Friday, 28 February 2014

Rescue a Pet and Save a Life

Rescue a Pet and Save a Life
We, as a family, believe that it is better to rescue a pet from a shelter and save a life, than buy one at a pet store.  I have heard over and over that if you don't get a pet as a baby that they will never attach to you.  I know for a fact that this isn't true.  All of our family pets have been rescued and all of them were at least a year old, and each and every one of them has been an amazing family member.  Aimee is a 12 year old Golden Lab/Beagle and she is the mother of the group.  The Cuteness (yes, that is his actual name) is a male medium hair cat who is 13 years old and he is our chatty diva who makes nests in clean laundry.  Then there is Gizzy, a 7 year old  Ragdoll, who she is glued to my eldest daughter every waking moment.  We call her the "stalker."  When my daughter watches tv, Gizzy lies on the back of the sofa behind her.  When my daughter goes to sleep, Gizzy crawls into her bed.  What is particularly wonderful is that they all get together amazingly.

Rescue a Pet and Save a Life
We never knew when we rescued Bobby from a high kill shelter three years ago that he would win over our hearts so completely and become another integral part of our family.  What drew us to him was that he kept rubbing himself against the glass wherever we were, and he "spoke" to us.  He looked at us directly and meowed a warm little meow.  He was a sociable little kitty that needed a good home.  The ladies working the shelter couldn't believe that he hadn't found a home yet because he was so sweet.  When they told us that he was scheduled to be euthanized all of the kids eyes darted to me with question marks in their expressions.  How could I refuse?  A little nod of my head and they all cheered.

The funny thing is that we had never expected to adopt a new pet that day.  We had to go out of town because my son had an exam to write, and rather than drive all the way there and back and there again, I took the opportunity to have a day out with the rest of the kids.  We took a walk through the town and my littlest one saw the shelter and asked if we could just take a peek at the animals.  I flatly told her that we absolutely would not be bringing home yet another animal.  At that point we had two cats, a dog, and two turtles (all rescues).  With four kids and our menagerie, our house was already full.  The kids agreed to my condition and in we went.  Little did I know that we would be leaving with a new family member.  And you can't imagine my son's surprise when he got into the car after his exam to find Bobby pleasantly meowing in a new kennel.

Rescue a Pet and Save a Life
During his first year with us Bobby was a complete spaz.  Even though he was two years old, he tore through the house like a kitten.  I guess he had been cooped up for so long that he needed to stretch his legs.  The other cats hated him.  He would taunt them and torment them and chase them.  Our dog, Aimee, wanted to be friends, but Bobby was so high strung, he was like a wild Tigger...bouncy bouncy bouncy.  Our dog loves cats.  She grooms them and tussles with them gently...she is like their mother.  But Bobby didn't trust her and didn't know that he had nothing to fear.  But Bobby came around.  Aimee was patient.  She took swats to her tender nose in stride.  She never reacted badly.  And then came the day that I knew things were going to be all right.  Bobby conked heads with Aimee.  That seemed to be the turnaround.  Once Bobby made peace with Aimee, the other cats mended their fences too.  Now we are all one huge happy family.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Beauty is only skin deep
Beauty is only skin deep
OK, so I am one of the lucky ones.  I have really great skin for my age.  Most of the responsibility of that is due to parents both looks decades younger than their actual ages.  This past summer I went to Canada's Wonderland, a local theme park, and my youngest daughter wanted to win a stuffed animal that was in one of those "Guess Your Age" kiosks.  I figured, "why not?"  I know I look young for my age, but how harsh was this teenager going to be?  He asked me a few questions and then he said he would write down his guess and show it to my daughter.  When my daughter giggled, I knew we had won.  He asked how old I was, so I told him 46.  His jaw actually dropped.  With his mouth still open he turned his clipboard around and I saw a big old 32.  Woot woot for the old gal!!

So how does she do it? you may ask.

Up until recently I just washed every day with Dove soap.  But this winter has been particularly harsh and so I have actually had to start moisturizing.  I have had a difficult time finding just the right moisturizer.  I have really sensitive skin and I am allergic to chamomile (I have hayfever), so I have to be careful with what I put on my skin.  I have about 20 jars and bottles of various creams that are in my bathroom vanity that I have tried.  Either they are too heavy and cause me to break out, they have overpowering smells, or they give me hives.  I guess that is why I stuck with Dove.

Recently I was sent a sample face masque from Montagne Jeunesse Clay Spa in my Influenster Maple Vox Box for me to try.  I was prepared not to like it or have some sort of allergy reaction.  What I wasn't prepared for was how amazing the Clay Infused Fabric Masque was.  I have done clay masks before, but they were all so terribly drying.  With the old clay masks it made my skin feel like a much that I was worried that my face would crack.

This was absolutely not the case with the Montagne Jeunesse Masque.  I made a short video of when I used the Masque for the first time.  I walk you through the steps of using the Masque and then at the end I give my honest reaction to the results.  Yes, it looks scary, but it is well worth it.

If you are interested in finding out more about Montagne Jeunesse Clay Infused Fabric Masques:

Friday, 7 February 2014

How Do You Empower Your Children to Give Back?

How do You Empower Your Children to Give Back?
I feel that it is the responsibility of parents to not only love and raise their children well, but to also to empower to be socially responsible and for them to give back to their community.  As a society we can help improve our community with not only money, but with our time...something that seems to be the most precious commodity of all.  

I have been volunteering with the TDSB since I was a teenager.  I started volunteering in a school's student publishing company where I helped students from kindergarten to grade 8 write and publish their own stories to be showcased in their school library.  While in University I volunteered with adult ESL students, and I even taught a few cooking classes in North American cuisine.  It was wonderful to see their faces when they first tasted Apple Crumble.  I have been the Chair of the Parent Councils at my children’s schools.  Throughout the years I have involved my family as much as I could. My children have been volunteering since they were toddlers.  They helped at Movie Nights, Fun Fairs, Activity Nights, Education Days and countless other fundraising events at their own and their siblings’ schools.

I volunteered for seven years in my children’s kindergarten classes.  I went in at least two times a week to work with the students who needed extra help and assist the teacher during classes. I spent the next four years going into the school two times a week to read with the students who were considered “at risk” of failing. Teachers would call me when they didn’t have enough parent volunteers for their fieldtrips, even when my children weren’t in their current class. I had hoped that if my children saw me donating as much time as I did, that they would learn about the importance of helping others.  Leading by example seems to work for me.

We have been involved in several food drives for specific families in our area. We have done clothing drives for some Romanian Newcomer families and for a few families who lost everything to fires. My children collected clothes, books and toys that they wanted to donate and we boxed them according to size for the families. And when we didn’t have anyone specific to give the items to, we donated the items to Goodwill, so that others could benefit.

We raised money for a friend of my eldest daughter who found out that she had cancer. We raised enough money to buy her an iPad, so she could communicate with her classmates by Skype while she was in the hospital.

We used to foster cats that were rescued from a high-kill shelter until one foster cat came in that was infected with feline leukemia and we lost several cats. The cats had all been vaccinated prior to coming into my home, but somehow it was still contagious. It was a horrible event. We found homes for the remaining cats and didn’t take any new foster cats. It was just too difficult to foster anymore.  All of our pets in our house are rescues from shelters and each and every one of them has been neutered or spayed as we don’t want to be responsible for overpopulation. We have tried to teach our children that animals deserve our respect and that they are not disposable.
Foster Animals to be Socially Responsible
Our Foster Animals Got Along Well

We were also involved in the beautification of our local park. Children had stopped using the park because it was in such disrepair and the equipment was quite old and rusty. We held a number of fundraisers in order to raise money to put in a new slide, swings, ride-on toys, and climbing cage as well as putting in new landscaping for the benefit of the neighbourhood. My children sold raffle tickets, food and drinks, and they hosted games for the children. They put in countless hours into rebuilding this park, with no benefit to themselves, apart from the fact that they know that they are helping their community.

I think that by volunteering and participating in community events they will become healthy, well-adjusted and productive adults. I want to teach my children that charity is a way of being, and that they have the power to make the world better through simple acts of caring. I love the quote from Helen Keller, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”