Sunday, August 31, 2008

First year wedding anniversary gift ideas traditional and modern

For the first year anniversary gift paper is traditional and clocks is modern. You want to make your first anniversary special. If you want to stick to theme anniversary gifts I have some gift ideas to fit any budget. I looked around on the Internet to get some ideas; I have included a link to the site I found it on, and the price range. You may or may not be able to find these locally, or on other website. Please use these ideas to get your own ideas going and shop around.

Humors can be good. I found toilet paper printed with "Happy 1st "Paper" Anniversary. It is a fun gift, though the suggestion from one guy that bought it takes it from a humour to romance kind of. He put it on the roll in the bathroom so that first thing in the morning of their anniversary his wife saw it. She found it funny. This was $14.95 at Just Paper Roses.

Flowers are always nice to get. Just Paper Roses actually makes paper roses. Some that are made to look like paper folded into roses and others that are made of paper but look like real roses. The price started at $15.99 for one folded paper rose up to $66.95.

Personalized artwork. This can be anything from a cartoon drawing celebrating your wedding, to a beautiful pen, ink, or charcoal drawing or even a watercolour painting. Though you need to be careful about the picture being on paper not canvases so that does limit what style of art you can pick from. The good thing with this is that you can find local artists willing to work from wedding pictures to create a wonderful gift for you. You can also find a lot of people online willing to do the same thing.

The idea is to have some fun finding a gift that fits into the paper theme. There are a lot of creative and fun ideas what is important is that you spend the time looking around for something that your husband or wife will appreciate or enjoy.

Papier-mâché – items to be made can be found at any craft store and finished products can be found in art and craft stores as well as stores specializing in imported handcrafted arts and crafts. For people interested in antiques in medieval and Victorian times there was Papier-mâché furniture being made. So it is quite possible to have just about anything-made out of Papier-mâché.

Origami – website of some wonderful origami: C’origami. There are quite a few sites available for instruction, kits, and finished items.

Paper making kits – this can be found at art and craft supply stores. They are very popular right now. It is a fun craft.

There is even paper clothing available though it may only be available online. Paper clothing was made in the late 60’s but did not sell very well. I believe that there are still a few companies that make “paper” clothing but as novelty items and there are artists who make paper clothing but I don’t think they are actually designed to be worn.

You can find paper toys and even paper cars so, it is just a mater of knowing what your spouse likes and then finding it in paper.


With today’s technology it is easy to have pictures, or anything printed or engraved on the face of a clock. This gives you a couple of great options. Find a picture that has meaning to you and your spouse. It does not have to be from your wedding, but a wedding picture could work. What is important is that there is a positive happy moment, or memory associated with the picture. Have the picture printed or etched onto the clock. There are many different places that are able to do this for you, see if there is one local first, then try the Internet. Or have a saying on it like “I cherish the time I spend with you” or “I cherish the time we have together” or “May all our times be happy times together” printed, etched or engraved onto the face of the clock. What is important is that what every you have put on the clock is important to both of you, be it a picture or saying.

There are also a lot of theme clocks available. Find one that you both like or has some special meaning to your spouse. There are so many clocks available on line and in local retail stores it is just a matter of putting some time and thought into it to find a clock that is not just a clock for you and your spouse.

Friday, August 29, 2008

No filter on mouth, asset or hindrance?

Over the years I have learned that I have no filter on my mouth. This means I say what I am thinking, good or bad. I don’t play politics, office or otherwise. I have found this to be harmful in work situations and people can find me difficult to be friends with. I don’t seem be able to identify boundaries and keep them. This is something I am working on as I see it as a hindrance. So imagine my surprise when I went for coffee with some ladies I met at a self-esteem group and they both said they envy me because I don’t have a filter on my mouth.

They both felt that they compromised all the time, and would say what ever would make someone else happy. This was a big problem for both of them. They could never be themselves and were both very unhappy with this. They wanted to be able to say what they were thinking. Too have the confidence to be themselves and not always be playing the politics game. It was a very different viewpoint from mine. I never thought that people would admire my bluntness and openness.

There really is no point to not be honest with yourself and others. If I am having a problems what is the point of hiding it if I am looking for help. If I cannot admit to the people I am turning to for help what the real issues are how can they help me? If some one asks me to help them then they expect real answers from me, not ones that will make them feel better or what they want to hear. People who turn to me for help know I am going to be brutally blunt and honest for good and bad. If you don’t want the truth don’t ask me. I am not afraid to talk about sex and sexuality and other sensitive topics such as parenting issues and anger and that intimidates and scares some people. But at the same time I do it in a non-judgemental way, so people feel comfortable to talk about anything with me. What I need to tone down is the over sharing of my personal life or feelings in a business situation. I may be having the conversation with the right person, but not the right environment. I need to learn how to fit in and not make others uncomfortable when I have to work with them. My solution is to be my own boss, and be myself. I am over opinionated, unashamed and blunt as a sledgehammer, but still caring and kind, just very honest with others and myself.

So what do you think would you rather be? Someone who blurts things out at inappropriate moments, blunt as all can be but is honest to themselves and others or to spend so much time trying to fit in and keep everyone happy that you loose yourself? I am so glad that they took the time to let me know how they feel because it let me see how blessed I am to not have a filter on my mouth, heart or soul.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What online games are safe to let our kids play?

I was reading a blog “Am I a bad dad for letting my kid use the headset in Xbox Live?” about a dad talking about the things being said to an 11 year old on Xbox. I thought it brought up a good point, what are adults and teenagers saying to our kids and each other. The name calling alone was enough to say I cannot let my children, who are much younger then 11, play Xbox Live, even with the speaker on let alone with the headset on. As he pointed out his son has told him about the names, but what has he not told him about.

I have seen some adults “play” and they can get quite verbally abusive. Everything from name calling to death threats can be heard when adult’s play, and that is with out the anonymity of being online. I don’t know what people are willing to say when no one can identify them, where there is little or no risk for being aggressive and no reason to be “nice”. At what point does the environment become so negative or toxic that our children should not be exposed? I know that when I play poker some of the people online are quit offensive, but I have the option to block their chat or report them. If they are breaking the rules, i.e. using abusive language they can be kicked off the system or their chat rights removed depending on how bad they were. I don’t think this option is available on Xbox Live, all you can do is limit chat to who is on your friends list and I think that takes away from the game if you are trying to be part of a team but cannot talk to them.

I know that there are quite a few sites now for kids to chat and play games. Who are the other people on the other computers? What are they willing to say to kids? I can only control what my kids say and do, not what they hear and read. This is why I don’t think online live games are going to be a part of my kids lives for sometime, or mine unless I have some control over what I hear and read. My kids and I don’t need to be abused to have fun, thank you. I want to be able to cut someone off if they are being abusive, I don’t need to hear it, nor do my kids.

I think the real problem is that there is not a moderator on Xbox Live, nor is there any way to have a moderator unless they start using verbal recognition programs and tap into every single game. The only way to control what is being said is for the people to control themselves, and that is not going to happen. Options, stop playing the game when a person becomes abusive, play through it, or don’t play at all. So you may want to think twice about what you are getting your kids this Christmas. What doorways are these online games going to open and what control do you have over them?

Dealing with children’s disrupted routines

Most kids need routines; it gives them a feeling of control and security. They know what to expect and what is expected of them. Real problems can come when a routine is disrupted. A child can feel insecure, threatened or scared and will often act out when their routine is interrupted. Life happens and we the parents or caregivers cannot always meet our children’s needs for consistency and routine, all we can do is deal with the disruption or permanent changes and any reactions our kids have.

From personal experience I know that even a small change like bedtime being ½ hr later can have an impact on my children. For small routine changes it is best to try and keep as much of the routine the same. So bedtime may be a ½ hr later but we still do the same things in the same order. The time may have changed but nothing else has. This reassures kids that they still have some control and know what to expect. It is not always possible to keep a routine, even if it is just a matter of time.
When we are running late it is not always possible to follow the morning’s routine, sometimes compromises have to be made. It may be a matter of having breakfast on the way instead of sitting at the table, or not getting the time a kid needs to ease into transitions. All of this can through a kids day off and their behaviors. Their expectations have not been met and they are reacting to that. Also when we are late or rushing there is the added stress to everything. This is usually when our kids act out or break down, just when we need them not to. But then what can we expect, we are changing their routine and expect them to rush around with no transition time or anything, and we are probably stressed and they can hear it in our voices, of course they are going to be resistant to what we want. Not that being aware of why they are acting out makes it any easer as you try to get everyone out of the house and make it to your appointment or work on time.

Then there are things that just happen that we don’t have control of but can still disrupt our routines; the car breaking down, the power goes out, unexpected guest show up, or someone does not show up or is late. This is life. The best thing to do is to try and get back onto your kids schedule or routine as fast as possible. If one day you are unable to follow the usually routine the very next day you start right back on it, even if your kids resist. The sooner you can get your kids back into the routine the easer it is on everyone.

Change in a routine is the hard one, even when it is a good change. A parent or caregiver starts a job, or changes the time the go to work, or starts school can be very difficult for kids to adjust to. This is a permanent change that they will have to learn to live with. Eventually it will become part of their routine but we the parents and caregivers have to give the kids the time to adjust. We cannot expect them to accept a change right away, it can take weeks even months for some kids to adjust.

School starting in the next two weeks is going to be the big change in routines for most of us. It is going to take a few weeks for both kids and parents to get used to this. It can be a stressful time for everyone. The best thing to do is try and keep the new routine as close to the old routine as possible, and be there for your kids even if they don’t act out or express anxiety. They may be feeling it but are not showing it. Consistency is going to be the key to getting everyone to adjust to the new routine sooner then later and with as little stress as possible. Give yourself and your kids a lot of time in the morning to get used to getting ready for school. Do as much work, like making lunch and picking out clothing, the night before. Anything you can do to reduce the stress of change will help. You may want to start working on the new routine now so that it is not so new on the first day of school. Do some practice runs now to make sure your timing is right so there is not a lot of stress to get everyone moving and where they need to be the first week of school. This will give everyone some time to adjust their routine before hand so things go more smoothly the fist day of school.

Giving yourself and your children time to adjust to any change in routine is the key. There is usually resistance to change, which may cause your child to act out or just feel insecure for a bit. Every person, adult or child, deals with change differently. The only cure for this is for the change to become part of the routine, and only time and consistency can do that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting ready for that first day of school

This is harder then expected. I thought that it would be easy to just pack my kid of to kindergarten for half a day. It is not like he has not been going to daycare for years. What is different about sending him to school? Why is it emotionally difficult?

First there is getting him ready for the transition of no longer going to pre-school with his friends all day but going to kindergarten for half the day and spending half the day at home. He is having a hard time understanding that he is not going to be going back to pre-school. He does not handle change very well, he comes by it honestly, I don’t like changing either. He needs routines and I am not very good with them. It is going to be a challenge for both of us to adjust. The next few weeks will be all about getting all of us ready for him to go to real school.

It is important that he has time to adjust to the change before it happens. We walk by his new school everyday and I let him know that he will be going to that school in a few weeks. Next week the daycare will be getting him used to the idea that he will not be coming back to them, but going to real school. Everyone is working toward making this as easy on him as possible.

However I was not expecting me to have problems with it. It is a big step for him, a sign that he is growing up. I am happy for him but at the same time uncomfortable with there being less control over what happens in his day. I worry about him fitting in, though he does ok at daycare and I think some of the kids will be in the same school as him. I worry about bullies and strange people coming into the school. I want to be able to protect him still from all of that and still give him his freedom to become himself.

How does one balance the need to protect and the need to let go? This is just one small step for us, but it is also a big first step to letting him grow up and be part of the real world. My husband wanted us to home school but I want him to learn how to deal with how things really are right away, personality conflicts and all. And yet I am the one who is starting to get anxious about him being in a less controlled environment, being vulnerable.

I also have to deal with our three year old being upset because he is going to a different school then her, and that she cannot go with him. I think that it is going to be a hard month for all of us as we adjust our schedules and get used to him going to school. In one way I think it is going to be harder for me having him home more, mainly because I work from home and already have a hard time getting my work done, now I will have even less time. On the other hand I think it will be very good for us to have some quality time together without his little sister. He needs the one on one time and she always has to be doing what he is doing or is trying to get me to do something else with her.

I think he is going to have an easer time adjusting then I am, but it is going to be a hard few weeks until things become routine again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Labels on Children

I don’t like to place labels on children. Children grow up into the label they end up trying to fit into the label or find themselves unable to escape the label. I know that both my children have some issues. One has speech problems that he has been receiving help for since he was 2 ½ years old. He will always struggle with his speech. This is not something that he can hide; it is something people are just going to have to get used to. However we have already run into some problems. The daycare attached to the school he starts SK in a few weeks will not take him because he has a speech problem. Oh, they did not say it was because of that but once they found out that he has weekly speech therapy his paper work keeps going missing, other kids have been bumped in front of him and other little things keep happening, like they will not return our calls. It is funny because up until they found out about his speech problem I was told he would have a spot in Sept. if not sooner, now there is none available.

My daughter has been labeled as being a difficult child, and yet she is a wonderful three year old. This is a classification being placed on her by people in the childcare industry, professionals who decide what kids have medical or behavior issues. This label has taken about 4 months for her to get. She has been showing some very strong behavior issues since January of this year. We called for help in February and have been working with someone since then. She was referred to as a difficult child and we were sent to parenting classes to learn coping techniques and strategies to change her behaviors. It worked for about 3 months but now the behaviors are even worse. So we were referred to specialists at Mac Master children’s hospital and are enrolling the whole family into a program designed to help us.

The problem I am having is not that they are going to help us but now she is documented as a difficult child with behavior problems. What is this label going to do to her? Will she start thinking of herself as the problem child and behave “badly” because that is what her role is in our family, there for that is the behavior she thinks we expect from her? How are teachers going to see her and judge her before even meeting her if her file labels her as being difficult and having behavior problems? I don’t what the label to define who she is or can be. The label is not her, but how to make sure it does not become that way?

She may only need some extra attention or something and that might resolve the problems. That is what the program the family in enrolling into is going to help identify. Now she is only 3 so I figure some of it is going to be normal three-year-old behavior. I just don’t want this label to become a part of her record that her future teachers will see. I already know that a label on a file can taint a teacher’s perception toward a child. If you expect to have difficulty with a child then that is what you are going to find even if the child is not behaving any differently then the others around them, because that is what you are looking for.

It is very important to not let labels become your child. Teachers and other people with in the system need to be able to separate a child from the label, but that is not what happens. I am going to do everything I can to keep this label from becoming a part of her educational record to try and prevent people from being influence by the label. I have to accept the label for now because it is what is getting us the help we need. I am sure that the issue is not her but our family dynamics. There have been a lot of changes and stress the last few months and I know that it has had an impact on both kids. They just deal with it differently. I just want to get help now before it becomes a permanent behavior that is part of who she is. I think that is the key, identify a problem in behavior and then get help to find out what is causing the behavior and then make changes in the home and family to resolve it, not put a label on it that sticks with the kid for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, plastic bags and other valuable resources

Over the last few years we have all started to reduce, reuse and recycle. It is a part of our lives now. However one of the items most people don’t think to recycle is a toilet paper roll. They always seem to end up in the garbage. Who thinks to put them aside and then put into the recycle bin?

I have kept toilet paper rolls out of the garbage for years now. I use them in my papier-mâché art. I recycle newspapers, junk mail and toilet paper rolls into art and some crafts with the kids. It became such a habit to save the toilet paper rolls that even when I stopped working on my papier-mâché I was still saving them. I had this huge bag that I was not using and had no idea what to do with it. Then one day my son came home from preschool with TP binoculars he had made. Well suddenly my excess TP rolls had a home. I found myself taking bags of TP rolls to the school along with egg cartons, plastic bags, cereal boxes and other odds and ends to the preschool.

Now I have teachers stopping me and asking if I can bring in more TP rolls, egg cartons and cereal boxes for crafts and plastic bags to put kids clothing in when they have an accident. I never knew there was such a demand. I actually have to remember which class or teacher got the last bag of TP rolls. A bag will be used up in a day in one class room, so to be fair I try to rotate who gets the TP rolls each time.

So before you toss that TP roll in the garbage think about recycling it. I am sure that other preschools, daycares and some schools would love to get them for crafts. Same with egg cartons, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, wrapping paper rolls, and plastic bags. Find out if there is a local school, daycare or preschool that will take them off your hands. You may be surprised to find out how valuable toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, plastic bags, and wrapping paper rolls are.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dinosaur prints in the sidewalk

Yesterday morning my three year old got all excited about finding dinosaur prints in the sidewalk. We had all sized of prints to find and follow on the way to pre-school. It was a lot of fun. She would talk about what dinosaur made what print. There were a lot of baby dinosaur prints and eventually she found a baby dinosaur that she took to pre-school. My five year old decided that he found dragon prints and a baby dragon to take to pre-school.

Now we did not actually find dinosaur prints, we found footprints of people and animals in the cement as well as tool and equipment markings, and chunks missing from the sidewalk. They were all dinosaur or dragon prints to my kids. We talked about how big each dinosaur or dragon was to make a print this big or this little. Sometimes there was a herd of little dinosaurs and other times there was just a few bigger prints.

I liked how creative they both were. It was funny when they both decided they found a baby and had to catch it and take it to pre-school with them. We talked about their babies the rest of the way to the pre-school. It was enjoyable looking for more dragon or dinosaur prints, talking about the babies they found and just having fun with my kids. When I picked them up from pre-school it seems the babies had left to go home sometime during the day and that we might find them again.

All of this came from my kids. I just went along for the ride. I gave them the freedom to run with their imagination by leaving our house early so there was no rush to get to the school. I listened to what they had to say, looked at what they pointed to and showed interest and enthusiasm in everything. I did not say, no that is not a dinosaur print it is a cats print or tool markings or just a hole in the sidewalk. I agreed that it must be a dinosaur print and let things go from there. It took little to no work on my part to show interest and to be part of it, the kids loved it and I thought it was great. It is interesting what kids come up with when we just let them be kids. I think the next time the walk to or from pre-school starts to become stressful I am going to find some dinosaur footprints of my own in the sidewalk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New way to protect yourself when using Interac

I love knowing people in the know. I found out recently about a way to keep your bankcard and bank balance safer. We all know to hide our pin number as we punch it in but there are a lot of ways to get our banking card information. Criminals are using cameras in ceilings and fraudulent pin pads to get our card information and pin number. The newest thing is a fake Interac card reader and pin pad that records your card info and pin number as you put it into the system so shielding the pad as you enter your number does not help. The device is under the pin pad to record what buttons you push, so covering what you are doing is not going to make a difference, it still gets your pin #.

The best thing to do is start putting in a fake pin number first, and then when it comes back wrong put the right one in. This works because the fake card reader will approve your transaction with the wrong pin number. What the reader does is record all your information and then says approved. It does not talk to the central server to confirm your information, it just approves it. This way no record shows up on your bank account and no money leaves your bank account. They take a loss on the product or sale because they can make it up with what they can steal, or get from selling your information.

By not recording the transaction it makes it difficult for banks to find out where the card information was stolen. If all the cards taken on day A all went to store B then it is easy to figure out what happened. However if there is no record of anyone going to store A and using their card it makes it almost impossible to figure out where the cards are being stolen. Often the fake card reader is used at the end of the month because people who receive statements will not get one for almost a month, are they going to remember what store they visited on day A and how much they spent. Chances are they will not notice the missing transaction. Though most of us use the Internet to track our accounts these days, most of us only notice what goes out, not what should have gone out. We will assume there is a delay in processing and recording the payment and that it will show up eventually. Then we forget about it.

Think about all the places you use your card then think about how many other people use their cards there as well. One day’s worth of people using their cards can be quite valuable. The criminal does not need to do this everyday, and don’t. There have been cases where an employee was paid to put the fake Interact machine on for their shift and then that is it, the criminals move it to another store the next day, the employee has some extra money and your card information is going to the highest bidder. How many people go through a corner store, coffee shop or gas station in 6 to 8 hrs?

There is only so much you can do to keep your bank information safe. The criminals keep developing new ways to get it from you. I do recommend that everyone who can needs to start using internet banking and checks their bank account daily. This way you are more likely to notice if something is wrong right away and stop it before your bank account is empty.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What makes a good parent?

I am always hearing about good parent vs. bad parent but what does that actually mean. Does that mean you are a good or bad person? I think that people who are not so good can still be good parents and good people can also be bad parents. It all comes down to parenting skills and if they care about their kids or not. There are horrible people out there who are great parents, their children love them and feel safe, but I would never want to work with them or for them. There are other people who seem to be great in public but years latter we find out that these upstanding members of society were torturing their children. I think that most people try to do the best they can for their children. I struggle everyday to overcome my childhood, and learn better parenting then what I was shown as a child.

I have learned that to be a good parent you:

1) Have to care about yourself and your children. If you don’t care about yourself or your children it is very difficult to be a good parent with positive influences.

2) Listen to your children, hear what they want and need not what you think they should have. Your children are individuals and should be treated as such, not an extension of yourself.

3) Play with your children so that you have some positive experiences with your children to build on. This gives you time to enjoy your children, not being a parent, boss or supervisor but a play partner. Have fun with your kids well you can, they grow up quick.

4) Keep your temper no matter what, even if it means you have to take a time out or leave the room. Giving your child a time out is a way to let yourself cool down. Let someone else deal with an issue if possible when it becomes too much. This is a lot easer to say then do. Kids tend to not listen, jump, run and break things all the time. Also they are trying to become independent people who can think and do things for themselves, even when you are helping them they still want to do it their own way. Big rule here, no hitting.

5) Take care of the basic necessities like clothing, food, shelter, love first and if possible give the extras after everything else is taken care of. Showing that you love your child by spending money on something they want is great, but not if you don’t have enough money for food because you spent it on a treat. Not giving a child what they want does not mean you don’t love them or are not a good parent.

6) Follow through. If you tell your children you are going to do something or give them something then you need to follow through other wise your word means nothing. This is for both positive and negative. If you say you are going to take away their TV for a week then you need to do that. Same as if you tell them they can help with dinner, or pick dinner then you need to do that as well, even if you have had a busy day.

7) Show your children that you love them. Telling them “I love you” does not mean much if your actions show otherwise. Give them hugs, put their artwork on the wall or fridge, tell them how great they are, and spend time with them. Let them know you like being with them and having them as your children. Actions speak louder then words every time.

8) Remember that you chouse to be with your kids, not that you have to spend time with them. It is a difference of perception, if you chouse to do something you are more likely to enjoy doing it then if you think you have to do something.

9) You don’t always have to like your kids, just love them even when you are not happy with them.

10) If you do something wrong admit it, say sorry and work on not doing it again.

I am sure my list will grow as I grow as a parent. The problem I have is remembering this stuff as my kids run around the house screaming, fighting and not listening. It is a hard stressful job being a parent. If it was not my own kids you could not pay enough to do this job. Most of us would not pass the requirements if you had to pass a parenting test before we became parents, but somehow we do get through it and so do our kids.