Ten Thousand Villages (+ Giveaway!)

I got a little gift in the mail this week and I want to share it with you (both literally and figuratively). Ten Thousand Villages asked me to tell you about their personal accessories (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, scarves etc.), which I’m happy to do.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer (the oldest and largest in North America) that sells personal accessories, home decor and gift items made by artisans from around the world. Here’s their mission:

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

I’ve been a Ten Thousand Villages customer for a long time (as have many members of my family) and I have several pieces of their jewellery. Here are some of my favourite accessories from their current collection, including their 2014 holiday guide.

Summer rain necklace 

summer-rain-necklace

Twisted silver cufftwisted-silver-cuff

Stony garden bracelet

stony-garden-bracelet

Starlight splendour ring

starlight-splendour-ring

Silver moon scarfsilver-moon-scarf

River rocks scarf

river-rocks-scarf

Planet cluster necklace

planet-cluster-necklace

Hoopy loopy necklace

hoopy-loopy-necklace

Forest floor earrings

forest-floor-earrings

Falling leaves earrings

falling-leaves-earrings

Crimson scarfcrimson-scarf

Want a piece of Ten Thousand Villages jewellery for your own? I’m going to give away one of these gentle forest bangles, which features hand-hammered embossed leaves on silver-plated metal.

gentle-forest-bangle

To enter this Ten Thousand Villages giveaway and maybe score yourself a little early Christmas present, complete the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Locket Full of Sunshine

Every day for the first year of Connor’s life, I jotted a little note in a calendar we had made with pictures of him as a newborn. (Well, not EVERY day – I started when he was a few weeks old and we had the calendar done, but you get the idea.) I noted what we had done that day, his firsts, what he had started eating – all the usual new-mom stuff. We took lots of pictures too, and at that point my husband was still using our real camera. Of course when Ethan was born things were different.

Ethan, as loved as he is, has suffered the second-child baby-book fate. I think I actually got a baby book for him, but I couldn’t tell you where it is and I’m pretty sure there’s not much in it. Like his brother though, he does have a special keepsake box where I put things I want to save – pictures he draws, his boarding pass from his first flight, a snip of hair from his first haircut.

I love those boxes and will continue pulling them down from the top shelves of the boys’ closets to add to their contents (even if, in the end, I’m the only one who will appreciate the memories they bring back). But I haven’t been very good at doing anything with pictures and the day-to-day memories (which, thanks to iPhones, we have a lot of). Until now.

I’ve been using the Locket app, which I really like. I wasn’t sure if I would, since so many memory-capturing solutions seem to be great in theory but not so easy to use in practice. Locket lets you collect photo, audio, video and written memories and then presents them as an e-timeline or a photo book.

Here’s part of Ethan’s photo book. In this timeframe alone, he’s gone from his second birthday to having a Star Wars movie night with the big kids.

Locket photobook page5

Locket photobook page4

Some of those are just pictures I’ve taken and added to Locket later, and some of them are based on prompts in cards in the system.

Locket sample card

They’re based on yours kids’ ages, so the ones for Ethan are appropriate for toddlers, while the ones that pop up for Connor have more options. Here are a few pages from Connor’s photo book.

Locket photobook page3

We played with the questions one day and he loved answering them and seeing the book about him come together.

Locket photobook page2

Locket photobook page1

Locket photobook page6

I appreciate an app with personality, and Locket includes little messages along the bottom or while saving new content that make me smile (“Did you take time for yourself today? Just curious.” or “1000 figurative words being saved.”) as well as tips for taking photos and videos.

If you’re trying to figure out how to collect memories for your kids and electronically save all those masterpieces they bring home from school, Locket is definitely one to check out. And it’s free!

Locket home screen

The usual disclosure: I am part of the Timewyse Locket blogger program with Mom Central and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

In response to Jian Ghomeshi

This letter was written by my husband and he has agreed to let me share it here. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Connor,

You’re six years old. You’re in grade one. You’re sitting at the breakfast table eating Nutella on toast. You’re fidgety because you want to play with your Lego before you go to school and I’m making you finish your breakfast and get dressed before you do.

I’m reading a news article about a man named Jian Ghomeshi, a radio host that I admired and who we’ve listened to together in the car. He has been accused of violently assaulting women he dates. The article says that many of the women he assaulted didn’t speak up for fear that they wouldn’t be believed or that they would be blamed or that their careers or personal lives would be ruined. The article goes on to say that people acquainted with him may have known how he treated women and that one woman who did complain was largely ignored.

I can’t help but think of you.

Like every parent I’ve wondered about your future and what kind of person you will turn out to be. Will you be academic? Artistic? Athletic? What kind of friends will you make? Will you be happy?

Like every parent, I’ve thought about my role helping you become the person you are to be. I’ve thought about what I’d tell you about doing your best, about standing up to peer pressure, and about taking responsibility for your actions.

And, as the parent of two boys, I’ve thought about what I’d talk to you about before you started dating.

One of the first girls I dated had been raped by a past boyfriend. She went to court and wasn’t able to prove that he did anything they hadn’t consented to, so he wasn’t punished. At the time, she lived in a small town and the gossip forced her family to move away. Before her, I don’t think I was really that aware of rape or consent. I’m sure that I’d had the “no means no” conversation in health class but until her it didn’t really mean that much to me.

After university I worked for a year at a women’s sexual assault centre. It was a place where women who’d been assaulted could receive support and counselling. I was the first male who’d ever worked there and I worked on a project that taught teenagers that “no means no” wasn’t enough; that consent isn’t just about stopping when someone says no, but it’s about discussing your boundaries beforehand.

These experiences have been foremost in my mind as I’ve considered what you and I might talk about regarding dating and sex. I know that I want you to treat girls with respect. That, no matter what, she feels safe in your company and that whatever behaviour you engage in is something you both want.

And for the longest time that, plus a healthy dose of biological information, seemed to be good enough. But not anymore. I see now that it’s not enough to hope you don’t grow up to be a rapist. My vision for your future needs to be bigger. I want you to grow up to be a boy who stands up when someone makes a demeaning comment about a girl. I want you to be a man who speaks up when you see sexual harassment at work. I want you to be an example of how men are supposed to treat women. That you become part of the solution to violence against women and not sit silently by and be part of the problem.

Love,

Dad

 

 

Travel, Fundraising & Getting Old

I suddenly feel old. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick for 6 weeks. (Have you had pleurisy? Oh lordy, that hurts.) Maybe it’s because I was recently in 6 time zones in a three-week period (I definitely feel too old for that). Or maybe it’s because I turn 40 in a couple of months.

Actually, no. The reason I suddenly feel old is that when I was in the airport last week I got accosted by a young woman in one of the stores who wanted to show me how amazing their eye cream was. I was early for my flight and she was really friendly and terribly earnest, so I figured I’d humour her. My attitude quickly changed when I found out the amazing eye-fixing system she was selling cost $300, but she did have a point. It worked well, which I know because she showed me all the little lines around my eyes (yes, I know, thank you very much) and then put this amazing cream around one eye. Whaddya know! Look at that! I looked 10 years younger (or that eye did, anyway). I very politely declined all her (many) sales techniques, but I wondered as I walked through security if anyone noticed that I had one old-lady eye and one not. And then I bought eye cream that doesn’t cost $300 when I got home.

My first trip in October was to Dublin and it was sort of spur of the moment. I only went for three days (and now you’re probably starting to understand why I feel old and tired) but it was totally worth it. Even with the pleurisy. I wrote about making the most of three days in Ireland (not just Dublin) for Family Fun Canada.

Irish doors

I had a few days at home and then went to New York City with a group of friends to celebrate our 40th birthdays. I had never been before and, while there’s definitely some very cool stuff to see in NYC, I didn’t like it. (I know. Blasphemy. Does anyone else not love New York or am I the only freak?) After that it was Seattle to speak at a conference, and now it’s November and I’m glad the crazy month of October is over.

view of new york at night

Speaking of October, Ethan just turned 2 and I missed his birthday letter. I need to do something about that.

In the meantime, my fundraising for Team Diabetes is underway. I had a jumpathon event at Springfree Trampoline on Saturday that was totally fun. We have one of these trampolines and they’re awesome, and Springfree has generously offered to raffle one off! If you’re in Calgary and you want to enter all you have to do is give a donation and I’ll add you to the draw, which will be done in a couple of weeks.

Springfree trampoline

I’m also doing an online auction along with a couple of friends who are also participating. We’ve got some great stuff up for bid and it’s open until Nov. 7. Check out some of these cool things! (I really want to bid on some of them but don’t want to have it look like I’m trying to inflate the bids…)

auction-items

Top row, L-R: MantraBands, 16×20 watercolour, $100 Fit Chicks gift card

Middle row, L-R: weighted owl, handmade glass bead bracelet, organic food gift basket from Highwood Crossing

Bottom row, L-R: Amazon gift card, Calgary Stampede bolo tie, Jamberry gift set

We’ve also got a pass for four to the Banff Gondola, tickets to Ballet Jorgen’s production of The Nutcracker in Ottawa and lots more, so come and do some Christmas shopping and support a great cause.

Ok, that’s a lot of random craziness. No wonder I feel old!

How was your October?

On the Road to Reykjavik

After dipping down below the acceptable depression threshold a few too many times recently I did a little thinking. It started out primarily as a WTF attitude (as in why me? Why again?!) but perspective comes from the strangest places.

What are you doing to take care of yourself? people often ask. Do you get enough sleep/exercise/time to yourself? And the answer to all of those is, mostly, yes. I mean, yes and no (because does any parent of young children really get enough?) but I think I do okay in those areas.

The trouble is I haven’t been doing the right things. I’ve become really good at sitting on my bed after the boys are (finally) asleep and browsing through Facebook. I can read status updates and comment and click that like button with the best of them. It’s definitely a retreat, but it’s not exactly fulfilling.

That realization (as obvious as it might be) didn’t really become clear until I was talking to a friend recently. This guy — a firefighter, sort of a guy’s guy — asked a simple question: “What’s your outlet?”

What’s my outlet? Um, gee. That’s a good question. I like to write and I like to run, but have been doing neither on a consistent basis.

“You know that giant LEGO Death Star in my basement?” he continued. “Yeah, that was an outlet.”

I pictured him escaping his three kids or a long day at work by going to the basement and slowly, literally piece by piece, putting that together.

That’s what I need – not a LEGO Death Star, but a project.Team Diabetes

In my last race package was a brochure for Team Diabetes and, unlike most of the brochures I get in race packages, I had kept it. I’ve supported the Canadian Diabetes Foundation in various ways for a long time because I’ve had several family members affected by diabetes. Most personally for me was my Grandma, who was legally blind after losing much of her sight to the disease.

True to my largely impulsive nature, I had a look at the Diabetes Association’s website and found myself signing up for a Team Diabetes race in Reykjavik, Iceland next year. I registered without worrying too much about the slightly intimidating fundraising requirement, because I needed a project and this would be it. (Or one of them, anyway. I’m nothing if not ambitious when it comes to finding projects to distract myself with.)

Islandsbanki Marathon

Photo credit: Islandsbanki Marathon

I’ve already got some fundraising plans and some donations from supportive friends. And I’ve got a bit of a posse too. After I signed up, 6 friends (so far) did as well, and more are thinking about it.

Fundraising for this event will be a challenge and a bit outside my comfort zone (especially because I hate asking for money), but that’s sort of what I like about it. It’s something to focus on other than who has posted a new photo to Facebook. I’m excited about it, so that qualifies it as an outlet, don’t you think? I do, so here I go on something that is just for me – not me as a mom or anything else. Just me on the road to Reykjavik.

If you want to support me in my fundraising goal, you can donate here