The Birth of a Superstar

In celebration of Mabel’s birthday, Julie Cole reflects on a birthday post about one of her favourite people – her very special Aunt Joan. Do you celebrate someone special in your family?

50 years ago my Aunt Joan was born. Hers has not been an average life. She arrived prematurely, possibly having an unfortunate run-in with the umbilical cord on the way out. Regardless of the cause, she has had a special place in our family because she did not develop in a typical manner.

From all accounts, it was not easy in those early years. The doctors made grim predictions about Joan’s future based on what they thought her IQ was. Grandma once threw a social worker out of her house for suggesting that Joan should be removed from the family and raised elsewhere.

She was the seventh born in a big Irish family and everyone rallied around their baby Joan, sharing feeding responsibilities and surrounding her with love and support. Joan was a part of that family and although it was a family forever changed, from their enlightened perspective, they were better for it. To this very day she lives with my grandparents who are in their mid-nineties.

Joan is a remarkable person. Embraced by a supportive school and staff, she has spent the last 25 years working as a classroom helper in a centre for children with special needs and who are medically fragile. Joan has a special place at Mabel’s Labels as well. She helps out when brochures need to be stickered, she decorates posters and cards for special events and contributes her famous brownies for staff functions. Most of all, she is our biggest fan. If you’ve ever been on a city bus and had the woman next to you ask if you have Mabel’s Labels, chances are it was Aunt Joan. She hands out her Mabel’s Labels business card to anyone and everyone – a business card which appropriately lists her job title as “Superstar”.

To get the full picture of the positive impact Joan has on those around her, let me tell you how her 50th birthday was celebrated:

- The school board threw a surprise party for her. 50 staff members and retired staff were in attendance to celebrate;
- Our family had a surprise dance party/open house. More people than I could count were in attendance;
- Of those people at the dance party, a ridiculous number of us were wearing t-shirts featuring Joan’s picture and the words ‘Joan is a Superstar’;
- Even the babies in the family got involved. They all wore custom-made shirts that said “Great-Aunt Joan is a Superstar”.

I know when we all have babies we want them to be perfect in every way. However, Joan has taught me that sometimes it’s only when they are not “perfect” that they are able to become Superstars.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Five.

Last month marked five years since I became a Mom. My oldest daughter had her fifth birthday.

It’s been five years of non-stop kissing of soft skin, developmental milestones, gummy smiles, little hands grabbing my hair. Five years of worry, coffee, crying and love.

And in five years, we became a party of five. My husband and I now have three gorgeous little beings that we call our own.

We took our three daughters out for dinner last week. They were uncharacteristically calm and agreeable for a 5-year old, 3-year old and 9-month old at the dinner hour. So it was a good night. It was a proud night.

People smiled at our table. The wait staff complimented us. We took it all in while we could. Because our lives are very rarely calm now. Our house is vastly different than it was just five years ago.

Things are noisy. There’s almost always a boo-boo or someone crying or squealing or singing. The number of times I’ve said “Please be quiet, the baby is sleeping” can’t even be counted. It’s like living with three little hurricanes. Our rooms are messy. Lived in. There are endless pieces of artwork proudly taped to the bedroom walls. Pencil crayons on the floor. Princess dresses in a heap in the closet. Footprints on the hardwood and handprints on the mirrors.

In five years, my life has changed dramatically. I’ve gained weight. Lost free time. And met three very different little girls who have changed everything for me. I’ve collected five years’ worth of pictures. Of little sleepers that no longer fit. Of toys and artwork and kids’ books.

Now my life, my thoughts, my time is consumed by these little beings that amaze me every day.

This anniversary was a big deal to me. So much has changed. I’ve been given so much.

And it’s only been five years.

 

About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner and a Mom to three highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

Birthday Budget Learning Opportunities

Contextual learning is the new buzz word for education. Children learn concepts best when taught in context. So what better time than hosting a birthday party to teach some financial literacy skills to your children.

When my daughter described how she envisioned her 8th birthday party, she told me she wanted to invite all of her friends, have a big birthday cake with a princess on it, matching plates and streamers and to go to a movie. Rather than just flatly saying “no we can’t afford it”, and creating upset, I explained to her that we had to work within a birthday budget.

So I gave her an amount to work with and we priced out everything together. I had her see the numbers and choose for herself. Instead of me saying “you can only have 6 friends” – I said it doesn’t matter to me so long as you come in with a plan for a birthday party on a budget.

She compared the cost of bowling to movie tickets to games at home and how that price was impacted by the number of people invited.

She could buy the matching plates / cups / table clothes with the Disney characters, or get plain coloured ones from the dollar store to make the place look festive at half the price.

We compared a slab cake from the grocery store with a Disney princess to the cost of making one from a box and icing it ourselves. That would free up more money to invite more people bowling. Turns out – the grocery story bakery cake was very important to her and worth the sacrifice. Her party, her choices, her values – my budget. We were both happy. Had I made the decisions unilaterally, I would have been seen as the ‘meany’. Instead, I was a hero – she learned a lot and really took ownership of her party.

You might be surprised at just how creative and amazingly co-operative kids can be when they have a budget to work within!

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

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