Thursday, January 26, 2017

Some Photos of Western Canada

I take so many photos when travelling around Alberta and British Columbia so I'm sharing.

Big Horn Sheep on Highway 16 east of Jasper
Old Barn
Moose Lake 

Mount Robson-with the peak clear.
It's the highest point in the Canadian Rockies

Sunset just outside of Prince George, BC

Road in Pineview area of Prince George, BC
Mountain--in the Rockies
Moose Lake
A view from Alpine Drive, Pineview area, Prince George, BC

Rocky Mountains
Moose Lake, brrr! November 2013
Heading west on highway 16
Moose Lake, December 2013
Highway 16 heading west, December 2013

Snowplow on Highway 16, December 2013
Sunset in Pineview area, Prince George, BC
Pineview, Prince George, BC
Creek in Pineview, Prince George, BC
creek in Jasper National Park
Woods in Pineview, Prince George, BC

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It matters what happens between discipline events

There was or is a letter circulating around asking "where you drugged by your parents?"(here is a link to it, I cannot find the original

Here is my response: Yet some people were 'drugged' like that and because of how it was carried out, turned to the other types of drugging in order to cope or block it out. If the child is acknowledged, positively interacted with, spoke to kindly, encouraged and supported, kept safe but also allowed to fall and fail, they have a really good chance of growing up balanced and respectful of other people, personal and community objects/property, ideas and concepts that may not align with their own values.

See, it isn't that people are spanked or 'drugged' to various places that make them upstanding members of society, it is how they are treated overall that makes the difference.

How children are treated between the time outs, the discussions or other violent [spanking] & non-violent parenting discipline measures is what really matters. While being 'drugged' to religious activities or family get togethers doesn't guarantee a well adjusted person, it does give them valuable experience IF those activities themselves are actually uplifting and offer positive interactions.
If children are valued and feel that value (love) from parents and siblings and as a bonus, from their community, then children can grow up without needing to find an escape from adverse events or actions done to us.

Mental illness is a whole different ball game that I won't go into, except to say that a supportive network of friends and family can go a long way to mitigate the negative manifestations of MH issues.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Spanking is punishment not discipline

            A friend posted on a social media site something about spanking and that the argument against it is being overblown, misunderstood and that today’s children/youth/young adults lack discipline and could use a good swat or two to get/keep them in line. My friend used the “I was spanked and I turned out ok” argument. This was my reply (edited for clarity):

         Yes, many (not all) children lack discipline, but spanking is punishment. These are very different approaches to assisting our children to be productive members of society. Not using spanking takes patience, energy and endurance, but is doable. Working with other people’s children makes you develop other skills to assist the wee ones to do what is required of them because you cannot hit them to make them mind!

         I was at a conference where a national advocate for abolishing the law that allows hitting our own AND other children (Section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Law1). I went up to her and said that when I was a young parent we were told “don’t spank” but were never really told what to do instead! She agreed that parents need alternatives. I maintain (& my very young children supported this viewpoint) that “The Brady Bunch” parenting method doesn’t work on even a few very young children (“Now Jan, you shouldn’t do that”). 2

         Attachment parenting has some very good concepts that work…it takes effort but I would say it would really be a great base for parenting strong secure humans. That is, attachment parenting as presented by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, not what we read in small titbits in popular magazines or extreme websites. His stuff is based on solid research and experience.

         Little wee ones CAN understand more than we ever thought/think. It just has to be presented in ways they can understand and not overwhelm them. Picking a child up and removing them from where you don’t want them isn’t wrong. You just might have to repeat this often.

         Time out works for some, but it has to be used sparingly. When a child is tired, hungry or in a disequilibrium state (you know, those times when your sweet child behaves like they’re possessed—similar to those chocolate bar commercials), they need you more at that moment than being separated from you. But if you are also not in a stable state (ie: “Mommy you’re ugly when you’re mad”), then separating yourself mentally or physically from each other is ok. It is better to say nothing and talk later when in control of your words. The payoff from putting forth the effort into developing discipline in your children is a big relationship payoff. And they won’t have to “work through things” before they have their heads on straight (well, we’re not perfect, so substantially less things). And that is a good thing isn’t it?

         Another friend mentioned having to “work through things” and I’m sure that one of those “things” was an incident when he/she3 was quite young and touched the hot stove. Now most mothers of that era (50’s-70’s) would just slap the hand and say sharply “don’t touch! HOT!” His/her mother chose to take his/her hand and place it directly on the hot burner. Now when I heard this I didn’t know much about child abuse or even thought twice about being spanked but I knew what occurred in that kitchen was wrong. Very wrong. I said nothing not only because I didn’t want my friend to be shamed, but because the only thing I could think of was “that’s child abuse”. Now I don’t like to hurt my friends’ feeling (sorry if I have!) and this was a very new friendship (37 yrs. now) so I didn’t know how that would be taken. I also figured that if this was the kind of family my new friend came from, knowing a kind person (that would be me) could only be a good thing in my friend’s life.

(1) Section 43 of the Criminal Code(1) reads as follows:
Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

(2) Here is a link to someone who saw how "The Brady Bunch" parenting method could work & tried it:,1. Her interpretations are similar to Dr. Neufeld's concepts.

(3) My attempt at hiding my friend’s identity as much as possible. I don’t repeat this sad moment so I’m doing what I can to keep it a very personal moment between us. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is a Grandmother?

I was sorting through stuff I've kept and came across a few newsletters from when I was getting diaper service with my last kiddo. The editor stated that he found it in a box of his own grandmother's papers and there wasn't a name attached to it, just "by a third-grader":

A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own.
She likes other people's little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys, and they talk about fishing and stuff like that.

Grandmothers don't have to do anything except to be there.
They're old so they shouldn't play hard or run. It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have a lot of dimes ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They should never say "hurry up".

Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off.

Grandmothers don't have to be smart, only answer questions like, "Why isn't God married?" and "How come dogs chase cats?"

Grandmothers don't talk baby talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don't skip, or mind if it is the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have a television, because they are the only grown up who have time.

[I get a chuckle out of "enough dimes"...shows how old this is...I think those pretend horses were 10 cents in the '50's and '60's!]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Seven or Eight Pieces I Wish I Knew as a Young Parent

To preface everything I'm going to say: I've raised four kids (3b1g) and lived through what you're saying. I said that no wonder our kids are screwed up, "they" say be consistant, if one thing doesn't work, try a new strategy...soooo, I was consistant in my non-consistancy. Had to go through a ton of strategies to find what worked with my kid(s). Then after a short time (too short IMO), it wouldn't work sooooo, back to the drawning board.

I went back to school and learned a ton about child development (sorta like closing the barn door after the cows got out?) and stuff I wish I had known then.

I have taken a bit from there and here and developed my own "theory"--common sense/logical that if I were to impart upon parents to enhance their parenting skills I would  share them.

1. Trust your gut. Be aware though, of developmental milestones, typical age appropriate behaviours as they will enhance your gut feeling.

2. Know your child. How? Play with them, let them lead the play. Let them have the power in this situation because in pretty much all other situations, you have the final say. Set aside 20 minutes a week that hell or high water, you two will get together and play with them in charge. If you set aside toys/ objects that are only for that playtime, then it is even more special. Your relationship with them will improve because you two will create a relationship that will bind you two forever. You hate playing? Remember its only 20 minutes and if you hate playing, you may need it more than your child!

3. Use "could" instead of "should". Unless there is a safety issue most things can be used as suggestions. "You could dry your hands before eating" "You could place a larger block on the bottom of the tower" ("let's see (if)" also works, it's instead of demanding--use your gut to know when to use it).

4. "first--then". This is one I sooo would have embraced and when I learned this as a special needs assistant, I immediately thought how so few power struggles would have not happened with my own kids!  "First we'll do something I want you to do then we'll do something you want to do"  or, "first we'll wash our hands then we'll dance to the dinner table" type thing. Sometimes they forget about their perferred activity which you really hoped they would forget about! It is really good and works when they are waiting for something good, "first we stand in this line then we will see Santa". "First we sing then we go to class". It really helps them know what is going on in their lives. So much is not in their control (prepares them for being adults right?) and knowing can reduce their anxiety levels. You are still in charge, you are just letting them in on what the action is.

5. Nature vs. nurture. Both matter. I see nurture as altering negative nature aspects of their lives and enhancing the positives. Holding, hugging, snuggling, telling them you love them, doing things together will alter a child's 'natural' person. If they are caring, gentle amazing little humans, well, they'll just be all that confident! If they tend to be on the wild side, it'll tame them without killing their sense of wonder.
     I've worked with traumatized children (abuse of all types) and it is amazing when they are nutured how they grow and become aware of other's pain or joy and respond positively. A traumatized child stops growing emotionally at the age they were abused. What traumatizes one child may not affect another, it is individualized. Of course some traumas are just plain nasty and anyone would be affected by them in some way.

6. There are some good ideas to ponder in all those theories out there. Check some out, ones I like are: attachment theory by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Montessori method, and Neurosequential development by Dr. Bruce D. Perry, an insightful approach to working with traumatized children which works with typically developing children also because it isn't a "method" or things to do but a way to see how children develop neurologically. Sounds high level stuff but at it's basic concepts, is easy to comprehend. I wrote about it in my last post.

I was at a conference concerning the early years of children (it's actually called "The Early Years" and is every 2 yrs.--an excellent value for anyone, professional or parent) and one of the speakers was talking about Canada's capital punishment law that allowed spanking. She was totally against it. She had many good points. I have one bone I just had to pick at with the anti-spanking group and she got to be their spokesperson (which she was). I started having kids in 1980 and parents were beginning to be told in the 70's not to spank/hit/swat their kids. Period. My bone? I told her that at was fine, but we weren't told what to do instead! She actually agreed. She was about my age, I think a touch older, and she said that was a grave oversight and really hampered the change.

I know some people actually believe "reasoning" with a two year old is possible...but personally I think they're delusional. Since then, I've learned some techniques that replace spanking/hit/swatting and they are effective. They take time to establish because they're preventative, relationship building techniques not 'in the heat of the moment' ones. For those moments I think both taking a time out from the issue is the best. In public? That is where knowing your child, having worked on skills and the relationship works in both of your favours. And knowing what age appropriate behaviours are.  Being totally in control of yourself is a major key. And a difficult one to even almost master! Sleep deprevation is not my friend and I'm pretty sure most the same is for most people.

7. Be the parent. Guide them. Teach them. Love them. You don't have to be their friend, they have siblings or other people's chidlren for that. They need a parent who will set boundries and give a hoot what they are doing.

I guess if you're willing to consider any of these, you are already doing the eighth point: be willing to put in the time to try to do stuff right for your child(ren).

Monday, June 30, 2014

How we develop, brain-wise

I was introduced to Dr. Bruce Perry's work while I was a student in Child Studies, I bought his book "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog" accidently--it was mistakenly put down as the text for one of my classes.

What a fortunate mistake! I was enthralled with it. As it was, one of my profs. had done some work with him! She introduced us to Trauma Academy ( and through that I learned (or began to learn) about neuro-sequential brain development. Basically, our brain develops from the brainstem up, not everything at once. The cortex finishes developing at about age 25. There are a lot of other things happening and can still happen after that age, but that is the raw basic of the concept.

My practicum (Spring 2008) with that degree was as a research assistant for a maternal-child study. We were collecting data from moms about their mental health & their child's development at 6mos. 12mos. and 18mos. One of the screens we used was the Brigance Parent-Child Interaction Scale (BPCIS). We were presenting (really my boss/the principle investigator and her friend were) this at a conference in Phoenix and I create a slide for it that I talked about. I took Trauma Academy's diagram and added two questions from the BPCIS and connected them with the areas of the brain they stimulated. My boss said that it was brilliant and that I didn't know how brilliant it was (she was and still is right about that-I see it as a logical connection).

Fast Forward to this semester (Winter 2014) and I'm working on my Social Work degree. My final practicum is at a school for children who have experienced a few (or more, yes, plural) forms of traumas. I get the bright idea for my learning agreement to take that diagram I created and add trauma to it! Took me 2 mos. to figure out how to do it and what it would look like and to find the information to put on it. And I believed that the information needed to be from scholarly sources to make it solid. So, here it is, all but one piece can be backed up. The part about the effects of trauma on heart rate, blood pressure and respiration is only me being logical. If alcohol and/or drugs insult/exposure can cause such damage on the brainstem that the baby dies prior to or shortly after birth, what if the amount of exposure wasn't great enough to cause that much damage?  Could it cause enough damage that there are only minor problems that may not hinder the person's life until detected or it is considered "just one of those things"? I couldn't find any information that explores that line of thinking. Finding anything much beyond what the brainstem does and develops is scarce. Or I just didn't look in the right places. I'd love to know if this has been looked into.

The light blue boxes are the two Brigance questions, the far left is the approximate ages those parts of the brain develop, on the right centre is some of the things that those parts control and the far right is some of the consequences of trauma. That trauma could be witnessed, experienced or occurred prenatally (drugs, alcohol, physical, emotional assault...).

I suppose I should list all my references...I also should have been more diligent in keeping track of them! The most important one is that the diagram was created by Trauma Academy. Sadly, I cannot find the original anymore to accurately accredit it. It is/was titled "Sequential Neurodevelopment and Play". I have contacted them but have not heard back, so that may mean they are still searching for the source or they are really busy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I just feel like looking at photos

I'm on day 4 of a 4 day bed rest order. Hopefully I'll be able to stop coughing enough to fake being healthy at my practicum tomorrow. I've completed my online school work. I think. I'll check later.

Right now I'll post some photos I've taken over the years that I really like to look at.

The Columbia Icefields are on the highway between Banff and Jasper...right smack up the centre of the Rocky Mountains.

 The Columbia Icefields in 2010. I wonder if I have one from my High School Geography XII field trip there. It has shrunk considerably since I first went to it in 1976. If I took the same photo from the same position then as in 2010 the ice would be past the bottom of the frame.

That ridge/arete (accent over first e) was where some of the students climbed. I can still hear one kid calling out "I haaavvvee nooothhinng to hoold onnn toooo" as he slid down it. He was fine. The glacier wasn't at the bottom of it there. Despite being a less cautious era, we were FORBIDDEN to climb on or near the glacier. The glacier was a lot closer then than now though! We could easily see how huge it was from our vantage point at it's foot. Couldn't touch it, that would be too close.

Then there is Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at 3954m. (that's a lot of feet!). Apparently it is a great hiking mountain...I've never done it. I take photos of it when you can see the top. I've even taken a couple when you can't. It is a delight to see the top as it is not a usual sight.

Yep, Mt. Robson in it's usual state.

Just west of Mt. Robson is Moose Lake. It is a mountain lake that is cold all year! In the heat of the summer it is refreshing. In the winter, not so much.

 Looking west

Shoreline looking west


Winter from the front seat of our car looking west

July from the front seat of our car looking east