Posts By: Guest Blogger

Rules to live by for the Holiday season

image via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Eat drink and be merry:

I have no problem with the eating and drinking part. Got that down to a cookie filled, red wine flowing science. It’s the whole “merry” part of holiday entertaining. It’s tough to be merry when your pants are tight, your kids are hopped up on sugar and people turn into these alien beings programmed to run around the mall and take other people out to get the last iPad in aquamarine blue. But this year I vow to try by wearing stretch pants (as long as they are not paired with a festive reindeer sweater-rule #2?), smiling at people in mall line ups and reminding myself it’s about the children.

Be kind to your fellow man or thou shalt not run over old ladies in mall parking lots:

Really I saw this happen last Christmas. Someone was rushing for a parking spot and almost ran over an elderly lady who was walking towards the mall. Now I don’t know about you but I think there is a special down below for those who take out old people at Christmas time. Yes, we are all hurrying this time of year as time seems to speed up and to-do lists seem to expand but killing thy fellow man probably won’t win you any brownie points with the big guy. And no I don’t mean Santa.

It is better to give then to receive

Did you ever notice how people rarely give or do something thoughtful unless they get something in return? Not this time of year! The holiday season reminds us to give just for the sake of giving-donating toys to those without, offering time or food to a shelter, and remembering to leave a bigger tip than normal at Starbucks. I tried to pay it forward the other day but judging from the reaction I got, I guess it’s too early. I asked to pay for the person behind me in the line at Tim Hortons and the lady looked at me like I’d asked her if she wouldn’t mind if I got down to my skivvies and did a dance on the hood of my car. I also saw her deliberating with the customer behind me telling her that her order was paid for and she was probably demanding but why? This seems to be the time of year that you can be nice to your fellow man without them wondering if you’re just trying to sell them an upgraded cable package or if you’re shifty. Take advantage of it. It feels good.

Thou shalt not freak out over turkey

I have a confession to make. I have only cooked a whole turkey, ONCE. And I vowed that I wouldn’t do it again. I find the entire process of cooking a turkey intimidating. First there’s the calculations you have to make that are akin to NASA to ensure that it will be cooked on time. At fifteen minutes a pound, in a 350 degree oven, travelling at 100 miles an hour what time do you have to put a 15 pound turkey in to be cooked by 5:00…

Whatever formula I used the year of the turkey (as I like to refer to it) didn’t work. The thing was still mostly raw by 7 pm and I fed the kids hot dogs opting for deli meat over salmonella and put them to bed. Now I use turkey rolls which is  just the breast part of the meat and while I know my parents would probably prefer a turkey and they went to all that work for me over the years I also know my limits. I will not whip up my grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie recipe and cook a fifty pound bird.

Thou shalt carry hand sanitizer and stay home when you have the flu

Tis the season….to share germs. Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands a lot! And if you do happen to get sick please don’t share the wealth…we spend a lot of time together in closed quarters this time of year- at work, at the mall…and yes there are times when you have to go somewhere but if you don’t and you’re truly sick STAY HOME!

I saw a commercial the other day for a cold and flu medication which had this guy who looked like death and the voice over said, “you have things to do, so take this medication and get on with your day” and then suddenly the same dude is going to work and then on a date and I’m thinking AAAH! You’re still sick! He feels great until the drugs wear off but it doesn’t make him less contagious. And now he’s just infected his entire office and his main squeeze. If you have the flu, adhere to these Christmas safety tips: take a day off, wrap a hot towel around your head (shout out to Ferris Bueller fans) and watch some reality TV, sports or whatever it is you’re into while sipping hot tea and loading up on Vitamin C. Then when you don’t have a fever and aren’t contagious rejoin the rest of the world. The malls aren’t going anywhere and if you really need to shop then online shopping works wonders.

Enjoy the company of friends and neighbours

This the time of the year to be social and while surviving the holidays can be overwhelming as the calendar overflows with engagements just remember that hibernation is coming. Winter is long and many of us hole up into our houses until Spring or wrap ourselves up in layers of clothing until we are unrecognizable, giving each other a quick Michelin man greeting as we tackle our snow covered drive-ways. Human contact, the kind that exists outside of the cyber world is healthy and even helps with managing anxiety just as long as you follow the rule above.

And that’s it. The holiday rules I like to live by. This holiday season try to live by your own rules, or use some of mine if they resonate with you, but remember above all no matter what happens it’s about spending time with those you love and being grateful for what you have…and wearing really stretchy pants. Happy Holidays!

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

 

Tis the Season to be Jolly?

By Lisa Van Meeteren

Tis’ the season to be jolly….yeah right…you can tell that little “diddy” was written about a hundred years ago, before the advent of giant adrenal gland wrecking coffees, the smartphone, and computers that keep us plugged in 24/7. Perhaps when Christmas only lasted for two weeks it really was wonderful and jolly, but now those lyrics ring false when one day we’re carving pumpkins, and the next day ‘BAM!’ the Christmas season in all its stressful glory has begun. So three short Christmases ago I decided to tackle the holiday by avoiding the crowds of cranky, harried, adrenaline filled shoppers and finally conquer my “to do” list early…or so I thought….

The first week in November

I see the best gifts and I am in a good mood! I feel proud of myself every time I buy an item and smugly think, ha! I won’t be amongst the shoppers running around maniacally in December thank you very much. I hide my purchases in the top of my closet. Yes! Progress!

 

The end of November

I am done. DONE! Just have to wrap. And make cookies. And decorate. Oh, and buy new outdoor lights and hostess gifts for the next three parties we’re invited to. Oh and damn, I forgot about stocking stuffers…okay that won’t take long. Breathe. It will be fine. There are still three and a half weeks to go.

 

The first week of December

All of my decorating for Christmas is done! I am out admiring the Christmas decorations in the mall, or at least I’m trying to as my two year old excitedly points out Santa’s village to me. I am a little distracted as I drag him away from the reindeer and into a department store for more holiday shopping. I still need to find those hostess gifts, and stocking stuffers and then I will be done. DONE! I slow down as something catches my eye in a store window. The same item I bought for my husband is on display with a huge 50 PERCENT OFF sign plastered underneath. Why is it that every year, the same item I bought early goes on sale two weeks before Christmas? I take in the rest of display. Oh! He would love that wallet and scarf combo…where was this stuff in November? I drag my now restless two-year old into the store and buy the newly discounted item making a mental note to return the original.

 

The second week of December

Back to the mall to buy stocking stuffers with my toddler in tow, looking none too happy. This time I am armed with more gear then a soldier going into battle; toting along bags of snacks, his favourite trucks, and books. It isn’t easy but I knock the rest of the items off my list only having to stop twice for snacks (I forgot to bring some for me), once for a diaper change, and once to rescue the toy truck that my son somehow managed to wedge underneath a store display. I did it! I’m finished! I feel lighter on the way home, happily humming Christmas songs; unfazed by the person in the car behind me who blasts their horn as I slow down for an elderly woman walking in front of my car. I think of my daughter as we drive past her school, smiling. This is her first real year in grade school with two teachers…crap! I didn’t buy anything for her teachers. Oh no. I also need to buy the unwrapped donation gift for her classroom and then there’s the staff at my son’s pre-school. My good mood deflates faster than a pierced balloon. I’m not done.

 

One week to go!

The presents are wrapped! I haven’t started baking yet, but that’s okay, it’s safer for my pre-Christmas waistline. I am smiling as my daughter arrives home from school, and produces a new book from the library. “I love these!” she says.

“Are they as good as the fairy books?” I ask hinting about the series I bought her for Christmas.

She ponders for a moment. “The what?” she asks.

A tendril of panic starts to wrap itself around my insides. “The fairy books, you know the ones you’ve been asking for, for the past two months!” I laugh, a little too brightly.

“Oh those,” she shrugs. “Dunno. They’re still okay I guess, but these are way better.”

ARGH! I clench my coffee mug so hard that my nails dig into my palms around it.

“What’s the matter? Mom?” she asks.

“Uh, nothing.” I run upstairs to find the gift receipts so that I can return her books and remove them from under the tree. No big deal. I can do this. One week is plenty of time. I just have to finish that writing project I haven’t started still, continue toilet training my two and half year old, call the cable guy about our TV and…the phone rings.

“Hey honey, it’s me,” my husband says.

“Yes?”

He laughs. “Okay…just wanted to let you know my side of the family has decided to do a draw this year! You’re buying for my sister and I have Carrie.”

“In other words I have Carrie and your sister to buy for now too.”

“Thanks! That’d be great. Did you get Mason’s gift yet? They’re coming in a couple of days so they can pick up everything then.”

“What? Oh, crap forgot about him.” He is the latest addition to the clan, at five months old, and since he was only a blip on the embryo horizon the preceding holiday, I apparently erased him from my memory.

“Okay, gotta run and I’m going to be late tonight. We’re really busy.”

I hang up and try not to swear. My kids begin a game that involves tossing toy cars down the stairs to see which one will win. “SANTA IS WATCHING YOU!” I yell, running up the stairs. “Do you guys want Santa to come?”

“Mom?” My daughter puts her hand on my arm gently.

“Yes?” I snap.

“Even if Santa doesn’t come, I’ll still love him, and I’ll still love Christmas.” I hug her. I’m sure they are just acting up because I’ve been ignoring them to get everything done.

“Let’s go look at the lights,” I say. It is a tradition I started with the kids this year. We walk around the neighbourhood admiring the Christmas lights each of us pointing out our favourites.

“Yay!” Both children cry in unison. With all of the things I have left to do I shouldn’t really be going anywhere, but I suppose the list can wait.

As they run around the block excitedly pointing out inflatable snowmen and twinkling reindeer, their cheeks rosy and their smiles bright, I think, this is what matters. This is what makes the season ‘jolly.’ This is what the old carols are singing about. I breathe in the crisp clean air and erase my ‘to do’ list from my head. Things will get done, they always do, and if they don’t it’s not what I will remember many Christmases from now. No the rushing, the mayhem, and the ever expanding list of things that didn’t get done will be a distant memory but these moments of joy will be strongly etched in my mind. Yes, I resign; tis definitely the season to be jolly.

How do you deal with holiday stress and remember to be jolly?

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

Three tips to increase your child’s communication skills

Communicating is an important part of a child development. Though all children progress at their own pace, if you are looking for ways to help your child with his/her communication skills and listening skills at home, here are three tips which you may find helpful.

1) Get Face-to-Face with your Child
This allows your child to pay closer attention to your face and what you are doing with your lips, tongue, etc., since body language is a large part of communicating. It also lets YOU pay attention to what your child is interested in and makes it easier for you to identify your child’s attempts at non-verbal communication. Communication does not need to be in the form of words or sentences. It can be as simple as a look, a gesture, sounds or words.

2) Follow Your Child’s Lead
We all have our OWN favourite toys, however, it is important to follow what toys and activities your CHILD is interested in. When your child is interested, their motivation to learn and communicate is enhanced. Respond enthusiastically to your child’s interests and join them in this activity. This interaction allows for many communication opportunities, and most importantly, your child will love this special time with mom or dad!

3) Interpret Your Child’s Message
Your child may not use words, but you can still help their communication along by interpreting what they are “saying” to you. Your child may be pointing or nodding, pulling you towards an item, or making sounds. These are all great preverbal ways of communicating but to help those words along, interpret your child’s message by saying a word or phrase that matches your child’s gesture or sound. In other words, say what your child would say if he/she could. For example your child points to the bubble you just blew, you can say, “bubble, big bubble.”

These three tips are a great start to helping your child on his/her way to becoming an effective communicator. Speech therapy sessions with our In-Home Speech Therapists incorporate these tips for good communication skills and many more. For more detailed speech pathology tips or activities for late talkers or early language development in children, please contact us at info@speechkids.ca or 1 844 804 5437.

About the Author:

Erin Avramidis is a Registered Speech Therapist and Founder of Speech Kids Canada, an In-Home Speech therapy company supporting children in Southern Ontario and the GTA. For weekly speech therapy tips and activities follow Speech Kids @speechkidsCA on twitter and visit www.speechkids.ca

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