Open letter to Georgina-onians and passersby

Dear fellow concerned citizens, human prototypes, Georgina’onians, Keswickians, Suttonese, Pefferlawfians, and of course, our esteemed visitors (yes, I made up 60% of those labels).

First, I am not perfect. In fact, I am so far from perfect that I daresay that I am usually fairly reliable in the ‘if it can be eff’d up, she’ll eff it up’ department. My ‘Making A Complete Mess’ track record is a thing that legends are made of. To illustrate my point, I got knocked up out-of-wedlock – YOUNG (no regrets), dropped in and out and back into school, sometimes seasonally (big regrets). I fall off of chairs, can say the EXACT wrong thing at exactly the wrong time like a Trump supporter on speed, and when I’m not chasing my own tail in a futile effort to get ahead, I’ve likely forgotten why I walked into a room. But, even with all of these faults, inadequacies, character flaws and an unrelenting flair for the dramatic, I remain fairly adept at understanding where my garbage is supposed to go and where it is NOT supposed to go.

Again – NOT a perfect track record on this front either. I have been known to occasionally toss a tissue into the blue box, or thoughtlessly toss a banana peel into the ‘regular’ garbage instead of the compostable garbage. So I get it. It happens. But, and much like mine, this is a BIG BUT, even I with all of my aforementioned flaws and rudimentary understanding about our complicated garbage pick up system, know that the ditch beside a farmer’s field is probably NOT the place for my once-loved (on) sofa and love seat. Even I am able to discern that the evidence of my fairly faithful (and mobile) habit of drinking Busch’s beer probably does not belong tossed out my car window while I careen down backroads. And perhaps, most oddly of all, the flowers from my late-beloved whoever should NOT be disposed of, containers and all, at the side of the road. I mean really? How dead inside do you need to be in order to toss Grandpa’s flowers out on the way home from his funeral?

I am not even kidding here, people. I couldn’t make this up if I tried (heart is still beating in my chest, apparently). And no, it’s definitely not a roadside memorial.

Even I, with all of my blonde ditziness, realized long ago that evidence of backseat shenanigans just DO NOT belong on the pavement, naked and exposed where people walk their dogs or go for walks with their families (YAY! for using birth control though, we completely approve of all things disease and unwanted pregnancy preventative – but BOO for tossing it out of your car window with your empty pack of smokes and another one of those damned Busch cans). (Am sparing you the pictures of this one. You’re welcome)

Takeaway containers and beer cans in a paper grocery bag. Really?

And while I’m at it – WHO is still drinking Red Bull and Monster, anyway? That is SO 2012. Move on people. And while you’re at it, take your empty cans with you? Pretty please?

With the spring thaw, so many things come to light. What the snow hid, the warmer days reveal. The sins of the winter and all of that.

We are so incredibly blessed in Georgina to have green space, farmers fields, forestland, wetlands, parks, just so much SPACE to breathe, that it is easy to forget, while taking in all of this natural beauty, that it is NOT the place to toss your left-over renovation materials, drywall, 1970’s shag carpet, evidence of your last beer pong tournament, half-full paint cans, tires, cement blocks, or yes, even your Tim Horton’s coffee cups. Because while I know, that there is very little more Canadian than a Timmy’s coffee (how did that become a cultural symbol?), there is something so very un-Canadian about throwing your Timmy’s cup out your car window. Be honest here, who do you think is or should be responsible for cleaning up your mess?

The contents of your misguided life do not belong at the side of the road. Unless you’re sitting with them, that is.

Your terrible taste in carpeting is not taxpayer’s responsibility, nor do the fox, deer or other wildlife living here want it. Bag it and tag it, leave it with your garbage and the Town will remove it for you. This Stop and Dump = Bad Karma. Bag it and Take it = Good Karma

And, as a special note for visitors: we welcome you to our parks, beaches and roads. In return, we merely ask that you take your garbage HOME with you or use the receptacles graciously provided for your use with our local tax dollars. Our residents and wildlife, do not need to deal with your silo cups, empty potato salad containers, paper plates, plastic forks and the ever-present pop and beer cans. PLEASE.

Use our beaches and our parks. Just don’t be a self-entitled dickhead and leave all of your trash for the rest of us to deal with. It is polluting our land, and waterways, not to mention that it is a danger to our wildlife. And, if one of the local ‘fanatics’ happens to catch you tossing your garbage bags out of your window, you may be run off the road while the sweet sound of banjos play in the (not to) distant woods. And we all know how well that went for those visitors.

This is a forest. NOT a trash receptacle.

The remnants of your family reunion, held at one of our local parks should only be painful for you. The rest of us have our own Aunt Edna’s and Uncle Frank’s to deal with, thanks.

Reduce, reuse, recycle – ugh. Never mind. Just don’t be a filthy miscreant and deal with your own mess.

So, next time you’re out and about and for some reason have a trunk full of shit you want to dump, please visit our local transfer station (so much fancier than saying ‘dump’ isn’t it?) at  23068 Warden Avenue. The fees are very reasonable and you’ll feel awesome for doing the responsible, adult thing with your unwanted goods. Or, even better, before you load all that shit into your car, truck, or bundle buggy, march it out to the curb in front of your house and slap a $1 green garbage sticker on it. The town will pick it up with your regular garbage pick up (black bag day), no questions asked. Those stickers are not very sticky, so make sure you staple or otherwise affix the sticker in plain view.  You can buy stickers at any branch of the library, Zehrs, Pinky’s, the Civic Centre,  there are a ton of distributors all around Georgina. Or, if you’re really stuck, let me know and I’ll drop a sticker off to you – no questions asked.

Out past the edge of a big untidy town was a beautiful green valley. Hidden behind its tall trees were bright flowers and bushes full of birds. In the middle of this lovely place the people of the town dumped their rubbish…There should have been a pretty village in the valley but instead there was a terrible mess.
          ~Excerpt from “The Paperbag Prince”
                               by
                          Colin Thompson

Yours truly, madly and beseechingly,

The Keswick Blog

The kids are alright. Except, no, wake up, they’re really not.

stig·ma

ˈstiɡmə/

noun

noun: stigma; plural noun: stigmata; plural noun: stigmas

1. a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”the stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me”
 synonyms:shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation “the stigma of bankruptcy”

The kids are alright. Or are they?

If you’ve ever hung out with me on The Keswick Blog before, you may be under the impression that I’m not necessarily a champion for Facts. That I am more about feelings, or opinions born of facts, or maybe feelpinions, perhaps? Well, I am kind of a fan of #RealFacts. And it turns out that I’ve become a bit of a curmudgeon and realize that I have have zero time or patience for #AltFacts or #FakeNews. Not only that, but I’m also not a big believer in statistics generally speaking (I could not get through my stats class in university to save my life, I’m telling you). There are just too many ways to manipulate statistics to fit even the wackiest arguments. But with that said, even I will concede that there are a few areas in which facts and statistics resonate with me, and when that happens, I try to share them with others. And this is one of those areas that resonate with me, because for all the iPhones, $200 pairs of shoes, new flat screen televisions in their bedrooms and unlimited data plans to Snapchat their days away, the kids are not alright. And as adults, as parents, as concerned citizens, it’s time to wake. the. fuck. up.

*Warning – I’ll be tossing a few offensive words throughout this post. But if you’re offended by my using the word ‘fuck’ and not by the gross misunderstanding and misinformation that the majority of us are operating under when it comes to our children’s mental health, I’ll bid you adieu right here.

Our kids are suffering. Not all of our kids, but far, far, far too many of our kids. And not enough is being done to help them. WE are not doing enough to help them. And even when a parent, friend, teacher or other adult figure recognizes the signs that a child may be suffering, too many of those children are not able to access the appropriate services to get the help that they need.

Am I talking about cancer? Nope. Am I talking about learning disabilities, closer, but nope. I’m talking about mental health. The mental health (and illness) as it pertains to our children and youth, to be specific. Because contrary to popular views of previous generations, children are people, and therefore completely capable of feeling ALL the feelings and experiencing ALL the complications that make up what we define as ‘mental health.’

I promised you some statistics earlier, and since I almost always deliver on my promises (the exception being if said promises are made while you’re holding a giant Toblerone bar in front of me. In that case, I’m apt to say or promise just about anything to get my hands on it).

But alas, there is no chocolate in sight, so here they are:

  • It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.
  • Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
  • The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
  • Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.
  • Schizophrenia is youth’s greatest disabler as it strikes most often in the 16 to 30 year age group, affecting an estimated one person in 100.
  • Surpassed only by injuries, mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
  • In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.
    *Emphasis added 
    (From The Canadian Mental Health Association @ http://www.cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/#.WNsqPxgZPVo)

And we, as parents, guardians, and a society, still want to insist that the kids are alright? Really? We want to continue thinking that if we just buy the right product, if we just make sure that they have the right ‘stuff’ that everything will be okay. But no. Step back and take a good look at your kids, a real, good, honest-to-God look. Is there something there that you haven’t seen or noticed before? Is there something there that you’ve been  justifying or excusing away that really, should be dealt with? Is there something going on with your child or teen that you’ve been denying, even though you know, deep in your heart that something is just wrong?

There is no shame in seeking help for your child and there should be no stigma attached by your or anyone else to your child for his suffering. It is not a failure on your part if your child is struggling with mental health issues. It is not a failure of your child either. Shit happens. We need to deal with it. Because there is very real shame in NOT dealing with and seeking help for issues that are HURTING a child and causing him or her to SUFFER needlessly and alone. Far too often, our egos as parents prevents us from being HONEST about what is going on with our kids. It’s not them, it’s the school. It’s not them, it’s the other kids. It’s not them, it’s our ex. It’s not them, it’s lack of sleep. And you know what? Sometimes is may not be them. But sometimes, it is. And if we’re so heavily invested in it not being them, who is going to step up, step in and help them to deal?

Years ago, mental health and mental illness were taboo, scary, shameful subjects that were spoken of in whispers and largely ignored, where possible, dismissed when acceptable and denied when confronted. The fear and stigma attached to mental illness has likely caused more complications and strife than it’s ever prevented.

My message to parents? Simple. Get out of your own way. So what if your kids aren’t “Facebook” perfect? So your life doesn’t fit into a quirky 140-character tweet. Maybe when we stop living our lives and running our families with the goal to garner the most “Likes” or “Followers” and instead begin to run our affairs in the best interests of our children and our selves with the aim to be solidly educated and productive, contributing members of society, only then will we begin to see some of those terrifying statistics we read above start to change for the better.

There is NO excuse why only 1 in 5 children is getting the mental health services they need. It cannot be said enough. There is NO shame in admitting that you need help to figure out how to help your child. If your child fell, and broke his arm, would you try to set and cast it yourself? Of course not. If your child had a raging ear infection, would you put a band-aid on it and pretend they were fine? Of course not. That would be ridiculous, even downright neglectful. Right?

Well, trying to pretend that a child cannot be suffering from mental health issues when all of the signs and behaviour suggest otherwise is just as ridiculous, and yes, neglectful. Children and youth need us to be strong, capable adults who protect them, guide them, and help them. If our egos get in the way of that, whose best interests are we serving?

So, are the kids alright?

The kids? Oh, sure they’re alright. Except that one over there, the forlorn-looking fella, he’s eleven-years-old and closing in on 200lbs, oh, and that sixth grader, the one with the backless shirt and bra straps hanging out? She threw a chair at her teacher yesterday and threatened another student with a stapler. Oh, right, and maybe that one sulking over there, she used to be a boy, but decided in the third grade that she wanted to be a girl, so we just went with it, but now puberty is starting and shit it getting real. Mom? Well, that’s the kicker, mom says he only eats fresh fruit, vegetables and lean chicken, so there’s nothing she can do about his weight, He’s just big-boned. And about that chair throwing thing? Well, that teacher is a bitch and was ganging up on her daughter demanding that she sit in her seat when all she wanted was to go for a drink at the fountain. The other student? Lying. Staplers are for losers. Do you see this? Are you taking this in? These children are SUFFERING and their suffering makes ADULTS scared, uncomfortable and defensive. It needs to make adults sit up, take notice and start addressing the source of children’s suffering.

For the last time, there is no shame in seeking help. There is enormous shame in pretending that all is well when things are falling apart. Needing and seeking help with mental health concerns is not wrong, for anyone. Seeing or even suspecting that there is a need for mental health intervention and not reaching out and seeking that help on behalf of those vulnerable members of the society is a life sentence. Not merely for the child, but for the rest of society as well.

#EndStigma #LetsTalk #KidsHelpLine #TheKidsArentAlright #KidsDoGetDepressed #GetLoud

It’s Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ Day and It’s Okay to Struggle.

For the people struggling with metal illness and mental health issues on a daily basis, today is about creating a safe space for conversations to happen, to take mental health issues out of the dark, taboo places and insinuate them into the general population. To create awareness. To create empathy and understanding. To educate and attempt to eradicate some of the stigma that plagues any illness that is not physical in nature.

And I have a theory.

I believe that we all struggle with mental illness and mental health. Every single one of us. Depression, anxiety, addictions, narcissism, social dysfunction, phobias, compulsions, delusions, we all have something. Some of us battle daily. Some of us battle once in our lifetime. Some of us are triggered seasonally. And some of us completely unaware that we are suffering from an actual illness and think we’re just fine, but can’t explain why we do, think or say the things that we do. Not understanding why some things just keep on happening ‘to us.’ Some of us struggle our whole lives and some of us struggle with mental illness and health during various phases of our lives. The point is, no one gets out unscathed. This effects us all.

And that is okay.

It is okay not to be ‘perfect’ and have it all together, all the time. It is okay to need a little (or a lot) of help. It is okay to need medication, therapy, comfort, and to retreat to regroup. It is okay to not be strong all of the time and really, sometimes we are the strongest when we are the most vulnerable.

I am very aware of my imperfections, issues and struggles 365 days a year. The older I get, the more issues I realize that I have. And that is okay. We are all imperfect. We are all in this together. If I see you struggling, I will offer whatever help that I can. Be it an ear to listen, advice, chocolate, or, if we’re really good friends, help hiding the body.

My door (virtual) is always open (I’d keep my actual door open, but last time I left the screen unlocked a racoon walked into my kitchen and stole the cat food, so I keep things pretty Fort Knox’d now). If you’re feeling like you’re the only one who yelled at her kids, didn’t do mothering perfectly, fed her family whatever was around, screwed up at work, ate too much or too little, are overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on you – for your time, you attention, your affection, for your YOU – you are not alone.

My door is open. So for this Bell Let’s Talk Day, and everyday until the next one, Let’s Talk. 

#BellLetsTalk

Confirmed. We are going to Hell in a hand basket for this one.

I’m a bit pensive today. Feeling a bit older than my years, and much older than my usual 17 year-old maturity level. And for the first time, it occurs to me that somehow, over the years, bit by bit, we’ve taken Christmas from this:

The Nativity Scene at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, NY

The Nativity Scene at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, NY

and this:

A Charlie Brown Christmas scene.

A Charlie Brown Christmas scene.

and turned it into this:

and even worse (if that’s possible), this:

And the result is THIS. WE have turned Christmas into THIS for our children.

And then we wonder why society is shot to shit, why we are faced with one crisis after another, why people are so rude, angry and aggressive now, why Britain is leaving the EU, why Donald Trump is the POTUS-elect, why a man can receive three months for brutally raping an unconscious woman, why more and more places are legalizing marijuana use and why the middle class and women represent a higher percentage of heroin use and related-deaths than ever before.

Are we using twerking Santa’s and Frosty’s as a salve for our scared and wounded souls and bruised psyches? Or have we just given up trying to regain any semblance of innocence, joy and citizenship, even during the season of peace, joy, love and giving?

31 days and counting until Christmas. Is there still time to undo ANY of this damage?

Reflectively yours,
~A.

The problem is not kids these days. It’s us.

one-bookone-penone-childand-one

As much as we want to blame the internet, the kids, the teachers, the schools, the media, none of those things are the problem. This is not a fun message to send or receive. The problem with kids these days is us. Children watch the adults around them (and their parents more specifically) and what they observe shapes the foundation for their views on the world. These observations help to develop how they, themselves react and behave towards others over the course of their day. And let’s face it, the majority of their day is spent at school.

Many parents and adults are polite, considerate, lovely people. They are not the problem (clearly). Many other parents and adults are loud, rude, angry, confrontational and reactive. They are the problem (clearly).

Today, the common thought by professionals in the education and helping professions is that children need to learn how to “self-regulate” and that being a successful “self-regulator” will resolve much of the behaviour and acting out that many schools are forced to deal with everyday, all day, with a greater number of students than ever (at least so it appears based on anecdotal evidence). Behaviours that are often serving as a barrier to accessing a solid education by all students, not merely the ones acting out.

Self-regulation is an excellent idea. It is a great theory. It fails in practice. Why? Because until the PARENTS are able to self-regulate and behave in polite and civilized ways, children do not stand a chance. Until the PARENTS begin to support educators and the importance of being educated, their children will continue to act out.

Children’s behaviour is NOT a school board’s responsibility. Children’s behaviour is the parents’ responsibility and if the parents need support, then THAT is where to school board can provide assistance. Educators and school staff are not there to RAISE children. Schools exist to educate and support children and help to guide them toward successful and productive citizenship. Schools are NOT daycares, babysitters or nannies.

This goal of educating and guiding children cannot be met when parents abdicate their parental responsibilities once their child(ren) pass through the doors of their first school. I have had parents say to me ” meh, it’s their [the school’s] problem to deal with, he’s with them all day. He’s perfectly fine at home. What do they expect ME to do about it if he’s not listening to them (replace ‘listening’ with any of these: hitting, acting out, swearing, fighting, refusing to work, spitting, running away, bullying, etc)?”

My opinions on raising children, school, and parenting are not popular and I accept that. I did not become a mother in order to have a bunch of new friends, or create my own clique, or to be popular with tiny people. I became a mother to raise good humans and pass down some of the skills and knowledge that I had gathered in my lifetime (turns out some those skills were somewhat less developed than I thought!) and sometimes that means that I am about the most unpopular person in the house, possibly the planet (just ask my kids!).  I am the primary caregiver in our family, and as such it is one of my jobs to set and enforce the majority of the routines, rules and consequences. I do not make excuses for my children’s behaviour when they make poor choices. They must take responsibility for their choices and they are held to a higher standard than “I don’t know” or “well, everyone else…” I do not let things that are wrong slide. We talk it out and problem solve what they could do differently next time. They do not get away with blaming others for their choices. Because they always have more than one choice. We all do.

I am not writing this from a place of infallible, perfect parenting. I am not the perfect parent. My kids are not perfect. One thing that I am though, is constantly aware, constantly watching, listening and seeking better ways of doing things, handling situations, and guiding my children (and the children with whom I work) toward making conscious choices rather than following the crowd, acting on impulse or simply being reactive.

And you know what? Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, great, when it doesn’t, we try again.

One thing that every parent needs to know (in my unpopular opinion), is that it is the PARENT’S job to parent, that as a parent that you, and you alone are your child’s first and most important teacher. With that responsibility comes the requirement to work WITH educators and other helping professionals to ensure that your child is giving and receiving all of the effort and cooperation possible to ensure a successful result. When parents are combative to or confrontational toward the very people they are depending on to raise their children, it only serves to escalate the problems the child, and therefore the school and the rest of the children, must deal with.

This quick post has grown slightly longer than I expected. In the end, here is my wish list for all of us:

  1. Demonstrate the behaviour we want our kids to copy;
  2. Instill a love of learning and a sincere belief in the importance of being educated in all areas of life (i.e. history is not pointless and French is not dumb);
  3. Bring back social etiquette and manners – across the board;
  4. Place the responsibility of parenting back on the parents and provide support where needed and when necessary;
  5. Allow children to be children and to make mistakes without rushing in to ‘rescue’ them from all natural consequences of their choices;
  6. Learn, teach and share problem solving and dispute resolution skills with children from a young age (but it’s never too late to start);
  7. Spend less time on ‘devices’ and more time interacting, in REAL LIFE with our families – no more technological babysitters and distractions;
  8. Realize that not everything is personal or requires your response. If I say that I don’t like the colour blue, and your shirt is blue, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, it means that I don’t like blue. Period.
  9. Stop jumping to conclusions or attributing the worst possible meaning to everything. Give people the benefit of the doubt first.
  10. If you’re talking, you’re not listening. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you are standing still (and possibly moving backwards). Talk less, listen more.

And that, my friends, is my (consistently) unpopular two-cents on the subject.

~A.

How to ask for a refund for your recalled Children’s Advil Products

Having a few kids in the house, I tend to make sure that I have fever medication on hand in case one (or more) of my mighty minions comes down with either a high fever or an unshakeable fever. One of the products that I have in my house right now is Children’s Advil, Dye Free. When I heard about the recall, I went online and found the Lot numbers affected and soon figured out that I had two unused bottles of the recalled product.

advil_recall

Without much thought, I took them to Wal-Mart with me the next time I needed to pick up a prescription. I handed them to the pharmacy assistant and she took them, said thank you, and turned away. I asked if I should just take two others off the shelf and she looked perplexed and said no, that they don’t do that. So, I quickly figured out that I was handing over $12 or more to Wal-Mart without receiving any benefit of a product or service, and I asked for them back. I decided to call the manufacturer (Pfizer) directly.

Bada-boom Bada-bing. My refund cheque should be in the mail in 4-6 weeks.

Find the list of effected Lot Numbers here: Healthy Canadians – Government of Canada

Lot numbers are printed on the bottom of the box and also on the side of the bottles. If you have one that matches up, send an email to: pchinfo@healthconnect.ca and make sure to include:

  • The product name;
  • The product size;
  • The lot number;
  • Your complete mailing address, including unit or apartment number;
  • Your telephone number.

If you’d rather leave a voicemail with all of that information included, call 1-888-275-9938, choose 1 for English (if you want), the choose 1 for the recall line. Dollars to donuts they will be experiencing ‘a higher than usual volume of calls’ so if you’re like me and hate donating life hours to being on hold, go the email route. ????

Once you hit ‘send’ you’ll receive an auto-reply that says:

Thank you for contacting Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. Your email inquiry/request has been received and we will respond at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sincerely,

Pfizer Customer Service

Your refund cheque should arrive within 4-6 weeks.

Easy-peasy. For once.

Giving up organic milk

I have wavered back and forth on the organic milk issue for years. For the most part, I did not buy organic milk because the cost is more than twice that of regular milk. But in the last few months of 2015, I switched the family over to a more organic based diet and that included organic milk. And wowzers! Did my grocery budget scream in pain. With four growing children and two grown men in the house, the milk consumption, at times, is unreal and as we rolled into 2016 with the increasing food prices, I have had to re-evaluate my choices somewhat.

Yesterday afternoon, I was speaking with a friend, who feeds her young family more organically than I, and she said that she has never bothered with organic milk in Canada because regulations in Ontario dictate that our dairy farmers are not permitted to give our bodicious Ontarian bovines hormones or antibiotics. If medications are necessary then the cow in question is removed from the production line for a period of time until an ‘all clear’ sample is obtained. Hmmmmm. This makes a difference in my assessment of the situation (and may make a BIG difference to my grocery budget).

So much of the information we receive is American, where they have different laws and food safety standards. Here in Ontario, there is a wealth of information available on the Dairy Farmers of Ontario website. Links to provincial regulations, standards and farming-related issues are published for all to read.

A few things to keep in mind, when deciding if you’re going to purchase regular or organic milk (at least in Ontario), are:

1. Milk is the most heavily safety-tested food in the Canadian food supply system. Ontario dairy farms are inspected regularly under Dairy Farmers of Ontario Raw Milk Quality Program to ensure that Ontario milk meets provincial standards. Inspectors ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean and that milk is cooled efficiently. Inspectors also look for Grade A management practices such as good cow housing, sufficient pasture area and exclusion of milk from cows that are being treated for illness with drugs or antibiotics. (DFofON website)

and:

Other jurisdictions permit the use of synthetic hormones to meet market needs [which is not allowed under Canadian regulations]. Instead, Ontario’s dairy system meets the highest safety and quality standards in the world, while ensuring farmers can reinvest in safety to produce efficient, high-quality dairy products that other dairy systems simply do not provide. (DFofON website)

and finally:

In dairy farming, medication is only used if it is required to treat a specific illness. When dairy animals become ill, the problem is diagnosed and, with the help of a veterinarian, a treatment program is established. Her milk is discarded since it is illegal to sell or offer for sale any milk that contains antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals, and she is milked separately from the rest of the herd until she has complied with strict withdrawal periods for her specific medication.

In Canada, there is a stringent dairy inspection program in place to test milk. Samples are taken at each farm for quality and composition. As well, each truckload is tested for antibiotics at the dairy. Any milk that does not pass the test is discarded immediately and any producer whose milk is found to contain antibiotics faces heavy financial penalties. (Facts and Figures on the DFofON website)

So, right now (and this could change tomorrow because – over thinking issues and then changing my mind is my speciality) I am going to return to buying regular Ontario produced milk, bypass the organic milk option and expense and not purchase (the much less expensive) milk next time we grocery shop in the U.S.

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seeming a fitting addition to this post ????

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seems a fitting addition to this post ????

Is social media holding us hostage? Nope, not me. Bye, Felicia.

On the topic of social media, volumes have been written, discussed, debated, studied and meme’d. Until now, I have not taken the time to throw my thoughts on the subject out there for discussion, but I feel that it is time. And I am also overdue to make a change in my life.

I was late to the social media party (big surprise, right?). Everyone had a Facebook account before I ever logged onto the site. Everyone had Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ long before I decided to look into what they were all about. And honestly, it is all bullshit. Sadly, the memes are true. The articles citing how much time people waste on social media are true. The studies showing how social media is adversely effecting mental health are bang on the money. Social media is not only documenting, but encouraging, promoting and accelerating the demise of the basic principles of human decency.

#Truth

#Truth

I consider Facebook (never even looked into that Myspace thingamajig), and Twitter to be the O.G.’s of social media being as those are the sites with which I am the most familiar. Facebook, to me, was a way to re-connect with people I grew up with or people who I had met along the way but who, because of circumstance or geography, I could no longer see face-to-face. It was a way to share family pictures and have a laugh. It was a way to be nosy without being obviously nosy (less obvious anyway than binoculars and a Whisper2000 headset). It satisfied the voyeur in me and it was never supposed to attempt to encroach upon other areas of my life. It was entertainment.

Twitter, I have come to conclude, is mainly an outlet to complain about everything. 140 characters of hate. 140 characters to tear other people down. 140 characters to make yourself sound cute or funny or kind or clever or hard done by or tough. It is not a site that I’ve ever been a big user of personally (the blog has an account), but it is also not a site that has ever provided me with anything other than sadness, aside from Jimmy Fallon’s links to The Tonight Show (❣) clips. I had one Twitter rant about some blatant law-breaking not being enforced one night but in hind sight, I should have blogged that story. Next time.
IMG_3665Everything that is wrong, (and in fairness, very occasionally a few things that are right) with humanity is laid out for all to see on social media. For every “thanks for paying for my coffee at the drive thru this morning, you made my day so I paid it forward!” post, there are fifty “thanks for cutting me off on the highway, motherfucker. If I see you again, I’ll run you and your family off the road, shitdog.” posts. And that truth, that naked hatred,rage and ugliness is what makes me cringe. It is what makes my stomach hurt. It is what makes me want to shut it all out and not see it anymore. But not seeing it does not make it go away. Not reading the petty or dishonest posts does not make them less ugly or vicious. Knowledge is power, the more you know the more you grow, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, karma is a bitch, and so on and so on. Sure, these ideas can be applied to social media, but what power does it give me to know that people are behaving horribly to one another? Does knowing that there is a ‘pay-it-forward’ movement in the Tim Horton’s drive thru this morning make up for all of the fake, ugly, angry or merciless posts? For me, it just does not. And so I am (willingly, happily and a little bit shakily) walking away from all of it for a while.

When she wrote this, the magnitude of ways to waste time was beyond the scope of the imagination. No matter how much we tell ourselves that we're enjoying zipping around (anti) social media, it's still wasted time.

When she wrote this, the mindless multitude of ways society would invent to waste time was beyond the scope of the imagination. No matter how much we tell ourselves that we’re enjoying the time we spend zipping around (anti-) social media, the truth remains that it IS still time wasted.

I am reclaiming my time. I am reclaiming my hobbies, interests and heart. I am reclaiming my leisure time and my right “not to know.” In the end, I am reclaiming the substance and depth in my life over pettiness and superficial bosh.

Until further notice, I will not be on Twitter. I will not be on Facebook. I may not even be on Instagram very much. I will continue to write and of course blog (because I love writing, blogging and connecting with like(wonky)minded people and I need to continue to do so as part of taking care of myself). Links to new blog posts automatically publish on social media sites, without my involvement, but if you need to get in touch with me, text, email, or comment on the blog because I am now on a social media hiatus for an as yet undetermined duration.
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❤️
~A

Parenting: I’ve learned that there are only degrees of failure. And that’s okay.

When I first became a mother, I was young. Not Loretta Lynn young, but young enough to still have a head full of delusions of grandeur and invincibility that only come with youth, or serious mental health issues or head injuries. At that time, it was my youth at play. Now, well, the jury is still out but the youth defence is out of the running. Since I wanted to be a mother SO badly, I just knew, no, really I KNEW that I would do everything right and that  my child would be totally amazing and surpass any of my wildest ambitions or aspirations for him.

20 days into this whole motherhood thing, and it's a piece of cake. Easy-peasy. He's a little squirmy, but nothing I can't handle. (March 1994)

20 days into this whole motherhood thing, and it’s a piece of cake. Easy-peasy. He’s a little squirmy, but nothing I can’t handle. (March 1994)

Seven days later. I'm still smiling, still too dumb to know what was coming my way. While he is very clearly starting to understand just what a newbie he's been stuck with and when the realization hits, it hit hard. Poor bub.

Seven days later. I’m still smiling, still too dumb to know what humbling lessons are in store for me. While he is very clearly starting to understand just what a newbie he’s been stuck with and when the realization hit, it hit hard. Poor bub.

I turned my nose up at ‘old ways’ of parenting. Let my baby cry? That’s barbaric! That’s abusive! Never! Force him to sleep in a crib, alone? Make him deal with it alone when he is very clearly sad, hungry, dreaming of monsters, gassy, teething, fussy, lonely, etc. Nope. That this better, smarter, mother. No. He was going to know that Mummy was there. That Mummy would protect him from *everything* bad, scary or painful and encourage and lead him towards everything healthy, good, smart and successful. No public school for my baby when it came time for kindergarten. He was too sensitive, gentle, clever, kind and the other kids would just ruin him. No way. Private school only. Single mother, constant university and college student, living in my mother’s basement, sending my child to private school, because he was THE BEST. There was no better boy or child anywhere. See? I told you, I was completely delusional.

Two months in and he knows. He already knows. I, however, wouldn't figure it out for around another twenty years or so.

Two months in and he knows. He already knows. I, however, wouldn’t figure it out for around another twenty years or so.

And then the years past and I got married, puberty hit (him) and I moved us from Scarborough to Keswick. All in the same year. And KABOOM! Toss in a new-found interest in girls and all the other treats that come with hormonal changes in adolescent boys, and it sank my battleship. Like, totally and completely torpedoed that fucker. Granted, I was fairly unprepared for how all of those changes would affect all of us, especially my relationship with my son and his with me but still the world fairly imploded. And it no longer mattered that I had sent him to private school for all of those years. Or that I had enrolled him in art lessons, music lessons, rep baseball, swimming, martial arts, skating, etc. It no longer mattered that I fed him a healthy diet of fresh foods, little-to-no refined sugar, no artificial sweeteners, colours, additives or preservatives. It no longer matter that I paid three-times more for natural, organic shampoo than regular drugstore shampoo for him or that I breast-fed him for over a year rather than formula fed him. None of it mattered or made a bit of difference. Life as I thought it would be was no more. Humbling lessons to learn indeed.

Fast forward again and he is now only weeks away from turning 22 years-old, older now than I was when I gave birth to him. He is not at university and about to finish his last year with his degree in hand, nor is he away at college, and either of these two scenarios is where I thought we would be today and what I single-mindedly determined the plan to be in the beginning. No, it is not where we have landed and he is making his own path through life now. Whether I agree or disagree with his choices, whether I think that he should just listen to me and do what I say because I just fucking know better than he (being twice his age and all), just does not matter. He is going to be the person, the man, the partner, the friend, the son he chooses to be and I honestly believe that is the way it was going to be no matter how I parented him.
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And now, with over two decades of parenting experience behind me and more decades of experience to come, I believe that is how it is with all children. We do our best. We make the best choices and decisions we can in the moment, with an eye to the future, with our hopes, dreams and ambitions for them in mind. We love them, we guide them, teach them, discipline them and care for them. We screw up, make mistakes, do or say things we regret, and we sometimes act in anger, even when we should know better. But at the end of the day, they will be grow into being the kind of people they are meant to be. Each and every one of them. Some will be doctors, lawyers, activists, or leaders. Others will be villains, lazy, shiftless, or deadbeats. And still others will be somewhere between the two extremes. Neither society superstars nor the dregs of society, but rather somewhere safely in the middle, you know, where most of us live. I mean, let’s face it, our world is not full of wonderful, motivated, helpful people, but rather it is a place with all types of people, good, neutral and bad and all of those people have parents. Just like we have and we now are. And we can no more take credit for our children who become doctors than we should carry the blame for the children who become villains. After all, can we reasonably blame or credit our parents for how we all turned out as adults or the choices we’ve made along the way? I know that I (sometimes regretfully) cannot.

Today, as an adult child, I honour the hard, sometimes (okay, most of the time) thankless job that my parents had raising me (and the job they still have parenting me, the over-grown baby that I am, although I try to thank them more now). Today, as a parent of an adult child, I love and cherish my grown child, not just for the child he was or the history we share, but for the man he is becoming. His life and future are in his hands and I am excited, interested, and terrified to see where his journey takes him. But I will always be here, in his corner, ready to offer him the benefit of my experience when he asks, guidance when he’s lost, and Tylenol when his head aches from the stress and pressure of ‘real life’ adulthood. ~Sigh. ????

 
 

Don’t forget to come and hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Some posts or moments make it to all four sites, others only exist on the site I post them on, so make sure you’re not missing out on anything (rants, updates, cute moments and homicidal-like rages), like or follow along on those sites too. ????
~A

I was in the middle of another post – confession

Mildred the asskicking peacockI was in the middle of writing a different, somewhat happy post when I had to run across the street to pick up kids after school. Putting on my running shoes, my heel was met with something hard, as it has been for the last few weeks now. Only this time, it was particularly uncomfortable. So I made a mental note to really LOOK at my shoes when I returned.

Now, I should disclose that while they are running shoes, I seldom, if ever, actually run in them. But I do wear them daily (except during flip flop season).  And yes, I’ll give you that they are not terribly chic or fancy (which is completely unlike me *smirk*) but they have been comfortable from the first time I slipped them on so I have remained faithful and true to them in return.

But times, they are a changing, and now, I am forced to conduct an intervention on myself because it’s time. I have to let these shoes go. I was hoping to make it until Spring, because who wants to go into winter wearing shiny new shoes (which I already own thanks to a sale at Costco a year or two ago and they reside in my closet, waiting for me to notice them – ha!)? And I am weak. If I don’t publicly ‘out’ myself on this one, I will keep wearing them because 1) they are already by the door, ready and waiting for me 2) they are familiar and broken in, and 3) we have history, and in this day of throw-away-everything, I’m fighting for that to mean something. I also know myself well enough to know that only the possibility of being on the receiving end of ‘those’ looks while I’m out running errands is the motivation I need to make the change. Yes, I do realize that the fact that the skin is being rubbed off my foot SHOULD be plenty motivation to pitch them, but it’s just not. My loyalty is stronger than physical pain (apparently).

Conclusion: I am left with no choice but to break up with you, shoes. And no, we will never, ever, ever get back together. It's been swell. Thanks for the memories.

Conclusion: I am left with no choice but to break up with you, shoes. And no, we will never, ever, ever get back together. It has been swell, but now you’re making my appendages bruised and swollen, so thanks for the memories. Adios, old friends.

Between Mildred’s no-nonsense stare and this public confession of weakness and avoidance, I feel confident that I’ll be able to retire (read: throw out) these shoes. Finally. But first I have to remove my friendship pin because I haven’t become completely callous in this process, just weepy and blue (and just a little bit excited to wear new shoes *grin*)

Now, back to your regularly programmed Thursday afternoon.