Parent Sanity – How to be a parent and keep your sanity

What I have learned so far…

Travelling with Teenagers – PART TWO


Look out New York…here we come! 4 days of glorious exploring, shopping, eating, viewing, walking, more eating and more shopping!

So, what have we learned from our past travels with teenagers?

2 main things… keep them fed (full tummies means happier travels) and separate hotel rooms (for happier parents)!

We have done our research of things to see – ensuring that there is something of interest for everyone. We will visit the location of the twin towers (something Lia wants to do). We will see a fabulous broadway musical (something Becca wants to do). We will go to the 5 story Forever 21 store (something Chrissy wants to do). As for hubby – well, that is where the food comes in. He wants the best cheese cake, the best corned beef sandwich, the best bagel, and the list goes on. So what about me? Well, I want to see Rockafeller Plaza and maybe be seen on The Today Show, as well as check out Times Square and Central Park.

Being that I am in Marketing and love digital apps, I have downloaded some great ones: NYC Way, Urbanspoon, and New York Times the scoop.

So as Frank would say (or sing)…Start Spreading the News…cause we are leaving on Friday for New York, New York!!


Transitions (part two)

I wrote about transitions a few months back, however it was pertaining to my daughter moving out and growing up.

I now write as it pertains to me. For almost 17 years, I worked for a large corporation. I enjoyed my job, not only because of the work that I was doing, but because of the company and what they stood for. As situations happen, I now find myself in transition.

At first, I was worried about what most would worry about – how was this going to affect my family, how were we going to manage the finances and what was I going to do? I felt out of control – things were happening to me, not as a result of my choices. In the short time that has passed, I see things differently. We will make decisions to try and minimize the impact on our family. Regarding my future career, coincidentally during my Marketing class at McMaster, we had a great conversation that had me pondering some questions “Why do we market? What are our values as marketers and how does this play out? and finally “Who and what do we want to stand behind?”

As I contemplate my future direction, I want to market what I believe in and what truly makes a difference in the lives of people. And at the core? A company with integrity; whose vision, mission and objectives are visible everyday in what they do and how they act.

Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with parenting – why is Debbie writing this in her parenting blog? My answer – it has everything to do with parenting. Teaching our kids about choices and integrity is at the core of being a parent. In the last few weeks, I hope that I have shown my girls a few things:

1) Realize that when one door closes, another door opens

2) It is never too late to learn – whether it be going back to University, or learning how to play the violin (yes, I am doing that!)

3) Be at the center of your own self-esteem. You don’t need others to tell you how great you are – KNOW THAT YOU ARE GREAT!

4) Take time to smell the roses and appreciate all that life has to offer you. When you open yourself up, amazing things can happen.

5) Believe in yourself.

Stay tuned, I believe 2013 is going to be the best yet!


How to teach the spirit of giving during the Christmas season

Christmas snowmanIt’s that time of year — and there is no better time to teach your kids about the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year when we gather with our family and friends to enjoy each other’s company, good food and lots of wonderful presents.

But it is also a sad time of year for some that are not as fortunate. Read the rest of this entry »


My husband…Clark Griswold


Earlier in September, I wrote a blog titled “Traveling with teenagers – tips on how to survive”.
When writing that blog post, I mentioned that I should probably start referring to my husband as Clark Griswold, as he has a passion for large Christmas trees. Now, when I say large, I mean gigantic. We scour the field, up and down, looking for the largest possible tree that will fit in the sunroom – where the ceiling is 12 feet high at the peak. Once we get home he usually has to trim the bottom of tree by a few feet as he always thinks that “the tree will fit”. Read the rest of this entry »


Relaxed Christmas Strategies: strategically feed your family


6 Steps to a Relaxed Christmas: strategically feed your family is from a really great blog titled, Simple Mom. I subscribed to this blog about a year ago, and it is a fantastic resource for moms (and dads for that matter).

Here are some ideas to simplify,  “stay relaxed” and strategically feed your family during the holidays: Read the rest of this entry »


Let’s go to the movies

A great post from Today’s Parent  – Best kids movies of 2012.

Whether it’s a matinee or an evening out at the movies, all kids, no matter what age, enjoy this family-fun activity. It’s a wonderful way to connect with your kids, especially if you don a pair of silly 3D glasses! Clever, adult focused jokes are often slipped into animated movies, which adds to the fun for mom and dad.

So, next time you are wondering what to do with the kids, pile into the car and go to the movies.

Don’t forget to get the large bucket of popcorn – it’s calorie-free, right?

Remember this song from the musical, Annie? It was one of Becca’s favourite movies. I believe we watched this movie at least 20-30 times when the kids were little! Enjoy!


Encouraging Teens to Read

Lia Reading

Most parents read a bedtime story to their children during the toddler and early years. It is part of the regular nightly routine, and helps with the transition from active play to quiet, restful time. It also provides an opportunity to snuggle and allows parents an escape from the pressures of the day into the land of make-believe and Dr. Seuss.

As kids transition from pre-school to school age, parents go from reading to their children, to reading with them. I have a wonderful memory of Becca, 5 years old,  standing over Chrissy in her crib, reading The Foot Book by Dr Seuss, a favourite at the time.

In elementary school, we continue to encourage our kids to read and help them fill out their scholastic book orders. We spend time reviewing their book report choices and continually help expand their reading interests.

But what happens when they reach the teen years? We seem to think our jobs are done. Far from it. Read the rest of this entry »


Puppy Training & Care : How to Pick Out the Best Lab Puppy

Dr. James R. Talbott, Veterinarian at Belle Forest Animal Hospital and Kennel in Nashville, Tenn., speaks of what to look for when picking out a Lab Puppy.


Chrissy and Raven preparing for a play. Raven was the princess.

Raven, our eight year old lab, has been a wonderful addition to the family. I still remember the day we picked her out of the 13 pack litter. She had a chubby tummy and huge paws!

Pets teach kids responsibility, empathy and compassion. When deciding on a family pet, it is important to pick one out that matches your lifestyle.

Here is a list of related articles:


Great Mommy Blog – check it out!

Erica Em is the CEO and blogger behind The Yummy Mummy Club ~ a fantastic mommy blog with a ton of resources to help moms manage their lives. Tips on parenting, kids, health, fashion, and often a touch of humour.

If you aren’t currently subscribed to the blog, I recommend you visit the site today, or follow Erica on Twitter (@yummymummyclub)

Here are a few Holiday blog post by Erica Ehm:

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50 Things to Do with Your Family This Christmas Season

Christmas is only a month away. Is the stress already starting to get to you?

Here is a wonderful list of things you can do with your family this Christmas that are fun and inexpensive.

Remember ~ Christmas is all about family and friends. Don’t get caught up in the commercialization and miss out on what is truly important.

Related articles:

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Stop Texting and Talk to me!

My kids are great at multi-tasking. At any given time, they are listening to music on their iPod, watching an online episode of Glee, tweeting about said episode, posting status updates on Facebook, texting on their iPhone and looking up research on ancient history for an upcoming project.

It’s all a bit mind boggling to us “old folks”.

So, when I enrolled in “Building Social Media Relationships” at McMaster University, my kids had a semi-heart attack.  “Mom, you have Twitter? Why are you tweeting yourself…. OMG”. I enrolled in the course, as this is the way of the future.

But there are downfalls to all of this technology.   Read the rest of this entry »


15 On-the-Go Breakfast Recipes — from

Fabulous post from —  time saving tips for parents on provideing nutritiuos on-the-go breakfasts.

15 On-the-Go Breakfast Recipes — Quick, handheld snacks that your kids can eat on the way to school. Need help with lunch, too? Get inspired with our 20 bento box lunches!

© Ashley Rodriguez

Related articles

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Don’t miss out on some Halloween fun for the family – October 27

Sprout Canada is hosting an event in Hamilton Ontario!

Halloween party at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market Community Kitchen. Saturday October 27, 2012 – from 3-5pm.

Have a bit of fun making spooky snacks and awesome crafts. Bring on the costumes! Campers can reconnect and there is more fun and learning to be had. (Please bring $2 and a non perishable food item to help cover our costs and support local food banks that are running low).

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Costume Shopping made easy at Spirit Halloween

This is awesome!

Deal Diva

Still deciding what to be this year? Well look no further than Spirit Halloween.  With multiple locations across the GTA, you will find exactly what you are looking for.  My daughter bought her costume last night at the Mississauga store on Dundas, just east of Winston Churchill, and the staff was friendly, helpful but not at all pushy.  We had a great shopping experience.  They had a great selection of costumes in all sizes, including plus (for people like me who need a little more coverage…lol)! If you are short on time, they also offer free shipping on orders over $65. I checked a few online stores to compare, but found limited available sizes, and most plus are already sold out. At Spirit, you can try all the costumes on, and if you sign up for their email, you will get a coupon for 20% off.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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How to help your kids deal with cyberbullying

By now, most people have heard about the tragedy of BC teen, Amanda Todd and her ordeal with cyberbulling. I cannot image what her parents are going through and only hope that they are seeking professional help to cope with the tragic loss of their daughter.As a parent, our job raising our kids revolve around providing guidance and structure, a loving environment, a good education, and basic food, shelter and safety needs. What do we do when our kids experience bullying? What can we do to help them either avoid it happening, or cope if it does?

I am not writing this blog from a position of authority on bullying. I am not an expert. How many of us are? But we still need to talk about it. Read the rest of this entry »


How to host fantastic birthday parties for kids – on a budget

One thing I know how to do really well (if I do say so myself) are children’s birthday parties. I am happy to say that my kids have fond memories of their “cool” themed birthday parties. The nice part — almost all of them were at home! Sure, we did the McDonald’s party one year, and the bowling party another year, but almost all of the others were in our own home with an interesting theme. And I have to say, I would go all out with the theme. Teddy Bear and PJ birthday party (picture above) included a teddy bear birthday party invite,  “breakfast” with teddy, a home-baked teddy bear cake, teddy bear decorations, crafts and games. The kids especially loved being in their PJs!

The best part of all, home parties don’t have to cost a lot. Read the rest of this entry »


Helping your kids add balance in their lives

Over the years, I have found that my kids have needed guidance on how to add appropriate balance in their lives. Typically, these discussions have occurred due to observing that their lives were somewhat out-of-balance.

I would often illustrate balance by talking about a pie and the pieces that made up that pie:  family, friends, boyfriend, school, work, exercise/health, hobbies, quiet time, etc. We would then talk about what areas they felt were taking up too much of the pie and subsequently, what areas were taking up too little. In some cases, some pieces were missing altogether. Read the rest of this entry »


Blended Families

Tricia, Becca, Chrissy and Lia

I wanted to address the blended family dynamic, as it seems to provide challenges for many families these days. I believe that I can offer a unique perspective to help out in these situations.

  • Younger kids will tend to ask more questions, as traditional family roles conflict with their own family and they are simply trying to make sense of their world. Be patient, listen first, and provide age appropriate answers.
  • Don’t force the relationship with your step-child; let it happen naturally over time.
  • Not in every case, but in most situations your step-child already has a mom/dad, so realize that you aren’t trying to replace anyone, you are simply an added component.
  • It takes a village to raise a child” is a good philosophy to hold onto. The more people around the kids who are there to love and protect them, the better. Read the rest of this entry »
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Things I miss from days of yesterday

Cover of "Baby Beluga (Songs to Read)"

Cover of Baby Beluga (Songs to Read)

Thinking back fondly to when the kids were younger, a few wonderful and funny memories come to mind:

  • Reading/singing Baby Beluga (by Raffi) 12 times each night “again mommy, again…”
  • Dressing my kids in matching outfits
  • Funny word pronunciations: pasghetti for spaghetti, macouver for converter, tumma tumma for “w” (honestly!), mema and bepa for grandma and grandpa
  • Embarrassing moments “mommy, why does that man have a ponytail…only girls have ponytails”  – standing behind a rough looking biker in a grocery store check-out line
  • Playing Barbies for hours and hours
  • Singing Disney songs while they take a bubble bath
  • Themed birthday parties
  • Putting smiley face notes in their lunch bags
  • Tucking them in at night and “blowing out the light”

Those were the days!


10 Tips for Travelling with Teenagers

When I told my husband the topic of my next blog “10 Tips for Travelling with Teenagers”, he had one piece of advice, “don’t do it!”. Over the last five years, we have gone on several family road trips: Florida (twice), Canadian East Coast and even a 2 week road trip through France, Switzerland and Italy. We truly are “the Griswold’s”‘ as these trips entail piling 3 kids into a Grand Caravan and driving 5,000 km. Not everyone’s idea of fun. I should probably start calling my husband Clark, as he even has a passion for huge Christmas trees, but i digress (more on that topic in December).

Here is my top 10 traveling with teenagers tips:

1. Keep their blood sugar levels up to avoid bickering – feed them regularly!

2. Portable electronics are your friend:  DVD players with a variety of DVDs, iPods, Nintendo DS, etc. Not needed all the time, but a great way to pass some time when boredom sets in.

3.  Start driving early in the morning (by 8am), breakfast in the car…then let them nap. Read the rest of this entry »

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