COM0014 – Blogpost #2: Communication Styles

“Oh my gosh, I read about that on Facebook”…famous last words, or what our world is now perceiving as “news”? Admittedly, I’m an “inspectional” reader. I don’t really care what you had for breakfast, but someone in my social media realm will be posting news articles and commenting – bringing me up to speed on the latest issues happening around the world and in my community. I check my Facebook account numerous times a day, but honestly, I don’t check the Post or Globe and Mail‘s website more often that once a day. Social media is keeping me “in the loop”.

Does tone really matter?

When reading articles on news sites, the tone is factual and impersonal. This is the reason I turn to social media for my news updates, as I can then process, from a more human point-of-view what has just been released as news coverage. In my opinion, storytelling has to come from the heart, not just statistics. Sometimes, I will follow the link to the news site to obtain more information, but I’m always intrigued by what my “friends” think first and foremost.

Short and sweet!

Like most of the population, I’m too busy to sit and read the newspaper – or to read articles in their entirety. Social media allows readers to capture the essence of a story without being bogged down in details. However, the beauty of the internet is that if it is news that is really important to me, then I can always follow the link to learn more.

Great storytelling…

My brother was the best storyteller I’ve ever met. Most times he couldn’t get through the whole story without a hearty laugh that interrupted and derailed the story. THIS is what engages people – when the storyteller is wholeheartedly involved in the topic, the listener is more apt to be hooked. I think that’s why social media is all abuzz, because there are opinions and facts all rolled into one space.

How do you read “news”? Are you a newspaper, television news-gatherer? Do you share news on your social media channels?

COM0014- Blog post #1 – What I did on my vacation…

It’s hard to believe that I’m posting about what I did on my summer vacation – this summer went by far too quickly and we’re already in “back to school mode”.

This summer we went on three long camping trips. We love to camp!!! We have a trailer and we are so fortunate that our friends always join us on our adventures (sometimes we can be 12 families camping together).

Our first big trip this year was to Sunny Hill Resort – we always kick off the season in Barry’s Bay on May long weekend. This campground is great because it has an indoor pool, as well as a beach. In May, the weather can be questionable and the bugs can be horrendous, so this is a great “sure-fire” way to have fun! Barry’s Bay also hosts “Bay Day” on that weekend with street vendors and a vintage car show.

Our second big trip this year was to Bonnechere Provincial Park – we spend 7 nights and 8 days enjoying all that the park had to offer. The beach is beautiful, there were tons of activities for the kids, and we even rented a kayak! It would be a great opportunity to show you some pictures of our kayaking experience, but my husband’s phone took a dip in the lake and so we have nothing to show! Although it’s quite a big park, there is still plenty of room on the beach and there were no issues in terms of noise, etc.

Our third and last big trip this year was to Leslie Lake Park – many of our friends have seasonal lots in this park, so there are plenty of people to visit. The beach is absolutely gorgeous – the water is so low that you don’t have to worry about your children while they are playing in the water. One of our friends has a boat and was teaching the kids to water ski – another first for us!

Bryce water skiing

 

Next year, our big trip will be to Maine. We are so anxious! Camping is a great way to relax and make great memories. I wouldn’t trade vacationing like this for any other type!

Do you like to camp? Do you have any suggestions for family-friendly campgrounds?

 

 

 

Is bigger really better? (COM0011 – Blog post #6)

Lately I’ve been so intrigued by people who have decided that home square footage is unimportant. I came across some of these ideas on Pinterest and now I’m addicted to learning more!

Since the recession, many folks have found themselves in a financial bind. They lost their jobs, homes, money, material assets. In lieu of giving up, they decided to “live small”. They purchased camper trailers and converted them into homes. They built small/efficient homes in lieu of traditional larger houses. I think it’s brilliant!

How much space does one really need? I read that in 1950, the average size of a home was 983 square feet; whereas in 2004, the average size was 2,340 square feet. Our family has a modest 1,200 square foot bungalow and four of us manage just fine – we finished the basement a couple of years ago to include a home office, laundry room and extra bedroom which all get used, but also finished space for a playroom and family room that are rarely used. What a waste of space and money!

I think that folks that have decided to “live small” whether by choice or circumstance are really on to something! The space is smaller, resulting in fewer costs for heating/cooling, hydro, taxes, cleaning etc. There is little space for “stuff”– just the necessities. I love the idea of living more simply.

Granted, most of these homes are built in warmer climates (think southern states) and may not be suitable for families that live through Canadian winters – the idea being that you can also use outdoor space as living space.

In my next life, I would love to take on building a small smart-house as a project. In particular, I would build this house – isn’t it just adorable?!

Some of the space saving ideas I came across to allow small spaces to work include: shelves on wheels for dry-goods beside the fridge (pantry), hanging kitchen utensils on the sides of cupboards, drawers under stairs, Murphy beds, and a lot of shelving.

For some people, down-sizing means that your lifestyle is freed up to focus on what really matters: time with family (less home maintenance), vacations and excursions, and living debt-free (the psychological benefits of being debt-free far outweigh bragging rights of living in “such and such a neighbourhood”, don’t you think?).

Imagine for a moment that you have a beautiful (small) home that offers you all of the comforts you require, along with money in the bank to do/buy whatever you want… isn’t that the purpose of tirelessly putting in 40+ hours a week at work? Isn’t work just a means to an end? But, if the majority of your paycheque is going to the bank to pay off your mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc., then I guess some folks must like their houses  a lot because it looks like that’s where they’ll have to spend the majority of their time.

Love Grows Best in Little Houses Just Like This, Home Decor, Vinyl Sign, Small Houses, Wood Sign, Customize

What are you thoughts on living more simply? Do you think you could downsize and still enjoy your home-life? Do you think that social media plays a role in educating us on how to live better/smarter/simpler?

Hockey Afternoon in Canada – COM0011 – Blog Post #5

Like most parents of young Canadian children, we spend a lot of time in hockey arenas. When our two children took an interest in playing hockey, we were completely on board – what a fun winter activity, we thought. And most of the time, it is fun. But, there are times when it’s not so great…

My children are strong athletes, not just in hockey, but all sports. I don’t believe that they will make it to the Olympics nor the NHL, but I hope that they can use their talent for something constructive: teaching, coaching, or even a scholarship. In my opinion, that’s much more realistic and achievable. However, in our dealings with other parents at the arena, you’d swear that the NHL scouts were at every game – egos are in full-gear! When he was 5 years old, another team wanted to “draft” our son – we politely declined. The next year, the same team wanted to “draft” him again – we were a little more adamant about him not switching teams – much to the dismay of some of the other patents: ” what a great opportunity for him”, “really, you don’t want him to go”, “this could have been a great move for his hockey career” (I love that one – his career? he was 6 – I just wanted him to master spelling his name!).

When finding my seat in the stands, there is one family in particular that I avoid like they have the plague. The parents and sibling are constantly yelling at the player – “get in there”, “skate”, “take him/her out”, “this is yours/don’t bother passing” – and these children are under 10 years old… perspective! My heart goes out to the child because I can only imagine what his home-life must be like, if there is clearly no filter in a public setting. I’m not saying that I sit back and don’t support our team, but I cheer for all of the kids equally and make a conscious effort to congratulate all of the kids after each game. Perhaps I should bring this letter to the next game and hand it out to all parents.

Is this how you’d like your children to remember you?

At a recent tournament, the police had to be called in because a parent on the opposing team was threatening our coach – for the safety of the children and all of those the arena, the man was escorted from the building – this tournament was for 7 year olds. Seriously – get a grip!

I often hear parents making snide remarks about how the referees called a play – when I hear “come on ref, bad call”, I just want to leave. Often the referees are teenagers trying to make a few dollars refereeing as a part-time job – do you really think that they deserve to be heckled about every call?

What happened to going out and playing a game of hockey for the fun of it? Do these parents really think that their kids are going to the NHL – that’s about as likely as getting struck down by lightening twice, in the same spot (maybe my stats are off a bit, but you get the picture).

I suppose it would be impossible to try and change the behaviour of some of the parents, but I just hope that more parents don’t hop on that bandwagon! As parents, we are asked to read the code of conduct to our children before the season begins – perhaps some parents should read the section titled “Expectations of parent – code of conduct” before every game!

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Work/Life Balance – Is There Such a Thing? (COMM0011) – Blog Post #4

I have always been a working Mom – dropping the kids off at daycare and picking them up…racing to and from the office…cursing traffic. But, somehow I always managed. I was tired, but I managed. That exhaustion was what lead my family to sell our dream home and move 1.5 hours from the city to our little piece of current paradise. I needed balance – and my husband at home more often. When we moved, my employer offered me the opportunity to work from home. But, the routine didn’t change in that I was still running my kids to daycare and racing to pick them up, the whole while thinking that there has to be a better way. However, once I was done feeling sorry for myself, I started to think of how fortunate I am to have a good job and only be a hop, skip, and a jump from the kid’s school in the event of an emergency.

Before marriage and babies, my career was my driver – I worked long, hard hours and took many, many risks to advance my career…but I made it. And, I’m exactly where I want to be in my career; I love my job and I have enough years under my belt to allow for time off as needed to balance out my personal life.

So, I guess the question begs – would I still consider being a stay-at-home-parent? – and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! In. a. heartbeat! And when I win the lottery, I plan to do just that. Until the next 649 draw, I’m back to the daily grind – and amazingly, everyone is doing just fine. The guilt we put on ourselves as parents is so draining. All we can do is the best we can! The message here is that most important thing about family is finding balance…and everyone’s balance is different. Do what you have to do to make the best of every day – cherish your time with your kids while you have them at home and work hard when you don’t… and in the end, your children will grow up happy and balanced (please don’t come back on me if they don’t!).

How do you manage work/life balance? Do you have any secret successes? Do you think that social media has helped or hindered work/life balance – does it keep us too connected?

'Dad, what's the point of you and Mom working so hard if your names don't even show up on a Google search?'

~While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about~ Angela Schwindt

The Trials and Tribulations of a Type “A” Personality (COM0011 – Post #3)

My whole life I’ve been über-organized. Even as a child, I would make sure that everything (toys, books, etc.) were put away – where they should be, in their proper places. As an adult I write endless to do lists, shopping lists, activity lists – and the lists go on and on and on.

My favourite time of the year is when the Mom Fridge Calendars are available (at the same time as school supplies). I get out all of my coloured pens, stickers and last years calendar (for reference, of course!) along with a fresh cup of coffee and get down to business. My family “heads for the hills” while I plan the next year of our lives.

In my professional life, I keep lists, constantly update my online calendar and planning, planning, planning for meetings, events, professional development. My everyday goal is to never miss a deadline and find myself very frustrated when timelines aren’t met. As a worker-bee, I don’t have the authority to “push the limits” when it comes to getting things done on time, so I have stew in my frustration that deadlines will be missed or pushed out. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis – I wish I could be a little more “laissez-faire”, but alas, I simply can’t.

Here’s a funny video on how things can quickly get delayed: Stuff Bureaucrats Say

Coping mechanisms

In order to cope with my Type “A” personality and the fact that not all people operate in the same fashion/speed in which I do, I find it comforting to know that I have done the best I can given my parameters. I try to negotiate times to discuss projects and ensure that I completely understand my marching orders – this saves time when trying to get projects reviewed/approved. The one thing I have to work on is not taking all of this so seriously –  no one is going to die if the deadline is missed, so in the big scheme of things, I can only do my best and hope that all of the pieces fall into place.

Organizing 101

In my next life, I would love to be an Organizational Expert – imagine how much fun it would be to plan and organize other people’s lives – I think I might have to buy additional coloured pens though to fill out of all of those calendars! 🙂

Are you a Type “A” personality? Please share your secrets on coping in a world that isn’t keen on Type A’s.

COM0011 – Blog Post #2 – What I’ve learned from blogs

There are a number of blogs that I follow for personal enjoyment (and learning, of course!). Some blogs are “mommy-blogs” that help me understand that I’m not alone in the world of raising kids (that “AHA!” moment when you say, “Oh, that doesn’t just happen at my house!”) and other blogs that help me save money and teach me about money.

One of my favourite blogs is Lisa Leonard – she is a mom of two boys and running a small business. One of her boys has tremendous medical issues and it’s wonderful to see how she overcomes daily struggles with faith and a smile. I also like her blog because she is an amazing photographer. The angles/subjects that she manages to capture are breathtaking.

I also follow the Pleated Poppy blog – this is always an interesting read. The writer is SAHM (Stay-at-home-Mom) who homeschooled her children part-time. She is very crafty! She used to run a small business out of her home and I have purchased many lovely handmade items from the shop (she recently decided to close her small business – much to my dismay!).

My favourite money expert is Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I’ve watched all of her shows ” ‘Til Debt do us Part” and love her no-nonsense approach to managing money. I religiously follow her blog and learn so much about the “secrets” of money management. I especially like the comments featured at the end of the blog posts – average folks talking about what works and what doesn’t. Her blog isn’t just about money, though, it’s also about managing your expectations.

(Household Spending Chart – courtesy of Gail Vaz-Oxlade).

The best part of reading blogs is that they are (the one’s I read) set in a personal tone – it’s as though the writer is talking to you personally and can associate with your life’s events. It’s such a different read than a typical website or the news (online or paper).

The Power of Social Media – COM0011 – Blog Post #1

Every year on Remembrance Day I’m astounded by the number of people who post thank you messages, photos, and thoughts on their Facebook pages. Yesterday, my news feed was a sea of red poppies, black and white photos of young men who never came home, and endless thankfulness.

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Years ago, before the social media frenzy, folks would gather at Remembrance Day ceremonies and talk about those they knew that serve (or served) and offered (well-deserved) praise. As much as this is still so important, the power of social media allows for many more messages to be delivered – thoughts and prayers for those who serve this country unselfishly.

A few weeks ago when terror was delivered to Ottawa’s downtown core, the power of social media was immediately felt all over. Pictures and updates flooded my newsfeeds. Everyone I “know” was talking about this horrific incident. The one thing I found very interesting was that the police were asking the general public not to post their whereabouts on scene, as to avoid feeding too much information to the potential culprits. In this instance, the power of social media could have been a deterrent rather than a blessing.

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Even new technologies allowed children in our school to contact their parents via text/Google Hangouts to provide updates on the “Hold and secure” that the school had placed. This type of immediate access certainly has its benefits!

Like any media, social media has its pros and cons. I think, that when it’s used properly, it can help deliver messages that wouldn’t otherwise be available.