12 ways to live life fully

1. Focus on today and how you can do your best to live it to the fullest (live in the moment!).

2. Explore, live on the edge a little, and embrace new challenges.

3. Recognize daily the things you are grateful for.

4. Learn to detach from outcomes and don’t be too hard with yourself.

5. Set goals and move toward them in small reasonable steps.

6. Focus on good thoughts and good things will happen.

7. Laugh as much as you breathe.

8. Don’t overanalyze situations and just listen to your heart and soul.

9. Slow down: eat slower, drive slower, walk slower

10. Be honest with yourself and others, but especially with yourself.

11. Practice mindfulness, meditation or yoga 

12. Take the time to go outside and really observe and appreciate nature.

Death and Life: What Maya Angelou's death taught me about Life

When driving to our cottage today, I heard on the CBC radio the passing of Maya Angelou.  According to her son, Guy Johnson, Angeloulived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being.  She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace”.  Her death made me think about other people’s deaths and the meaning of life.

Angelou is certainly a person who will not be easily forgotten.  She was a poet, author and civil rights activist who changed the life of many people in North America, particularly women and African Americans.  Recently, we also lost Nelson Mandela; another person who is now part of the history of humanity.  Although these two people had lives that were filled with all kind of obstacles and challenges, somehow, they were still able to live their lives fully.  In my opinion, they are two examples of what it means to live life. 

Death and life
The death of Angelou may me reflect about life and this amazing chance that we all have to live.  I believe that life keeps us so many surprises.  To be honest, we don’t know when our existence in this planet will end. When saying this, I am thinking about this colleague who died during his early fifties and never had the chance to retire.  Or, the baby of a friend who died last year and never had the chance to know what life was about. He died from an extremely rare disease just a few months after he turned a year old.  Or, this young teenager (son of some friends) who died last week and never had the chance to fall in love or drive a car; he was only 16 years old.

When I heard about Maya Angelou this morning, I thought about death and its meaning.  I don’t know you, but I don’t think that I have really ever thought too much about my death until I got married and had my son; more importantly until I started to get old.  I am not saying that we should always be thinking about our death; it will certainly be depressing and not good for the morale if we do that.  I just say that from time to time, we should actually think about not so much death, but its opposite, life.  In particular, I feel that we should take “death” as a reminder that we are still alive and that we only have one chance to live; so, what are we waiting for, let’s take this chance!

Only one chance to live...what does it mean?
It is common knowledge that North Americans are stressed, overworked and don’t know anymore how to relax.  So, are we really living?  NO!  We don’t even know how to laugh and enjoy the small experiences and moments that life brings to us every single day.  We tend to over-analyze everything and don’t just live the moment.  Yes, we have so many excuses for this, including my number one:  “I don’t have” time”.  But, is that really true? What are your excuses?  In my case, I have to admit is that I just have trouble prioritizing what is really important in life.  Sometimes it takes a crisis for people to make major changes, but do we really need to wait until that time? It may be too late? As it is often said, we don’t know when we would be called? 

I know that this is not always realistic, but don't you think that it would be amazing if we could wake up every morning and tell ourselves “remember, this is your only one chance to live, so, live this day fully.. don’t over-analyze things, don't just exist...LIVE"!

What do you think?

How did your dad influence your life?

Celebrate the contribution that fathers and father figures have made to the life of their children. Please share with us the favourite memories of your dad here.  

(1) How did your dad influence your life and career?

(2) What is your best memory or moment with your dad?

Please use the comments box OR use this link  to submit your answers.

Thank you!

9 questions that will help to determine if you are becoming a helicopter parent - Quiz

Answer “true” or “false” to the following statements:
1.___ I want my child to feel like I am him/her best friend.
2.___ When my child has a conflict with another child or an adult, I usually find that my child is right.
3.___ I get nervous when I’m not in constant contact with my child.
4.___ If my child were having trouble with a new seating arrangement in her/his class, I would ask the teacher to move my child to another seat.
5.___ I usually find that most of my child’s teachers’ discipline policies are not appropriate for my child’s temperament.  I often feel that my child's teacher doesn't understand his/her personality.
6.___ My child generally needs extra help from me or another adult with his homework because of his learning style.
7.___ I have found that my child needs to be busy, otherwise he/she gets bored or anxious when he/she has lots of free time.
8. ___ It’s difficult to find time in my personal schedule for my own activities, interests or friends because my child’s schedule is so full.
9. ___ My child is gifted in many areas, and I spend a lot of time making sure that her/his special needs are met because I know that it will be essential for his/her success in life.
Your helicopter parenting style could be described as:
§  Overly responsive to your child, if you answered true to Questions 1, 2, or 3.
§  Overly low demands on your child, if you answered true to Questions 4, 5, or 6.
§  Overly high and overscheduled expectations for your child, if you answered true to Questions 7, 8, or 9.

5 Signs that indicate you are becoming a helicopter parent of a young child

Although the term is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students who do tasks the child is capable of doing alone (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, manage exercising habits), helicopter parenting can apply at any age.
In the case of a young kid, a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behaviour, allowing him or her zero alone time.  Here are 5 signs that indicate that you  may be becoming a helicopter parent:
1. You find you are doing everything for your child (e.g., feeding your 4 years old, tying older children’s shoes), not allowing him/her to solve his/her own problems. A 2-year-old who never climbs up the stairs, a 3-year-old who can't put his socks on, a 4-year-old who can't wash his hands - these are a few examples of too much parental problem solving. Helicopter parents are so invested in solving their children's problems that their children never learn to solve any of them on their own.
2. You are overly focused on your children’s achievements and enroll them in numerous programs that you believe will help them get ahead, but that may not be age-appropriate. Helicopter parents are very worried about making sure their kids are successful. But instead of focusing on developing traits like self-reliance and perseverance, they focus on skills. 
3. You’re upset when your child fails at something and consider it a personal failure.
4. Your child shows signs of dependence, clinginess, anxiety or anger.
5. You and your child have no free time to just play and enjoy each other’s company. A helicopter parent never let his/her child get bored or play by him/herself. Instead of allowing the child to develop his/her imagination, the helicopter parent will often direct all the play too.
So, are you a helicopter parent? What kind of helicopter parent are you?

More reading....

Bubble Kids & Helicopter Parents: A Risky Business

As Frank Zappa said, “It’s a great time to be alive, ladies and gentlemen.” Despite the gloom and doom of the current economic and environmental concerns, we are fortunate to be Canadians living in relative prosperity. But despite improved access to health care, improved safety, and reduced crime, North Americans would appear to be more stressed now than ever before.

Helicopter Parents
Maybe despite our relative wealth and welfare, we don’t share the same optimism about the future as our parents’ generation did when they were our age. Parents in our generation have come to be known as “helicopter parents,” because we are often seen hovering over our kids as they complete tasks, eliminating or mitigating potential risks for our children. Our over-protectiveness has extended beyond our homes and into our communities and schools: even at the university level, we have parents coming in to speak on behalf of their adult sons or daughters. This is also occurring in the workforce, as discussed in a recent article from global news, where parents are weighing in with employers to defend their “kids.”

We need to be better at detaching
Statistically speaking, our children have never been safer, but with all this added protection, I wonder if we are sometimes doing a disservice to our children and not providing them with sufficient real-world risk-taking that they can learn and grow from. I have to admit that sometimes I feel like Nemo’s father, Marlin, from “Finding Nemo” – always watching what my kids are doing, always protecting, always hovering. As much as “being in the moment” with your children is a very healthy mindful experience, we also need to be better at detaching. We need to let our children “fail” and “fall” now and then, and have confidence and trust that our children will learn from these experiences and triumph over their challenges (a lesson well learned by Marlin, Nemo’s dad).

Our hovering tendencies have had a substantial impact on our schools and playgrounds. We now live in an era where even “tag” is considered too risky for children to play on the playgrounds of most Island schools.  At the beginning of this school year, our 12 years old son came home one day and was visibly depressed.  We asked him what was wrong, and he told us that he was upset that they could no longer play “tag” or “manhunt” at school, as well as other “hands-on” games. We were surprised, because it was not obvious to us how a game like tag could be problematic. The argument was that kids were getting hurt and, in particular, that such activities put younger children (especially kindergarten-age children) at risk. When following up on this issue, we were told that such “hands-off” practices have been in operation for “some time” and part of the school board policy in our province (Prince Edward Island, Canada). Further checking revealed that in fact it wasn’t a school board policy, but “schools were well within their rights to ban such games.” Now, we were not questioning the safety of kids at school, especially younger kids. But how frequently do kids actually get hurt playing such games and could not alternative measures be put in place to mitigate potential accidents to smaller kids (having different recess times, for example)? How can we be worried about games like tag, but yet still sign our kids up for contact sports like hockey, rugby, lacrosse, soccer and basketball?

Risk is an important component of child development
Internationally, there is a growing reconsideration of the kinds of playgrounds where unstructured active games like tag have been eliminated in the way they have here on Prince Edward Island. There is also a growing awareness of the need to address the “increasingly sedentary and risk-averse generation of children…,” according to the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA).  How can children learn to gauge themselves if every “natural” and unstructured active play opportunity is over-regulated or eliminated?  According to Stephen Smith (Associate professor in phenomenology and physical education at Simon Fraser University), “risk is an important component of development in children. It is through the taking of risks that children learn to be competent, to overcome fear, to work with others, and to measure their own capabilities.”

Sometimes of course, children are going to get hurt playing tag, as “tags” can very quickly turn into “shoves” when an intense playground game gets going. Some parents and educators might worry that this kind of experience might have a lasting impact on a child, psychologically and physically.  But, in fact, studies have shown that the opposite is true. When for example, a child is hurt in a fall before the age of nine, that child is actually less likely to develop a fear of heights as a teenager. There is a growing body of research that points to the physical, emotional and psychological value of a bit of physical risk when it comes to child development. Researchers and parents claim that managing the risks inherent in a game of “tag,” for example, can help children with problem solving and conflict management. Unstructured games on the playground, if properly supervised, can teach children about leadership, negotiating and of course they get kids running and building their physical strength.

Like most of us, I am trying to do my best as a parent (without the owner’s manual) and really just asking the basic questions: what are we doing? Why are we doing this? If I could obtain balanced, well-defended/supported arguments, then I may be convinced as to some of our recently adopted policies/practices; however, I think that we are really just being over-protective, over-reactive and, to a certain extent, paranoid. The question is: what longterm impact could this behaviour have on our children?

This is an article that my husband, Sheldon Opps, wrote for a local family magazine. Sheldon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Ace Flyer Airplane - A new outdoor activity for Casa del Sol

We just purchased a new Ace Flyer Airplane for Casa del Sol. It took about 6 hours or so for my husband to put it together, but as you can see our kids have already started to enjoy it.

Even with our cold spring weather, our sons found the time to spend some hours outside "flying" with the plane. We are certain that our young guests will also enjoy this new addition to the outdoor activities that we offer in Casa del Sol. It can seat up to 7 kids! We got the plane from Amazon.com.Ace Flyer Airplane

Amazing Piñatas for Birthday Parties

My husband is a dedicated father who takes birthday parties very seriously.  He always comes up with unique party themes and bigger and better ways to celebrate the birthdays of our children.  For my step-son who is now 12 years old, my husband selected themes such as dinosaurs, Captain Underpants, Pokemon, Harry Potter, Super Mario and the Legend of Zelda.  For our 4 years old, so far, the themes have been Toupie & Binou, Mickey Mouse & Friends, and Dr. Seuss. 

For each one of these parties, my husband made certain that relevant activities and decorations were prepared or organized for the parties.  This was not often an easy task because we wanted to stay within a certain budget.  An element that was always part of each one of these parties was the piñata.  Of course, finding the proper piñata for a given theme was challenging, forcing my husband to be creative.  Below are some of the amazing piñatas that my husband made for these parties. 

Majora Mask (Legend of Zelda Birthday Party)

Toupie  (Toupie & Binou Birthday Party)

Snorlax (Pokemon Birthday Party)

Kirby (Kirby Video Game Birthday Party)

Please post a comment and share this post.

Past Emotional Experiences can Influence how you are parenting your Children -- A Solution

One of the things that I have realized since I am a parent and a step-parent is that there are many, sometimes too many, factors affecting or influencing the relationship with my children.  On one hand, every child is different, with unique combinations of abilities and needs that certainly affect our relationship with them.  On the other hand, the way we were parented also significantly influences the way we view the world and how we come to parent our children.  According to Drs. Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J. Siegel, research has repeatedly shown that when parents offer repeated, predictable experiences in which they see and sensitively respond to their children’s emotions and needs, their children will prosper —socially, emotionally, relationally, and even academically. But, what is the secret for this?

Using your Past Experiences to Construct a New Future for Yourself and your Children
According to Drs. Bryson and Siegel, “The most important factor when it comes to how you relate with your kids and give them all those advantages, is how well you’ve made sense of your experiences with your own parents”.  In my opinion, this is a very powerful sentence because although many of us are determined to avoid the mistakes that our own parents made, we often times follow in the same trap.  How many times, did you tell yourself, “I don’t want to make the same mistakes that my parents made when I was a child” or “I am sounding like my mother (or my father) now”.  According to the above mentioned authors, if you can make sense of the past experiences with your parents as well as understand your father’ or mother’s wounded nature, you can break the cycle of inherited non-desired parental behaviours.  Of course, this may require hard work on your part, possibly even some help from a therapist.  You will most likely need to deal with hidden or implicit memories that are doing their work on you without you even realizing it.  Clearly, it will not be an easy or short process.  But, if you can make sense of your memories and understand how they have influenced you in the present, you may be able to use this information to construct a new future for yourself, and for how you parent your children.  As the authors said in their article, it is by understanding our own experiences and learning to tell the story of our childhood, the joys as well as the pain, we can become the kind of parent whose children are securely attached and connected to us in strong and healthy ways.

YNAB - Budgeting Software

Recently, we discovered YouNeedABudget also known as YNAB.  This budgeting or financial software is great for many reasons.  It has a large and active community.  YNAB is only partially about its budgeting software, although that's what you're paying for when you buy it.  In reality, when you purchase YNAB, you also get access to financial literacy classes, tutorials, a community of users, budgeting tools and many other useful items. The app itself is available for Windows and OS X, with mobile versions for iOS and Android.  Since the app runs locally, you have access to your financial information offline if you need it, and YNAB still imports transactions from your banks, credit cards, retirement funds, and other accounts to deliver a single-pane view of your financial health.  You can use YNAB to set or organize your personal, family or small business budget.  What is interesting with YNAB is that is organized in a way that can help you set your financial goals and, more importantly, to stick to them.  YNAB can also help you reconcile accounts when your numbers feel off, and can walk you through the budgeting process in a simple, comprehensible way.  

Interested in trying YNAB?
You can try YNAB for free for a month, but after that you'll need to pay $60 for the app, which is not such a bad price considering that your license is good for all your systems, and the mobile apps are free.  So, if you want to try YNAB, use this link http://ynab.refr.cc/384XJJ9


Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Your happiness is your responsibility.  That may sound a little like tough love, but it’s actually just a reminder to you that your happiness depends on you, or if you prefer, is within your control.  If you are struggling with your own happiness, I recommend a few things that can help you create happiness in your life today, starting with reading the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.

12 Ways to Create Happiness
The list below is a compilation of ways and ideas that people have found, or used to create or improve their happiness.  Know that Life is nothing, but a story, a flowing river, a life's meaning with you as the key character.  

1.           Abandon self-judgement and develop self worth
2.           Put yourself first – Decide to make yourself a priority
3.           Write your achievements  - Create visuals of your awesomeness
4.           Abandon the judgment of others
5.           Try everything once – Fill your day with tiny things you love
6.           Try something you have never tried before – Don’t get stuck in routines
7.           Beware the highlight reel
8.           Choose gratitude
9.           Share your wisdom
10.        Do not live in regrets – Allow yourself to make mistakes
11.        Discover your passions and follow them
12.        Live in the Moment

Scientists say that Happiness Begins at 50!

Wonderful news from Stony Brook University: despite increased risk of death and disease, people in their fifties worry less, ignore the negatives and accentuate the positives. According to a survey of 340,000 people, overall feelings of well-being improve as we pass middle age. 

Oprah’s Social Lab Work and the Greatest Challenge as a Parent

Recently, I received an email from Oprah’s Social Lab Work (http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Social-Lab-Work-Empowering-Children-Through-Conscious-Parenting ) where I was asked to participate in a survey regarding conscious parenting.  The first question of the survey was simple, but difficult to answer: “what is your greatest challenge as a parent”.  When I saw the question, I started to think about all the challenges and problems (in a next post, I will list all these) that I am facing as parent.  I realize that like most parents, I don’t face one challenge, but many, too many sometimes.  The question is to identify which one of these challenges is the greatest one.

Children present a variety of challenges depending on their age, temperament, developmental level, learning style and cognitive abilities amongst other things.  As in any other relationship, parents themselves also affect the parent-child relationship.  Adults can find parenting especially challenging when they are stressed at work, when they are dealing with separation or divorce, or when a child or adult in the family suffers from a mental or physical illness.  

So, coming back to the question that Oprah’s people asked me, I can say that at this point in time when my son is only 4 ½ years old, the greatest challenge that I am facing is to find ways to help him develop his self-esteem.  

Languages, French Immersion and Brain Development

Our son Elijah will be starting kindergarten in September and the options presented to us with respect to elementary school are simple: English or French Immersion.  After thinking carefully (and discussing all possible sides of the question), my husband and I have decided to enrol him in a public French immersion school.  Personally, I am happy with the decision because I have always been very interested in languages, and really want my son to be bilingual.  But, I have to admit that I am also nervous because I have heard that immersion programs are not always well-designed and ineffective. 

I speak English, French and Spanish and am capable of reading Italian, so languages are important for me.  If I would have more time, I would love to learn other languages, especially Chinese.  Having said this, I have not been very good teaching my son Spanish (or French); even though I believe that young children are the best second language learners.  Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of second language learning not only on a child’s linguistic abilities, but on his/her cognitive and creative abilities as well.  Children who learn a foreign language beginning in early childhood demonstrate certain cognitive advantages over children who do not.  The advantage for younger learners is that they have the ability to mimic closely the native pronunciation and intonation of a new language (so, no accent!).  In addition, literacy skills that are being developed in the native language transfer to the learning of the new language.  According to a research article entitled “The Bilingual Advantage in Novel Word Learning,” published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review”, bilingual speakers excel over monolingual speakers in word recognition and recall.  Other benefits of learning another language are the improved ability to focus on two tasks at once.  It appears that bilingual kids think more analytically because parts of their brain dedicated to memory, reasoning and planning are larger than those of monolinguals. For these reasons, several research studies have shown academic gains by students who have begun learning another language at an early age. 

Groceries and wasted food: How much do we value food?

In my previous post, I was talking about the amount of food that we waste in our house.  Every week, we spent about $350-400 if not more in food, representing approximately $20,000 per year.  Of course, this doesn’t include money that we spent in restaurants or little food/coffee treats that we gave ourselves from time to time.  In addition, our freezer is full of food that we “believe”, we will eat one day, or that we bought because it was on sale at the grocery store.  The issues are that, (1) we don’t really eat $20,000 of food; and (2) most of the food that we have in the freezer will end in the garbage. 

Although my family may be at one extreme of the spectrum (we are really bad in terms of wasting both food and money), I know that we are not the only ones who are wasting food (or money!).  A recent (November 2012) article that appeared in the Canadian Grocer website (http://www.canadiangrocer.com/top-stories/what-a-waste-19736) indicated that the overall value of food in Canada that ends up in garbage cans or in compost bins is about $27 billion!  This is enormous when we take into consideration that the population in Canada is only ~30 million people.  Financially speaking, this means that each Canadian wastes about $900 in food per year. The David Suzuki Foundation website (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/help-end-food-waste/) provides other stats regarding food wasted that I am copying below (visit their website if you want to read more about it):
·       Close to ½ of all food produced worldwide is wasted — discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens.
·       As much as 30% of food, worth about $48 billion, is thrown away in the US each year. (The average household there throws out about 215 kg of food each year — around $600 worth)
·       In Toronto, single-family households discard about 275 kg of food waste each year. That means one in four food purchases still ends up in the garbage.  Toronto taxpayers spend nearly $10 million a year getting rid of food waste that's not composted.
·       Over 30% of fruits and vegetables in North America don't even make it onto store shelves because they're not pretty enough for picky consumers.
Financially speaking, if each Canadian family wastes about $600 in food per year, my little family (formed by 4 people) would waste about $2400 per year. That's a lot of money! It’s clear that reducing waste food is important from the environmental point of view, but we have to admit that having an extra $2400 per year in our pockets for other things would not be a bad idea.  The question, however, is why it's so difficult to reduce food waste when the environmental and financial reasons are so obvious.  I am certain that there are many political, economical, cultural and emotional reasons why are we wasting so much food (we can explore this on other posts), but one point that attracted my attention is the solution(s). There are many suggestions that can be used to reduce food waste, especially when we think about families or individuals. The most common answer appears to be – MEALS PLANNING!  All the books, articles and websites that discuss this issue clearly say that to reduce food waste, you need to plan your meals.  Associated with this issue or solution is grocery list.  So, the idea is that we should plan our meals and prepare a grocery list. My question is, is that simple? Really, when you work full-time and have to take your children to their various extra-curricular activities, can you really plan your weekly meals?  

Finances and Budget

I spent the whole morning working on my personal (and indirectly family) finances: credit cards, budget, payments, savings, etc.  I am trying to consolidate some debts, so I can I make all my payments on time.  It’s not easy. The interest rate on balance transfers or consolidation of debts is usually high regardless of the card that I am using.  A few weeks ago, I was only using one credit card and had only debts with this card.  Suddenly, I have now debts with three major credit cards.  What happened, I don’t know? But, I was unable to sleep last night because of these credit card debts.

At this point, all the debts are relatively small, I think, summing about $6100.00.  Although it may sound a small amount, when I take into consideration my other debts (line of credit, student loan, personal loan, mortgages), it is really a lot. Our family needs a budget and a way to use our money better. We overspend every week in many different ways, including groceries, restaurants, books, treat for the kids, etc.  Groceries are a real issue for us. I think that we spend about $350-400 per week on groceries, and we are only 4 people (including 2 children). It’s true that we have one person among us who has celiac disease, but it is still too much money and way above what we can afford based on our financial situation. We waste so much food every week.  In addition, we have a freezer that is full of food that we don’t use well.  The food in the freezer gets bad or wasted because we don’t really use on time.  I need to find a solution for this.  

Lost Wedding Ring – Can it be found again?

Sunday would have been a great day if it wasn’t because my husband lost his wedding ring.  Although we are not 100% certain where he lost the ring, it is almost certain that it was at the little park that is located a few minutes away from our house.  When my husband saw his finger without the ring, he could not believe it. He became pale and was practically shaking.  He quickly checked all over his clothes and then went to the backyard where he had spent a few hours trying to put together the trampoline for the kids.  Finally, we all realized that the other possible place where the ring could be was the park.  Quickly, we all decided to go to the park (including our 4 years old who really wanted to help daddy) to search for the ring. But, the search was unsuccessful – no ring anywhere.  Of course, my husband called the police, but nothing. We have been suggested to call the local places that sell used jewelry and to even consider checking Kijiji or similar websites.  But, we know that it will not be easy to find the ring. My husband is so devastated because our rings are so unique. He designed them for our wedding.  

How can I help my son to develop self-confidence?

Our son is only 4 ½ years old and is a very gentle, but energetic little boy.  He loves to play with pokemon figures and is currently in love with super heroes such as spiderman and ironman.  For his preschool, he goes to a local Montessori child care, so the kids who attend his pre-school are between 3-5 years old.  Since there is not Montessori school on PEI (this is the smallest province of Canada), my son will be attending a public school next September.  He will be starting elementary school; i.e., kindergarten in a French immersion program.

I am not certain whether is because he used to go to a small home-care (usually 4-6 kids per day) until he was about 3 years old or because of his genetics (from my side of the family), but he lacks a little bit of self-confidence.  Some kids at the day care push or tell him names, and he doesn’t say anything.  He is very quiet at the day-care and rarely raising his voice (of course, this is a little bit different at home!).  We keep telling him that he needs to be more assertive (of course, we don’t necessarily use this word) and has to learn to say things such as “I don’t like when you push me or call me poop”, he just doesn’t want to say anything.  As a result, some kids are always picking on him.  My husband and I are continually telling him how important it is to be able to stick up for ourselves.  Based on his behaviour and explanations, it appears to me that he feels that if he says something the kids will not play with him or will not like him, or simply will not chose him for games. Now, I remember that when I was young, I was exactly like him.  I was scared of everything (my son is very scared of animals even though he seems to love them) and had few friends (sometimes no friends).  I was just too shy to say something to kids who would make fun of me.  Now, in my case, there were other issues that may have explained my behaviour (unstable family and abuse) I managed to survive those years, but it was not fun. I don’t want my son to face the same problems or insecurities that I had when I was young, so I want to find tips or ways to help him.  What can I help him?

Casa del Sol - Our Oceanfront Summer House in Prince Edward Island

Yesterday, we spent part of the day at our cottage which is located here on Prince Edward Island, Canada.  We have named our cottage, Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) because we wanted to give it a Spanish touch. We bought the cottage last summer, and it’s a business or investment project for us.  So, we are not planning to use the cottage that much during the summer, but we hope to be able to use it late fall and in the winter.  Casa del Sol came to us all equipped because its previous owners also used as a vacation rental from July to August (high season here in southern Canada), and often in September.  We want to do the same, and hopefully even rent it a little bit more, perhaps 1-2 weeks in June.  Although it’s a beautiful cottage (see pictures) below, we really want our cottage to look special and unforgettable for our guests. Yesterday, my husband and I spent some time thinking about small changes that will improve the décor and the amenities offer to our guests.  Although we have many ideas, our budget is very limited this year. We will change pillows and bedding material.  We will also add a few more items to the kitchen, including a cappuccino machine. We are also adding new outdoor items.

Casa del Sol is practically rented or booked for the summer (still need to rent 2 weeks in July), but we need to rent it in September (one week in June would also be nice).  We are using Flipkey, VRBO and Cottage Country.  So, far VRBO and Flipkey have been useful, but have not got any rental via Cottage Country.  I love to have a family business, but it certainly represents more work for us. However, it's a different type of work that both my husband and I are enjoying very much (at least for now!). I love the vacation rental business.

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