Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban

Leave me alone…please.

Yet another reason why some animals eat their young.

Yeah, no one likes to be awakened at noon on a beautiful summer day, MOM!!!
The Heir: Yeah, no one likes to be awakened at noon on a beautiful summer day, MOM!!!
Did you see that?! It says, "Dad"...not "Mom"...not "Dad". I win!!!
The Spare: No barging in! (Did you see that?! It says, “Dad”…not “Mom”… “Dad”. I win!!!)

 

 

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Memoir, Princess, Raves, Suburban

Bark, bark, barkin’ at heaven’s door: A tribute to the world’s best beagle

Rest in peace, sweet girlie. We love you.
Rest in peace, sweet girlie. We love you.

Our sweet old girlie enjoyed her last treat today. Four sausages, at last count. She died like she lived – well fed and well loved.

She has gone to join all of the other beagles in heaven, where the mountains of meat loom large and the bunnies and deer are free for the chasin’.

Maxie was the best dog a family could ask for. We adopted her just over 9 years ago. The ladies who gave her to us were only fostering her and they didn’t know exactly how old she was. They said they were told she was around 6 or 7; however, they also warned us against getting ‘two dogs and a goat’, so I don’t know how much faith I put in what they had to say. 😉

Maxie gave us many, many good years and despite ailing health over the past few, she managed to secure herself a place in our hearts and minds forever.

She will be dearly missed.

***********************************************************************************************************************

Despite rumours to the contrary, I do not have a direct line to the big guy. But, if I did, I would be placing a call today and it  would go something like this.

Operator: Heaven’s Gate. How may I direct your call?

Me: Hi, may I speak to St. Francis of Assisi, please? You know, the Patron Saint of Animals guy?

Operator: Uhh…yes, I know who you mean. One moment, please. (pause) I believe he’s in the field throwing sticks, but I’ll find him for you.

(Sound of the phone being muffled: “Frank! Frank! Phone’s for you!”)

St. F: Hello? (sounding slightly out of breath)

Me: Hello, Saint, sir. Sorry to bother you. But my dog Maxie is on her way to your place and I just wanted to tell you a few things about her before she arrives.

St. F: Certainly, but…

Me: I’ve made a list of reasons why you should let her in. Can I read it to you?

St. F: Of course, but…

Me: OK. Here you go.

Top Ten Reasons Why Maxie Should be Admitted to the Land of Bacon and Free Range Bunnies

  1. Seriously…look at that face. Have you ever seen a cuter face in your whole life?
  2. Maxie could put a smile on our faces when nothing else could. My kids have come home from school angry, frustrated and in tears and immediately gone to the dog for a hug. She always responded by licking away their tears and reminding them that there was something else they could be doing, ie. getting her a treat.
  3. Maxie smelled like an angel…of course, that was only just after a bath. But even her stinkiness was part of her charm.
  4. She was the least fussy eater I have ever known. She ate everything from fresh baked donuts to dirty old lobster shells. Eating was both her job and her hobby.
  5. Maxie was also the most gentle dog…unless you were trying to take her food away. Rocky, the beagle up the street, learned that the hard way. (I know it was your food dish, Rocky, but you should have known better.)
  6. She taught my children how to love unconditionally. Even when she peed on their beds, ripped open their garbage, and ate their birthday cakes, they always forgave her.
  7. She taught us that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colours…and species…and breeds.
  8. Maxie helped the local wildlife stay fit and healthy. The deer and the rabbits in the woods around our house got a regular workout when she was still able to run. One sniff and the howling would begin. If we opened the door (or she managed to push it open by throwing her substantial girth into it) she’d be off like a shot.
  9. In the end, she taught us, To everything there is a season. Translation? Eventually, we all have to say goodbye.
  10. Finally, not to appear biased or anything, but I’m pretty sure she was the best dog in the whole wide world.

(pause)

Me: So, what do you think St. Francis? Is that enough? Can you open the pearly gates and let my sweet girl into the land of unlimited bacon?

St. F: (chuckling) I’ve been trying to tell you that she’s already here. Who do you think I was throwing sticks for? Seriously…was there ever any doubt?

*************************************************************************************************************************writing79

“Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it.” St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals

Pop Culture, Rants, Suburban

Rehtaeh Parsons – Do her alleged “rapists” deserve our open hearts and minds?

writing76Last week, I published a blog post about Rehtaeh Parsons, the Cole Harbour girl who committed suicide following an alleged sexual assault and the subsequent bullying that followed. (see post below)

Today I received an interesting comment from someone with the handle TruthSeeker. It invites a different perspective. While I disagree with most of what the poster has to say, I do agree that we can’t start a witch-hunt. We can pressure our lawmakers and politicians to pursue a very difficult case, but we shouldn’t be taking the law into our own hands.

Kindness nurtures kindness; hate nurtures hate. And right now, there is a lot of hate floating around out there. Perhaps instead of ranting and raving about how could such a thing happen and kids today and how this wouldn’t have happened in MY day (yeah, it did…it just didn’t get spread all over the internet) we could try working on our own little circles – be kind to ourselves, each other. I want justice to be served, but hate isn’t going to get us there.

I invite you to read what TruthSeeker has to say, along with my follow-up comments, and let me know what YOU think. I understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I have a very hard time believing that Rehtaeh Parsons was able to give informed consent to four of her male  classmates so that they could have sex with her, photograph the act, and then send the picture around to their peers. Call me crazy, but something about that story doesn’t ring true for me.

Law and Order - This is where I get most of my legal 'knowledge'.
Law and Order – This is where I get most of my legal ‘knowledge’.

p.s. I have been advised by a lawyer-friend that I don’t understand the ins-and-outs of the law very well. Which makes sense seeing as I have an English degree, not a law degree. Since he’s much smarter than me in all things legal, here’s what he had to say: Regrettably the law is not as cut and dry as we would like it to be. Law is an absolute premise (statutes saying you can’t do this or that), justice is the contextual premise. Your commentator is correct. We cannot presume guilt because of age, alcohol, the numbers involved. Just because it looks criminally icky (and it does look very icky) does not mean when the evidence is reviewed, or heard that it would qualify as a breach of the law.

Rants, Suburban, Teacher

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be assholes.

Like the rest of the world, the folks in my small Canadian community watched the court proceedings of the two boys charged with raping a classmate in Steubenville, Ohio with shocked dismay and horror. It was easy to look at those boys in Steubenville and say, “Oh, they’re different from us. They were small town football heroes, protected by their community.”

March 13, 2013, Facebook post by Rehtaeh Parsons. Less than month before she committed suicide.
March 13, 2013, Facebook post by Rehtaeh Parsons. Less than month before she committed suicide.

“That is so awful,” we said.

“Those kids are being raised with absolutely no morals or values,” many said smugly.

“I am so glad I am not raising kids in the states,” some said. “Thank God those things don’t happen here.”

Then today’s paper arrived and smacked that smug look right off our faces.

The headline screamed, “Who failed Rehtaeh Parsons?”

Rehtaeh Parsons was a 17-year-old girl from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

On Sunday night, Rehtaeh died after trying to commit suicide earlier that week.

A year and half ago, she had been raped by four boys. The rape was photographed and shared on the internet. Rehtaeh was shunned by her classmates and eventually changed schools.

Even after Rehtaeh switched schools the bullying continued. She received texts from boys asking her if she wanted to have sex and texts from girls calling her a slut.

Rehtaeh told her parents what happened a few days after the rape occurred. They immediately went to the police. Rehtaeh’s mother said the investigation took over a year and the boys themselves weren’t interviewed until long after the rape occurred. After a year of investigating, the RCMP said there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.

Could someone please tell me what the hell is going on???

What possesses a teenage boy to rape his classmate while his friends look on and join in like it’s some sort of bizarre drinking game?

What possesses a child (and I say “child” because these kids were children) to take a picture of this crime and post it on the internet for the world to see?

What possesses a teenage girl to send hateful text messages to someone who has already been victimized many times over instead of helping her?

Where was the empathy? Where was the sympathy? Where was the compassion?

Where were the adults???

It sounds like Rehtaeh’s parents were doing everything they could to help their daughter. What about the parents of the other children?

Don’t tell me people didn’t know. Cole Harbour is a small community. Everyone knew.

What did the parents of these boys do when they were told what their children had ‘allegedly’ done? There was photographic evidence for godsake! Did these boys go to counseling? What did their parents say or do to let their children know that what they did was wrong?

Did Mom and Dad stick their heads in the sand and say, “Not my boy. I know, I know. You have a picture of him doing this awful thing but it must have been her fault. My boy wouldn’t do that.”

And what about the parents of the kids who tormented Rehtaeh on Facebook and through text messages? Did they take away their children’s computers? Their phones? Were these children counseled on how their actions made another human being feel?

The scariest thing about all of this is that these kids who raped, bullied, and tortured Rehtaeh didn’t think of her as a human being. They dehumanized her, so that they could treat her the way they did. This is how bullying happens. It’s how genocide starts. It’s how the Holocaust occurred. If you don’t think someone is a person, worthy of your respect, then you don’t care what happens to them.

In her book “Just because it’s not wrong, doesn’t make it right” parenting expert, Barbara Coloroso talks about how we need to be raising compassionate, caring, empathetic children.

I know there are no quick fixes or easy answers. Nor is it possible to pour into our children all we have learned. Their learning must come from the inside out. They need opportunities to care and to share and to do. They need to be accountable for what they do or fail to do. They also need opportunities to reflect on moral issues, work through ethical dilemmas, and determine for themselves what kind of people they would like to become.

For godsake people. A child is dead. How many more children have to die before we start doing our jobs?

http://www.kidsareworthit.com/uploads/ethics_handout.pdf

Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Get a Better Report Card (and lead a happier life)

writing72

It’s that most wonderful time of the year…report card time!

I jest, of course. Report card time is often a stressful time for children, teachers, and parents alike.

After report cards come home, the question parents most often ask is, “What can I do at home to help my child?”

They think the answer is going to be complicated and involve expensive tutoring support. And sometimes these things are necessary.

But in many cases, there are some simple (free) things you can do at home that will make a positive difference in the classroom. They aren’t based on rocket science and they’ve been proven time and time again by people way smarter than me (people like scientists and psychologists).  They don’t just help kids get better grades…they help them to become healthier, happier people. And in the end, that’s really what we want, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are designed for parents of elementary school children. Once your child hits middle school, you want to have good habits and attitudes ingrained.

  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Get the TV and the game system out of their bedroom. If they have a phone, have them turn it off and leave it in the kitchen at bedtime. You want your child to have a restful sleep so they are ready to learn once they get to school. Kids can’t focus on learning when they are tired.
  2. Get your child to school on time. It’s disruptive to everyone when kids arrive late. And it’s often the same kids who arrive late every day. I get it. You’re saying, “Oh, but it’s just so hard to get out the door on time.” Uh, yes, it can be. But you need to make it a priority. By consistently allowing your  child to be late, you are teaching them that punctuality is not important when it is.
  3. Help your child with personal hygiene issues. Check them out before they leave the house. (I often do the sniff test with my kids.) Body odor, dirty clothes, bad breath, basically anything that involves bad smells, is going to make your kid a social pariah and a target for bullies.
  4. Teach your child that everyone has strengths and challenges. Your child may be good at math but struggle with reading or vice versa or both. Make sure they know that this in no way measures their worth as a human being or anyone else’s worth, for that matter.
  5. On that note, make sure your child understands that neither their self-worth and nor your love is tied to a grade on their report card. Remember: no one will be checking their grade four math mark when they are applying for college or their first job.
  6. Teach your children that popularity comes with both power and responsibility. If your child has been blessed with a leader-like personality, help her to use this power for good, not for evil.
  7. Keep an eye on what your child hears, sees and reads. There is a reason movies and video games have ratings. Movies that are rated R are not for children. Video games that are rated mature are not for children. Grow a spine and say no.
  8. Sexy lingerie is not for little girls, it’s for grown women. Even though they make thongs and lacy bras for the pre-teen set doesn’t mean you have to buy them. It’s not cute…it’s wrong. Same goes for Playboy t-shirts and sweatpants that have “Juicy” written across the butt. If she begs, see #8 for advice.
  9. Healthy food makes for healthy minds and bodies. If your child is coming to school already jacked up on a sugar-fueled breakfast (or worse, no breakfast) we are already at a disadvantage.
  10. Finally, don’t trash your child’s teacher in front of your child. The fact is, unless you can negotiate a class change, your child and his teacher will be spending more daytime hours together than the two of you. Be part of a team – your child’s team.

writing71

Memoir, Princess, Suburban, Teacher, Uncategorized

Roots and Wings – Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

writing66Yesterday, I put my 14-year-old son on a plane and sent him 1,400 km across the country.

No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles. (If that were the case, I would have put his brother and his father and his senile old dog on the plane with him.)

He’s actually taking part in a week-long national program for youth called, Encounters with Canada. I already miss him like crazy, but I’m not worried. I’m confident that he is going to have an incredible experience. And it’s not just because he’s 14 going on 40 or because the program has been running for 31 years or even because his cousin just got back and said it was, like, totally awesome.

It’s because I know he’s resilient. He’s got the roots;  it was time for him to stretch his wings.

In his new book, Building Resilience in Children and Teens, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, says adults need to help children develop the seven crucial ‘C’s:

  1. competence
  2. confidence
  3. connection
  4. character
  5. contribution
  6. coping
  7. control

Ginsburg, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, says helping children develop these seven character traits will not only help them succeed in life, but it will also allow them to bounce back from whatever challenges life might throw at them. It makes them resilient and gives them roots.

To me, teaching is much like parenting. We need to trust that by the end of the school year, we have provided our students with the solid foundation they need to move confidently to the next grade or stage of their life. We also need to have faith that someone else will pick up the line once we let go.

As the end of June looms near, teachers often begin to panic. We worry that we haven’t given our students everything they need to be successful once they leave our classroom. We fret and wring our hands and say, “I don’t know what will happen to little Teddy in September when he goes into grade 1 (or 3, or 6 or 12 or university). He won’t get this kind of support next year.”

And yet he will.

One of the joys (?) of never having a permanent contract is that I have had the opportunity to work with students and teachers at almost every grade level, including a stint teaching ESL at a university. And I know that while elementary school teachers work their butts off to help their students, so do middle-school teachers and high school teachers. Even university and college professors will spend one-on-one time with struggling students. It’s something all good teachers have in common.

Letting a student or a child move on without us doesn’t mean we are throwing them to the wolves. It means that once we’ve done our job, we have to step back and trust. We have to trust that we have planted deep, strong roots that will help our children feel solid and secure and grounded. Then we have to trust that our children will remember these lessons and use them to guide their decisions.

Dr. Ginsburg says our goal should be to “think in the present and prepare for the future”.

He says that as teachers and parents we should aspire to help children become successful 35-year-olds. We shouldn’t always be thinking about the next grade or the next stage, but instead about how all of these experiences will come together to create an independent, self-sufficient happy adult. It’s about raising our children to be emotionally and socially intelligent.

Loving parents and strong teachers naturally give their children roots. That’s the easy part. Giving our children wings is a little harder. It means you have to let go. We spend so much time holding our children tight and keeping them safe, that letting them go seems to go against the very laws of nature.

It’s not easy, but when you let go and you see them soar?

It’s worth it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to go see if my son texted me. (He can fly free all he wants but he still has to touch base with mom every night.)

writing68

Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

The Sunshine Award – Yes, it’s all about me.

Sunshine Award

You like me! You really like me!

It appears I am a Sunshine Girl! A lovely lady over at http://1tric.wordpress.com/
nominated me for this blogging award. She follows me, I follow her – everyone wins by getting to read interesting posts on a regular basis.

I’m not really sure what a Sunshine Award means, but it’s a very pretty icon and I guess it’s better than a kick in the pants, so I’ll take it. Hooray for me!

The award comes with some rules that I must follow. They are:

* Make sure to post this award on your blog site. – Done
* Nominate ten fellow bloggers. – Done (see bottom of page and everyone over on the side, as well.)
* Please answer the ten questions. – and…Done-er-i-no.

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I was tired of stifling my voice. As public servants and members of a union, teachers are expected (and actually required, in most cases) to keep their opinions to themselves. As someone who is, how shall I say it nicely, not exactly quiet about her opinions, I needed a place to vent, share and express myself.

2. How did you come up with a name for your blog?

I have always wanted to write a book called, Confessions of a Suburban Princess. I figured this blog would put me on the road to that goal. But the name, Suburban Princess, was already taken, so I tagged ‘Teacher’ on to the end and decided I actually prefered it.

3. What is your favorite blog to read?

http://thebloggess.com/ She makes me laugh with every post. She also inspired me to write this blog. After I read her best-selling book,  I thought, “Damn! That girl is crazier than a cat in a paper bag and she wrote a blog and a book. Maybe I could, too!”  Check her out…you won’t be sorry.

4. Tell me about your dream job.

I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up but my dream job should include beagles, George Clooney, wine and chocolate.

5. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

It’s usually completely empty…I’m a chugger.

6. If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Barcelona, Spain.

7. What food can you absolutely not eat?

Liver. It’s disgusting. I had to eat it once a month when I was a teenager because my mother was convinced it would raise my iron levels when I was men-stru-ate-ing. Helllooo? Had we not heard of iron supplements in the 80’s?? There’s really no need to eat an animals’ internal organs.

8. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

I’d like to say dark because it’s politically correct and all, but no…I could eat milk chocolate until it flowed from my orifices like lava. Pour it overtop of a soft gummy bear and you have my heart forever.

9. How much time do you spend blogging?

Not a lot. I don’t like it to get in the way of my “Vampire Diaries” watching.

10. Do you watch TV? If so, what are your favorite shows?

Of course I watch TV…what do you think I am? Amish? I LOVE TV and now that I have Netflix, I may never go back to work. I’ll just sit at home, eating my milk chocolate, watching series after series…ahhhh, bliss. Favorite shows? Vampire Diaries, Days of our Lives, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, What not to Wear…yes, I am an intelligent girl.

That’s it for the questions about ME. (Sadly.) And now, for the final part of this assignment: ten of my favorite bloggers. Check them out, if you have time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with. Also: I love the people down the side of my blog. They are cool, too. Enjoy.

OTHER AWESOME BLOGGERS

1. http://carrieblueberry.wordpress.com/

2. http://illbeoutinaminute.com/

3. http://siobhancurious.com/

4. http://5kidswdisabilities.com/

5. http://anotherthousandwords.wordpress.com/

6. http://ineedanewman.wordpress.com/

7.  http://peachyteachy.wordpress.com/

8.  http://pamela984.wordpress.com/

9. http://yacantgohome.wordpress.com/

10. http://thefoodgirlintown.wordpress.com/