Posts By: Julie Cole

Putting Creativity back into Christmas

Our family is going overseas for the holidays this year.  I hate the thought of Santa having to turn up at our holiday destination because it means I have to lug oversized bags full of gifts both there and back. A family of eight has enough gear to drag around.

To avoid this situation, I had the children write to Santa and ask him to come to our house early in hopes of having their presents delivered before the trip. This system actually works well, except for the fact that I’m Santa and if you think it’s tough meeting a December 25th shopping deadline, try pushing it forward a month. Yeah, that’s the not awesome part.

Having said that – I think I nailed some great presents this year. Each kiddo in our family ends up with one big ticket item. I tried to think outside the “gadget” box and have come up with some awesome presents that my kiddos will love. Here are my faves:

1)      A mermaid tail. (Yes, you can actually buy mermaid tails online.) I have one kid who spends most of her time swimming in the pool pretending to be a mermaid. When she’s not doing that, she is watching mermaid shows and movies. I can only imagine how delighted she will be when she unwraps her very own mermaid tail (www.finfunmermaid.com) with a built in fin.

2)      An instant camera. Yep, what’s old is new again. Remember the old Polaroid cameras? If you have a kid who is an “in the moment” type, this camera might be a winner!

3)      Extra special Pokemon cards. It just so happens that a kid in our neighbourhood recently won the World Pokemon Championship. Believe me – it’s a thing, a BIG thing. And now the “Andrew Estrada Winning Deck” is available for purchase. My Pokemon crazed kids will go off the rails when this turns up under the tree.

4)      A Harry Potter Chess Set. One daughter has two loves: Harry Potter and chess. So why not marry them in a themed chess board? It’s a bit of an investment, but I’d rather put my money into a chess set than a lot of other things she could be begging for.

5)      A GoPro Camera. Do you have an adventurous kid? I sure do, and she’d like to catch all of her daring stunts on film. Some of these gadgets can run pretty pricey, but if you shop around, you can find one for a pretty reasonable price.

6)      Hey, let’s not forget mom!  I spotted this little beauty and immediately sourced a talented knitting mama and commissioned her to make one for me. I always get myself the best presents. I know me so well!

Have you found anything special Christmas gift ideas to get your kiddos this year? Are you anticipating anything surprising and fabulous this holiday season?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

The Many Faces of Abuse

November is Women Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario, and I have a story to tell.

How long will our society allow abuse to happen?

Growing up, I had a teacher and a mentor I was extremely close with. With only ten years between us, as an adult, our friendship strengthened and we have remained connected throughout my life. Although I spent much of my twenties traveling and living abroad, our friendship never waned. She was that friend who always got the call from the labour and delivery room when I had a new baby, whose daughter was my flower girl, and who is the Godmother of my youngest daughter.

Almost two years ago, she seemed to disappear. I never thought much of it – everyone gets busy and consumed in daily life. I never questioned it because our friendship has stood the test of time and circumstance. I got a little curious when she cancelled a trip we had planned. Next, she skipped my daughter’s (her God-daughter’s) birthday and finally, she didn’t turn up for our little girl’s First Communion. I certainly thought it was odd and she didn’t offer any real excuses, but I’m not a grudge-holder and never questioned her love for me or my family.

Shortly after the missed events, she turned up at my house one night after the kids were tucked into bed. She looked emaciated, having lost a ridiculous amount of weight since I last saw her. Her face was pale and her eyes looked lifeless.  At that moment I truly thought that she was coming to tell me she was sick and dying.

I was wrong. Even though she looked completely vacant and she had lost a part of herself, she was not dying. Over the next several months, we spent nearly every night together talking through the end of her 31 year marriage. I discovered why she had become the shell of the vibrant and spirited woman she once was as she admitted to enduring years of financial, psychological, and emotional spousal abuse. These soul destroying acts had taken a terrible toll on her.

Twenty months later, and after countless hours of abuse counseling and group therapy, my determined friend has faced her situation with bravery. Not only is she committed to her own successful recovery, she is passionate about advocating women empowerment for others who are living the same nightmare. This is her message of strength and hope that she will share with the world.

With the timing of the Jian Ghomeshi fiasco and November’s designation, it is a good reminder that women like my friend are everywhere. They are living among us. They are us. And they’ll only share their stories when we are prepared to listen.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Not on my watch Waterboy!

I avoid behavior issues by keeping my kids on the ice!

Last week I had to step out of the arena during one of my daughter’s hockey games to take a phone call. As I was talking on the phone, I noticed a kid had plugged the indoor water fountain and was allowing water to spill over onto the floor. He was also spraying the water from the spout causing a tsunami like effect which also wet the floor.

There were about a dozen adults sitting in the lobby watching this go down. Clearly, none of them were his parents. As I was trying to wrap up my call, I looked at each one expecting someone to intervene and put a stop to Destructo-Boy. They all just looked blankly at me and did nothing. Water was everywhere and they just sat there like nothing was happening.

I cut my call short and immediately said, “Hey kid, cut that out – you’re making a mess.” Then he looked at me and said: “I don’t have to. You’re not my mom.”

Well, I must have shot him the look that only my kids can tell you about. Within a few minutes I had him on the floor with paper towels wiping up the water mess he made. I praised him for doing such a good job then went back to watch my daughter’s hockey game.

Clearly there are a few issues with this situation:

  • Where were the parents? While this is an issue that bothers many people, I actually don’t mind seeing kids wandering around unsupervised. But, if parents are going to let this happen, they had better be prepared to allow other parents to step in and address their child’s behavior with their own discipline technique or arrange for child care if they can’t supervise.
  • Why didn’t any of the other parents shut it down? What were they afraid of? Were they afraid that the kid would say, “You’re not my mom” and they would have no response? Or were they afraid he’d go running to his parents and get an earful for “parenting” their child?
  • I have to say, I was in complete shock when he spoke those words to me. Of all the children in my life – friends, neighbours, cousins, nieces, nephews – no one has ever said that to me. When I told my kids the story about my little water loving friend, their eyes all bugged out in disbelief that a kid would say that to an adult. They all wished they had been there to see my face.

How do you feel about dealing with other people’s kids? Am I the only one who expects you all to give my kids a swift kick in the butt if they are misbehaving? Heck, I count on you for parenting help. Would you have stepped in or left it to the parents to deal with?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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