A Cup of Warm Milk

milk-jug
So I’m sharing this article today simply because one of my readers had remembered this article and she shared how it had touched her. She asked if I would repost it so here we go…. I hope you enjoy!

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All I Want For Christmas

coles holidayEvery year around this time, our son turns to me with his big, beautiful baby blues and asks, “Am I getting ANYTHING this for Christmas, THIS year?” His hopes for a ‘sleigh-full’ are soon dashed when I quickly reply, “You’re getting an adventure.”

Please understand, I’ve not always been a Grinch, but his being only 15 and an only child, begs asking what this boy could possibly need? Long ago, our family decided that traveling, sharing time and experiencing somewhere new, far outweighed the commercialism of Christmas.

Our son is now nearing 30 stamps on his passport, and his life is full of experiences and moments that ‘stuff’ just can’t replace.  We have eaten guinea pig in Peru, slept in a haunted castle in Northern England, and gone scuba diving with sharks in Fiji.  Maybe he doesn’t see those experiences as note worthy as his IPhone, but I see it and I believe he will too.

Jackson & I out to dinner (Warren taking the picture)

Jackson & I out to dinner (Warren taking the picture)

I will admit, that in the beginning, traveling with my son was for purely selfish reasons.  I refused to let ‘having a child’ curb my desire for seeing every corner of the globe.  He boarded his first flight at 9 months and we haven’t looked back.  Traveling has given us so amazing gifts, one’s that can never be put under the tree.

My ‘only’ child lives a very fortunate life.  Our travels have humbled him.  It is important to see that not everyone on the planet lives as he does, or with first world luxuries, that he takes for granted.  Whether it be bringing supplies to school kids in the Dominican Republic or sharing candy with a little boy in Ecuador, he has seen what we often take for granted can be a treasure to someone else.

I strongly believe in raising a ‘global citizen’, one that is aware of different cultures, languages, and philosophies.  What he has learned in his travels can never be taught in a classroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in the importance of education.  We rarely pull our son from school in order to travel.  However, I believe, he has learned and experienced things that could have never been taught from a book.  I adhere to the ‘more you know, the more you grow’ principle.  My son has gained tolerance and insights that are invaluable.

Traveling has helped him learn to be more adaptable.  In North America, we are quick to have a kid’s menu and kid’s clubs, this is not so in most other places around the world.  Stepping outside the ‘chicken fingers and fries’ mentality can in the end help parents out with their picky eaters. It may seem small, but for those who have faced food battles this is monumental.

Traveling with children, in my opinion, isn’t heading south of the border to an all-inclusive resort with a kid’s club and all the trappings of home (including PlayStation rooms).  Have you given them anything different from that they could have found at home?

We are a very tight knit family because of our travel together.  Traveling half way around the world, where you may or may not have Internet access, allows you to unplug, spend more time together.  We play silly word games, cards and recall stories.  I think those are some of my travel memories that I hold most dear.   Collecting experiences are one of the best parts of traveling with your kids.

We have awakened wanderlust in a young man that will stay with him forever. He boarded his first flight on his own this past summer.  Yes, it gave me anxiety, but I was also extremely proud and I will admit, a little envious. I love his adventurous spirit and his willingness to try new things. He is far wiser and more audacious than I was at his age.

Warren & Jackson on Safari

Warren & Jackson on Safari

The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page’, said St. Augustine. I believe our travels have given my son the ability to see new things and see things in a new way.  Despite out son’s perfected ‘disappointment act’, when told his Christmas present will be yet another trip, one shouldn’t be fooled.  If asked what present he go for his birthday 3 years ago he has trouble remembering.  If asked, however, where he went three Christmases ago, he’ll recall every last detail.

Parenting Tips | Separate the Truth from the Lie

parenting-tipTo my fellow parents….. Have you ever found yourself wishing that when you left the hospital with your newborn babe in your arms the Doctor or Nurse would have handed you a book saying, ‘Read this and your ride will be smooth – it has all the answers to every question you’ll ever have hidden in these pages.’ Not sure about you but there were times and still are when I find myself reaching for such a book but alas it’s never to be found.

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The Apple and The Tree

There is a saying that most of you probably know. It goes like this ‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree’. This saying has become very real to me in the last few weeks through my eldest daughter, Sophia. I recently received an email from her language arts teacher that was titled OMG (Oh My Goodness) the content of the email was as follows: ‘Hey Susan. OMG! Did you read Sohpia’s eulogy speech? She totally made me cry. That girl is extremely talented!!!!!! Must be her fabulous teacher. Seriously, I’d love to take the credit, but I’m sure her mom has more to do with it!!!!!!! Fantastic writer!!!!!’

As you can well imagine I was overjoyed to receive such a lovely email from a teacher and she confirmed what I was coming to understand, that my daughter, at the young age of 12, is a gifted writer.

Like any proud mother I want to share her accomplishments with you, my readers. Also, I think it’s amazing that at 12 years of age she is being published for the first time ~ in this column. Who knows where she may end up and what this publishing may do for her. If anything, it will help build her confidence, it will challenge her and hopefully motivate her to create more, to let her mind expand and to write even more. I know that through reading her writings I have been motivated, challenged and inspired. I see, through the words of my 12 year old that the ways, in which, Philip and I are raising her and her siblings, the things we are instilling in them are good. Through Sophia’s words I think I’m getting a glimpse at the fruit that comes from our little family family tree. What I see is good fruit and my heart smiles.

The class assignment was to write a eulogy about something (thankfully not someone). They had to pick something and write about it and then present in front of the class. Sophia wrote beautifully and with poise and elegance presented her writing to her class. Through her writing I have come to understand the saying about the apple and the tree. I don’t think this little apple has fallen far from the tree and maybe I, as an apple, didn’t fall far from the tree of my origin. I hope you enjoy!

The Difference Between a House and a Home

By Sophia Sohn: March 12, 2011

It was a simpler time, when all I needed to be entertained for hours at a time was a piece of paper and a crayon. Like most five year olds, my drawings were usually pink and they were usually of princesses, fairies, and castles. They were drawings that showed who I was and who I wanted to be. I was going to be a princess and I would have a gorgeous Prince and we would live together in our castle.

In reality my castle was located on 18 Old Glenhaven Road, Sydney, Australia. There were no turrets, no moats, no knights in shining armour, and there was absolutely nothing pink about this house. I never realized how much I loved my house until it was gone.

It wasn’t a huge house. It wasn’t little either. The simplicity of it was what made it beautiful. Maybe I was the only person that thought it was beautiful. Maybe I was the only one who enjoyed the swing set outside. Maybe I was the only one who liked my small wooden cubby house. Maybe other people didn’t appreciate it the way I did. If people didn’t like my house then they sure didn’t show it. My house was never empty.

Maybe that’s because it isn’t just a house. My house was an actress and as a little girl I often had friends over, and my house soon became my castle, my secret lair, and once it even became the school from high school musical (the movie).

The most important role it ever had was my home.

Sure it wasn’t my first house, but it was definitely my first home. It was where our family started. It was a home that would forever hold some of our most precious memories. It was where we laughed together, cried together, celebrated together, mourned together, and learned to love each other.

We are gathered here today to honour this house that soon became three little childrens’ home, their safe haven, the place they would run to if anything went wrong. The place where these little kids would grow up. This home has become part of my family. I grew up with it, and alongside my parents it watched me grow, it watched me go from a pink room to a green room, it watched me go from a size 1 shoe to a size 4 shoe, it watched me laugh and watched me cry, and it watched me run to it and it watched me run away from it.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve had to learn to give up things, and sacrifice things for other people. When my parents told me that we were moving I didn’t want to let go. Personally, I think that letting go is one of the hardest things that we as people have to do. No person in the world is perfect, nobody wants to let things go, and neither did I, but it was something that I had to do.

I loved my house. It was special. It was comforting. And it was home. That’s why it will always have a spot in my heart. Thank you and always remember “A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

Susan xo

The Life of a 12 Year Old

I am currently on holiday with my hubby’s family. Yes, with the in-laws. We are in Oahu in Kailua….. just down from Obama’s house. As exciting as that is I find myself captivated by my 12-year-old son.

As I sit here writing, he is snorkelling {in the pool} with his Korean cousin. Not only do they have a language barrier but my son is snorkelling with my snorkel set which is hot pink. That means his flippers are pink, his goggles are pink as is his snorkel. As I write I keep gazing over at him, smiling as he has no idea how {in 1, 2 or 3 years} this ‘get up’ may perhaps be absolutely unacceptable.

The Life of a 12 Year Old…. What does it look like? Well, today it looks like a boy with a pink snorkel set. 12 years old…. Do you remember what that felt like? I do and, in fact, if I could choose an age where I would love time to stand still, it would be at the age of 12 years.

We all have a favourite year or, in some cases, a decade. I have many enjoyable times, many years that were great and being 43 I totally believe that my 40’s are going to be one of the best decades for me. However, in saying that, if I were asked to pick an age or one year that stands out in my 43 years of life, thus far, it would have to be 12.

I loved being 12. I loved everything about 12. Why? I can’t really pinpoint any incredible or life-changing event that occurred when I was 12 but rather a sense I recall. It was a sense of knowing that I was still too young to do the things my siblings were doing {ie: Drive In Movies, Dances, Parties, etc}. I wasn’t even interested. My interest in boys had definitely peaked and I remember pining over one boy called Cameron. He was the boy of that year. I liked everything about him however, I knew that even he was beyond my reach at that age.

In this day and age you may wonder why at 12 I knew a boy or the things my siblings were into were out of reach. Why? It’s simple. I feared my parents and my aunts and uncles and my parents friends in a really healthy way. I knew they all had my best interest at heart and they knew my parents rules and if they saw me operating outside of those boundaries, they made absolutely NO apologies and they let them know. With that knowledge, the appropriate discipline would have been given. Those were the days and I am reminded of the African Proverb that says: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

Why did I love being 12? I loved it because I knew I wasn’t old enough to do anything else than be a kid. I loved it because I was a kid and I didn’t have to try to be, nor did I want to be anything else. I loved being 12 because I didn’t have a care in the world. With limited technology and connectivity my only concerns were where I would eat dinner, if I had $0.50 for a popsicle in my pocket {on a hot summer day} and who I would be playing with and who would have a sleep over. I remember 12 really well. My life seemed to be aligned. My parents were alive and well, we seemed to have no concerns as a family {at least in my mind there were no concerns, I’m sure there were but my parents were great at keeping things from us!}, my grandmother’s were alive and healthy {both were beautiful influences in my life and I loved spending time with them}. I had never experienced war, famine or death {I was too young to remember my grandfather’s death so in my limited experience the pain of death had not found my heart yet}. I remember lazy summer days filled with sand, sun and the beach. My bike and a towel draped around my neck, friends and BBQ’s at night. The summer I was 12 seemed to last forever and it would appear that it has, it is a memory that brings me joy, peace and happiness.

As I continue to write I glance over my screen and my son is growling out of his pink snorkel at his little sister. He is unawares of whether or not his pink snorkel affects his reputation or his swag. He is simply loving life, loving summer and occupying the space he is in with confidence and much laughter. My prayer, for all my children, is that when they are 12 they have magical memories…. just like their Mumma. The life of a 12 year old… beautiful, simple, uncomplicated and FUN.

I love my memories and I love the memories my kiddos are making….

Susan xoxox

Good Parenting = Time Spent Wisely = Good Parenting

I recently updated my Facebook Status with this:

I have loved our bedtime routine this week with the kids. Nice times…….

I received a number of messages following this update. Many of the comments were from young mother’s asking me why I’m enjoying this time and what are we doing differently.

The answer is simple. We {my hubby Philip and I} have always spent time with our kids getting them to bed, we have always read to our children or listened to them reading to us. We also pray with our children every night. These times are special. However, for whatever reason, we started to let these times ’slip’, ever so slightly. We found ourselves rushing through the bedtime routine, rather than savoring the moments and soaking up the time of laying in bed, talking, laughing, praying and simply listening. We were on fast forward. What caused us to unintentionally do this? I have no idea or explanation but for whatever reason it happened. We still spent time with them {at bedtime} but as I say, the fast forward button had been pressed.

Recently the fast forward button was turned off and we have returned to our ‘normal’ routine and it has been amazing. We have been spending one hour putting out kids to bed at night and we both love it. We read, they read, they talk, we talk, we slowly make our way through the routine of jammies, teeth, hair and bed and the reward is beautiful.

This time is precious and both my husband and I have committed to never let it ’slip’ away again. Thankfully, we caught it quickly and made the necessary changes immediately. Through these times, another element of harmony has {once again} been added to our home and it’s not an element that I will let go of anytime soon.

Can I encourage you to engage with your children {whatever their age} at this time of the day. If your fast forward button is on switch it off and allow the minutes together to matter….. you won’t regret it. Just last night I was massaging my son and as he was drifting off to sleep, he muttered, ‘mum, you and dad are the best parents cause you care and you love us.’ In that moment I was reminded, once again, that the time we were spending was being spent in the right place. The laundry could wait, the dishes would still be there, the crumbs on the kitchen floor didn’t matter and my book club book could wait just a few more minutes. My lesson from last night is that Good Parenting = Time Spent Wisely = Good Parenting.

Enjoy your kids, they are only kids for such a short while.

 Susan
The Grandparent Effect

I remember as a child how I adored my Nana. She was one of my favourite people, so kind, so caring and she was always on my side. When I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced, Nana stepped in and they got done. When life was feeling all to hard, Nana was there with Chicken Soup and a kind word. She always shared her wisdom in the most unique way, she corrected me without me really realizing it. My Nana was a small woman {maybe 5 feet tall} but in my young and now older eyes, she was a giant. I’m sure she had her short comings, her challenges in life like the rest of us but I saw none. I saw strength, courage, wisdom and kindness. She was my Nana after all.

Nana had an interesting role in our family. She was a great support to my parents, when it came to us kids. Nana’s house was always open to us, she always welcomed us with open arms. There was always a bed ready for us, cash on hand if we needed, and she could whip up a hot meal and fill our tummies in what seemed like minutes. She played games with us, helped us with our school work, told us stories and always connected the family dots {Uncle who? How’s that person related to me?} Our Nana also served as a sounding board for us. When we thought our parents were being unreasonable, we’d ask Nana. When we felt they were being to hard on us, we’d go to Nana. Oh that poor lady. I think now of all the stuff she dealt with and how it never seemed to faze her. Our parents also used Nana in their favour.

An example of that would be the time I stole a piece of gum from the IGA {sorry Mr. and Mrs. White}. If my parents making me return to the IGA to admit my guilt and pay for the gum wasn’t enough, they then made me stand in front of Nana and tell this sweet, gentle, kind, little lady what I’d done. Of course as the years went on situations escalated from the gum incident to other things ~ thankfully not remaining in theft. Things more like bad report cards, talking back to our parents and then of course the peer pressure incidents. Getting in trouble was emotional enough on its own but the real sting came when we had to disappoint Nana. What clever parenting and discipline our parents used on all of us.

The Grandparent Effect was huge for me because as I’ve mentioned my Nana was an extraordinary person in my life. Now, as a grown woman and as a mother of three, I too have adopted the Grandparent Effect. I have seen it work wonders in our home. Most recently, our eldest was ‘caught out’ in a very minor situation that required parental intervention {a table discussion}. Following our healthy discussion I told her that going forward part of her discipline would be to call her Grandmother {my mother} and tell her what had happened and why she had found herself in ‘hot water’. At the thought of this, my daughter burst into tears. She wept saying, “No, please don’t make me do it, I never want to disappoint Grandma.” I cuddled her and said, “Well then my sweetheart, whenever you are faced with a decision or are tempted in anyway, just imagine yourself standing in-front of Grandma, telling her about it. It’s called The Grandparent Affect darling and trust me I know it works.”

Friends, never underestimate The Grandparent Effect. Adopt it as one of your tools and make it your own. Extended family is there, like my Nana to support, to love, to be a soft place to land and in some cases perhaps a simple look of disappointment from a respected Grandparent is all that is needed.

Susan xo

A Caring Teacher

As parents we have all been exposed to the ‘Parent Teacher Interview’. I remember as a child dreading the return of my parents following their interview with my teachers. I knew they would hear the standard, which was always:

1) Susan’s grades are good
2) Susan talks too much in class
3) Susan socializes too much in class

Needless to say, I was a busy student and the social side of school was very important to me.

Interestingly, I seem to have similar interviews with my children. My three children all do very in school and they are extremely social. I’m reminded, once again that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which brings me to my story about a very caring teacher.

Two years ago, my daughter (Sophia), who is an A+ student, was in her first year of junior high. Grade/Year 7, as we all know, is an interesting transition. Elementary school and its structure and teacher-driven schedules seem to fly away the moment you walk into the ‘other’ side of the school. My daughter, who has always been extremely social and usually very capable of handling her school work plus her social behaviour, found herself in this new world of self-discipline, student-driven schedules, no recesses to chat and linger and a heavier work load. The balancing act she was accustomed to didn’t seem to be working in junior high.

Report cards came out and surprisingly a few of her grades had dipped. Thankfully, they only dipped ever so slightly but this was something she nor her teachers had ever seen before. Parent Teacher interview time quickly approached and I received an email from her Geography History teacher, Mr Dowhan.

Mr Dowhan knew Sophia well and he knew what she was capable of. His email requested that Sophia be present at our interview. With a request like this, her father and I quickly agreed.  On the day of the interview I could tell that my lovely Sophia was slightly nervous and unsure of what Mr Dowhan’s intentions were. Through her eyes I could see concern – the same concern I (her mother) had as a 13-year-old girl. What would he tell my parents? Is he going to tell them how much I talk and focus on socializing rather than listening? How much trouble am I going to be in after this? She was clearly unsettled and deeply concerned about what would be revealed during the conversation.

As her parents (and like most parents) we know our kids well. I was pretty sure that Mr Dowhan was going to highlight Sophia’s socializing and the dip in her grade was due to her lack of attention, etc. I wasn’t worried but I played the parent card well and let my (at the time) 12-year-old daughter know how serious this was, we were being called in by the teacher and her presence was requested. It was serious.

We arrived at the interview and Sophia was nervous but poised. Mr Dowhan began to talk to us about her marks and went through his detailed information. We all listened intently and then Mr Dowhan asked Philip and I if he could direct the conversation towards Sophia. We always knew that Mr Dowhan was a great teacher and the students greatly respected him, but for Philip and I, this is when Mr Downhan showed who he really was and the the extraordinary teacher that he is. Mr Dowhan said to Sophia, “Sophia, you are a very smart girl, you are sociable, very outgoing and a joy to teach. You engage in interesting conversation and you have a great interest in your classes. Unfortunately, your marks aren’t reflecting this. Sophia, you are better than this, you are a scholar student and you are operating below your natural ability.” He went on to ask her if she was happy with her grades and if she thought this was her best effort.

He talked to her and during the conversation he masterfully allowed Sophia to see what she was capable of through her schooling. He brought her to a place that was hard, she had to accept responsibility and then make a mature decision to make the necessary changes to bring the gold that he saw within her. Mr Dowhan is a wonderful teacher and an engaging teacher, as I said earlier the kids respect him, they have fun with him whilst he teaches them. In this instance, Mr Dowhan put on the strong teacher hat and took an opportunity with our child to set her on the right track. Mr Dowhan challenged her, corrected her and disciplined her. He did this wisely and seasoned with wisdom.

Sophia came away from our meeting inspired and grateful. She recognized what Mr Clooney did and how he took a risk at telling her exactly what he thought. She knew he wasn’t impressed with the work she was putting forward, she had disappointed him and us. Sophia determined that day to accept Mr. Dowhan’s challenge and from that day on, instead of grade 7 being a weird and awkward year, it became a year she will remember. We are grateful that Mr Clooney took the time to simply care about his student. He truly is a caring teacher and a teacher I believe Sophia will remember for lifetime all because he cared about her and made a point of really teaching her.

What Mr Dowhan did in that interview was true teaching. Yes, he is her Geography/History teacher and he helps her learn about the world but that day he truly taught a young girl how to be all that she can be. That’s why we are grateful. Sophia was given the opportunity to see herself through eyes other than her own, other than her parents, she saw herself through the eyes of a teacher who believes in her. Sophia is once again excelling in every area of school life, her grades are back to their great standing and her social life remains strong and healthy.

To all the teachers out there, may you never underestimate or forget the incredible impact you have and can have on young lives. Kids need your wisdom and to simply know, like Mr Dowhan, that you care.

Susan xo

The Red Plate Theory

 

red-plate3

Well, friends, it’s finally here. My explanation behind many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mentions or pictures of the ‘Red Plate’. I posted a quick update on my different social media platforms about the Red Plate and had since been asked (countless) times to share the wisdom behind the Red Plate. So, here it is (finally)!

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Parenting Week- ALL SHOWS HERE!

 

What an incredible week on Parenting!! Listen to every Parenting episode of GetRealLive from this past week as all our guests gave such powerful information on what it means to be a great parent. Hear their struggles, stories and lessons learned as they shared from real experiences. You can Listen LIVE Mon-Fri 8:30am/9:30pac. Keep up with GetRealLive on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Join the conversation because Life is boring without you!

 

Monday June 11- A panel of 5 Moms shared their experiences and lessons learned through their journey.One mom commented that she wished she would have heard this information in her early years. A great encouragement and support for all the parents and a must listen!

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday June 12– Celebrity Chef , Andre Carthen helps us with our Fathers Day meals and fills us in on all his tips for cool summer entertaining ideas.Not only only is he designing food for Kathy Ireland and Janet Jackson, but also our GetRealLive audience.

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday June 13– This is a must listen for all parents as two fathers shared from their journey. First up was Kirk Bishop who tells of his journey of raising a disabled son and the grief he encounter and overcame. This story had everyone in tears. Then, Dr. Arnel Beaubrun talked about the connection between food and disorders and how changing your diet can help with ADD and ADHD. Plus hear his thoughts on parenting. This was one of our favourite shows.

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday June 14– Author and Psyhcologist, Dr.David Sabine joined the conversation on parenting. Listen as he brought incredible insight to all parents when it comes to developing relationships with their children. Hear about a fathers biggest struggle and what the children say is their biggest complaint.

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio

Friday June 15– Free for all Friday was hilarious as we talked about Brotox(men’s botox), Words that are never used and the Kardashians parenting skills. Plus Ryan from Sevenly called in to talk about this weeks campaign and it helps those with autism. A hilarious show leading into your weekend!

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio