Keeping busy with Syrian refugees

I want to apologize to any readers who may have been looking at my blog recently.

I have not posted because I have been busy chairing a group of people who are helping Syrian refugees come to Canada. Although the group was intially formed by congregants of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, we have had many people outside the congregation join us to offer their help.

It is a tremendous amount of work.  We have collected enough funds to sponsor three families ourselves, we are helping two families sponsor their relatives who will live with them once they arrive in Canada, and we are helping four small private groups sponsor Syrian refugees by submitting their application to the government for them, managing their funds and providing tax receipts to their donors.

I am sure to those outside the process, it is a simple matter to sponsor refugees.  It is not!

It has been keeping me running! I feel like I am operating a small business. Apart from raising and managing the funds, getting matched with refugee families, submitting applications, finding housing, training volunteers, arranging for written agreements with the four private outside groups, we still have to settle the families once they arrive! Luckily we have a terrifc team of hardworking, dedicated and highly skilled people who take their work very seriously. Occasionally we trip over one another’s feet, but I am overwhelmed by the goodness I see in each of the volunteers.

This is happening all across the country. How amazing and wonderful is that.

I hope I will be back to writing in a few months; I miss it so much.



Welcoming Syrian refugees: with or without the niqab


Our Syrian friends will soon be with us.  Groups all over the country are working hard to sponsor a refugee family and I am part of one.

I am looking forward to meeting “our” family and helping them to settle in Canada. But that means that I must, and all Canadians must, put aside whatever concerns they may have about the newest members of our family and welcome them with open arms.

In Canada, we recently had a debate about wearing the niqab in citizenship courts and no doubt some of the refugees coming to Canada will be wearing one.  Eighty two percent of Canadians disagree with allowing the niqab to be worn while taking the citizenship oath.

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Finding Solace Over the Rainbow

Photo by Michael Carson

Photo by Michael Carson

I can’t imagine anything more painful than the death of a child.

I recently attended the funeral of a 30-year young man. I cried for Jason, for his Mom and Dad and for the possible loss I too could experience.

I know, even as time goes on, the grief that Jason’s parents feel will always be with them.  And although I don’t know them very well—Jason’s Dad worked with my husband– and I never met Jason, in some small way, their grief has become mine and it will always be with me too.

Perhaps that’s what funerals do. They bind you to those who are grieving and in making room for them, your heart grows bigger.

It would have been hard not to let in the pain of Jason’s parents.  They told stories about Jason that made everyone laugh and even, in this saddest of moments, their joy and amazement that they could have had such a son as Jason shone through. Thus we felt their loss.

We chuckled when we learned Jason jumped out of the school window to escape class.  And again, when Jason’s Dad told us about the time he locked himself in the school principal’s office, while simultaneously locking her out. It was only after 15 minutes of coaxing from his mother that Jason deigned to open the door.  I am still wondering what consequences he endured. He must have been a handful! Read More

Former NHL Player Patrick O’Sullivan suffered from his abusive father


The most heart-rending interview showing how badly parenting can go wrong when parents live vicariously through their children was aired on CBC’s “The Current” yesterday.

Former NHL hockey player Patrick O’Sullivan was emotionally and physically abused at the hands of his father, a would-be hockey player who never fulfilled his dreams.  Patrick O’Sullivan told how his father John would return home late at night after a few drinks, wake up the sleeping boy and force him to exercise for hours to improve his hockey.  He made the young Patrick run home in his hockey gear after practice, no matter what the time or weather. He beat him, kicked him and called him names. Read More

Why your young adult is impulsive and 10 other strange facts about the teenage brain

The Teenbage BrainThe brain does not fully mature until many young people are in their late twenties.

The centre in the brain for impulse control, decision-making, judgement, and planning is the last to develop. Not only is this centre the least mature in the teenage and young adult brain, it is the last to connect with other parts of the brain responsible for seeing, tasting smelling, hunger, aggression, emotions, sexuality, and language among other things.

In her book,  “The Teenage Brain – A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults” Author Frances E. Jensen explains this is why most young people do not  make sound judgements and good decisions.
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How I coped with my accident-prone young drivers

photo by Michael Carson

photo by Michael Carson

Show me a young adult driver who hasn’t had a car accident and I’ll show a young adult who doesn’t drive.

While this may not be totally true, it is the rare parent who has not had to deal with at least one accident their child has had while driving the family car. I have had literally an embarrassment of riches in this department. Among them, my three children have had eight, count ’em, eight accidents.

The first time my daughter had a car accident, I was at a loss as to what to do.  She had received her license a few weeks before and she wanted to meet a friend so she could study for her final high school exams. A few hours later, we received a call from her telling us she had an accident.  I found out she and her friend were going out for ice cream (which was not part of the agreed upon route) , when she turned a corner quickly and slid off the road, wet from rain, into a yard. She narrowly missed hitting a tree which the police officer told me could have killed her or her friend.

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How to convince your parents that you have your life together

Photo by Blair Gable

Photo by Blair Gable

There is a very funny blog post on 10 things that your single adult son might do to his apartment to convince visitors that he has his life together. One of the suggestions singles out parents, but any of the suggestions would do the trick. But beware, there is some pretty rough language. The favourite word in the post is sh- – not to mention other four letter words.

My friend’s son sent him the post; they are now amusing themselves by figuring out which activities will convince his mom all is well with him.  Very funny to all but mom.

I have five suggestions of my own.  These apply particularly to the 18 to 25 year-old group.

1. Have some food in the fridge.

2. Make sure I don’t trip over beer bottles on my way up the stairs to see your room.

3. Air the place out. Stale beer and B.O., even if it is someone else’s, is not a good combination.

4.  Get your hair cut and keep your beard trimmed.

5. Get your roommates to stand up when I come into the room and shake my hand.

6.  Cook me a dinner and I”ll be totally convinced everything is right in your world.

What signs tell you that your child is managing his or her life well?  I would love to hear from you so please leave a response in the Reply Box below.

Missing in action: kids who fail to communicate

Blog photos message to Andrew

I recently received the following e-mail from a worried friend in Toronto.  She had no contact with her son for 36 hours after the time he was expected to be home:

Andrew is MIA for 24 hours now, went out Friday night, Mike (his Dad) talked to him last evening and Andrew said he’d be home last night.   Hasn’t shown up.  He was supposed to go back to university in Hamilton  today.  Can’t find him – left 2 messages on his cell which went right to voice-mail, sent a text, no reply.  Now I’ve messaged him and his best friend on Facebook…  I’m mean: REALLY!   I know he’s almost 26 and all, but if he’s staying at our place, shouldn’t he let us know where he is, what his plans are?  I am starting to get concerned.


Anxious mom of irresponsible adult child 

My response:   Read More