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On not being a mother

“Do you have any kids?” The question was barked at me one summer a few years ago. I was at a busy city intersection when I was trying to rush from one job to another and was blocked by a woman ostensibly handing out fast food coupons. It was a pretty insensitive and a loaded thing to ask a stranger. The streetlight couldn’t change fast enough.

“Well, I feel sorry for you,” she finally literally sneered at me.

Um, what?

From mothers vocalizing regret about having children, to articles scolding women and warning them that their life will be empty and lonely if they don’t embrace parenthood, there is a lot of focus on motherhood and those who opt out.

This past Mother’s Day a meme circulated with a message I found very touching, unexpected, and meaningful. Under cartoon bouquets of flowers there were captions describing different aspects of motherhood, and one bouquet was dedicated to women who have chosen not to be mothers.

I have never wanted children. Like at all. Not ever with absolute certainty. In my 30s I questioned this for the first time. It was the sudden loud and very real biological clock that started ticking when I met my niece Grace that caused the questioning to start.

I watched awed as she examined her tiny little feet and hands. I felt fulfilled and needed in a way I’ve never felt before when I gently patted her little back, helping her to burp.

I was suddenly putting myself through agony trying to get my life ready, trying to figure out if parenthood was something I truly wanted.

I was happy babysitting my niece. I’m happy being an aunt to my other nieces and nephews. Grace was born at a difficult time in my life and being happy about her birth didn’t have to translate into me being a mother.

People are well-meaning. They ask me to picture how sad my life will be in the future without children to visit me when I’m old.  They remind me it’s a life altering experience, and that  I’m missing out on so much, that I can’t even imagine what I’m giving up. They remind me gently that it’s not too late.

There is still time for me, technically, but the window is rapidly closing.

I don’t want to have to second guess a decision that I and my partner finally made together. If we ever change our minds in the future, there’s always adoption, or foster parenting.

Privately or publicly it seems women are expected to justify their decisions for not having children.

Am I doomed to be an incomplete person?  Am I selfish? Am I letting down the human race in some way?

I don’t think so.

Some people just know they want children. Maybe they’ve always known, but can’t explain why, and no one must expect them to. So likewise, no one must expect women who don’t want children to explain themselves either.

 

 

 

 

How to maintain a relationship after children

When my husband and I first started dating, the world felt like ours. Time was just a mere construct too limiting for our love! We had forever ahead of us! And then…we had kids.

Too soon, the once endless expanse of our universe slowly contracted and time suddenly became very real. We turned our skills at researching the best weekend getaways into researching the best pediatricians, instead. Our pillow talk turned into shop talk as we managed pregnancy symptoms and a barrage of obstetrician appointments.

Our perfectly planned pregnancy became a high risk pregnancy when the preterm labor symptoms predicted by a test I took turned into early labor, adding a new slew of challenges, worries, and fears – all competing for our collective time and attention.

If you don’t decide what your priorities are, something else always will. Our new health concerns with this pregnancy consumed us. We tackled each obstacle with the kind of ferocity and naivete that only first-time parents can have. Our relationship became reactive instead of proactive, draining our reserves and leaving us depleted. We had to face the paradox that even though our family was growing, we were growing apart as a couple.

We needed structure, some scaffolding to hold us up. We realized some of the things that had come naturally at the beginning of our relationship, we now needed to deliberately do to keep growing as a couple. Here are a few things we learned that brought us closer together.

Make time for each other. We were busy before we had kids, but there still always seemed to be enough time. But our time slowly became scarce, and we felt stretched thin, handling each new thing that came up – feeling run down rather than replenished. It became easier to put off date night because we were too tired (or busy with our favorite kid activities) until the occasionally missed plan became habitual. We realized that replacing date night for a doctor’s appointment didn’t replace the closeness we felt when we took time for just us. Now, we make it a priority to carve out that time together, because there will always be something vying for our attention if we don’t: work, chores, soccer games, homework, you name it. We find little ways to check in with each other, whether it’s having coffee together before our day starts or cuddling at the end of the day to unwind. There are more minutes in a day than hours, and it’s the small, everyday gestures that make up a relationship more than the big, occasional ones.

Don’t get used to each other. There’s that notorious sliding scale of effort that exists in the first year of a relationship; the dichotomy between wanting to impress each other and becoming more comfortable with each other. Skinny jeans turn into sweatpants. Going out turns into staying in. You both exhale a silent sigh of relief at not having to try so hard anymore. It’s natural that with more intimacy comes less mystery; your pre-date ritual is no longer top secret, and you now know what happens when they eat Indian food – intimately. But getting too comfortable can turn into taking each other for granted. Sometimes all it takes is a little shift in perspective: remember how you felt when you saw your significant other for the first time? Or when you only saw them once a week and wished you could see them every day? Well, now you have what you wanted. But don’t get used to it. Look at them like the rare being they are and see if it doesn’t ignite some of the feelings that sparked your relationship in the beginning.

Connect with each other. I mean really connect. Physically and emotionally. When time becomes scarce, the quality of your time together becomes even more important than the quantity. Don’t stop doing the little things that strengthened your connection at the start of your relationship, whether it’s kissing at red lights or just texting them during the day to tell them you’re thinking of them. And yes, be intimate. Have sex — even if you have to schedule it. Spontaneity sometimes has to die on the altar of adulthood, and if it’s choosing between scheduling time to be alone together vs. waiting for the right moment, sometimes the right moment never arrives.

If my husband and I have learned anything from our challenges, it’s that lasting love is an action. It’s like Newton’s first law of motion: love at rest tends to stay at rest, and love in motion stays in motion. Love with purpose, not passivity, and take back your time together.

 

Making time for you: The value of ‘me time’ and the sanity saver that is girls’ night out

This past weekend my friends and I had a girls’ night. It wasn’t anything wild, just a fancy dinner out on the town, sans kids. Every time we do this (which is never often enough) we promise to make it a regular occurrence – once a month is the goal. Of course, that never comes to fruition.

After each girls’ night, I always feel rejuvenated; and I’m not the only one to notice my improved mood. My husband, kids, and probably even the pup notice as well. My friends say the same thing, and it’s really no surprise why-hanging out with friends, good conversation, a fancy meal that you don’t have to cook or clean up after, and getting to eat while the food is still hot – it’s a dream scenario when you’re a mom.

So, why don’t we make this a priority?

There are a myriad of reasons to not make or keep plans with friends: one of the kid’s is sick, there’s too much to do around the house, the family wants to go on an outing and you don’t know if you’ll be back in time.

Not to mention that it really is hard to get out. One of us may have to stay late at the office, another has a deadline to meet but can’t get it done until the kids are in bed. Some of our husbands do shift work, so coordinating schedules between the group or even just between two or three of us can seem like an insurmountable task.

Then you need to be “in the mood”. I’m exhausted at the end of the week and usually want nothing more than my pajamas, a movie and a glass of wine as my big Friday and Saturday night plans.

There is also the fact that most of us see each other regularly anyway because our kids happen to be friends, we live close by, and are frequently meeting up outside, going for brunch or having play-dates.

The difference is, that kind of socializing isn’t about us – or at least not just about us. In these scenarios we’re wrangling kids, playing referee or constantly being interrupted. It is not relaxing. No conversation is ever completed. And if you’re the one hosting, you can pretty much expect to be cleaning up and re-organizing all the toys for the rest of the week.

We are better people, mothers, wives, workers and friends when we nurture our own needs. This includes taking care of both our physical and mental well-being. Go for that run, get a pedicure, or indulge in a luxurious bubble bath and truly take time for you. Schedule “me time” into your calendar. By making this a priority, will increase your happiness and decrease your stress and give you a needed boost of energy to take on the challenges and demands of motherhood.

Moms – and women in general – have the tendency to put others before themselves. We will arrange play dates, play taxi driver to and from activities, help with homework, cook multiple meals to meet everyone’s tastes, but we won’t stop to carve out time for ourselves. That is a big problem.

This is why girls’ night is different. It is about us. We can talk, confide, commiserate, joke, and brag all we want. We get dressed up, we feel good, and the effects are long-lasting. If you’re a mom who hasn’t made her own friendships a priority, you surely know what I’m talking about.

Let’s try to do better; foster our own friendships, make socializing a part of our routine. As a mom, you need to have a social life outside of your kids’ activities, and one that doesn’t always involve the whole family. I know it clears my head and leaves me feeling refreshed, confident and ready to take on any challenge that lays ahead.

 

Woman of the Week: Danielle Robinson

Danielle Robinson is the CEO and President of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, an organization that promotes and invests in programs that help improve physical and mental wellbeing of children. The goal is to empower kids to stay active and be engaged in the community. In 2016, 530 kids were equipped with new skates, helmets, and skating lessons on outdoor community skating rink through the foundation. It also donated about 3,000 autographed merchandise, 2,000 game tickets, and 45 hockey suites at the Canadian Tire Centre.

As CEO and president, it is Robinson’s job is to develop the strategic vision for the organization, manage administrative, financial, and communication priorities, act as community ambassador for the foundation, and report on community investment, among many responsibilities. She has a background in communications, public relations, and corporate communications.

Robinson sat down with Women’s Post to talk about her role and her experience working for the community and about learning to love the sport of hockey.

Question: You studied communications throughout your post-secondary education — what was it about this field that interested you?

Answer: For as long as I can remember I’ve been passionate about how people gather, share, and use information for intentional outcomes or results. Throughout primary and secondary school I was always involved in student council, athletics, fundraising events, and volunteering within the community. I also enjoyed relationships with a diverse cross-section of the student body and faculty. This continued into university and after an Introduction to Communications course in my first year of studies, I was enthralled by the notion that one could use communication, emotional intelligence and leadership centralized around intersecting interests, to create change for good.

What was your first job after graduation?  

Communications & Development Officer, Let’s Talk Science. Let’s Talk Science is an award-winning, national, charitable organization focused on education and outreach to support youth development. The organization creates and delivers unique learning programs and services that engage children, youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

You made the jump from working in private financial companies to more altruistic charitable organizations – why?

I actually only spent four of the last 20 years employed in the private sector. Even then, the focus of my work was community investment and employee engagement. Like in my previous roles, my work was focused on helping people within the community live better lives by providing opportunities otherwise not available. My passion for corporate social responsibility and strategic philanthropic investment was inspired while employed with Clarica Life Insurance Company. I was introduced to the notion of business requiring a “Social License to Operate” in order to be both successful and differential from its competitors. This work very much tapped into my Communications and Sociology studies as a “Social License” is rooted in the beliefs, perceptions and opinions held by local populations and other stakeholders about the business and therefore granted by the community. Finding that intersection between business success and a community belief system is fascinating and rewarding.

What drew you to the Ottawa Senators Foundation?

 While I had never played hockey growing up, sport was always part of my life and provided many opportunities for growth and social learning. When I saw the job posting for the role at the Ottawa Senators Foundation, all I could do was think about how incredible it would be to have access to an NHL brand and its unparalleled marketing resources and audiences to raise funds, and then be in a position to strategically invest them back into the region. I also thought the role would be a terrific fit with my educational and professional experiences to date.

Are you a hockey/sport fan?

I’ll never forget having to admit to the president of the Hockey Club during my interview that I’d never really watched much NHL hockey and that I wasn’t really aware of who the players were on the team. Once in the role, all that changed very quickly. The energy in the arena and entertainment on a game night is infectious. Pair that with a love of sport and the great work the hockey club, its players, alumni, corporate partners and fans are achieving, I’m proud to say I’m a fan of the game of hockey and the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club.

You have been with the Ottawa Senators Foundation since March 2006. What is it about the work that keeps you there year after year?

 Each morning I wake up knowing that at least some part of my day will be spent on activities that change the lives of people within my community. It’s a pretty great feeling and keeps so many of the “distractions” in life in perspective. When I started with the Foundation, we were a team of four who finished the 2005-06 season having raised $2.5 million. Fast forward to the end of the 2016-17 season, with its terrific playoff run, we’re now a team of eight raising more than $6 million each year. The ability to grow the staff team, reconstitute the board of directors, and create a strategic mission and vision aligned to the business priorities of the hockey club have kept me fully engaged. My passion for corporate community investment and communications has enabled the Ottawa Senators Foundation to create a powerful network of partnerships that result in measurable community investments resulting in the most beautiful storytelling opportunities of lives changed.

How has the Foundation changed during that time? What would you say has been its biggest accomplishment? 

As social and digital mediums have expanded throughout the past decade, so too has our ability to communicate rapidly and effectively. An NHL brand comes with an inherent level of trust and credibility. Using a brand platform like this to advocate for change, create awareness or breakdown stigma is a privilege and one I believe the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and Foundation have accomplished on several important issues. By way of example, in November of 2010, Daron Richardson, the daughter of former NHL player and Ottawa Senators assistant coach, Luke Richardson, died by suicide. Instead of keeping these tragic details to themselves, the Richardson family worked with the Club to share their story and in Feb. 2011 the Ottawa Senators Foundation hosted its first Do It for Daron Youth Mental Health Awareness Night. The majority of in-game announcements and score clock imagery for that game was dedicated to creating a conversation around mental health promotion, education, and youth suicide prevention. Eight years later, the conversation continues to evolve into a powerful dialogue of action and now every Canadian NHL Team hosts a game night in Jan/Feb known as Hockey Talks Mental Health. This has been a pretty proud accomplishment among many.

How are you helping other women? 

In recent years, I’ve made an effort to be more involved in a variety of women’s networks. I’m always happy to share my time with young women looking at careers in communications, the charitable sector, or other related fields. When approached to speak or participate in forums related to women in business I try my best to participate. I also think it’s important to be authentic in sharing both stories of success and learnings that have come from failure. Being available to female leaders within the community is also important to me. Having a network of peers to support, celebrate and champion within the community is time well spent.

What are you reading right now?

For business, I’m just about finished “The Art of Doing Good – Where Passion Meets Action” by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon. Personally, I’m on a Fiction book break at the moment, instead opting to binge watch a variety of Netflix original series. 

What’s coming up next for you career wise?

I’m approaching my mid-40’s and have been in my current role for more than a decade. Succession planning has been a priority the past 12-18 months. I believe this is a vitally important piece of leadership work within all organizations. I’m not actively looking to make a career change just yet, as I still have some personal goals within the work of the Ottawa Senators Foundation I want to accomplish, but I do know my next move will require community, communications, storytelling, and leadership be at the core of the role.

Coco —the film you didn’t know you needed this holiday season

Disney’s latest movie, in collaboration with Pixar Animations, is called Coco. This is a movie every child, and even every adult, should see. When walking into the theatre, I did not know what to expect. I’m a long time Pixar and Disney lover and generally find that their movies are good. It’s home to classics like Toy Story and the last Pixar movie I saw, Finding Dory. Last summer, there was Moana and I left the theatre full of pure happiness knowing such family-friendly movies are still out there.

When I decided to see Coco, I didn’t gather much from the trailer. I knew it was a movie based on the Mexican celebration for Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. This historical holiday is based on Mexican heritage and can be traced back to Indigenous culture. It is a day where families gather and celebrate the memories of their loved ones who have passed away. Families visit graves and lay offerings and gifts to their ancestors. They also put up pictures of loved ones lost. This opportunity is to encourage the souls of their loved ones to visit.

Disney’s attempt to tackle such a historical topic in a manner that could be presented to children was bold and risky, but it paid off. The concept of death is not uncommon in Disney/ Pixar movies, but it has certainly never been highlighted in such a manner like the movie Coco.

This movie is about family traditions and values. Family dynamics in turn shape us more than we can imagine, even based on the practices of our ancestors. Without giving away too much, the story follows  a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Riviera, with his trusty side kick, a stray dog named Dante. They end up, through a series of mishaps, in the land of the dead where Miguel seeks the help of his great great grandfather. The land of the dead displayed in Coco is full of skeletons, bright lights, lots of music, lots of dancing, and lots of culture. Miguel has a love of music, but this is heavily frowned upon by his family based on the actions of his great great grandfather. Spanish music played a big part in the sounds of this movie, with original songs like Remember Me, performed by Benjamin Bratt, who played a famously ( dead) musical and film star, Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel’s musical idol. Other songs included The World Es Mi Familia and Un Poco Loco.

The role of Miguel was voiced by 12-year-old newcomer, Anthony Gonzalez. who delivered an energetic and heartwarming performance. Nothing, however beats the actual star, Coco, who is Miguel’s great grandmother. She deals with memory loss due to her age, but dreams of one day being reunited with her ‘papa’ who is now in the land of the dead.

If you decide to watch this movie, it wont be odd to start thinking about your own family ancestry and remembering your loved ones lost. Coco captures the heart and actual soul of what it means to value and pay respect to your family as generations go by.

Coco was released on November 22 and can be found at your local movie theatre. Have you seen Coco? Comment below

How to manage your child’s development in a digital world

How much TV is too much TV ? While this answer can vary for adults who indulge in binge-watching sessions of their favorite show, the same should never apply to children.  Many parents often seek the advice of pediatricians on how early to expose your children to the lights and sounds of the readily-available electronic babysitter.

There are television shows, You-Tube videos, and even apps on your phone that can be used to keep a toddler or infant at bay. However, children under two years old should not be exposed to screen-time, including “educational apps” or Face Time. This long standing recommendation comes from the Canadian Paediatric Society. In June of this year, the CPS released new guidelines on screen-time for young children after finding that too many children under the age of four are sedentary —something that is often caused by excessive screen time.

Children between two and five are should only be online less than one hour a day, and this is with the proper supervision of the parent or caretaker. This means parents shouldn’t simply hand the device over to their child and walk away. Many parents of young children choose not to expose their children to television or any of these digital devices over fears of what the child may absorb from the media.

Children’s minds need to be enriched, but this can be done through proper family time, meaning parents should put down  their own devices and focus their time on the child. Time spent reading and doing interactive physical activities, like building blocks and flash cards, will be more beneficial than an electronic device, which is more distracting.

Michelle Ponti, is a London, Ontario pediatrician who is a part of the team that wrote the new Canadian guidelines and concluded from the study that screen-time does nothing for infants and toddlers.

” The youngest children cannot learn from screens. They are not developmentally ready to transfer what they see on a screen to real life.” Ponti said.

While studies have shown that high quality educational shows, for instance Sesame Street, can be good for a pre- schooler’s educational learning ability, the concern comes from how much time is spent in front of the screen. These electronic platforms cause the loss of one-on-one contact with children, resulting in loss of proper eye contact, hyper activity, distracted tendencies and other learning issues. Most of the negative observations arose after children watched more than two hours of television.

These small changes can have an impact on future behaviour and development of your child. Indeed, some situations may seem overwhelming, but parents should keep in mind that handing off a screen to your child has no educational benefit.

The CPS guidelines are a bit different from those across the border in the US. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a special exception for cases including Skype or Face-Time, which doctors may not necessarily categorize as screen-time.

Nevertheless, both US and Canadian pediatricians agree that parents today need to consider more than 10 years ago, when screen-time from electronic devices were limited or almost non-existent. You should also consider how your own parents may have practiced learning activities with you. This often included learning blocks, books or bouncy chairs.

Remember to minimize screen-time and be a healthy model for your child as they develop in a digital world.

What are your thoughts ? Comment below

Why you could be a victim of digital kidnapping

As a parent, it is your priority to look out for and protect your children. It’s a natural instinct. What if I told you that in some ways you are putting them in more danger than you can imagine?Have you ever heard of digital kidnapping? Prepare to have your world turned upside down.

Social media platforms are easily accessible nowadays. Almost everyone has an online profile. It’s a place to share your inner thoughts, opinions, personal and even intimate moments — a new engagement, new home, new pet, a new vacation, and especially a new baby.

New mothers love sharing pictures of their children online, but some vow to post minimal or no pictures of their children. I’m not a mother myself, but understand the need or desire to share every moment of your precious baby with your friends and family. Their height, their weight, their likes or dislikes. Your child is your biggest accomplishment and you should be proud that child is all your own — but are they?

Look up hashtags like #proudmommy or #momspam ( I mean even I am guilty of using the #proudaunt tag) you will find thousands of happy kids or babies, sharing happy moments with the world. This is where the story get dark, now look up hashtags like #babyrp #childrp or #orphanrp. The ‘rp’ stands for role play. Your child’s picture has been taken by a complete stranger. Your child had a new name, a new life story, and a new mommy or daddy. Your child has been digitally kidnapped.

Before last night I never even heard of the term or trend, until I saw a Facebook article shared by an old university classmate. Her caption was simple, ‘this is why I never post pictures of my child online.’ The article led me to a news story of a young mom named April. In 2012, she gave birth to twins, Sophia and Vivienne. She was a mom that loved to post pictures of her children online. April even joined a special Facebook group where she would upload pictures of her babies, which were often met with adoring comments and support. Then, one day she got a message from a total stranger alerting her that her kids pictures were found on another woman’s page.

The twins were now named Adaya and Kamberlin. These babies had a new mom. Her name was listed as Ashley and she spoke about the love she had for her children and even shared false medical issues the girls were suffering from. April was a victim of a digital kidnapper. The police were not able to do anything as there was ‘no crime’ or actual harm to the children. Despite threats of legal action and reports of a false profile, Ashley kept posting pictures of her ‘children’. Flash forward to 2016, and April was still fighting this digital kidnapper and even appeared on an episode of Dr Phil where she revealed just how far the story escalated.

April and her husband hired a private investigator to investigate Ashley- this fake mom came with a criminal profile and a longstanding “history” of her twins being taken away from her by her mother. Worst of all, there were pictures of her fake daughters all over her house — on her bedstand, on the living room walls, and in the entry way.

While this story is extreme, it speaks volumes to the society we are living in. People share every moment and detail online for temporary hits of pleasure and satisfaction from virtual strangers and distant friends. This trend goes hand in hand with artists having their material stolen and passed off as someone else, or even online fraud and identity theft. People catfish everyday, pretending to be someone else in order to get a date.  Cases like this did not exist 10  to 15 years ago because your personal treasures and moments were kept in a photo album inside a drawer and pulled out only when close friends or family come to visit. Now, nothing is private and nothing is sacred. Our culture has evolved so dramatically that this is the new normal.

The babyrp hashtag has been hidden on Instagram due to reported content that doesn’t meet the website’s ‘conditions,’ but from the few posts that remain, strangers role play the lives of babies and kids, giving them an entirely different life and creepy fantasies. This is truly the dark side of Instagram and, as I said before, the trend is small but growing thanks to our obsession with social media. So, what can you do?

  • The obvious, would be to limit the amount of posts with your young kids on social media or use platforms that only temporarily share the pictures like snapchat or Instagram Story.
  • Don’t include any identity details in the pictures
  • Download an app that helps you watermark pictures, similar to professional photographers.
  • Tighten up your privacy settings: you have the option to make your profile private on sites like Instagram
  • Review your friends lists and make sure you’re actually willing to share these photos with your online friends and consider e-mail for larges sets of pictures

Digital kidnapping is not illegal and it is hard to control, just be aware of what you post online and make it difficult for people to identify your child as their own.

The best summer camp in Canada

This summer, my boys spent two weeks at Camp Muskoka and they are still talking about it.

According to them it is the “best summer camp in Canada or even the world.” Not only did they make some terrific friends, but they learned new games (Magic) and songs (Little Red Wagon) that they randomly start singing at the dinner table.

What they like most about the camp is the freedom to choose what they do during the day instead of feeling like they have to stick to a strict routine that other camps have. Rather than swimming in a freezing cold lake at the crack of dawn, their only worry is to get to the cafeteria before breakfast is finished. And the meals are apparently way better than anything we serve them – there too they have a lot of choice in what they were served.

Camp Muskoka is in the business of making happy campers. As their website states, “we firmly believe that everyone has physiological needs that must be met in order to have any hope of meeting their more refined needs. For example, a camper won’t be able to enjoy the mental and physical activities at camp without proper nutrition or a comfortable, good night’s sleep.  Likewise, a camper won’t be able to build confidence and friendships if they don’t feel safe. Whether it be providing our campers with healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day, having air conditioned lodging to ensure a good night’s rest, or nurturing a healthy and safe environment so campers are recognized for their personal achievements;  everything we do is about helping our camper’s reach their highest potential.”

The thing is, the camp truly does live up to this description. I notice that my kids came back a bit louder than they were before going (their voices raw from singing, laughing and shouting), a bit more conscientious (aware of the need to clear the table – which they are taught to do their at meal times), and a bit more enthusiastic – “hey mum lets make a song about that.”

If you are looking for a safe camp your kids will truly enjoy, I recommend Camp Muskoka. Here’s a video the camp and kids put together that will give a small view of the great energy that permeates the camp.

I tip my hat to the founder of Camp Muskoka, Scott Creed, for creating a fantastic safe place where kids can learn, grow, and have a heck of a lot of fun!

An Apple, Sir ?

It’s 2002 and popular actress Gwyneth Paltrow has Hollywood in the palm of her hands. Her angelic looks and hilarious romantic comedies ensured her time in the spotlight, something that was solidified when she started dating lead singer of British rock band Coldplay, Chris Martin .

It wasn’t long before these two were hitched and in 2004 the couple was expecting their first child. However, it was what she decided to name her baby that gained a lot of attention and possibly set the tone for unusual baby names in Hollywood.

Apple Blythe Alison Martin — that is the name they decided to give their daughter. Why not just name her Alison? Paltrow said the unusual name was actually suggested by her husband and an apple conjured up a wholesome, perfect, and biblical image in her head. It is no shock that in 2006 the couple welcomed their son Moses, sticking with that biblical reference.

All of a sudden, it wasn’t just celebrities changing their names to something more exciting (via Katy Perry or Lady Gaga). Now, it seems that celebrity baby names are the new craze and most likely something us regular folks may never understand.

Hollywood is a glamorous place, but it’s interesting that celebrities attract more attention with their choice of baby names than anything else.

The business of naming your baby is an important one. This is the name yourchild will have on their birth certificate and, yes, maybe there was a time when the name Obama or Oprah was unusual, but there is a difference between unique and quirky.

Parent’s magazines, talk shows, and blogs often give tips or choices to make when naming your child or even provide a list of the trending baby names. In fact, each year there’s a published list of popular baby names for that year for boys and girls.

When picking a name for their child, most people consider the sound, spelling, uniqueness, initials, and flow of the name. Then they generally consider any negative or positive relations to the name and the significance this name may one day hold in society.

The top three baby names for 2017 for girls are Emma, Olivia and Ava, and boys include Liam, Noah and Lucas. But back in 1988, the top three were Mary, Anna, Elizabeth, and John, William, and James respectfully. These names may be what we consider classic names today.

So, where does North- West, Sir, Rumi, Saint, Egypt, Ocean, Blue Ivy, and Sunday Rose fit in?

Sir Carter and Rumi 1 month today. 🙏🏽❤️👨🏽👩🏽👧🏽👶🏾👶🏾

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Celebrities stand out, so maybe they want their children to be noticed too, just to be that much different than the normal people of the world. The best decision when naming your child is to go with your gut and pick a name that you’re comfortable with no matter how overwhelming society may be.

Hopefully Queen B continues to be impressed with her choices decades from now and doesn’t regret naming her son after an honorific address.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below?

Breastfeeding in public: the new trend ?

Recently, controversial YouTube personality Spiritual Tasha Mama, a mum of two from San Diego, has come under fire and even investigation for speaking out on her breastfeeding habits for her two children, ages three and three months. Tasha Maile admitted she once had sex while breastfeeding one of her children, something many called disturbing and distasteful. While this act is questionable, many of her online viewers are even more disturbed by her willingness to display images of her  breastfeeding her children in public and even posting live feeds of the act while working out. While some support her multitasking efforts, many have criticized her choice to display these images publicly.

This isn’t the only instance of controversial breastfeeding in public. It seems breastfeeding itself becomes a topic of conversation in the news every few months, with many people offering their opinion for and against women doing it in public.

Forgetting the controversy for one moment, think of the health benefits breastfeeding has for mother and child  During the first six months of a child’s life, breastfeeding is a convenient and portable way to feed your baby, A mother’s milk is clean, often the right temperature, and packed with custom produced vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins amongst other beneficial ingredients.

The Public Health Agency of Canada often supports breastfeeding infants, as breast milk also contains antibodies to prevent diseases in newborns and it also has been shown to reduce allergies in a child’s development. Essentially, many claim that breastfed babies are even smarter! Though I beg to differ, as I am a formula baby.

Breast milk is also a cheaper option to the expenses of formula. There are many health benefits for the mom as well, as research indicates breastfeeding can lower the risk of certain cancers including breast and ovarian.  The body also releases a healthy emotionally balancing hormone, which is beneficial to the mother after birth.

Over the years, there have been numerous stories that have attracted the media’s attention. One instance includes a Starbucks in Ottawa, where a young woman complained to a male barista about a mother in the café that was breastfeeding her child without a “modesty shield.” This story, however, had a happy ending when the barista provided the mother with a free coffee for having to deal with unpleasant complains and stares. Back in 2014, the spokesperson for Starbucks, Laurel Harper stated that Starbucks does not have an official policy on customer experience or breastfeeding.

There was even a controversial health campaign in Mexico City that featured topless celebrities who were encouraging breastfeeding for new mothers. This was met with backlash from critics who argued the campaign sexualized women and placed shame on mothers who could not breastfeed for medical reasons.  There always seems to be someone that is not too pleased with the display of a woman’s bare breast, or feeding her child uncovered in public, and while people have their opinions, views, and personal preferences when it comes to where they feed their children, women should not be shamed for providing essential nutrients for their babies.

This week, Apple announced a new set of emoji’s for World Emoji Day and notable emojis include a breastfeeding emoji! Now you can add that to your next social media post proud moms. While the debate over breastfeeding may be endless, August 1-7 2017 is marked as world breastfeeding week and the movement is celebrating it’s 25th year in encouraging breastfeeding on a global scale in an aim to attract political support, media attention and participation.

For more information on breastfeeding, visit Eat Right Ontario or consult publichealth.gc.ca.