Posts By: Guest Blogger

From Catastrophe to Connection

Guest post by Karen Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days ago, my16-year-old daughter emerged from our finished basement with an incredible 18” x 24” acrylic-on-canvas portrait she’d been working on. I was so impressed with what she’d accomplished and made sure to let her know. I was less impressed three days later when I went downstairs to throw a load of laundry in, and saw huge lines and blobs of acrylic paint all over the red microfiber couch.

I’d say that I was so angry I literally saw red, but in reality what I saw was various shades of white and black ALL OVER the red furniture. Of course, I did what any enraged mom would do…I texted her.  I managed to keep it Vulcan-like and matter-of-fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a quick “cleaning acrylic paint off microfiber” Google search, I headed to the basement armed with a few rags and some rubbing alcohol. My daughter came down to check out the damage, apologetically explaining how she had already tried to get the paint out.  “That’s okay, we can work on this together”, I said, while tossing her a rag.  She suggested that while we gently dabbed away, we may as well watch TV, and turned on one of her favourite shows, “Best Ink”. In case you’ve never watched it, it’s a reality competition series that follows a group of tattoo artists through various challenges. They have their work critiqued by celebrity tattoo artist judges, with the hopes of being the contestant with the “Best Ink” and winning a pile of money.

My daughter knows I’m not a huge fan of full body tattoos (“But what if you have a job interview? Or you’re going to a wedding?”). What happened during the next 44 minutes was amazing. It opened up discussions on talent, creativity, individualism, sexism, beauty, judgment, “reality” shows and competition. We talked about the different personalities on the show and how there’s always one person made out to be the one that everyone is supposed to hate.  We talked about expression and style and how great it is when people discover their passion and work hard at their art. I learned about Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer, which was the answer to my job interview and wedding concerns.

My daughter knows she’ll have to wait until she’s old enough to get tattoos since I’m not going to be signing any consent forms, but for those 44 minutes we really bonded over something that’s important to her and it was a beautiful thing.  Today, she suggested we start watching Best Ink together on a regular basis and I’m all for it. Miraculously, we got all that paint out, but even if we hadn’t, I’d still be grateful for the opportunity it gave me to connect with my daughter and get into her teenage world for a bit.

Have you had an unexpected bonding moment with your child? Turned a bad situation into an awesome one?

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

The Great Baby Dilemma

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

I’m almost 32 and am not a Mom.

I’m a proud Aunt of two boys (4 y/o & 5mths), and I love them more than I thought I could ever love anyone. I love them in a way that is different than how I love my boyfriend, my parents, or their father; who is my brother. The unconditional, twinkle in your eye kind of love I have for them makes me question the unbelievable amount of love parents must have for their own children. If I love my nephews the way that I do, why is it then that I wonder…do I or don’t I become a parent?

My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until I was about 10. I would walk home from school at lunch to a prepared meal. I’d get help with my homework before Dad came home for dinner. We’d sing songs, make crafts and play games. I looked up to my Mom and told myself that I would be just like her when I was grown. I’d be a Mom.

In my mid-twenties, I met a boy, got engaged and bought a house. We set a date for the wedding and I talked about a honeymoon baby. I wanted to have our first child before I was 30. As our engagement progressed, our relationship digressed. We called off the wedding 2 months before the big day.

For 3 years I was on my own. I started a business. I bought a house. I was an independent woman enjoying the freedom that comes with having responsibilities that only pertain to yourself. Then, I met a boy. My boyfriend and I have known each other for 13 years; I was best friends with his sister in High School. We’ve talked about marriage and kids – but in the same way people talk about what they’d do with their lotto winnings. If we had kids, we’d have to do this. If we had kids, we couldn’t do that. If we had kids, our money would go here, not there. If, if, if…

I’m told I’d be a great Mom. I like children, but I also cringe when I hear a baby crying or a toddler yelling while grocery shopping. I like children, but I love being able to sleep in, have mid-afternoon naps and stay up late indulging in bad tv. I like children, but I like my tidy and organized home, the silence that a new day brings and being able to run errands whenever the mood strikes.

So, I ask myself almost on a daily basis…do I or don’t I become a parent? Some people I know tell me they couldn’t wait to have kids, others tell me that they changed the moment they knew they were pregnant and others say they had no purpose in life before becoming a parent. So, is that it then, I have no purpose until I become a Mom?

Having a child will change my life forever. Will it cause me to give up the things I like? Wreak havoc on my relationship? Cause me to regret taking the leap? Sometimes I think that since I’m not 100% sure if I want children, then that should be my warning sign not to. But, then I’m afraid that if I don’t, I’ll miss out on all of the experiences that come from being a parent. Have I become so set in my ways that I have forgotten the image of my happily-ever-after of a husband and kids, or have I simply changed and am no longer that person?

There’s no ‘right time’ to have a baby – this I have heard many, many times. So, how do you know if you should be a parent or not? Do you just do it and plunge head first into the world of diapers, sleeplessness and vomit and hope for the best? How do you know if you should be a Mom?

The Great Baby Dilemma continues.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Mandatory Volunteer Hours

Guest post by Karen Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1999, when a mandatory community service program was introduced into the high school curriculum, my heart sank a bit. All students would need to complete 40 hours of public service in order to graduate. That’s a good thing though, right? Why wouldn’t I be 100% onboard?

I started volunteering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation when I was in my twenties, because my dad suffered a massive stroke at a young age and I wanted to do something to help. Later, when I had a young family and wanted to build a sense of community in my neighbourhood, I started an annual street party with a neighbour. I still remember the early years, with our kids running around under foot while we had meetings and figured out the details. It was at one of our street parties that I met someone who introduced me to the Halton Fresh Food Box program, and I’ve been volunteering with them ever since. That involvement lead to a contract position doing community outreach work with the organization. I’ve also worked with Habitat for Humanity, climbing scaffolding and wielding a hammer tacker, (FUN!) and a friend and I are already looking forward to donning green vests and volunteering at the local hospital in our retirement years!

I’m a huge believer in the importance of volunteering but I really felt that making community hours “required” in order to graduate took away a young person’s intrinsic desire to be of service. They’d be doing it just because they HAD to. I always hoped that our kids would see us getting involved and would naturally want to volunteer. We’d be good role models and of course they’d want to be engaged citizens instead of watching TV! Ha!

Maybe the motivation doesn’t matter.  Some kids might need that expectation and structure more than others in order to seek out volunteer opportunities.  As adults, the knowledge of this requirement means it’s on our radar and we may be more apt to brainstorm with our kids about their interests and help them figure out what they’d like to do. It’s an opportunity to open discussions about what they’re passionate about and where that passion might fit in with making the world a better place, even in a small way.

Our 17 year-old, who has an interest in Early Childhood Education, has decorated and chaperoned at elementary school dances, washed dishes at a church Valentine’s Tea, and helped with the kids’ activities at our community street party. Our 16 year-old, who attends an art school, helped curate a photography exhibit and assists me each month with the food box program.  Our 12 year-old, who loves animals and is a bit of an environmentalist, is on the Green Team at school and hopes to volunteer at the animal hospital up the road when he’s old enough.

This week is National Volunteer Week. It’s a chance to recognize the people in your community that are making a difference by being involved.  Maybe it’s the lunchroom monitor or person that comes in to sort the scary Lost and Found at school. What a great time to start a conversation about helping others!

What are your kids interested in? Where do you think they might like to volunteer in the future?


About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

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