Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Balancing On One Foot May 16, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 10:00 am
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i’m at the crossroads,

with multiple paths open before me

all of them twisting with detours

and alternate routes due to construction

my hands are full of questions

doubts

hopes

dreams

wonderings

fears

and the weight of my limitations tug at me

until i’m wavering precariously on one foot,

trembling and shaking

trying to balance of all the possibilities

and i know that soon something will change

the question is

will my foot fall on a path of my choosing

or

will the weight of it all propel me

somewhere i never expected to go

and in the end

will it really matter how the choice is made?

 

My Cathedral April 24, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 2:40 pm
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‘Cause out here in the stillness, I find my house of worship

With column trees and canopy of stars, here in my cathedral.

– Chris Rice

One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches.

– Robert Frost

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

– Henry David Thoreau

Just a few reasons why I love living where I do. This place feeds my soul…

Happy (belated) Earth Day!

 

How (and why) To Vote With Your Kids April 22, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 11:43 am
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I was a wide-eyed 7-year-old in 1988, trailing my parents through the crowds at a local arena along with my older and younger brothers. We weren’t there for a hockey game, though – this was a “family field trip” and we were there for a real-life lesson on voting. At the time, I was still trying to make sense of how this had anything to do with the colorful signs all over my neighbours yards, and didn’t realize how that simple trip would impact my life – but I’ve never missed voting in a provincial or federal election since the day I walked in on my 18th birthday with ID in hand to vote for the first time, and it has a lot to do with those early memories. I wasn’t the only one to feel the importance of that day – my younger brother, Eric, is now 23 and running as a candidate for the Green Party, and attributes his interest in politics to that same trip.  Just as I’m passionate about getting out and voting, I’m equally convinced it’s important for us parents to involve our children in the process as much as possible.

We need to teach our kids responsible citizenship in the same way we teach them to brush their teeth

– through example and endless repetition.

(A little nagging never hurts, either. 😉 )


Here’s how (and why) to vote with your kids:

Ride in Style

  • HOW: Keeping infants in carseats, slings or carriers works great. Use your parental powers of persuasion to convince toddlers and preschoolers that the stroller is the sweetest ride around.
  • WHY: You’ll need at least one hand free.

Timing Is Everything

  • HOW: If your kids are preschoolers or younger, pick the time of day they’re happiest – whether that’s right after or during a nap-in-the-carseat – and hit the polls.  If your children are in school, PLEASE consider either voting this weekend in the advance polls so you can take them along, or waiting and going to vote after school or in the early evening on May 2nd.
  • WHY: Waiting to vote during meltdown hour will make the experience memorable in a whole ‘nother way. 😉 Older kids need to SEE you vote, not just talk about it. They do what we DO, not what we say…

Forewarned is Forearmed

  • HOW: Take emergency rations (cheerios, how we love thee!) and entertainment (crayons and coloring book, a few quiet toys). Make sure YOU have all your necessary ID ready and easily accessible, and that you know where you’re going before you leave the house.
  • WHY: Murphy’s law of parenting says if you’re ready to wait, you won’t have to.

Manners Matter

  • HOW: Explain the rules before hand – inside voices, stay by mom/dad, etc. Depending on where you vote, they *might* have to stay a couple of feet behind you on the “white line” or some other mark when you actually vote.
  • WHY: Going over expectations beforehand makes any outing smoother – and we want this one to be positive!

Teamwork

  • HOW: When your friend/neighbour/mother-in-law offers to watch your kids at home so you can vote, politely counter-offer with an invitation to go WITH you and the kids to vote.
  • WHY: You’ll have extra hands to help, and your kids will see even more trusted adults participating on election day – and you never know, maybe you’ll encourage your helpers to vote, too!

Talk, Talk, Talk

  • HOW: Start now – talk about the different candidates in your community, how voting works, why it’s important. Hold mock “elections” at home – vote on what’s for dinner or dessert, which movie to watch, etc. On voting day, explain each step of the process as you go.
  • WHY: As with tooth-brushing, it takes a lot of repetition and explanation to communicate the importance of voting. When children understand the concept on a small scale (yay, chocolate ice cream won tonight!) they can begin to grasp the larger scheme as well. Educating them about the process of going to vote increases the chances that when they’re eighteen, they’ll actually go and do it – because by then they aren’t going to want to listen to your advice. 😉 Give it now, while they still will.

Take Your Village

  • HOW: Team up with another parent or couple, carpool, arrange a big playdate for all the kids while the adults watch the results of the vote trickle in. Offer a ride to people in  your community who need one, and TALK to your fellow parents about the importance of voting while you watch the kids at the park, wait outside school, and watch the t-ball game. Don’t like conflict? Stay away from the “issues” and just try to motivate the vote.
  • WHY: We’re not just cogs in a machine or parents sitting on park benches. We are Canada, and it is vital that we make our voices – ALL OF THEM – heard.

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

I’d love to hear any other tips or suggestions you might have – how do YOU involve your kids in voting? Any strategies for going to vote? Leave a comment! And if you found this post helpful, pass it on to your fellow parents, and do what you can to motivate the vote around you! Make a difference.

 

Vote. Just…vote. April 21, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 2:12 pm
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As a rule, I dislike blanket statements…but I’m going to make one anyway: You should vote. “You” meaning anyone in a democracy, but specifically my fellow Canadians, in the election that’s creeping up on us. I’ve heard a lot of excuses why people don’t vote, but in my opinion, not one of them is a good enough reason to skip voting:

Excuse #1: I can’t get to the polls.

Reality: Find a friend (or neighbour) to take you, and nag them into voting too. Or you can call any of your local candidates and ask for a ride. They will give you one. Once you’re there, vote for WHOEVER THE HECK YOU WANT TO, regardless of who gave you the ride.

Excuse #2: I don’t like any of the party leaders.

Reality: In Canada, our vote goes to a local candidate, not the party leader. Vote for the local candidate who most closely represents your values.

Excuse #3: None of my local candidates represent my values.

Reality: Prioritize your values, and vote for the candidate who is closest to your most important one(s). Nobody even close? Vote based on the party’s platform, or consider running as a candidate yourself next time… 😉

Excuse #4: I have a (child, parent, pet, paint drying on the wall) and nobody to watch it while I go vote.

If it’s a child, TAKE THEM WITH YOU, and increase the odds of them growing up to be an involved citizen. If it’s a parent and they’re healthy enough to vote, TAKE THEM WITH YOU. If it’s a pet, grab a neighbour who also has a pet and TAKE THEM WITH YOU…you can take turns standing outside and holding the leash. (If you’d really rather watch paint dry than vote…turn on the news and see what’s happening around the world. Be ashamed. Then get off your butt and vote.)

Excuse #5: All politicians are corrupt, I don’t want to support any of them.

Reality: They’re corrupt because we as a nation don’t bother to hold them accountable BY VOTING. Politicians think we don’t care, so they can do whatever they want without consequence. Prove them wrong.

Excuse #6: The candidate I like most will never win in my riding anyway.

Reality: They might, if you and the 1000 other people in your riding thinking the same thing actually voted. (Two elections ago here in Huron-Bruce, the MP was elected by a slight 971 vote lead. That’s not a big number.) And if you really want your vote to count? Consider voting for a local candidate who supports electoral reform. Our “first by the post” system was designed for two parties, not multiple parties. If we moved towards proportional representation, every.single.vote would help get an MP elected, and those who vote with their conscience (like the 1,000,000 Canadians who voted for the Green Party in 2008) will have fair representation.

Excuse #7: I don’t know who my local candidates are.

Reality: All of the party websites have the option to enter your location and be shown your candidate. If you’re short on time, check out CBC Canada Votes 2011 for a list of all the candidates in your region, complete with contact information. Local debates are a great way to see your potential MP’s in action, and they’re usually more civilized and vastly more interesting than the televised party leader debates – plus you get a chance to ask your questions and meet your candidates face-to-face.

Excuse #8: Politics are confusing, I don’t really understand the issues, and I don’t want to vote for the wrong person.

Reality: If you don’t vote, you increase the odds that the “wrong” person will be elected. Pick one or two key issues that you care about personally (childcare? extending EI benefits? green energy? improved public transit?) and spend 5 minutes at each candidate’s website to see what they have to say about it. Can’t find the answer there? Call or email them. You may not agree with everything in a party or candidate’s platform, but if they agree with you on a couple of key issues, it’s a vote well cast.

Excuse #9: I’ve never voted, and I don’t know what to expect.

Reality: By now you should have received a voter’s card in the mail, telling you where to go vote. If not, go to Elections Canada and find out. It’s easy. You’ll also find information there on what kind of ID you’ll need to bring (simplest is a driver’s license, but the website clearly explains other options.) On Election day, go to the appropriate location. There will be many helpful people working who will tell you what to do…and they’ll be happy to do so.

Additional Resources: (I’m including links for the parties represented in my riding. Yours might have others – don’t forget to check them out.)

Liberal Party website

Conservative Party website

Green Party website

New Democratic Party website

Vote Compass (quiz designed to help you figure out your voting priorities; mildly controversial, but interesting.)

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

 

The Benefit of Doubt April 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Simplicity,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 9:50 am
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I’m convinced that the more we question, the more we open ourselves up to the possibilities, the closer we are to finding our truth – some might call it “belief” or “faith”.  I prefer to think of it as simply the truth that resonates in our heart, the kind that can change our thinking and the way we react to life.

I don’t care where you find your truth, whether it’s in the pages of a holy book or graffiti on the alley wall, in the lyrics of an angry punk song or the sound of the waves on the shore. What I care about is whether you are asking the questions, and searching out every possible answer, and ONLY following the one that fits into your soul like a missing puzzle piece.

It doesn’t matter if your truth is different from mine, or if your truth is different from your parents. But finding it matters.

After you’ve found it? When you’re full of excitement and conviction and absolute, unshakeable assurance that THIS IS IT?

Let go.

Not of your truth, but of the desire to convince everyone around you that your truth is somehow “The Truth.” Because while the truth you found may fill your emptiness and change your smile, forcing it to fit into another person is like taking a chunky wooden puzzle piece from your child’s alphabet puzzle and forcing into a delicate 1000 piece puzzle of the Mona Lisa. It will not fit, no matter how you manipulate it.

Give the people you care about the gift of respect, and allow them the benefit of doubt. They’ll find their truth when they need it.

 

Just Another Day April 13, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:37 pm
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1 cup of coffee

2 lunches packed

2 children taken to school

2 others brought back

1 more cup of coffee (ok, I’ll admit to 2)

1,980 words written

2 block towers built and kicked

3 sinks of dishes washed

1 handful of bubbles hurled

3 meals made and shared

1,560 stitches knit

8 little snacks prepared

2 loads of laundry processed

5 chapters of a favorite book

1 child taken to ER

1 prescription filled

1 of 30 doses given

1 blog post shared

Just another day in an ordinary life.

A little bit crazy, and a little bit fun.

A  little bit excitement, and a little bit dull.

A little bit of wonder, a little bit of fear.

Just another day. Just another year…

 

Things I’ll Miss April 5, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids — bethanyjoy @ 4:10 pm
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Marbles in the washer,
Toothpaste on the mirror,
Legos stabbing feet as I chase away bad dreams.

Endless cries of “Moooommy!”
Snacktime every hour,
Water spilled across the table, half of dinner on the floor.

My opinion being gospel,
My stories being loved,
“I need a Mommy snuggle!” whenever I cease to move.

Hugs that end with giggles,
Rubbing kisses into my cheeks,
That moment of blissful silence when they’re finally asleep.

 

 
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