Sleep Deprivation, the Consequences

Sleep Deprivation Consequences and Cures

If you google just about any health ailment or nagging symptom, sleep deprivation will be on the list of possible causes. Why is that?  Because people are just too (potentially dangerously so) busy and plugged in to sleep these days. When we do sleep, we don’t sleep well.

From small children to retirement age, our lives are jam-packed with structure and technology, leaving no (or very little) downtime.  If you ask a retiree, they will most likely tell you one of the most enjoyable things about retiring is the ability to nap when you want.

Improve the Quality of Your Sleep to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

What can you do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep to ward off sleep deprivation? Start by unplugging yourself, literally and figuratively, at least four hours before your bedtime. Instead of focusing on the screens of a television, game console, computer, or cell phone, shut them down. Read a book, cook and savour a nice meal, or go out for a drink or meal with a friend or loved one. Without the phone.

Children Need Quality Sleep Too

This applies to your children too. Remember, you are their most influential teacher. They will pick up your unhealthy habits just as easily as your good ones. They do need routine in their lives but organized structure not so much. Kids also need downtime instead of being shuttled from event to event.

Sleep deprivation shows up in their behaviour and their health.  Research has shown that overly active (organized) kids tend to suffer from anxiety, which in turn leads to poor quality of sleep.  It is very easy to cut back on their organized activities.  Let them play at home with their siblings and parents. Bring back the board games of our youth. Encourage older kids to read books or experiment in the kitchen.  Simply slow down their lives, especially before bedtime.

Downtime is a Healthy Way to Reboot

Think of your brain as a computer that controls your body. Even the best computers need to reboot or update regularly to stay efficient and healthy.

Similarly, every cell in your body, especially those in your brain, needs downtime to repair and recuperate from everything we throw at them. Unfortunately, they can only recuperate or repair when we sleep. When we don’t provide these cells with quality sleep to perform this maintenance on a regular basis, sleep deprivation sets in and cells start to break down, causing all those symptoms you are googling about.

Teach Your Children Well

teach your children well

I heard the song “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young for the first time in ages the other day. The lyrics resonated with me as the parent of three now-adult sons, and five grandchildren…

You, who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so, become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them, “Why?”
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you of tender years
Can’t know the fears
That your elders grew by
And so, please help
Them with your youth
They seek the truth
Before they can die

The second verse is for the children, to help them better understand the parenting skills (or lack thereof) of the previous generation.

Teach Your Children Well was released way back in 1970, but the words still apply today, at least I think they do. What do you think?

This is the video, the words sound much better to music…

The tune and lyrics are so catchy and relevant to family life that they are currently being used in a commercial for Sobeys grocery stores.

Mothers Day Celebrates My Greatest Achievement

Mother's Day: Celebrating my Greatest Achievement

Today I celebrate my greatest achievement on Mothers Day. I’m sure it is apparent how much I adore my three sons. They are all kind, caring, and loving, not to mention handsome, intelligent, successful, and definitely more humble than their mother.

Mothers Day

I am especially proud of the fathers my two eldest have become with the help of the wonderful mothers of their children.

Raising Boys to Men on Mothers Day and Beyond

When my boys were growing up, people always commented on how difficult it must be to raise three boys. I wondered about that comment as I never had any daughters to compare the boys to and I always thought it was an unfair exaggeration.

These days one would call the comments sexist and all kinds of other descriptive words popular in our vocabulary today.

I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Ok, maybe not every single minute, but 99.9% of them.

Mothers Day

Disputing the Theory

As a mother of three boys and a grandmother to three grandsons, I dispute the opinion that boys are more difficult to raise. They may be busier physically, with different interests, but not harder or more stressful.

My father, who raised three boys and three girls, always said the girls were harder. His theory was based on the fact that he worried more about the girls until they were married. Perhaps another sexist comment, but the norm and non-offensive back then.

Boys will be Boys

There is something to be said for the saying “boys will be boys.” My experience is that (most) little boys are fascinated with things like bugs, dirt and mud, cars and trucks, dinosaurs, and more. I don’t believe these interests are taught and learned, but more instinctive or innate. Encouraged (as they should be) perhaps, but not taught.

For example, my four-year-old grandson can spend hours flipping over rocks looking for bugs. His big sister and a younger female cousin, not so much. They tend to run from the bugs, as fast as they can.

And, one of the words my youngest grandson, at just one-year-old, can say is vroom, vroom. OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Tomboys Raising Boys

Perhaps I find boys easy to handle because I was a tomboy growing up, much to the chagrin of my mother. I preferred playing hockey, football, and other sports with the boys instead of playing dolls with the girls. I don’t recall though, being particularly enamoured with bugs.

You could say I had lots of practice hanging out with the boys, that could be why I have so much patience with my grandsons’ antics and interests.

Conclusions on Mothers Day

In closing, bearing and raising happy and healthy children is something to celebrate. Mother’s Day gives us mothers a special day to do so. Even though mine are all now adults, I still consider them to be my greatest achievements in life, bar none!

Happy Mothers Day to the rest of you celebrating your own achievements!

photo credit: Facebook

Scrapbook of Childhood Memories

My eldest son just turned 30, although sometimes it seems like he was just born yesterday.  His safe arrival was the best Christmas present ever, especially after the struggle we had the few years prior to his birth.  A few months ago I started thinking of something I could do to commemorate this special birthday.  I much prefer unique DIY projects rather than store-bought gifts.  Over the years I have collected childhood memories in the form of ribbons, pictures, schoolwork, even teeth and hair from all three sons.  I planned to use this huge bucket of memorabilia to make a scrapbook for each son, eventually.  As I was wracking my brain for something to do or make, I remembered the bucket, stored with all of our other “stuff” in the basement, and the birthday scrapbook project took off.

I started with a catchy cover, but I guess you had to be there to understand just how significant it is.  When our boys were young, we always sang “happy birthday, birthday boy” to them on their special days.  I think they found it more annoying than funny, but I think it makes a perfect title for the scrapbook…

First I had to wade through all the items in the stored bucket.  I swear I have saved every report card, birthday card, award, and more.  Years ago, when scrapbooking was the rage, I was ambitious enough to divide the memorabilia into three separate buckets, one for each son, but that was as far as I got. I even purchased one large 18×18 inch scrapbook around the same time with good intentions.  It was still in its packaging, just waiting for me to put it to use.  A friend supplied lots of stamps, stickers, fancy scissors and other scrapbooking paraphernalia she had collected over the years.

My first page was dedicated to my son’s first few days of life.  I had a copy of his family tree (from his baby book) hospital bracelets, pictures of him with his grandparents, newspaper birth announcements and even a newspaper clipping of what was going on in the world in 1989…

Pictures and mementos from his early years were next, including a few baby teeth and a sample of his first haircut…

…followed by pictures of him with most of his family members. Mom & Dad, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

scrapbook
Family Ties

Next came Christmas memories, mostly pictures, with two personalized letters from Santa, courtesy of a friend’s father who spent hours writing back to children every year.  I had also saved a few decorations used at a New Year’s Eve street party celebrating the turn of the century…

Scrapbook
Merry Christmases

Another page was dedicated to birthdays.  Lots of party pictures, with a special “pocket” created to hold birthday cards, especially the handmade ones from friends and his younger brothers…

scrapbook
Birthdays

Hanging With My Friends was the next page, displaying pictures of accumulated friends from pre-kindergarten to university. The picture in the top left corner appears fuzzy due to the steam off the hot tub my sons and the neighbourhood kids used to love to hang out in…

scrapbook
Hanging with Friends

My son played many sports growing up and is a huge sports fan as well.  The next page contains many ticket stubs, Brier autographs, pictures of sporting events and stadiums visited, as well as two curling idols, Brad Gushue and Wayne Middaugh…

scrapbook
Avid Sports Fan

The next two pages are full of vacation memories: Texas, San Francisco, Florida, New Orleans, Dominican Republic, Cuba, NYC, and our family cottage here in Ontario, with the second page reserved for our trip to Hawaii.  Mementos include ticket stubs from various attractions, a boarding pass to Hawaii, and lots of pictures.

scrapbook
Family Vacations
scrapbook
family trip to Kona, Hawaii

My son attended both Beavers and Cubs within Kanata Scouts, so I had lots of memorabilia in those categories…

scrapbook
Beavers and Cubs

Soccer (outdoor and indoor) is a sport he played and still plays, 25 years and counting…

scrapbook

The other sport he started young and still plays is curling.  In fact, he met his wife at the curling rink way back in the Little Rocks program.  He has so many accolades in the curling world that I had to dedicate two pages to the sport…

scrapbook
early years of curling
scrapbook
later years of curling

Other sports played included volleyball, swimming, T-ball, and cross-country running…

scrapbook
other sports

When he wasn’t playing or watching a sport, he was at piano lessons or practicing at home. At the time, he was the youngest to take lessons at Music For Young Children, starting at the age of 2.5 years old!  His first recital was just before he turned 3 where he nailed Row, Row, Row Your Boat.  We discovered his love for the piano when he would often go across our street to play the neighbour’s piano.  She just happened to make puppets for MYC, so knew the founder, convincing her to let my son try the lessons at such a young age…

piano lessons

I had lots of memorabilia saved from the three schools my son attended from kindergarten through high school.  There are four pages for Castlefrank Elementary School with two of them exhibiting his early artwork and writing journals. The pink piece in the top right corner of the first picture is a cupid, on a valentine’s card he gave to us.  One page is dedicated to Katimavik Elementary School where he attended grades 7 and 8.  A fourth page is for Earl of March Secondary School, grades 9 through 12. The awards in the packets are for his honor roll and math contest achievements…

scrapbook
elementary school artwork and journals
scrapbook
artwork
scrapbook
Castlefrank Elementary School with pouch for class pictures
scrapbook
Castlefrank report cards and achievements
scrapbook
Katimavik Elementary School
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Earl of March High School

After high school my son attended Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, graduating in 2011 with a degree in Civil Engineering.  I didn’t have as much paraphernalia from those four years, most likely because he did not live at home.  The next page combines items from his jobs over the years as well as the Queen’s stuff I did mange to accumulate, including a false ID.

scrapbook
part time jobs and Queen’s

The last page is entitled “the Next Chapter” with mementos from his new house, engagement, wedding, the birth of his daughter and his new, expanding family…

the Next Chapter

This scrapbook was lots of work, but definitely a labour of love and a sentimental walk down memory lane for me.  I knew I saved all that stuff for a reason!  I hope I have inspired some of you to put your collection of memorabilia to good use too.

Brainwashing our Children, Practice What you Preach!

Are our children victims of brainwashing?  Some people believe overzealous climate change activists are filling children’s heads with doom and gloom causing unnecessary stress and even depression. Children are the unwitting targets of this brainwashing in this blatant form of emotional blackmail.  What parent, grandparent or any adult for that matter, can resist emotional and passionate pleas from young children?

Environmental threats are (and should be) a concern globally.  As intelligent humans we need to address the threats using proven scientific solutions and compromises.  The problem arises when big companies or wanna be scientists on both sides of the argument get involved by throwing big money or their famous face into the pot trying to sway the general public to their side.

Mega-rich oil and gas companies are fighting to keep their businesses afloat so deny that many of the suggested solutions will help, without attempting to compromise.  Activists like David Suzuki and Jane Fonda crave the spotlight, earning their own mega-bucks in appearance fees, flying around the world in fossil fuel powered jets.

Hypocrites, all of them.  While it is important to teach our children to respect the environment and reduce our carbon footprint, brainwashing them to preach unproven opinions without understanding what they are preaching is morally wrong.

Perhaps we should be teaching them to practice what they preach!

New Insights into Mental Health

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety disorders, PTSD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, mark your calendars for this mental health conference. Join Dr Douglas Turkington and Helen Spencer, both world-renowned experts from the UK, this coming (2019) October, here in Ottawa. They promise to share new insights into these increasingly common mental health issues.

It has taken years, but people are finally realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health. The stigma associated with mental health issues is subsiding and those affected are seeking the help they deserve. Research and information on the subject is changing constantly, but sometimes the medical jargon is hard to decipher. A conference like this, featuring respected experts, helps to demystify the information, sorting the facts from fiction.

TIPES (Teaching in Pictures Education System) is proud to support this “New Insights into Mental Health” conference; I in turn am proud to support TIPES and their incredible, devoted staff.

new insights into mental health

If attending this conference does not appeal to you, TIPES is also involved in another fundraiser in support of Ottawa’s autism community. Geared for family fun, this one collaborates with the Ottawa Redblacks football team…

If you were already thinking of attending the game or are looking for something fun to do Saturday, September 7, please order your Redblacks tickets through this link to support Ottawa’s autism community. Be sure to choose TIPES as the autism charity you wish to support.

Patience and Cheerios

I have to admit patience is a virtue I do not possess, but I’m working on it. That’s because I’m learning that grandchildren are great teachers, but require unlimited patience.

This morning was another lesson learned in the patience department. My two year old grandson and five year old granddaughter slept over last night and although she slept well, he did not. He was up several times during the night and then up for good, bouncing around with a seemingly endless supply of energy at 6am.

“Grumble, grumble, ok Grandma is up, but I won’t be dancing with Elmo or to Baby Shark within the next few hours, at least until I have a cup of coffee.”

Checking out his choices for breakfast, this (always adorable) grandson grabbed a box of Cheerios and promptly dumped (most of) its contents onto the kitchen floor. Luckily the box was not full. After I grabbed the broom and swept up the mess (with him helping of course) he repeated the process. Dump, scatter, sweep….at least five more times. After the second sequence, I realized he was having fun. No real harm done, and other than relocating breakable objects within the swinging radius of the broom handle as he “tidied up,” it was fun to watch his concentration. The cheerios were going in the garbage anyway; each time I threw some out (without him noticing of course) so there were fewer to clean up each time.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

How many of you heard your parents say “Money doesn’t grow on trees” when you were a kid? Well, my grandkids know, as apparently does Fisher Price, that money comes from a bank.

money in the bank
ATM front

This particular banking machine is a toy made by Fisher Price that we received over 25 years ago, when our eldest son was a toddler. It looks like a two sided ATM, with plastic coins and “dollar” bills.

money bank
coins and bills

The coins go in a slot on the top left corner, something our two year old grandson loves to do, over and over. As he no longer puts everything in his mouth, when he is here he fishes the coins out of the “off limits for his one year old cousin” bag they are stored in.

money machine
coin slot

One side of the machine also has a slot to stick the five green dollar bills in. Once the coins and dollar bills are inside the machine, there are separate (one red and one blue, see top picture) buttons to push to eject them.

The ATM also comes with two realistic looking plastic credit cards, although the orange one was missing when I searched for it to take a picture. Maybe I better report that to the bank, LOL.

Deja Vu of Stolen Bathroom Breaks

Recently we had the privilege and joy of having our youngest granddaughter stay at our home while her parents were away for a few days. Talk about deja vu! I had forgotten just how busy a (soon to be) one-year-old can be.

And how busy their caregivers are! Her grandfather and uncle were in and out of the house at work and university respectively, so I was the primary responsible adult in charge of most of the feeding, playing, singing, cuddling, and generally watching like a hawk.

The two men were delegated to clean up the messes in her adventures around our house. She was like a little tornado, leaving a path of destruction behind her as she traveled from room to room.

As much as I enjoyed the deja vu experience, I was reminded just how far from my 30’s I am. And how difficult it is to sneak in bathroom breaks and a shower when a one-year-old is following your every move.

Hats off to all you young parents out there. And a word of encouragement: They will grow up, sooner than you think, and then you will be the one cherishing the deja vu.

Planting Seeds Encourages Kids’ Green Thumbs

Encouraging kids to develop green thumbs is a great outdoor activity, especially for this garden loving Grandma.  Recently I taught my two oldest grandchildren (1.5 and 4.8 yrs old) the fine (very simple) art of planting seeds.  I filled some large pots with soil and added bamboo trellises shaped like teepees for the plantings to climb on.   I chose pole beans and morning glories to plant as they are both fast-growing seeds, perfect for impatient children.  In fact, our seeds sprouted within a few days, and in less than three weeks their tendrils had started to climb the teepees…

A few weeks after planting seeds and the beans have climbed up, around, and through the teepee-shaped trellis, producing purple pole beans.  No sign of the morning glories yet…

Now, if I could only get the kids to eat the pole beans.  Grandma certainly will…


I must admit that I have never planted purple pole beans before and did not realize they turn green when they are cooked….

You can entice children to enjoy gardening by getting them their own gloves, tools, and watering can. I also let them choose the seeds we plant. My grandchildren love the little “critters” and other whimsical touches I have on my back deck and front veranda too…