offering up this free advice. For a ton of tips and resources, and more information about her books and shows, visit Gail's website at

Tuesday, March 22

Book Blitz: Recommended Reading For Moms and Kids

Need some Spring reading material? Here's a snapshot of some of the best books to come through my post office lately:


Won't You Be My Kissaroo (written by Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Melissa Sweet)

The version I received is a "Send a Story", which means there's a spot for an address on the back, and all you have to do is add 3 stamps to mail it. I had received another "Send a Story" previously, but found the writing and pictures sort of "old" (some might say "classic", but it didn't suit my taste)...and then I realized it was first published in the 60's!

This book is much more appealing as far as I'm concerned, with a little rhyming couplet on each page, complemented by gentle animal parent/baby illustrations. Surely you can think of a little person you love who would be thrilled to find this in the mail!

Just a Dream  (written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg)

This is a super title for Earth Day! The pictures are fantastic, and my students loved the story. It really got them thinking about what the future could look like if we don't do our part to save the Earth now.

I Am the Book (poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Yayo)

A poetry anthology for children, this book is full of great illustrations, and a variety of poems about reading. I love these lines from "Book", by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (because I can totally relate):

"Closing the cover
I sigh -

Good-bye, friend."

There's even a little "About the Poets" section at the back of the book. Described by the publisher as an "exuberant celebration of reading", I'll be holding on to this one for my poetry unit in April.


Chatelaine's Earn, Spend Save (by Kira Vermond)

Three things I learned:

1. When you buy grated cheese, you are in essence paying someone $80 an hour to do the work for you. Enlightening. Doesn't mean I'm going to stop...

2. When our vehicle finally bites the dust, we really should purchase used...yet again...despite that voice inside my head saying "But we deserve a new car! We've never had one!"

3. Our monthly budgets, obsessive and time-consuming as they may be, are worthwhile. If you don't have a budget, what are you waiting for?

I had to laugh at the tip about variable-rate mortgages, which began with: "Do you like to live on the edge and possibly save money?" The words "live on the edge" and "Kate Winn" are not often heard together, but when we renewed our mortgage two years ago to a variable-rate version, it was one of the best financial decisions we've ever made. The first five years we paid a fixed rate of 4.25%, which we thought was fabulous, but since we renewed the rate has never even hit 3% (we were at 1.75% for a while!) The great thing is that our monthly payments are based on a 6% interest rate, which means that until rates go that high, our payment won't increase, and while they stay low that extra money goes towards paying down our principal, which will actually cut years off our mortgage.

The Cleaner Plate Club (by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin)

Okay, so I wasn't even going to read this one. (If you know me, you know why.) But when a second copy was sent to me in error, I thought perhaps it was a sign, so I cracked it open. And I'm glad I did, because I have read it cover-to-cover. Well, I only skimmed the actual recipes, and as soon as I saw an ingredient I didn't like I moved on, but I enjoyed the rest!

The problem is that Frannie is a picky eater, but she comes by it extremely honestly. I'm not going to make myself sound like too much of a weirdo here, but let's just say my food repertoire is quite limited. I'll leave it to my family and friends to comment on exactly how limited it is, should they desire to "out" me.

I loved the informational portions of the book, and as a picky eater myself, I appreciate the authors' philosophy that you shouldn't force kids to eat anything. We've caught ourselves bartering bites of the main course for a chance at dessert, and I'm going to stop doing that. I'm also going to make sure that I don't morph into a short-order cook. Our job as parents is to offer lots of healthy choices (and make sure the fridge and cupboards are stocked with the sorts of things we want the kids to grab) and then our work is done. The children themselves have to decide what and how much to eat. This idea feels so freeing to me!

I also learned that I need to keep offering new foods many, many times, as research shows that it's often necessary to do so before a child with embrace an unfamiliar taste or texture. (Sigh. I guess this applies to me too...)

This book made me realize how fortunate I am to live in the country, and have fresh foods readily available. If I go to the nearest grocery store, I can purchase eggs straight from my brother-in-law's farm...laid by chickens that Frannie and Maggie held when they were only little chicks!

There are over 100 healthy recipes in here, (some of which Frannie and I would definitely eat), and great sections on navigating the supermarket, food safety, lunch-box favourites, and more. I'd recommend it, and if you like to cook and/or eat like a normal person, you'll enjoy it even more than I did.

Disclosure: These books were provided to me for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Kids' Books: Anastasia's Picks

I receive tons of great (and some not-so-great) children's books to review, and I usually focus on titles that best suit my daughters' ages and interests.

Recently I decided that some of the books for older kids deserve a mention, so I have enlisted my beautiful, avid-reading nine year old niece "Anastasia" (she got to choose her pseudonym!) to take a look and make some recommendations to my readers.

Here are her first picks, in her own words.

"Saltwater Taffy" by Eric DelaBarre

Saltwater Taffy is about five friends who try to find the lost treasure of Jean Lafitte (the great pirate). However they discover that the treasure is being happy and spending time with your family and friends. Happiness is not money. True happiness is spending time with those whom you love. {Yes, she really wrote "whom".} The part I liked best was when the friends realized what the treasure really was. The part I didn't like was when the children were almost caught trying to get revenge on somebody. (I hate it when children or anybody gets caught doing something bad!) I think 7 to 11 year olds would find this book particularly interesting.

{Visit the site at}

"Just Grace and The Terrible Tutu" by Charise Mericle Harper

"Just Grace and The Terrible Tutu" is about a girl (Grace) who tries to make a toddler like her friend (Mimi), because she thinks the toddler hangs around her too much. The drawings in this book are cartoonish and look like they are hand-drawn by a younger girl. The headings seem to me like the girl is almost writing in a diary, as if it's a nonfiction story even though it isn't. I liked the part in the book when the girl named Grace has an idea...because she is NOT very good at hiding her secret idea! I didn't like the part where Grace's friend Mimi was acting very strange. I think 6 to 9 year old girls would enjoy this book.

{This is part of the "Just Grace"'s always nice to get kids hooked on a good series.}


My thanks to Anastasia for her thoughtful contribitions to this post!

Disclosure: I received these books for review purposes. Opinions here belong to my niece, "Anastasia".

Winner: Brag About It

Congratulations to the winner of the personalized necklace with tiny brags and birthstones from Brag About It:

TWO TINY Brags with Birth Stones -  Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Personalized Name Necklace

# 6 of 180

Kara S. of Northern Arm, Newfoundland

Enjoy your prize, Kara!

Wednesday, March 16

Behind the Scenes at Cityline!

{Psst...Cityline is taped a week in advance, so this episode will be airing Monday, March 21st on CityTV!}

Watch this episode online at! Click here.

To celebrate my mom's retirement from teaching last year, I had been trying for months to take her to see a taping of Cityline. Since I teach during the week, and the show didn't tape over the Christmas holidays, March Break was our first opportunity, and we took full advantage of it. Accompanied by my aunt Sue and cousin Kerry, we headed in to the big city on Monday, March 14th.

Upon our arrival at the studio, we were given tickets for the prize draws, which would take place after the show, and taken upstairs to remove our coats and hang out in the waiting area. To help kill time, we watched Cityline host Tracy Moore on a big screen, giving tips for audience members (e.g. put your purse on the floor - no one will steal it!, and don't chew gum - looks awful on screen).

Since Tracy and I go way back (if you missed my earlier Momterview with Tracy, click here), I had arranged to come back to the makeup room before the show to chat and take some behind-the-scenes shots.

Hairstylist Janice Whelan from Fiorio and makeup artist Tracy Peart work their magic

I asked a few questions, but really I enjoyed eavesdropping on the natural conversation taking place. Some overheard Tracy tidbits: she was never a "food fight" kind of girl, as she hated to get stuff on her (makeup artist Tracy P. pointed out that that would make her the perfect target for food fighters), and she has an irrepressible urge to have everything for the day, including water bottle and change for transit, laid out the night before. (Seems perfectly normal to me, but apparently everyone doesn't do that.)

Tracy also told me that she loved my nails (Sally Hansen Haute Chocolate), which I think is a considerable step up from when Kelly Ripa told me my hair was the colour of lice.

Almost show time

Would you believe that Tracy gets this look in half an hour? These days she arrives at the studio around 9 for hair and makeup, and stays long enough to take pics with audience members and maybe have a quick meeting with a producer before heading home to baby Eva and toddler son Sidney. When her daughter is a bit older, Tracy plans to resume her regular 8-2 work day.

I excused myself before show time to go meet my family and get seated in the studio. We were directed to one of two sets of comfy bleachers...and later realized that our side of the room seemed to be shot far less by the cameras. Mom and I wondered if we had somehow (mistakenly, of course) been placed in the "unattractive" section, but since we were surrounded by gorgeous women (and the one man in the audience), we figured there was a more technical reason that the cameraman favoured the other side!

Tracy chats with the audience before the show

Monday is "Around the House" day on Cityline, and we got to see some great segments. There was flower talk with regular Frank Ferragine, Sandra Martin from Today's Parent magazine giving tips on fridge organization, and Shawn Gibson demonstrating an Easter-themed papier-mache activity.

Since the show is no longer live, it wasn't a problem that camera cords were hanging down during the intro, which had to be reshot, or that during a break one of Frank's lovely flower arrangements was knocked over, spilling soil which had to be cleaned up. Considering that these were the biggest bloopers, I think it's fair to say that the Cityline team has the whole thing down to a science. And truly, every staffer I came in contact with was kind and welcoming, especially to the several moms with babies who were in the audience that day (kids are allowed for certain shows), many of whom were tense about their children's coos and screeches, but were told not to worry.

I'd like to give a special shout out to some Ontario gals who also appeared on the show that day: "3 Greek Sisters" Betty, Eleni, and Samantha.

Three Sisters Around the Greek Table

These ladies were making their second appearance on Cityline to share some recipes from their book: "Three Sisters Around the Greek Table". Now, I have to admit that the particular recipes from this episode will not likely make their way into my rotation, considering they had a vegetarian focus, and, well, I don't eat vegetables. However, they piqued my curiosity enough that I came home and checked out their 3 Greek Sisters website for more info on the book...and I am quite certain that some of their delicious-sounding recipes for breads, potatoes, main dishes and desserts would be welcome additions to my repertoire.

(Speaking of potatoes, I wonder if my brother would like to collaborate on "Two Siblings Around an Irish Table?" Somehow I don't think it would do as well.)

In just over an hour, taping was complete, and Tracy was kind enough to take photos with interested audience members before heading home to her little ones. Staff members drew numbers for prizes (crock pots!) and handed out free samples (that day it was biscotti, a box of cookies, and the latest issue of Today's Parent magazine). 

Tracy and me

As such a huge TV fan, I always find it fascinating to see the taping of a show (especially when I can get behind the scenes!) and my morning at Cityline is definitely one of my March Break highlights.

And remember, you can catch this episode of Cityline on Monday, March 21st on CityTV!

Wednesday, March 9

The One Where I Tell You What My Thing Is

Everyone has a "thing". Yours might be weight, teeth, or hair. You obsess over it, check out everyone else's, and are unfailingly judgmental of your own.

My thing is my skin.

When I was about twelve, I started to break out. Then it got worse. And worse. I tried tons of over-the-counter products, and doctor-prescribed antibiotics and creams. No improvement.

Finally by grade 10 (several long years later) my doctor referred me to a dermatologist, and I went on the miracle drug Accutane (which ranks right behind the morning-sickness drug Diclectin as my favourite pharmaceutical product of all time). There are many side-effects and Accutane is NOT for everyone, especially pregnant or nursing women. (Consider that my medical disclaimer.) Just to give you an idea of the seriousness of this: I had to take mandatory pregnancy tests at regular intervals throughout my time on the drug. Did I mention I was 15? Trust me, there was zero possibility, but the doctor wasn't taking any chances.

Despite ridiculous dryness (to the point where I was coating my face with Vaseline!) my acne miraculously cleared up, and has been pretty much absent since then. When and if my daughters start to break out, I will be knocking down a dermatologist's door for a prescription pronto, as I am painfully aware of what acne can do to a person's self-esteem.

So, fast forward a certain number of years (okay, 18) and to this day I still hate my skin. There is rarely a bump, but the scarring (both discolourations and pitted spots) is oh-so-visible to me, and on top of that, my fair skin is starting to show my age (despite daily sunscreen since my early 20's.)

After much research, I asked my doctor if I would be a candidate for Retin-A, as I believed that it would help with my two biggest issues: the lingering scars, and the appearance of fine lines.

It's been a few months and I think the product is working (I'm so hard on myself that it would be difficult for me to admit I see improvement) but it created a new problem: excessive dryness, to the point where it was impossible for me to put any makeup on (even when I cut back to using the medication every third or fourth night). So the step I was taking to improve my self-confidence was actually having the opposite effect. I tried different moisturizers, but some weren't powerful enough, and some left me greasy and shiny, which was not what I was going for. Changing the type of makeup wasn't helping either, as no matter what I did, I ended up with flaky, peeling skin showing right through.

Recently I met (by which I mean the 2011 definition of "met":  made acquaintance through the internet) Tracy Peart, the Toronto-based makeup artist to the stars. And when she says stars, she's not kidding. She has worked with tons of television personalities, actors, and musicians, including Lisa Rinna, Bradley Cooper, Kelly Clarkson and...wait for it....even Justin Bieber!

I asked Tracy to help me out with my problem, as I would be willing to bet that a fair few celebs are Retin-A regulars, or have dry skin for whatever reason, so she must be used to getting them makeup-ready. She shared two important tips: 

1. I didn't just need any old moisturizer, I needed a cream, and the thicker the better. Tracy recommended I check out Olay products, so I went to the drug store and picked up Olay Complete all day moisture creme with SPF 15 for sensitive skin.

2. With such excessive dryness, my makeup had to be a liquid or even a cream for better coverage, set with a little bit of loose powder if necessary. (No pressed powder or cream-to-powder foundations for me, as the powder will dry the skin.) Based on this tip, I purchased Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse.

The verdict? Absolutely amazing. I put on the moisturizer right out of the shower, give it about ten minutes to sink in, and then apply the makeup over top. (Sometimes I put some extra cream on for good measure right before makeup application.) I haven't had a problem with dryness since, and I feel so much more confident about my appearance.

So, my Retin-A regimen will proceed, as I continue to pursue the unattainable goal of "perfect skin". In the meantime, I'll fake it with my two new products.

Thanks, Tracy - especially for giving me tips that could be achieved at the drug store (total bill: $28.23). Be sure to follow Tracy for lots of other makeup tips and tricks, and feel free to leave me a comment about your "thing"...whatever it may be!

Sunday, March 6

Millennial Moms: Is This You?

(Spoiler alert: a link to my radio debut is at the end of this post!)

If you were born any time from the late 70's onward, you can join me in calling yourself a Millennial Mom. What's so special about us? Well, according to a new study from BBDO and Curiosity Inc., a whole lot. And since I was fortunate enough to be one of the study's participants, I can give you some inside scoop!

Last summer, I was selected to take part in some research on modern motherhood. (At that point, I didn't even realize I was a Millennial Mom!) BBDO commissioned the study, which was conducted by the oh-so- creative Curiosity Inc. Thank goodness I was on holidays (you may have heard that we teachers get a lot of time off) because the process was actually pretty intense.

It began with an online study, and every day there were questions to answer. These weren't just multiple choice and fill-in-the-blanks survey staples, but some deep and thought-provoking topics. I don't want to give away Curiosity's procedural secrets, but some prompts involved photos, ads, links...I believe I even wrote a sonnet at one point. (Kidding.)

The second piece was a video diary. Each evening, my husband recorded me on a neat little loaner FlipCam (I've gotta get me one of those) discussing my day's high and lows, and answering an additional question. A little side benefit to this exercise is that hubby felt he really got to know me better throughout the process, as sometimes the high or low surprised him, or he learned something from one of my responses that he never knew about me before.

Finally, there was a focus group at the Curiosity office where I got to speak with other participants face-to-face. It's always great to meet other like- (and even unlike-) minded moms.

Once our work was done, the experts did their job with all of the data, and the findings were released just weeks ago.

Curious to know how we Millennial Moms are characterized? Here we go:

  • We see motherhood as a team sport. Darn right. Daddy is an equal partner (more on that later), and I'll take all of the collaboration that my child's grandparents, daycare provider, and teacher are willing to offer. Case in point: in lieu of costly skating lessons which could steal away a Saturday or Sunday each week, my parents come up every Thursday morning and take the girls to a public skating program. It's terrific bonding time, and it is also a very-appreciated "parenting" contribution.

  • We're a "Choose Your Own Adventure" generation, not hung up on tradition, taking in information from various sources before making a decision. I am proudly following in my mom's teacher/mommy footsteps, listening to the doctors who tell me to put my babies to sleep on their backs, and agreeing with my girlfriends who make couple time a priority. There are lots of "experts" in my life.

  • We're "go with the flow" moms, not hung up on parental perfectionism. Now, I have to admit that I can be very hard on myself, so I might not fit in perfectly with my demographic counterparts on this one, but I'm definitely not a helicopter parent, and I'd like to think I don't push my daughters towards perfectionism.

  • We're mompreneurs, blending our entrepreneurial spirit with motherhood. For me, that means freelance writing and blogging, based on my parenting experiences. For our generation, self-expression is incredibly important. Interestingly, CBC Metro Morning host Karen Horsman told me I made a "bold statement" when sharing that I needed to be a mom to feel complete, but that motherhood alone isn't enough to complete me.
    Leelou Blogs

  • We want Dad to be a partner, and my hubby definitely is. We still work within some old gender roles (he does the yardwork, I do the laundry) but we're okay with that. I think it must be said though that sometimes it's hard to relinquish parenting control. Maybe it's because I'm a borderline Millennial that I don't embrace it totally, but I still want to choose the girls' clothes and hairstyles, and be in on all correspondence with their daycare provider and teacher. While we're on the topic of this partnership, it's important to note that Millennial Dads do not "babysit".

  • Despite common perception, we use technology less for community and more for information, and to stay connected with our "real life" family and friends (e.g. through texting and tweeting). Many in the blog world may disagree, as some moms do go online for community, especially when life circumstances (mat leave, relocation) limit face-to-face contact. Moms may also seek out friends on the net when a child suffers from a specific condition that their own circle of friends can't relate to or help with. As a blogger myself, I do have to agree with the findings, as I go to the web to get info, or sometimes entertainment, and then I'm gone again. My own blog was started as a creative pursuit, and not driven by any sort of need to form bonds. Based on the stat I found that less than 5% of blog visitors actually interact and leave a comment (which I can confirm based on my own traffic) it seems like a valid finding.

  • Millennial Moms also value old-fashioned play for kids over technology. I shared that finding with my husband, who was very surprised as he assumed we were the exception to the rule, the only parents in the country who don't put their four year old on the computer. As teachers, we know that kids are going to get more than enough exposure, and quickly (Frannie already loves computer games at daycare and school). We encourage them to play dress-up, do crafts and play with their dolls...real old school stuff! I think also that the Millennial generation as a whole can remember how quickly we surpassed our own parents' technological prowess (or lack thereof) and know that our children will follow suit without our assistance, so why push it?
The most exciting part of this for me was that I was invited to join CBC Metro Morning host Karen Horsman and BBDO Vice President/Account Planner Adrianne Gaffney to discuss the findings on-air, appropriately on Family Day. Click here for my CBC Metro Morning interview (approximately 7 minutes long).

I'd love to know what you think...are you a Millennial who takes issue with any of these findings? Are you a (slightly) older Gen Y or Gen Xer who doesn't see any distinction between yourself and us mommy-come-latelys?

If you're a blogger, please let me know if you'd like a copy of the press release to discuss on your site, or I'd be more than happy to hook you up with BBDO for more information.

Now the big question is, can this Millennial Mom refer to herself as "star of radio" after a seven minute clip? I think maybe it's time to go change my profile...

Thursday, March 3

Brag About It Jewelry - Review and Giveaway

Giveaway open to Canada and U.S.

Brag About It Jewelry is handmade by a Canadian mother of two named Melissa, and is hand-stamped using individual stamping tools. She has a large array of gorgeous items: rings, necklaces, bracelets, which can be stamped with your children's names and birthdates, or can be accented by their birthstones.

These pieces are unique and personalized...and I was thrilled to receive two items for review! Melissa let me choose what I wanted to see, and when I offered two different suggestions, she generously sent both.

First, the "Wrapped Around My Heart" Hand-Stamped Sterling Silver Heart Washer (comes on chain):

Wrapped Around My Heart - Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Heart Washer

Next, the "Tiny Brags with Birthstones" necklace, which (I think) is my favourite, just because the birthstones make it that much more unique. (Of course, these aren't my kids names, but since I use pseudonyms for my girls on this blog, I couldn't exactly show you the real pieces! You can trust me that they are exactly as shown in these Etsy shop photos.)

TWO TINY Brags with Birth Stones -  Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Personalized Name Necklace

The chain is very simple, but the detailed pieces absolutely make up for it.

I think it's also important to note that Melissa is super friendly. We have only exchanged Twitter DMs and Etsy convos, but she fills them with lots of "hugs" and "love"...and doesn't even make it seem weird!

And of course, she's offering a giveaway for one lucky This Mom Loves reader! Here's the prize:

THREE TINY Brags with Birth Stones -  Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Personalized Name Necklace

Up for grabs is a necklace with up to 3 tiny brags and birthstones (you could upgrade and pay the difference if you have a larger family!) This prize is worth up to $44, and if my experience is any indicator, I can guarantee tons of compliments and "where did you get that?"s.

To enter, visit Melissa's Brag About It Etsy shop, and come back and leave a comment about an item that catches your eye. (Believe me, it will be hard to choose!)

For additional entries, once the mandatory entry has been completed, leave a separate comment letting me know that:
The contest will close on March 17th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck...and get ready to Brag About It!

Disclosure: I was provided with the above-named pieces for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.