The New Valentine’s Day

as posted on

I spy my husband’s truck pulling around to our home. I see the red balloons bopping up in the passenger’s seat. I do not tell our daughters that daddy will be home any minute. A smile reaches my lips when I recall the Valentine’s Days of our past, or rather before we had kids.

On our first Valentine’s Day we never saw each other. I had high school classes and he had to work. After Social Studies I went to my locker. I felt bummed that for the first time having a boyfriend on V Day  I will not see him. The previous year, my boyfriend had broken up with me the day before Valentine’s Day.  I turned my lock and unclicked it. As I swing open the door I got confused for a second. There was a white long box in my locker. Then I realised they were roses from him. I opened the box and smelled the fragrant flowers. I could not stop smiling all through the rest of the day. For years after we never went all out for Valentine’s Day. How could he top the one that meant so much, so I never expect it?

Since being parents, we stay in for February 14th. As our girls get older we have made the day more about family love. My husband brings home a small gift for each. Having girls, we desire to set the precedent that they are worth being acknowledged and loved. For dinner we either order out for a Boston Pizza heart shaped pizza or we cook favorite foods.  One year we ate all red foods like tomato sauce with pasta, cupcakes and, for us, red wine.

After the paper plates (no cleaning required) are cleared, we break out a game. Our favorite right now is playing Wii bowling. We cheer each other on as we take our turns. For bedtime story we read a special story like: Clifford We Love You.  We laugh and enjoy our special night. When they get even older, we probably will not see them for dinner on that day. Right now, I love that we make it about us being together.


Tinsel Town Mommy


Finally, I could put my feet up and relax. The monitor is on and wine is poured. Hubby is making sure our oldest is snug in bed. I grab the remote to find something mindless to watch. I flip and discover’ Liberty Stands Still.’ A lifetime ago I did work on that movie. I met the main stars, Linda Fiorentino and Wesley Snipes, and saw Oliver Platt from a distance. It was a great film to work on. The stars and crew made all the background actors feel welcome.

Then, there on my television at home was my face passing by the hot dog stand. I had completely forgotten working so close to camera. I was strangely giddy.  Just as fast as I passed through screen, I was gone.  It had been years since I left my last film job. The thrill I felt tonight was surreal. Times have changed for sure.  When I see celebrities on various websites and talk shows, I remember all too well who was naughty and nice. Sometimes it took the tinsel off my eyes when I saw how a celebrity truly is in real life. There were many who surprised me in their charm and charisma. I became a fan (still today) of many, and have stopped watching a few actors/actresses whose egos could fill a movie theatre.

It was shortly after I left film work I began my journey to my next chapter, writing.  A stick turning blue side-railed that path for a time.  Today I work-at-home writing while being mom to my dear daughters. The celebrities that make me giddy now are those whose books inspire me, or articles that have made me think.  I have met many authors now who are just as wonderful in real life.

The key factor in those who are a celebrity of the screen or page is kindness. The ones whose kindness I experienced first-hand is who I still follow. I strive to teach my daughters to be kind at every opportunity. You never know who is watching or listening.  I could write a tell-all reference book on naming names on those who are wonderful, and those who are not. But then I might have to disappear.  In the meantime, I still enjoy the ‘celeb’ encounter or tweet. It makes me feel young. Nothing wrong with that.

How we eat out with kids.

How we eat out with our kids.
After the passionate discussion this month, I was asked by readers how we manage to eat out with our young kids. We do go to Starbucks and eat out twice a month. It is a meal-off for me and creates a memory for our kids.
Often managers or customers complement our two and four year old girls on how lovely they are. The truth is it’s not always a ‘picnic’. It is careful calculation and practice for them on social situations. After some trial and errors here are our tips:
1. Have a bag of tricks with books, coloring, favorite snacks if needed or if they are old enough an electronic device. Have the device not be played with for a day or so before so it will be a treat. My four-year-old and I read eBooks or play games on the ipad.
2. At first fuss, remind your child that if they continue the fun will stop. When I mention about going home, they usually stop fussing.
3. Depending on your kid, go just before or after a nap. depending on if its lunch or dinner. We just don’t go out for dinner as our kids have stopped napping. It just is not worth having tired kids to juggle.
4. I also make sure that there are no snacks two hours before the meal. Don’t starve them but make sure they will be hungry.
5. If it is a truly cranky day, we bail. It is not worth it to neither the child nor the other customers along for the meal. There is always next time to try.
Also, if there is no kids menu, I recommend trying somewhere else. As written before, it is the parents’ responsibility to show by example. Explore a few local dining spots to give it a try. You might be surprised. We all deserve a meal we didn’t cook or have to clean up after.
What are your tips? Feel free to share with others in the comment section below. Any great/bad experiences?

Should Kids Be Banned in Restaurants?

previously posted on

Most days I let hot topics that I read go because I do not want to add fuel to the fire. It is interesting how some write opinions that they would never say in a face to face conversation. The hot topic this past week did ruffle me. The subject is banning kids under 6 in restaurants.

Social media lit up with the fire that this topic caused. The first time I read about it was on Dawn Chubai‘s (local BT Vancouver host) Facebook page with the simple status update “thoughts?” and the link. Many chimed in on how they would love it. One friend piped in when do we stop banning-go back in time? Is this really 2011?” I contributed in my personal thoughts (which I will share later here) and it got liked by many people.

Here in BC there are many places to go that are kid-fee. The bars and pubs have a strict “No Minors Allowed policy.”  When I get a rare time-out with my fellow parent friends we frequent establishments like that or lounges. Rarely will you find kids in a fine restaurant after 7pm, locally.

I posed to my peeps on Twitter.  Here is a sampling from parents including personal experiences.

@ALotOfLoves   Not all places are child friendly. I don’t think all restaurants need to be either. Obviously this place didn’t cater to kids. The age thing doesn’t actually bother me. I hear, “We are intolerant & don’t like families”. Result: I won’t go there. Ever.

@Bored Mommy I think banning kids from restaurants is just gross. Why don’t they just ban assholes instead.

@scatteredmom here’s a good story for you.

@phdinparenting My longer thoughts here:

It is sad to think that in this day and age we are resorting to ageism. My children look older than 6 but are much younger. Do I need to carry their birth certificates?  We know when to go out to eat and when not to. With the costs of eating out higher now due to HST, I value a meal that I do not have to cook and clean for. I bring a bag of tricks to entertain my girls when we go out. Many restaurant managers have stopped by our table to compliment us on how wonderful they are. In case you did not know, my daughters are 2 and 4. We might eat out 2-3 times a month.

We were at our go-to place for lunch when our youngest went into a teething crying fest. I scooped her up and walked outside faster than you could say “Check please.” After a few minutes in the parking lot, a staffer came out to check on us.  My husband had paid the bill with our oldest daughter. The restaurant had packed up my meal and included a coupon for next time. We still go there today.

My question to restaurants:  do you ban obnoxious, drunk and cursing adults? (I have personally seen that they don’t.) My children act better than some adults. It makes me mad they could be judged by other customers or places as trouble just by looking at them.

After reading the Facebook threads and Tweets, it seems that there is a consensus.

  1. To ban is wrong. To have a sweeping rule that if a customer (whatever the age) is bothering other customers they would be asked to leave. Special needs customers are excluded from that discrimination by law in most cities.
  2. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach their kids respect for others. This includes showing them appropriate behaviour in restaurants. It is a very important lesson for them as they grow into adults. If they are unruly then it’s time to leave. They will learn that the fun stops when they are misbehaving.
  3. If you want a guarantee to dine at a kid-free zone, try a lounge, bar, pub or of the like. Look around you might find a new place that kids do not frequent.

What sticks in my brain is that I have never heard of such an age ban in Canada. Yes, there are “minors not allowed” zones, but in a public place all is welcome. Since being a parent and on a tight budget, I treasure eating out with my family because it’s creating memories.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Do you go out with your kids?

Preggers Rant. What to say to a pregnant woman.

I settle my two and four-year-old hungry daughters at the last available Starbucks table. I dish out the treats and pull out their waters from my bag. I sit myself in between them and exhale out loud. Sipping my coffee, I spy a very pregnant lady sitting at the table beside us looking at my girls.
I remember all too well that feeling of wanting to have the baby out. It’s the comments that came from random strangers that hurt the worst. Some of what I was told was:
You are so huge!
Better get your sleep now.
It’s just a myth you eat for two.
Is what you are eating good for the baby?
Both third trimesters were spent in extreme hot summers, everywhere I went: It must suck in this heat for you. (DUH!)
When all the while I ultimately wished I had said: “Don’t touch my belly unless I can touch yours!”
Since being a mom twice over, I feel a kinship to seeing expectant moms. My oldest knows to go open a door of a struggling mom. Nowadays, when I see a pregnant mom I say things that I wished I heard more of, like:
You look beautiful.
You are glowing.
You don’t look pregnant.
Your baby is lucky to have you as a mom
My girls finish their snacks and declare its play time. I pack us up and see the lady looking sad as she rubs her belly. I catch her eye and smile, “ Congratulations. You look amazing.” She beams a wary smile. “Really?” she asks hopefully. I nod emphatically.
Smile and pass it on is how we can support moms at all stages of parenthood.
Had I known that the baby stage would pass so quickly I would have hung onto it tighter. Having said that my youngest gives my legs a bear hug.I love this present.

Mother’s Day Tea: The Sequel

I hit the road after the tea. I breathe slowly as I turn the corner to pick up my younger daughter from the neighbor’s house. With all my trepidation about leaving her, my older daughter loved having me to herself. The Tea went great. The songs the class performed were beautiful. The tea and strawberry shortcake at the tiny tables was precious. I felt very guilty that all the while I was having time at the pre-school, I had one eye on the clock.

I place the homemade gift my pre-schooler made in class for me on the passenger seat. The bookmark with her picture and drawing is the best gift I have ever received. Her pride shined so bright when she handed it to me. It washed away my worry and mixed guilt that has plagued my heart once the invite came home from school. I knew I owed her this time. Life is too busy trying to balance it all.

I do trust the house that is taking care of my younger girl. In fact, we are trading play dates and taking care of her younger child that afternoon, that way she can take her son to the afternoon tea.  I felt such a worry during the whole hour. I pictured her crying and wailing looking for me. I left her quickly to not have a long good-bye.  In my pocket was my cellphone which I discreetly checked frequently.

With all my restraint, I carefully parked the car in their driveway and locked the car. I ran up the stairs and tapped on the door. My ear is on high alert expecting to hear her cries. Silence. My neighbor answers and invites me in to stay for a bit. I go up the stairs scanning to where she is.

I say hello as she races by to the next box of toys. The other kids say hello to me. All three kids are playing with delight. After talking for a few minutes my daughter realizes I am there and clings onto my legs motioning to be picked up. I squeeze her tight looking for any signs of a red face. Seeing none, I breathe with a huge sigh of relief. She is okay. I let her down so she can play a bit longer.

We say our goodbyes and pack up in the car. I slip into the driver’s side and look back at her. Her happy face is the balm on my heart. She was, and is okay. I back out of the driveway and laugh at myself. After all that worry of accepting help, we are both just fine.  By accepting a helping hand I broke out of my comfort zone.

Mother’s Day Tea

The look on my four-year-old daughter’s face says it all. She just handed me an invite in the shape of a tea cup with her hand written letters on the front, “Mommy.” It invites me to the pre-school’s Mother’s Day Tea for the first hour of class. At the bottom in italics, No siblings please.  My heart sank. Without thinking, I told her I would go if I can find someone to stay with her younger sister. Her face fell to the ground.

We make our way out the door and my shaky hands give away my emotions. One of the teachers stops me to ask what is wrong. I tell her I don’t know if I can go because I have no one that can take care of my youngest. Her voice is filled with confusion as she is asking me if there was not an aunt or a grandma around to take her. We have no one, I inform her. I push the stroller to the side walk and move on.  On the walk home all I could do to stop crying was to bite my cheek.

Just when I think I can move forward in the small village that we are raising our daughters in, this harmless invite shreds it to pieces.  My husband works during the day and with some out-of-town trips. The little family we have close is still on the mend for cancer-prevention surgeries. There is no one to turn to when I need the kids watched for five minutes, let alone an hour. My mom has been gone a long, long time and my mother-in-law lives in the next province. It’s just how it is. I work at home with them near. They run all my errands with me.  Despite the bad days, the good ones show what a great trio we make.

I settle my girls into the kitchen table for lunch.  Facing the kitchen window, I run the tap to drown out the tears that are racing down my cheeks. I cannot not be there for her tea. It is not her fault there is no one to watch over her sister. In a fit of raw emotions, I post a picture of the invitation on Facebook at the unfairness of it all. I urge my Facebook friends to hug their moms tight. Within minutes, I am overwhelmed at the kindness and offers to sit with my youngest so I can go to the tea. After a sip of water, my rational side takes over. I have two offers from friends who would love to take my two-year-old for the hour. I can work this out.

Feeling much calmer, I tell my four-year-old that we can go with her to the Tea. Her whole face lights up as she runs up to me. She timidly asks if it will be just the two of us. I nod and give her a bear hug.

It’s just an hour, but will be a lifetime memory for my eldest and I.

Grief with Children

As posted this week at

The tears race down my cheeks uncensored. The shock allows the floodgates to open before I realize my 4 year old is watching me.

I warble out to my husband who is steps away, “He died.” I feel paralyzed in the living room chair.

My husband comes over to me. I am staring at my iPad going through Facebook where the announcement that our friend’s 13 day old newborn had passed the night before. Baby was waiting for a new heart which never came. Being under constant hospital supervision since birth, he never got to go home to where his older siblings were waiting.

My husband holds my hand as we explain to our older daughter why I am sad. Her friend’s youngest brother passed away. I tell her that it is not fair.

“Oh, he went to heaven to see Harley?” she asks. Harley is our cat who passed away when she was fifteen months old. I wrote 2 books about him. The last one was about how he was sick, went to the hospital and passed away. Harley became an angel where he felt better and still watched over us. The books are read frequently in our home.

She looked at his picture on the screen. Never have met, she nods and says okay. I watch her go back to playing her dolls. I try to shelter some feelings from my kids. After dealing with my mom’s illness and subsequent passing, I never had a true childhood. That motivates me to allow them to be innocent and enjoy their rightful time in their young lives. I do believe in being honest with them.

Having my eldest girl appreciate and understand my sadness because of the Harley story validated that I am doing something right as a mom. As my 2 & 4 year old grow up and have their tween dramas, I hope that by allowing myself to show emotion they will be open and free with themselves. Also, to know that I am here for them any time as my mom would have for me had she lived.

I wipe my tears and close the iPad feeling a little less sad by letting myself be open in my feelings. Holding it in does not help. Despite my overwhelming need to go back to bed and stay there all day, I have to take care of my kids. One step and one day at a time is a good place to start.