Remembering


For those of you that know me personally outside of this blog you probably know that this day is probably one of the hardest days for me and my family to face.  Five years ago today a daughter lost a mother, a mother and father lost a daughter, and a brother lost a sister.  On February 12th, 2008 one of the most important people in my life lost her battle with cancer.

My sister Sherri was one of the strongest people I have ever met.  She had the ability to find the bright side in any situation and she could make even the most unhappy person laugh with her humor and smile.  I decided to write this post today as a way to honor her memory and to help my family remember her and all of the amazing things she did.

Sherri, both in life and since her passing continues to inspire people.  She fought her battle with cancer with everything she had, and no matter how weak she was from radiation or Chemo she still had that ability to make everyone around her smile.  Even at the worst of times she would be the one helping everyone else cope with what was happening.  Towards the end she knew what was about to happen and spent her last days preparing the rest of the family for what was coming.

I will never forget my last night with her.  She was in  the palliative care unit and had been unconscious for a few days from what I can recall.  I arrived from Ottawa after getting the news and headed straight to the hospital to see her not knowing what to expect.  My parents prepared me as best they could because at this point we knew it was only a matter of time and we didn’t even know if she was going to wake up again.  Then a small miracle happened!  Out of nowhere Sherri woke up!!  After being unconscious for days she just woke up, we were all shocked and amazed.

Now again for those of  you that know me you also know that I have a very big family of aunts and uncles, and when Sherri woke up I think every single family member that was in St. John’s at the time were at the hospital within seconds!!  We spent the night talking and laughing with each other and Sherri was right in the middle of it all laughing and talking to everyone.  It was truly an amazing experience to see her up and around and it really did give all of us the opportunity to see her and have that vision of her laughing and smiling one last time.

 

As the night went on eventually it was time for her to head back to her bed, she had spent one last wonderful evening with us all and she was tired.  As she went back to bed and people started heading  home I had an opportunity to share some time with my sister and we said what needed to be said to each other.  It was hard to do that knowing that this was probably going to be our last conversation but we talked and she said a few words to me that I really needed to hear.

I headed back to Ottawa the next day feeling a bit better about what had happened and knowing that I had that chance to talk to Sherri and tell her all the things that I wanted to say to her.  I knew when I left that I would not have that chance again but I felt that she had prepared all of us for what was going to happen next.  Three days later, she passed away peacefully, her battle may have been lost but her spirit brought strength to every single person that had the privilege of meeting her.

It has been 5 years but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Sherri, whether it be just a passing thought or talking to my kids about their aunt Sherri, she is always on my mind and always will be.

I can honestly say that traditionally when this day comes each year I have locked myself away from everyone and shut out the rest of the world in the past.  It is a hard day to face and as I have recently discovered it is not a day to be spent alone.  So this year I have decided to share the story of my sister Sherri to everyone.  I hope those that read it can be inspired by the life that she lead and the inspiration she was to everyone around her both in life and through her passing.

 

All the best

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A Small Holiday Sacrifice


Well it is that time of year again, trees are decorated, houses are covered in lights, and children everywhere are struggling to contain their excitement.  Of course I am talking about the holiday season and the eventual visit from everyone’s favorite man in red.  This is probably one of my favorite times of the year and this year will be no different.  Friends that I haven’t seen in a long time will be around, drinks will be had (responsibly of course), there will be plenty of visitors and visiting, and of course there will be gifts!!

 

Over the years one thing that I have noticed and have been guilty of myself is going overboard on the Christmas shopping and over the years I have noticed something.  I have a lot of toys that may have been used for a couple of days (maybe weeks) and then never used again.  Both us parents and Santa give our kids so much stuff that in a lot of cases it isn’t even used, and all the while there are families out there that don’t have the ability to do this.  The saddest part of all is that there are some children out there that may not have anything under the tree.  I have thought about this a lot recently and as I have been preparing to get my shopping done (those who know me know full well I haven’t started yet) an idea came to me.  This year I am not going to buy as many presents as I have done before, both for myself and for my kids, yes the kids are going to get plenty of toys, clothes, etc, but I am not going to go overboard with it.  This year I am just going to buy them the key things that they want and a few odds and ends and that will be it.

 

Am I the worst dad in the world for doing this?  I prefer to think I am not, I like to think that I am giving the kids what they want and no matter what they are going to have the same excitement opening their presents this year and if there are a few less they won’t even notice.  What I am going to do this year is what I encourage everyone to do, go and buy an unwrapped gift or two and donate it.  Toy Mountain is a great cause and they are going to make sure that as many children as possible are going to wake up on Christmas morning and see a gift under the tree for them.  I have heard so much about this cause lately and some friends of mine have been heavily involved with it and I think that my little sacrifice in my own house is well worth it if it can put a smile on another child’s face.  As my children get older and we continue this tradition I think they won’t mind a little sacrifice as well.

 

So this holiday season when you are out in the madness that is your local Toys r Us or Walmart trying to get your shopping done.  Why not take one of those toys that  you are going to bring home only to see it packed away in your basement sometime in January and give it to the fine people at Toy Mountain.  Something tells me the feeling that you will get doing that will feel just as good.

 

Happy Holidays!!

 

All the best

The NHL Lockout and Divorce


So as most of you all know we are in a state of crisis when it comes to the NHL and the NHLPA.  These two sides can’t seem to agree and of course we the fans of hockey are not getting to see our favorite teams and players play the game we all love so dearly.  Now normally I have dedicated this blog to stories of being a parent and my experiences in life, so to write something about the NHL Lock Out is not something most people would expect to see but they actually are related and I will get to that now.

 

Sometimes when couples go through a divorce or separation things will turn quite nasty, especially when lawyers, mediators, and other people get involved.  Throughout this process pride, stubbornness, and sometimes anger end up leading the way and certain things are forgotten.  When divorce happens there are so many emotions that can get in the way of progress that some of the most important people involved get forgotten in the shuffle.  Of course I am referring to the children, most of the time in negotiations they can be used as pawns, they can be completely forgotten, or they can simply be treated as assets.  Is this right?  Is it fair?  Both answers are a very big NO, but for some reason it happens.

 

So today as I followed the ups and downs of the NHL and NHLPA negotiations and went from an excited “This could be it!!  Hockey could be coming back!!” to a completely devastated “Nope, no progress!!  The season is probably lost!!” a thought came to me.  We the fans of the NHL are the children and the NHL and the NHLPA are the fighting parents!!

 

Think about it, both parties are guilty of using us as pawns by playing the PR game.  They leak information to get us excited and want to take their side.  They use social media and tell us how they care about us and how they want to get a deal done only to go into a negotiating session and come out with no progress.  Sounds like one parent trying to sway a child to want to side with them over the other parent doesn’t it!!

 

They treat us like an asset, they assume that the 3.3 Billion Dollars of Hockey Related Revenue is going to stay at the number and only grow.  It seems like they expect us to simply come back and sellout arenas, they can continue to take our money and we are just going to automatically come back like nothing happened.  They claim to care about us but in reality we are simply the revenue that they are so desperately fighting for.  Again, two parents fighting over money and assets that simply think that all this battling will have no impact on their kids at all.

 

Many of us will agree to this point, both parties are guilty of completely forgetting about who got them to where they are right now.  Who’s income has help build this league and game into the great sport that it is now.  They have left us the fans out of the picture completely, they don’t want to hear what we have to say, and even if they did listen to us they wouldn’t take what we have to say into account in their negotiations.  Again the forgotten children of divorce have to simply wait and see what happens and have absolutely nothing to say about the matter they just have to accept the results.

 

There is one sport that I have noticed over the years that actually listens to the fans.  The UFC president Dana White does a fantastic job of listening and responding to the fans.  If there is a bad event and the fans complain about it via social media he is right there with them listening to them and apologizing for it.  If the fans want to see a fight happen between two elite fighters and voice their desire to see this fight Dana White will listen and do whatever he can to make that fight happen.  If only Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr would be so gracious to listen to their fans they would know that we want them to lock themselves in a room and not come out until a deal is done.  We don’t want grandstanding and PR, we want our game back, so why not take a tip from the UFC and listen to your fans for once and get a deal done.

 

Stop being the neglectful and angry parents that are so obsessed with getting their way that they are willing to put their own children at risk.  As many children that have gone through similar experiences with their parents and have grown up will tell you that we won’t forget this.  We are more than pawns and assets, and without us you will have nothing in the long run!!

 

Part of me would really like to see someone start a campaign to market to season ticket holders for every single team in the league.  Convince them to sign a petition stating that we want the season to start by this date or we will not renew our season tickets for one year.  If you could get 60% of the ticket holders to do that and then send the petition to both the League and the Players Association do you think they would listen to the forgotten children then??

 

All the best!

There Are So Many Great People Out There


So since I started writing this blog it has always been a kind of solo venture for me.  I was using this a way for me to put together my thoughts and whether it was read or appreciated by anyone else didn’t really matter to me.  My goal was to just put my story out there so I could look back on it one day and remember the lessons I have learned and all of the good times and bad.

As time has gone by and each post has been written, posted, and read something really great ended up happening.  People started reading what I was writing and seemed to really like what I had posted (well at least I hope they like it).  I also took to social media and started meeting some amazing people with their own stories to tell, and through all of this I have met so many amazing people and each one of them have taught me something and given me a gift that I will always appreciate.

Last night I had the opportunity to go to my first tweet up and actually got to meet some of these great people face to face for the first time.  This was truly an amazing experience for me to see all of these people who I felt I already knew from reading and sharing stories together through twitter, blogs, Facebook and even LinkedIn.  I even had the privilege of meeting other people that I feel I will be connected with for life by our shared stories and challenges we have faced in life.

My big take away from this tweet up opportunity was the fact that all of these great people each had their own story to tell and I got the chance to talk and learn more about each of them.  The more we all talked the more I came to the realization that we all have so many challenges and hurdles to face in our life and just when you think that you are all alone you realize that there are so many great people out there that may have faced the same challenges as you.  They may be able to give you the advice or guidance you need to make it through that challenge in life and in turn you actually may be able to return the favor to them or even pay it forward to someone else down the road.  So no matter how tough you think it is out there and how alone you may feel when dealing with the stress of life, never be afraid to reach out.  There will always be a great person out there that will be more than happy to catch you when you are about to fall.

So to all of those great people that I was so honored to meet last night, thank you so much for sharing your stories with me.  I look forward to continuing our relationship and bond for a very long time, and to those out there that are looking for that person to catch you don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  There is always going to be someone out there to listen and give you the guidance and advice you are searching for.

All the best!

Just Keep Swimming


So as I was going through Facebook the other day a friend of mine posted her status “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!  Dory had it right”.  I have to say after the past few weeks I would have to agree with her (both my friend and Dory).  It has certainly been a challenging few weeks both in the media and on a personal side but as our lovely Finding Nemo friend reminds us “Just Keep Swimming”.

 

First off in the news the past few weeks we have been shocked and saddened by a few stories such as the events that unfolded last night in New York when a mother came home to find that her Nanny had killed her two kids and herself.  A fellow blogger I know wrote a post about it this evening and I felt that instead of me writing about it you should read her take by copying and pasting this link:

http://loulousviews.blogspot.ca/2012/10/unspeakable-horror.html?spref=tw

 

On a more personal note I have been dealing with a few issues with my son and myself (I am currently in a cast for the next 4 to 6 weeks with a fractured bone and sprained ankle and really not too happy about it) recently.  My son has been having some issues at school and it got serious enough that I had to go and get him from school on Wednesday and his mom had to go and get him on Thursday.  The challenge with trying to get to the root of the problem with my son is that he really doesn’t tell you much and I say sometimes that getting information out of him is like pulling teeth.  I certainly worry about this because as he gets older he is going to face tougher challenges and how he learns and adapts are going to determine the person he is going to become as he gets older.  Both his mom and I work very hard with him and we of course will continue to do so, fortunately we are working with the school and his EAs and they really do seem to care for him and want him to be a success.

 

He will have his good days and bad days and we are getting pretty good and knowing when the bad days are going to happen.  For example on Thursday I knew it was going to be a bad day, I dropped the kids off at the school for the before school club and everything was fine.  As I was heading towards work I looked and saw that my daughter left her princess water bottle in the car, so I headed back to the school.  When I got there I see my daughter crying and discover that my son and her were playing a game and she knocked over his cups and he retaliated by knocking over her’s and happened to hit her at the same time.

 

I took my son for a walk outside the school to talk to him about what happened and kind of give him a restart to the day.  That worked perfectly!!  He was happy and ready to go back in and play with his Lego, then tragedy struck.  He ran towards his Lego and banged his hip right off of a desk and hit the floor, again I ran in and brought him out to the school kitchen and put an ice pack on his hip and tried to calm him down.  Again he was calm and ready to face the day, but I knew full well with so much chaos starting off his day something was bound to happen at school.  I called their mom and gave her the heads up and sure enough he had a melt down halfway through the day.

 

So today was a bit of a better day but overall it has been a very rough week for him, so keeping in the theme of my title I am going to take this weekend and have a reset with my son and daughter.  I decided to treat the kids to Ray’s Reptile Zoo tomorrow and go shopping for birthday gifts.  I am figuring that will be a fun filled day and should give my son the much needed reset he needs so that he can keep swimming next week at school.

 

There are always going to be challenges to face with both my son and daughter over the years and that is what parents sign up for and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The secret to surviving it is to enjoy the good and get through the bad and learn from it.  Each challenge we face makes us stronger if we let the negative get us down we will never be able to enjoy the positives we see in life.  So Dory may not have realized it but those simple words “Just Keep Swimming” are actually really good advice!!  Keep the positives in your mind, work through the negatives, and always know if you just keep swimming you will get to that happy destination you are looking for!!

 

All the best!!

What is the World Coming To?


So like most people today I learned about the story of Amanda Todd.  As I read through the various news reports and watched the video that this girl had put together I couldn’t help but feel such a deep sadness.  That sadness has slowly turned to anger towards the people that put this child in this situation in the first place and then fear for my own children.  Is this what the future has in store for my son or daughter?  Will things ever get better or is the worst yet to come?

 

Over the past few years it seems that bullying and cyber bullying has come to the forefront and is well documented and known to the world.  We hear about these sad stories both in the US and Canada, and we have some great campaigns such as the nomorebullies which started here in Ottawa.  The Ontario Government has passed legislation aimed at fighting this epidemic that has already caused so much damage and taken too many young lives too soon.  The problem with all of this is that the more attention this topic gets the worse the stories seem to become.  What are we supposed to do to make this issue go away?

 

Every one of us growing up probably had to deal with a bully, so many people have the attitude that it is part of life and you just have to suck it up and get through it.  Back when the worst that would happen to you was that you got a few wet willy’s, a charlie horse, or maybe at the worst a black eye or a bloody nose, sure I can buy into that it is part of growing up.  The problem is that this is no longer the case, as society has changed and become more desensitized to violence, sex, and drugs today’s youth have to deal with ten times the amount of trouble that we had to deal with when we were their age.  In the age of social media, the bullying not only happens at the schoolyard it follows our kids home!!

 

I read another story about a boy in the US this week that was about to do an interview with a local news channel about standing up to bullies and while they were preparing for the interview and cameras were rolling a few bullies literally came up and attacked this brave boy right in front of the reporter!!  Most of the assault was caught on tape and yet these bullies had absolutely no fear of the repercussions for their actions.  They didn’t care that there was a news camera rolling!!  I was absolutely blown away by what I saw and read and I wondered to myself “What happened to the days when kids respected authority?  What happened to the days when you would be afraid of what would happen if you did something wrong?”

 

I really don’t want to sound like one of those old school, hard line people but I really feel that something has gone wrong when it comes to discipline with the kids of today.  Kids have no fear, they know that they can’t be touched for doing something wrong, and if they don’t have the moral compass needed to determine right from wrong we end up with the bullies of today.  They don’t care if the teacher sees, they don’t care if the police are called, they don’t care if their parents find out, and as long as they can beat up or harass their victim they are going to do so without remorse.   I see what is happening today though the stories like Amanda Todd and I wonder what it is going to be like for my kids as they get older.  They are in their first few years of school I have never been so afraid of what the future could bring.  Could I end up seeing one of my kids in the hospital?  Could I see one of my kids in tears at night looking at a phony facebook page?  Or worse, could I see one of my children making a similar video?  I can only hope and pray that I give my kids the confidence and strength they will need to deal with the challenges they are inevitably going to face, because unless something dramatic happens soon there will be no avoiding the bullies out there and the tactics are only going to get worse.

 

So what are we as parents supposed to do?  How can we put an end to this epidemic once and for all?  There is plenty of awareness out there now but these things are still happening everywhere!!  I personally think that there has to be a way, there has to be a way to take the schoolyard, parks, and streets back from the bullies.  It is just a matter of finding it, and I hope we find it soon. 

 

I had written a post awhile back about the school system needing to take a stronger and more aggressive stance towards discipline and I certainly stand by the statements I made in that post.  I also feel that parents need to step up to the plate and take a firmer approach when it comes to keeping our kids in line.  In most cases parents have become too soft on our kids (I can say I have been guilty of this from time to time as well), but for the most part I am very strict but fair with my kids.  I really think that the only way to get through to the kids is through the parents, maybe if the parents of the kids that are bullying are identified and embarrassed enough they will take the hint and work getting their kids back onto the straight and narrow.  Maybe if there is a 3 strike and you are out policy at school and the parent has to take time off work to stay home with their kids or find them a new school that will take their kid they will realize there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

 

I know from personal experience with my son that when there has been an issue at school with hitting or anything I am so worried about him getting kicked out of a program I am at the school or camp in a heartbeat trying to work with them to come up with a solution.  My son has had the odd issue with hitting but his mom and I never ignore the problem and work side by side with the schools and camps to find a solution to the issue and use appropriate discipline and have been successful in doing so.  Are we strict with our son and daughter?  Yes, and we are consistent at both of our houses.  If they are in trouble and not allowed to do something at mom’s the same rules apply at dad’s.

 

Overall I have to say that the saddest part about the fact I am writing this post tonight is that I had to hear about a poor young girl, who could have had so much potential in life had to take her life to get me to write this.  This story and others like it are too much to bear and we as a society need to find away to work  together with parents, kids, schools, politicians, police, and everyone that can help to find a way to put a stop to this.  I hope and pray that Amanda’s life and the others before her can at least teach us the valuable lesson that bullying is wrong, no child should have to endure what these kids have had to go through, and no child should ever be put in a situation where they feel there life is worthless.

 

I hope and pray that someday there will be no more children taking their own lives because of the cruelty of someone else.

 

Rest in Peace Amanda Todd, I never knew you but something tells me I will never forget you.

 

 

 

What a Week!!


Well to quote my title what a week it has been!! First off I want to acknowledge the successful launch of the the CHEO blog for moms and dads. This is a blog that has so many fantastic contributors, writing fantastic posts for parents in the Ottawa area and I am so happy and honored to be included with these great bloggers. You can see the blog at the following link cheomoms.com and find myself and some other great people contributing their stories and advice for you to enjoy and learn from.

I also had the honor and privilege to see two of the happiest and nicest people I know celebrate their third anniversary together and to the surprise of one of them we got to share in a great marriage proposal (which of course was accepted). As I mentioned before this couple has to be one of the nicest and happiest couple I have ever met. They are the type of people that no matter what the issue, what is going on, wherever you are, if you need them they will answer the call and never hesitate to do so. They are also two people that I am proud and honored to call friends.

Watching this couple evolve and go through the ups and downs of the modern relationship has been a learning experience for me. In this day and age most of the people that get together have a much different set up than years ago, you see the majority of couples that are out there now may have former spouses, children, and a host of other things that the old traditional family didn’t really see. When people get together now in a relationship there are a lot of factors to consider compared to the past and with that comes questions that need to be answered.

When should I introduce my kids to this person?

How will this person be once we have committed ourselves to a relationship?

Will we be able to accept the new roles as step parent?

Do we have the same attitude and values towards parenting?

There are so many other questions and this list could go on but I am assuming you get the picture. The problem with these questions is that there are no easy answers, and I personally think that you have to learn as you go and sometimes mistakes can be made. Fortunately life is a learning experience and although all of the answers may never present themselves the lessons learned will make a person stronger and smarter.

To go back to my friends, I have seen them go through the ups and downs and each time they have learned from the experience and their bond has gotten stronger through each challenge they have faced. They both have children from previous marriages and have done an amazing job of working together with all of the children and have managed to be able to co-parent as well (with the odd issue but it seems to work out for the best).

So my final note to these two amazing people, congratulations. I couldn’t be more happy and more proud of the both of you (I also can’t wait for the wedding, it will be a blast). You both have found what so many people look for in life and you will make an amazing husband and wife combination.

All the best 🙂