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2016 Reflections

January 16, 2017

December 2016

In the weeks leading up to the end of 2016, I found myself reflecting on the year and feeling quite hopeless and sad about several global situations. I am not naive. I realize that war, global warming, poverty, sexism, racism, inequality…you know where I’m going…are not new concepts. I also know individuals can make a difference. However, I work Mon-Fri and my one year old and three year old deserve my engagement and care when I’m not at work. So how do I, and others in similar situations, make a difference?

Navigating the holiday season

I think we have to start with family and community. If we can be conscious about the decisions we make for ourselves and our families, it can go a long way. Instead of putting time into making holiday cards this year, we donated to charity what we would have spent on buying and mailing the cards. Our focus during the holidays was to give gifts of service to those that provided us with services that year (ie: our postie, Claire’s preschool teachers, our incredible Airbnb cleaner). We also spent time each day on a “kindness advent calendar” with Claire. I didn’t underestimate Claire’s ability to understand what was going on around her and I wanted to model appreciation and kindness during the holiday season. She was very excited when a “Santa” came up to her and gave her a colouring book and crayons. Even though this gift only adds to our consumerist culture, I didn’t take away that excitement by asking her to reject the gift. However, we tried to avoid most circumstances that would result in her receiving gifts of the season “just because”.

2016 in review

When I think about our year, I’m perfectly happy to remember that our focus was about being parents. Connecting with our girls and supporting their growth was what I wanted to do more than anything else. Even on the longest days, and there were many very, very long days, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I also found it progressively more fun. Especially as I realized how little I actually need to teach the girls. If I want Claire to say thank you, she needs to see me saying thank you. If I want Claire to do nice things for people, she needs to see me doing nice things for people. The reality is that our kids will most likely end up being people like we are. If we want change to happen, we need to be that change. With all that said, what are my New Year’s resolutions?

Two New Year’s resolutions

1) Do the right thing. If there’s a protest I believe in, a fundraiser worth attending, or a cause worth supporting, I will do what I can to make that the event of the day. There will never be a shortage of opportunities to go to the play gym or the pool, but to be a part of the change you want to see is the most rewarding experience.

I will always remember how I was raised. I remember the benefit concerts and the peace marches; I remember my Mom standing up to the questions about why she had a different last name than her husband; I remember being one of the first families to bring our own cloth bags to the grocery store; I remember having a Mom who advocated to get veggie hot dogs into our elementary school; I remember getting made fun of because we had brown “recycled” toilet paper (it was not bleached in the ’80s); I remember trips downtown to take items to get recycled before curbside recycling began. More than twenty years later, there are still an equally large number of causes worth standing up for. You don’t need to limit yourself to only participate in big events like the Women’s March on Washington, which we will be attending in Vancouver, but also how we live our lives day to day.

A missed opportunity

We were recently in a restaurant. Claire ordered water and milk. When her beverages came, they arrived in two separate colourful plastic cups with straws and big cone-shaped lids. I hoped they were reusable but when I asked, the server happily shared “no, we don’t reuse them, you can take them home”. Just what we, and everyone else, needs, more disposable plastic garbage. I felt deflated that I had inadvertently participated in bringing more garbage in the world. If that kind of thing happens again, I have thought of two things to do:

  1. Ask to speak to the manager and, kindly, let him know I was unhappy to be surprised by the plastic cups. Share with him/her that we don’t want to support a restaurant that includes disposable practices like that. Let him/her know that if the restaurant changes their practices, we would be happy to eat there again, but otherwise that we would not be returning.
  2. Submit our concerns with a brief note on the restaurant’s website.

I know these are tiny steps. But if we all do these small things, big changes can happen. As parents of very young children, we’re really busy. But so are all the other parents of young children. That’s why there is so much marketing for baby “stuff”. The industry makes us think we need so much more than we do. In our sleep-deprived and anxious states, we are easy targets.

2) Lighten up. I believe young children do well with routine. But within that, my goal is to take more opportunities to dance and laugh with them. After all, this is life, let’s make the most of it.

What are we really up to right now?

For those who are interested and want to know what’s really going on in our lives, here you go:

When my maternity leave ended mid October and I went back to my Mon-Fri nutrition education job (here’s a glimpse of a recent article I wrote for work), James quit his job and opened a daycare in our home. He quite literally has his hands full caring for two one-year-olds along with Claire.

Claire and Maëlle are different beings with different energies and interests, but both have very strong wills and are incredibly engaged in the world. Pictures speak louder than words so we’ve posted a series of photos and a handful of short videos below. Of course there is underrepresentation of the fighting and tantrums because the camera isn’t often out at those times. Trust me, those behaviours had their fair share from all four of us!
I wish all of you a year full of peace, joy, love, and intention. Below are the photos and videos that reflect what 2016 looked like for us.

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VIDEO: Talking on the phone like Mom and Dad

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VIDEO: First solid food

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VIDEO: “I’m going to get you chicken”

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VIDEO:  “Big sisters are very funny”

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VIDEO: A serious kitchen helper

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VIDEO: Payback

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VIDEO: “Helping to feed my baby sister”

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VIDEO: “Big sisters are funny”

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VIDEO: “Sharing with my baby sister”

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VIDEO: “Helping” in the kitchen

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img_7390VIDEO: Peaceful times on the beach

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VIDEO: “This pillow is fascinating”

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VIDEO: Mom facing her fears

VIDEO: Claire isn’t scared of the slide

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VIDEO: “Beds are a lot of fun”

VIDEO: Making decisions at 10 months

VIDEO: Bathtime playtime

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VIDEO: Shucking sisters

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img_9762VIDEO: “Peekaboo is the best”

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VIDEO:  Just started walking

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VIDEO: Our little musician

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VIDEO: Mastering the strider, just in time for the ice & snow

VIDEO: “My favourite sound”

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VIDEO: The kale dance

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VIDEO: On the move

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VIDEO: Song time

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