Raising Active Kids in a Tech World

Mary apple picking

Mary apple picking

I’d like to think of myself as “outdoorsy” and I love nature. But I spend a huge part of my life indoors. Even when the weather is nice! (it’s called working a 40 hour work week). After an hour commute home by bus, I am seriously lacking in energy. My husband has supper ready and after we eat, I’d be happy to lie on the couch and read or watch TV. It’s not that I don’t want to go outside; it’s just that I feel like I might have to have Mary put me in the wagon and drag me home…

So I’ve figured out the way to stop my energy from being sapped – don’t remain seated after dinner! Mary and I tidy up, and then we’re out the door. She’s been very excited about the construction of a new park in our neighbourhood, and even though there’s one right beside our house, we have been walking to the new park together. Mary is happy to play for an hour or so, and I get some much needed fresh air and a bit of exercise.

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Blue Sea Lake Never Leaves My Heart

Growing up, one of the best things in my life was summer break. Yes, for all the reasons a kid might like that time of the year – no school, no tests, no homework.

But I had another reason. Each summer, I would spend time at my godparent’s cottage in Messines, Quebec with their sons and extended family. They have two cottages side by side on Blue Sea Lake and lots of family nearby to drop in for an early morning coffee or lunch. I loved it! Coming from a large family, it was fun to get some time “alone”, but I also thrived on all of the excitement of the cottage and the setting couldn’t be nicer, with clear and clean water nestled within a border of thick trees and quaint cottages.

In the weeks and days leading up to departure, I would make a “master list” of what I wanted to do while I was there – go for a swim and a boat ride, walk around the circle, have a bonfire, visit the island. The list was always flexible though. Because you never knew who would show up to this family cottage and what adventure you might have day to day – treasure hunts, building a teepee, going on long bike rides to the village. It was idyllic.

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Parents of Preemies – Ottawa

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A few months ago I joined a facebook group called Parents of Preemies – Ottawa. It was founded by a local Kanata woman, Nicole.  Even though for us, our preemie days are long over and other than a speech delay, there really were no issues after we left the NICU, this group is something I wish had been around in July 2007 when Mr. J was born.

1)   What is PoPOttawa?

PoPOttawa  or Parents of Preemies- Ottawa is an online based resource and support to parents who have premature children in the city.  Whether  parents have newborn preemies or if they are grown, all parents are welcome to join in.  Part of our awareness is that prematurity doesn’t end at the NICU;  parents want to share their past and present experiences with others,  PoPOttawagives parents the ability to connect to others locally who can relate and empathize.

PoPOttawa is divided into three parts at this point: the website, PoPOttawa  that is the resource hub where parents can find local or outside resources to help them as well as a blog with articles written by other parents; the second part is a Facebook based support group and facebook pagewhere parents can connect directly to other parents; and the third part is the Packages for Preemies where donations of articles parents with preemies still in the hospital may find useful.  All are maintained by volunteers throughout the group of parents.

2) How did PoPOttawa come to be ?

I had my son in November 2012 at 33weeks. Up till that point I had a pretty normal pregnancy and had never really thought of babies being born earlier than 36weeks and till that point the only way I had heard of the ” NICU” was from watching ER years ago.  My husband and I both felt so overwhelmed having a baby prematurely.  At times we felt isolated since we didn’t have anyone to talk to about what we were going through or the “typical” preemie issues.  No one we know understood anything about CPAPs or O2 or NG or bradycardia  or  laying in bed at night without the baby but still hearing the alarms of the vitals monitor going off in the mind. We couldn’t have made it through that difficult time without the help of others. We had friends and neighbours bring us food and packed lunches, since I spent day and night at the hospital, and items we needed since we had nothing when he was born. It meant the world to us then and we are still forever thankful for the kindness that was shown.

Recently, a friend of mine had a preemie,  and I wanted to make sure she had the support and resources we lacked during our time so I created PoPOttawa.  I also thought it was a chance for me to give back to the community for all the kindness we were shown.  Since the group started in March 2014 the out pouring of support from all over our city has been incredible.  The group continues to grow daily from parents of all different walks of lives but we all share one thing in common : our babies were born too early.  Donations for packages have also poured in from all over as well which is truly a testament of the fantastic community we live in. They used to say it takes a village to raise a child and I really think that is still the case.

3) How can people help or get involved with the project?

Send me an email. This initiative is all about community involvement and I love to hear from everyone with ideas, comments, questions or wanting to help and contribute.

4) How can someone request a package?

By sending me an email.  Tell me whether boy/girl  and which hospital in the city and we can arrange pick up or drop off at the hospital.


You Don’t Have to Create Your Own Charity to Teach Your Kids How to Give Back

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I’m a proud graduate of the Public Relations program at Algonquin College and I remember that more than once we were tasked with something to do with raising funds for a charity. There was a lot of work that went into preparing communications plans, organizing events and working media relations as we tried to break the fundraising record set by the class before us.

To be sure, those fundraisers were gratifying and I’m sure the recipients of the funds were thrilled with all the work we put in. But, once our project was done, we went back to learning graphic design or advertising rates or how to take a photo with an SLR camera. The fundraising was a component of the class.

As parents, we can make fundraising, or at least the idea of helping other humans, a component of the way our children grow up. And they don’t need to take classes to do it or raise tens of thousands of dollars to know they’re making a difference. Helping someone else with one loonie they didn’t have before your work is helpful. And I have a few ways your kids can help raise a few loonies, make other kids happy and just in general bring smiles to the faces of others..

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Outdoor Summer Fun

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We love to spend as much time outdoors as we can in the summer.  To make sure it stays fun for everyone, I make sure to do a few things:

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CHEO Turns 40

Before my son was born, I had never given a second thought to having a children’s hospital in our community. CHEO was barely on my radar screen, and my only connection to it was through the media should it be mention on the radio, or in the news.

After my son was born, CHEO still didn’t really register for me. My friends were young and just starting their own families and no one had any real experience with taking their child to the hospital. But as a new mom, I became more aware and more in tune with illnesses that might affect young children. I understood the need to protect him from illness and injury, and the stories I heard about ‘other peoples children’ battling diseases like Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis, or being treated for injuries caused by the typical childhood accident, were now more important to me and carried a different weight of parental concern.

I am lucky to have a very healthy 10 year old boy, who has rarely needed to visit CHEO. We’ve had to wander through the doors of the Emergency Department for a suspected broken leg (age 2), pneumonia (age 2.5), and a concussion (age 9), and I’ve lamented the long wait late at night in the ED and then been grateful of the nurses and doctors who took such care and attention with him.

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