Apr 15 2013

Best Parent Ever!

DSC_0239Ok, I know that this title sounds really boastful and maybe a little smug but I really am the best parent ever….or at least that’s what I’m working toward.

There’s a lot of research that goes into single-parenthood. Lots of academics and psychologists spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to figure out what makes kids great kids. Why are some kids motivated and curious and others checked-out and bored?

I hear, all the time, about the chemicals in a teenager’s brain. In fact, there seems to be some sort of free-pass to teens because their brains have not yet been wired for reason or even common sense.

I think that’s a load of shite to be honest. (here’s where the smug part comes in :)

I have 2 daughters. They’re 11 and 14. I don’t really know any other kids that are as awesome as they are and I know you may be thinking that I have to say that because I’m their mom but I’ll bet that once this article has been circulated a little there will be enough comments to convince you that they’re pretty much epic. (even if their mom writes massive run-on sentences ;)

When I meet other kids I categorize them into 2 groups: those who can look me in the eye and talk to me and morons. I know, I know, that’s probably not fair but, to be honest, I don’t have time for a kid who isn’t interested enough in me to communicate correctly. Depending on the kid, and the opinions of my kids about them, I may be willing to cut them some slack, but not always.

I have, on several occasions, had people ask me to divulge the secret for raising great kids. Most of the time I just want to say, “you’re too late, you should have started 15 years ago!” I find that there are a lot of parents out there who still think that the way they were raised is enough to raise good kids. WAKE UP!

Things are so different today that you have to adapt.

My mom (who was/is a great parent btw) used to say “I’m not your friend, I’m your mother.” Well guess what? That doesn’t work anymore. You have to be friend and parent nowadays because if you don’t open that friend door and constantly communicate with your kids, from the time they arrive in the world, then you’ll find it impossible to get them to talk to you when they’re teens.

It used to be that our parents thought that our friends should be our confidants. Today, if you’re a teenage girl and you confide in your friend, the minute you piss her off all of your secrets appear in print for the world to see.

Bullying is crazy now. When we were kids it was confined to the hours that you were in front of the bully. Today kids are bullied 24/7 with no relief and no recourse. Can you imagine the stress of this, coupled with no one to help you figure out what to do? God, its must be agonizing.

I don’t think its ever too late to open the door to your kids. You have to really see them. You have to care so much that you are willing to go to bat for them. You have to trust them so they will be trust-worthy. Most of all, you have to love them more than you love yourself and be willing to, literally, put yourself between them and harm.

I love my girls so much that it hurts my heart sometimes. We are closer than anyone I know and we tell each other everything, keep each others confidence and trust each other fully. As a result, my kids are growing up to be the most amazing, beautiful, brilliant citizens of the world.

Imagine how great you would have done (or did do) in life if you always had someone in your corner you could rely on.

Mar 30 2012

Kids Have to Sleep in Airport Alone – Travel Hell

Ok, that was a lie to get you to read the article. The kids didn’t actually have to sleep in the airport alone but they did sleep in the airport. Wait, I’m getting quite a bit ahead of the story here.

What follows is an account of the worst trip I have ever taken and how 2 amazing kids kept everything in check throughout the many, MANY ordeals that occurred in a short, 5 day jaunt to Los Angeles.

Everyone has a “travel hell” story. I even have a couple. Take coming from (to Vancouver, BC) from Fort Lauderdale when the kids were 5 and 8. Our connection from Dallas to Seattle was CANCELLED meaning we couldn’t fly out of Ft. L and had to wait, in the airport for 12 hours for the next flight to LA then a connection to Seattle. It got better when they actually frisked my 5 year old at security in LA! She was 5! What could she possibly be hiding in her 2′ frame?

That was a bad one. But it doesn’t even touch what happened this past weekend.

My girls are cheerleaders, and they’re really good. So good, in fact, that the eldest got to go to LA to compete this year with her team. We were excited. It’s the first time we’ve had to fly to a competition and we’d been planning since November.

As the 21st of March approached I made the necessary arrangements for our additional day in LA. We thought it would be fun to arrive a day early and see Santa Monica and Venice Beach. I booked a hotel and reserved a car. Everything was sorted and ready.

Things went well through the border line up at Peace Arch. We flew out of Bellingham airport with little difficulty and landed in Seattle on time. Since the travel agent booked us a flight that had a 4 hour stop over (ugh) in Seattle we went to grab some food and hang out. While eating we made the plan that we would wait out our 4 hour layover at the proper gate for our next flight. We hopped on the wee train and headed to the main terminal.

Once there, we scoped out a good, comfy spot, took off our shoes and loaded up Netflix. Within 3 minutes my 13 year old said “they just called our names over the PA system!”

The Alaska Airline lady called us “final boarding call”.


We bolted 2 gates over to learn that our flight had been bumped up 2 hours and they closed the doors behind us! That was a close call. I didn’t receive an itinerary change from the travel agent. Weird.

Upon arriving in LA we caught the Hertz shuttle, stood in line for our rental for 45 minutes only to find out that, in America, you have to leave a $200 credit card deposit to rent a car. No mention of that was made when I booked through the Hertz customer service 1-800 line the day before.

The Hertz guy suggested I have someone use their card to make the deposit for me. I said I could have my parents do it. I’d have to call them. He mentioned they’d have to be there in person. Huh? If I’d done it all over the internet or phone they credit card deposit would not have been “in person”.

Now we’re stranded at LAX at 11pm. Awesome.

Thankfully a friend in LA saved us the next day and, for that, we will be eternally grateful. Needless to say Santa Monica etc was out for the Friday. No car, no beach.

Our friend gave us a lift to our downtown hotel, the Marriott which, by the way, does not have free WIFI. For $160/night you have to pay an additional $9.95 for WIFI. Super.

She then dropped us in Hollywood where we got to do some super fun sight-seeing and we learned about the LA public transit system which we began using to get around.

Saturday and Sunday went relatively smoothly since we were at the competition the entire time. The people we were with were great so they made things a lot of fun.

Monday was Disneyland. What can I say? It was awesome!

We got home from DL at about midnight and I packed everything for an early start. Though our plane didn’t leave til 4:20 we decided to get to the airport early then head out to Santa Monica. By this point the girls were pretty skeptical that we’d make it to the beach at all but I was determined!

The plan was to store our bags at the airport then jump on the #3 bus to SM, shop, beach etc then get back to the airport. Well, I guess since 911 airports in the States no longer store bags. Super!

The Alaska Airlines woman had the suggestion that we go to the LAX Marriott and have them store the bags instead. Free shuttle to the Marriott, bus to Santa Monica and we were finally at the beach!

I’d looked up the Pier and read:

There is no admission to enter the Santa Monica Pier. If you are interested in the amusement park, Pacific Park does not charge upon entry.
Thinking that meant that there was no charge, I was surprised to find out that it was $5/ride. Not exorbitant but still…
We had a lot of fun at the Pier though and on the beach. We took a ton of photos and were able to get my youngest her Tom’s shoes. Her only purchase goal on the entire trip.
Heading back, we had lots of time to grab our bags and get to the airport. Here’s where it gets really great!
Upon check in we were told that flight time had been changed to 3:10pm from 4:20pm and that the doors had just closed. (no itinerary change was sent for this either :(
We missed it. Not only that, the next flight was full and the 7pm had only 3 seats. Though we managed to get those 3 seats we were told that the flight from Seattle to Bellingham at 11pm was also booked and that we would have to spend the night in SeaTac if they couldn’t get us on standby.
I’m sure you can connect the dots and work out how karma was killing us on this trip. Of course, we didn’t make the standby.  2 people didn’t show up and we needed 3 seats. We had to bunk down in the airport to wait for our 8am flight out.
Sleeping in the airport when you’re 20 and backpacking is no big deal. Sleeping in the airport with a 10 year old and a 13 year old is a BIG, BIG deal. We were freezing, hungry, exhausted.
The silver lining is this though; my girls were amazing! They didn’t complain. There were a few tears but no tantrums or overly dramatic behaviour. Just an acceptance that, as long as we’re together, we’re ok. I’m so proud of them.
That’s the story. I don’t want to tell it again. I don’t love LA and it’s going to be a while before I board another plane. I just want to stay home for a while now.
Do you have a dreadful travel story? Add it in the comments! Misery loves company ;)

Feb 28 2012


customer: Do you have any cameras?

cashier: Camels!?!?!?!?!?!

customer: Haha no I said Cameras. Do you have any Cameras?

:) By Shaye age 10 :)

Jun 23 2011

What Would 18 Year Old You Have Done?

Guest post by Cam McRae

As the self-righteousness of those decrying the Vancouver riots reaches a fever pitch I find myself asking some uncomfortable questions. Not just of myself but of many of the people who found themselves swept up in the current of destruction and violence.

If I had been there when everything began to melt down – perhaps at the ripe age of 18 and filled with some scary combination of testosterone, adrenaline, alcoholic beverages and/or drugs – would I have found myself carried into the melee beyond the point of curious voyeur? Would I now be facing the wrath of friends, coworker and relatives? Would I have been expelled, lost my job, kicked off a team or perhaps be facing charges? I hope not but I’m afraid I can’t say for sure – because I’ve never found myself in the midst of a riot. I hope my younger self would have left immediately when things went sideways – but it’s a hope that lacks the confidence of experience.

Those who lit the first fires, those who swarmed and beat individuals or those who confronted police because the VPD’s officers were showing tremendous restraint, are not the people I’m talking about. Those who started the literal and figurative fires deserve to be the focus of the city’s rage and I hope they face the consequences of their actions. I’m referring to those like a young high school student who found himself in front of a large chanting audience – with a hockey stick that someone had handed him – faced with a wall of glass, or a young athlete whose buddies encourage him to pose for a photo in front of a burning truck on Georgia St. Or the water polo star that felt compelled to try to set a police car ablaze. That last example is particularly troubling and tragic, but are we really to conclude that this young lad had this planned, that we can explain his behaviour by looking at past examples from his life? If not then how do we explain it?

There’s one common theme I’ve noticed in every video, every photo and every description of the night’s events; everyone involved was human. Of course there are more commonalities; the overwhelming majority are young males, many have had too much to drink, smoke or injest otherwise. I was watching a youtube video http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=142703 showing the faces of those cleaning up broken glass and other refuse – and virtually all of those faces – particularly the younger ones – have doppelgangers who caused the mess they were cleaning up.

The fundamental attribution error states that when we see others make mistakes we blame it on their character, their intelligence or perhaps even their race. Driving is a perfect example. That guy who cut you off in traffic is an idiot or asshole – not someone rushing home because his wife is in labour – or late for his first day work because his daughter was up all night vomiting.

On the other side is the actor-observer bias – which leads us to explain our own behaviour because of the situations we find ourselves in. We ran that red light because some cirumstance caused us to be in a hurry. These are mistakes all of us make every day – generally without knowing it.

When we see those who were swept up in the frenzy of chaos and violence we say they are bad people. This may be true in many cases – particularly when we consider those who brought tools of destruction to the party. But in many more cases the psyches of these individuals may have been twisted and diverted by the insanity they saw around them.

It is now virtually impossible for many of us to be aware on a daiy basis that we are animals. We started off as single cell beings and we’ve become increasingly complex over millions of years – but all that DNA, which has kept our species alive and growing, still courses through our veins and influences our actions on a daily basis. Herd behaviour describes how people like you and I – individuals – can act together in unplanned ways when we find ourselves in a group. We do things because we see others doing things – sometimes good and sometimes bad. How and why this happens long after we lived in herds to survive isn’t clear. What is clear though is that the morality of the mob sinks to the lowest common denominator and individuals find themselves doing things they would never normally do. Our reptilian brains take over and we act like imbeciles. I say ‘we’ not because I can remember an example when this has happened to me – but because we are all humans.

Many seem to be delighted by the public shaming facebook and other venues is bringing down on many rioters. I’ve been guilty of it myself. We savour the schadenfreude http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude and tell ourselves we are better – that we’d never do anything like that.

For some of us this may be true. Another herd behaviour is the well known ‘Bystander Effect’. This causes normally helpful, caring and productive members of society to fail to offer help to those in distress when there is a group witnessing the situation. The smaller the group the more likely it is that someone will help. There are those who aren’t affected by this tendency and they have been studied and shown to be fundamentally different from most of us. They are consistently more likely to make their own decisions in group situations – but they are a small minority. And there were many examples during the Stanley Cup riot of brave souls who stood up to the rampaging hordes – and sadly many of them paid for it with a shower of fists and feet.

While listening to a sports radio call in show I heard an interesting Vancouverite tell his tale. He was at the 1994 riot and he participated. He was young and perhaps a little drunk – he didn’t say – and carried by the masses to a place he never thought he would find himself. He was as disgusted and ashamed as you or I by what happened on June 15th 2011 – and he still can’t explain what happened to him the last time the Canucks lost a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Before you begin writing another self-righteous and self-congratulatory reply to this (as I have done) let me say that I was and am as disgusted, repulsed and ashamed as anyone by the events of this past Wednesday night. I sat mute disbelief in front of the television while the reputation of our beautiful city – where my parents and I were born and raised – was forever defaced. I also believe that those involved should face penalties for what they have done – particularly those who instigated the meltdown. But if we explain all of this by calling all of those involved idiots, vandals and morons who have nothing in common with the rest of humanity we risk having this scenario repeated again and again– as it has been throughout history.