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Grandparent I S L A N D


Supporting Your Kids as They Parent

New Grandparent Checklist

Helping Provide for Your Grandkids’ Future

Your Inner Censor May Need Tweaking

The Perks of Being a Grandparent Great Picture Books to Share Being Active with Your Grandchildren

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From the Editor

What I’ve Learned


uring the 15 months since my grandson Oskar was born, I’ve learned a few things in my role as a grandparent. I’ve learned that becoming a grandparent gives you the chance to fall irrevocably in love, all over again, with a tiny human being. I’d forgotten how it fills up your heart—this instantaneous, awesome, joyous, fierce yet sweet love that gives you hope for the future. I’ve learned firsthand what other grandparents know—that we get to experience the joy without having to shoulder the full responsibility that comes with being a parent. We get to cuddle, coo, sing, and laugh at our grandchildren’s antics, and then we get to hand them back to their parents for the serious business of raising them. I’ve learned that there are times to hold my tongue and times to make suggestions or share my experience. There’s a tricky balance to this, especially in the early months when the new parents are tr ying to figure out what works for their family. I have no doubt that I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll keep trying to learn how to be supportive without overstepping boundaries or being judgemental. I’ve learned that, contrary to what I used to believe, there is a place for battery-operated toys in a toddler’s toy box. My grandson loves toys that beep, ring, flash lights, sing songs, make animal sounds and play music. Most of the toys that would drive his parents crazy end up at our place, and as soon as the music starts to play, his little body begins to rock and sway. We’ll put these noise-makers away when he gets to the imaginative-play stage, but for now I have to admit that I get a kick out of him pushing the buttons on his toy phone and holding it up to his ear to “talk.” I’ve learned that looking after very small children is a lot more exhausting now than it was in my 20s and 30s! Wow, where does all that energy come from? And where did mine go! I admire all those grandparents who provide daycare, babysitting or extended care for their grandchildren on a daily or even weekly basis.

I’ve learned that parenting is constantly evolving, the world is changing, and there’s no use remaining entrenched in the past. Yes, things are done differently today, and yes, the world is a crazy place according to what we see on TV or the news. But the young parents I’ve met recently are, for the most part, smart, well-informed, fun, loving, creative, and appreciative of their kids. In many ways, life is probably more stressful for them than it was for us, but there seem to be more answers and options available to them. I’ve learned that a grandchild can bring you closer to your own child. There’s a natural stage when your adult children turn away from you in order to find their own place in the world. I believe that’s a good thing. But how great is it when they start having babies and turn back to you of their own accord? All of a sudden they get it—they begin to understand what you went through as a parent, that you didn’t always do the right thing, that sometimes you just didn’t have the energy to do all that you’d hoped. They get that parenting is the biggest, most challenging and rewarding job they’ll ever do. I do believe there’s a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. There seems to be an understanding that skips a generation, an acceptance which is unsullied by the expectations and demands in the parent-child relationship. This acceptance is a two-way street, with both the older and younger generation unconsciously knowing that the other is perfectly lovable just as they are. With this annual issue of Island Grandparent, we hope to support you in your grandparenting journey. Our community offers many wonderful activities, cultural attractions and events you might like to share with a child. Don’t forget to peruse Island Parent each month to keep up with what’s going on for kids and families on Vancouver Island. Another resource is Enjoy your grandchildren! Mada Moilliet

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This & That

From the Editor.......................3 This & That..............................4 Supporting Your Kids   as They Parent......................6 Great Picture Books   to Share.................................8 A Trip to the Library................9 Helping Provide for Your   Grandkids’ Future...............10 New Grandparent  Checklist.............................12 Being Active with   Your Grandchildren.............14 Telling It Like It Was..............16 Your Inner Censor   May Need Tweaking............18 A Perfect Park Outing...........19 Here…& There.......................20 Lillie, Sparks &   Giving Time..........................22 The Perks of Being   a Grandparent.....................24 My Mummers Bag.................25 Raising Your  Grandchildren.....................26 Island Grandparent Magazine, produced by Island Parent Group Enterprises Ltd., is an annual publication that honours and supports grandparents by providing information on resources and businesses for families, and a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. No material herein may be reproduced without the permission of the Editor. Island Grandparent Magazine is distributed free in selected areas.

Island Grandparent Magazine

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President, Publisher: Paul Abra Vice-President: Anna Abra Editor: Mada Moilliet Design Assistant: Sue Fast Advertising Sales: RaeLeigh Buchanan Publisher’s Assistant: Linda Frear Production: Eacrett Graphic Design Printed at Hillside Printing, Victoria ISSN 0838-5505 Cover photo by Konul Rosario,


Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group Are you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren? You are not alone. To talk with someone about resources and programs that you may not be aware of, please call the province-wide GRG Information Line toll free at 1-855-474-9777. You can also find out about programs on the Island that provide opportunities to meet with other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, along with information, support and activities. Find out more by visiting

Autism Mid-Island Grandparent Support Group Being a grandparent brings great joy, but a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s Syndrome in a grandchild creates unique challenges for the entire family. Whether they live near or far away, grandparents want to help but often don’t know where to begin. The Autism Society of BC (ASBC), in partnership with the District 69 Family Resource Association, has launched the ASBC Mid-Island Grandparent Support Group to help address these challenges. “We have a lot of grandparents in the Oceanside area and their needs are unique, quite different from the needs of the parents, so we felt a support group of their own could be a big help,” says Alexandria Stuart, Coordinator for the ASBC. “The meetings are free to attend. We want to give members a place to learn about autism, share their stories, and most importantly, find comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone.” Grandparents have an opportunity to network and explore areas that will help them support their grandchildren, and one another, as they cope with lives that are impacted by ASD. Discussion topics will include the process of diagnosis, grief, understanding the grandchild with ASD, supporting their own children, supporting the typical siblings, play styles of children with ASD, travelling with their grandchild, special education, picky eaters, planning for the future, and more. The ASBC Mid-Island Grandparent Support Group meets in Parksville on the second Wednesday of each month from 10 am-noon at the Family Resource Association, 198 Morison Avenue. Grandparents are also welcome to attend the ASBC Community Support Group

in Nanaimo on the third Wednesday of each month from 7-9 pm at Oliver Woods Community Centre. Both groups break for the summer and don’t hold meetings in July or August. For more information, email midisland., visit the groups online at, or phone 250714-0801.

Grandkids University Bridges the Generational Gap Vancouver Island University’s GrandKids University program is a unique way for grandparents and grandchildren to spend two days together on VIU’s Nanaimo campus experiencing university life. The program is now in its seventh year and had close to 100 “students” last year. This year, GrandKids U will be held on July 6 and 7. Just like other university students, participants get to choose their major from subjects such as chemistry, art, baking, and fisheries and aquaculture. They also get to experience student activities like a barbecue, organized sporting events and movies. Registration for the program starts soon— make sure you add your contact info to the interest list through the website to hear about it first! Visit or call 1-866-734-6252.

Playgrounds & Stroller Routes has a list of stroller routes that are perfect for babysitting grandparents. Look under the “Mom Body” tab for routes, descriptions and maps. Or look for playgrounds under the “Kids” tab to discover great outdoor sites you may not know about. Each playground listing includes a description, location and photo. For best playgrounds and water parks in the Nanaimo region, visit nanaimoinformation. com/playgrounds.

Finding Craft Ideas Online It’s easy to find craft ideas online, but it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. What starts out as an innocent search for the perfect indoor toddler craft can quickly take you down a convoluted path to découpaging that antique armoire you’ve been storing in the basement—which might be fascinating but may not be the best project to share with your small grandchild. The following sites will point you in the right direction for some crafty fun for kids. has Crafts for Kids under the Create tab. Check out the 16 rock Island Grandparent 2014

crafts, the nature crafts, paper crafts, party crafts, art projects and more. Some of the ideas are quite simple, but on this site you’ll find fun and inspiring ideas, and the end results are well photographed. is a blog with all kinds of activities and crafts for toddlers and schoolaged kids. Ideas are arranged by categories such as seasonal, by age, no-mess, quick and easy—just scroll through the photos and click on whatever interests you. At you’ll find free downloadable PDF templates for making paper toys such as koi, kites, birds, a bug box, animal finger puppets, bunny baskets and more. Just have the kids pick their craft, print the PDF, then help them cut and fold as directed. They can decorate their creation as desired. The templates are found by clicking the Free Toys tab. At there are lots of ideas arranged by grade and category. Check out the How Tos, Kids Crafts and Free Printables.

Car Seat Tips When it comes to car seat use for your grandchildren, you’ll probably rely on the child’s parents to keep you informed, but here’s some general information to keep in mind, especially if you’re a new grandparent. 1) For Infants/Toddlers You must use a rear-facing child car seat until your child is at least one year of age and weighs at least 20 lbs. There’s no rush to switch to a forward-facing seat—these guidelines are just the minimum requirements. Your baby or toddler can stay rear-facing, so long as their weight is within the specific child seat’s stated limit. A rear-facing child seat is the safest option for a small child, as it provides better support for your baby or toddler’s head and neck. Ideal placement is in the back seat, centre position. Never install a rear-facing seat on a front seat equipped with an air bag—the child could be injured if the air bag deployed. 2) Toddlers/Preschool When the child is older than one year and weighs between 20-40 lbs, use a rear or forward-facing car seat, depending on the child’s weight. Keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible. This is the safest option as long as their weight is within the manufacturer’s stated limit. Ideal placement is in the back seat. Forward facing seats must always be used with a tether. For the latest information on proper car seat use, visit Transport Canada’s website at•

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Supporting Your Kids as They Parent I

’ve been a parent educator for over 20 years now, so considering my kids were toddlers when I started my career, it is safe to say that being a grandparent is just around the corner. I often wonder what kind of grandparent I will be. My ego thinks that I can teach my children “the right way” to parent. What if they see it differently? I’ve heard countless complaints from parents about the intrusive comments from either their own beloved parents or their in-laws. Most of the complaints have a similar theme. Here is an example of what I hear: • My parents tell me my kids need to know who’s boss and to do as they are told. • They recommend that a good swift spanking will fix the problem. • They want me to force my toddler to have good manners at the table.

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• Mealtime is stressful because my parents nag my kids to clean their plates and have good manners. • They are constantly saying, “Don’t be a bad boy,” even though I ask them not to use labels. • They minimize or even ridicule my kids’ feelings; “Don’t be silly, you aren’t upset.” These kinds of comments are connected to outdated belief systems that children should be obedient and respect their elders and that feelings are to be dismissed or ignored. This kind of thinking needs to be challenged, and if you agree with the comments above, I would say this is the “bite your tongue” category. I don’t hear parents complaining about grandparents being supportive. What does being supportive look like? • Having a loving relationship with your

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own kids. If you don’t have that in place you can’t offer loving guidance. • Just listening. Your kids may need to vent about their fatigue, disagreements with their partners, fear about their child’s behaviour… they may not need you to fix it! • Offering to help in whatever way supports a feeling of well-being in the family both practically and emotionally. • Being reassuring when the grandkids are acting in a challenging way, rather than giving advice, judging or criticizing. • Reminding your adult kids that they used to act just the same way and “you turned out to be fabulous.” • Noticing all the great things that your adult kids are doing as parents and being open to learning about their beliefs and strategies. • Creating an emotionally safe environment, which means being non-judgmental and a safe communicator. • Recognizing that things are different today and being open to learning new parenting ideas. • Normalizing the challenges that are typical without minimizing your adult kids’ feelings. What about the times when you need to say something because you think it is that important? Ask yourself:

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• What is it about this that is important to me? • Does my daughter want to hear my thoughts and ideas? • Is this something that could empower my son? • Does it put the grandchildren in a positive light while acknowledging the challenging behaviours? • Is this a practical, doable tip that respects both my child and my grandchild emotionally? • Is it helpful?

Allison Rees, a parent educator, counsellor, and coach, has been teaching parenting with LIFE Seminars for 22 years. She is the co-author of Sidestepping the Power Struggle and The Parent Child Connection.

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Be careful with giving advice—it isn’t always wanted. When you speak up, be tentative and consider asking for permission before you say anything. “Are you open to hearing my thoughts on this?” If you think that a behaviour is harmful to your grandchildren’s self-esteem then you may have to speak up. When you do, focus on the issue of what you are seeing or hearing: “When I hear you call Johnny ‘stupid’ I feel concerned because I want him to feel good about himself.” Give empathy: “I know his behaviour is challenging and you feel exhausted.” Invite some brainstorming: “How can I support you?” My amazing mother used to say, “Now my heart is bigger. I love you and your children.” I felt nothing but support from her and now that my kids are adults, she remains “The best nana they could have.” I don’t recall her telling me what to do. She just did a lot of great role modeling, helped in practical ways and gave us unconditional love.

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Great Picture Books to Share A

stack of picture books + a small child or two + a comfy couch = a great afternoon spent snuggling and enjoying stories with your grandchildren. Here are some titles you may not have discovered yet. Find them at your local library or bookstore, and settle down to enjoy… A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Bark, George by Jules Feiffer The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle Canada in Words by Per-Henrik Gürth City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems Diary of A Baby Wombat by Jackie French Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. When the bus driver decides to take a break from driving his bus route, a wild and wacky pigeon volunteers to take his place. But you’ve never met a pigeon like this before. He pleads and begs his way through the book, and children will love being able to interact with the characters and the story’s events. In

Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett. This playful story is about a cheeky little girl and her toy monkey. The book is interactive, allowing young children to guess what animal the characters are pretending to be, before shouting out the answers as the pages are turned to reveal the real creatures. The story and language are upbeat and rhythmic and it’s a great read-aloud for encouraging actions and play together. My Garden by Kevin Henkes. When helping her mother weed, water, and chase the rabbits from their garden, a young girl creates a garden

his hilarious picture book debut, popular cartoonist Mo Willems captures a preschooler’s temper tantrum. Duck on A Bike by David Shannon Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard Hogwash! by Karma Wilson How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long I like Myself! by Karen Beaumont Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

in her imagination complete with jellybean bushes, chocolate rabbits, and tomatoes the size of beach balls. The story celebrates the colourful and creative aspects of gardening, nature, and children’s imaginations. It will encourage children to enjoy the magical world of plants, birds, and butterflies. Olivia by Ian Falconer One Mole Digging A Hole by Julia Donaldson. This lyrical story about teamwork in the gar-


den has whimsical and hilarious rhymes that are intended for reading aloud. Children will enjoy joining in with the animals and counting along. Illustrator Nick Sharratt has included distinctive illustrations that make this the perfect book for reading together. Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett Pete the Cat I: Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin The Pigeon Wants A Puppy! by Mo Willems Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt. Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It’s way too dangerous out there and he is afraid of all of the creatures that he could encounter. One day Scaredy Squirrel’s worst nightmare comes true when he finds himself out of his tree. This is the first book in the Scaredy Squirrel series and a great story about what can happen when you are brave enough to take a risk. Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner There Is A Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems Twinkles, Arthur and Puss by Judith Kerr. This story is full of lovable characters and a hilarious plot. The characters are Grandpa who loves his black cat, Puss, whom he raised from a kitten, the Jones family who loves Twinkles, and Lady Daisy who loves Arthur. None of them knows where their cat is when they’re

not at home, until one day all three cats go missing. As the people search everywhere for their cats, they try to figure out what their pets have been up to. Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox Sarah Isbister is a Public Services Librarian at the Greater Victoria Public Library. Her favourite children’s picture book is Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. Island Grandparent 2014

A Trip to the Library There’s more going on than you might think


f you’re a grandparent, chances are you already use your local library to make sure you’ve got books or children’s DVDs on hand for little visitors. However, you may not be familiar with the vast array of lending materials, resources and programs that are perfect for caregivers of children. Here are some examples of what you can find or participate in at the library. If you’re wondering how you can help out and connect with your grandchildren, you might offer to take them out to a library storytime or program so Mom and Dad can get a bit of a break. For more information, visit

Greater Victoria Public Library’s Website Resources Kids Games Online are available through, including CBC Preschoolers, CBC Kids, Fun with Spot, Family Channel Games, Playhouse Disney, NASA Kids, National Geographic Kids, Tumblebooks, Sports Illustrated Kids, Funbrain, and Physics Games.

GVPL’s 100 Picture Books to Read Before Kindergarten Did you know? Experts say that children need to hear at least 1,000 stories before they begin to learn to read. GVPL’s Children and Family Literacy Librarians have selected a list of 100 exceptional picture books to share with the children in your life. Ask for a copy of the list at your local branch while supplies last. Or download the GVPL’s 100 Picture Book brochure PDF.

Kindergarten (WTK) program, developed by the Learning Partnership, offers exciting resources and experiences that will get preschool kids ready for kindergarten. Visit LearnNowBC or call your neighbourhood school for more information.

Did You Know…? French Collections for Kids & Teens

We have a great selection of French books, CDs and DVDs for kids and teens. Check out the latest additions to our library collections plus our staff booklists of Funny French Picture Books, Easy to Read French Books, and Bilingual Picture Books (English & French).

Borrowing Materials at the Library Your library card isn’t just for borrowing books. You can check out DVDs, Blu-Rays, music CDs, video games, eReaders, story time kits, and even special passes to the Royal BC Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery. For details, visit Most items can be borrowed for three weeks and returned to any of the 10 library branches.

Booklists for various ages, stages, and interests The library has numerous booklists for the children in your life, including our Booklists for Talking, Singing, Playing, Writing and Reading, Get Started Reading: Beginner Readers, Let’s Go to Preschool: Picture Books, and many more.

Library Programs for Children

Especially for toddlers

Programs for kids are varied, inspiring, fun and ongoing. You can give your grandchild’s parents a break by joinin in for Babytime programs, Toddler Time, Family Storytime, Preschool Storytime, and more. Or you might offer to take your grandchildren to any of the many programs offered for older children. Check out the calendar at, then register online or call your local branch for more information.

We know that toddlers are at that stage where they want to move around, so our Toddler Time programs and Family Storytime programs are designed with lots of movement in mind. If you’re expecting a visit from your toddler grandchild, check out a few titles from our Great Picture Books for Toddlers booklist.

Is Your Grandchild Getting Ready for Kindergarten? Our Welcome to Kindergarten staff booklist is filled with books to help with each child’s transition to school. The Welcome to

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Helping Provide for Your Grandkids’ Future Y

ou want the best for your grandchildren, and at this stage in your life, you may be able to provide some financial support for their future endeavours such as post-secondary education, a wedding or first home. It may sound fairly simple: a little money set aside here and there should do the trick…right? There are often other things to consider, and some options that may be better suited to both their situation and yours. For instance, it may be fine to set up a $5,000 or $10,000 trust fund for one grandchild, but if you're likely to end up with 10 grandchildren, will you be able to provide the same for each one? Or maybe an idea would be to start an RESP when the child is born with the thought that the parents can add to it over the years. Perhaps you want to change your will to include your grandchildren. Not everyone is going to be able to make a significant monetary contribution to all of their grandchildren, but there are options that you may not have considered. One of the best things you can do to give your grandchild a great start in life is to start early. In general, a post-secondary education provides greater opportunity for employment as well as an increased earning potential (Statistics Canada states that the average university graduate earns almost twice as much as someone with a high school diploma. Over a 30-year career, that could add up to $1.2 million of additional income). For the vast majority of Canadians, a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is the most effective way to create an education fund that grows to offset the future cost of education. The fact is that the cost of post-secondary education is escalating. With the government matching programs available, any contribution amount may make a considerable difference when the time comes to fork over for tuition, books, etc. So why do RESPs make so much sense? The government allows parents, grandparents, or

other relatives (and even friends) to contribute money into an RESP account that can shelter up to $50,000 per child, on a tax-deferred basis, until the child withdraws money when attending a post-secondary institution. Plus, with the added benefit of government grant programs—the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB)—there is the potential to add up to an additional $7,200 in “free” federal money over time; some provinces also offer provincial grants. No matter what the contribution amounts are, this can be an excellent way to provide a life-long gift to any grandchild. So what happens if they decide to choose a career path that does not include a post-secondary education? The money in the RESP can usually be transferred to a plan for a sibling, or to the contributor’s RRSP. Bear in mind that if this money is used by your grandchild for purposes other than education, they will have to pay back the grant money along with a possible penalty tax charged by the Canada Revenue Agency. This can be a hefty repayment if the child decides not to pursue post-secondary, so there may be alternatives that can coincide this strategy. While RESPs can provide an incredible head start for any grandchild’s education, there are other options and opportunities to provide responsible and manageable gifts to loved ones. Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are another advantageous choice because they are versatile. You can accumulate funds within your TFSA on a tax-sheltered basis and, when needed, you can withdraw the funds (plus any subsequent growth) on a tax-free basis to help with your grandchild’s future. Moreover, the amount you withdraw in a given year will be added to your TFSA contribution limit for the following year. As contribution room is added each year, you may also want to think about

Island Grandparent 2014

maximizing the account as time goes on and simply including your intentions in your will. Life Insurance. Most people cringe at the words. They often think of it as basic financial protection for loved ones to cover any costs upon death. In fact, a universal life insurance policy can also help with the future of your grandchild. A universal life insurance policy is a blend of life insurance protection and investment accounts. As the owner, you select a face amount of the life insurance, the type of coverage needed, and the name of the life insured—your grandchild, in this case. You pay the insurance premiums (which are usually quite low for a minor) and within certain limits you can make additional deposits. Those additional dollars are then invested in a variety of investment funds to grow over the life of the policy on a tax-deferred basis—making this accumulation the policy’s primary benefit. At any point after your grandchild turns 18, you can choose to suspend further premium payments and transfer ownership of the policy to the grandchild. This is a tax-deferred transfer that gives the grandchild the ability to draw on the policy’s cash values (the additional deposits plus investment growth) without anyone needing to pass away to do so. And, since the policy is now owned by the child, the taxable portion of any cash withdrawals is taxed at the usually lower marginal tax rate of the grandchild—all while still providing the protection of the original insurance coverage amount at a low monthly premium. Being able to provide some financial support for the post-secondary education of current and future grandchildren is a major vision for many grandparents who wish to be able to positively impact their future and leave a legacy for years to come. As you can see, there are unique opportunities available that only require some planning, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of efficient possibilities. As financial advisors, we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to current plans in place, and we urge you to consider your individual situation. Our suggestion, if you have any questions or ideas, is to speak with your advisor! Mike Kucherawy, a Senior Financial Consultant at Investors Group with his Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, and Tanner Holtman, Associate Consultant, have a combined 19 years’ experience as financial advisors, and they service clients all across Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland. If you have any questions about this article, they can be reached in Victoria at 250-388-4234.



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New Grandparent Checklist Welcoming a new baby to the family is a special event. Here are some great ideas on how to get prepared for easy and enjoyable family visits with the treasured new addition. This checklist was supplied by Lyra McLean, co-owner of Momease Baby Boutique and avid baby product researcher.

Feeding Time • Portable or slim-folding high chair. Look for a chair that is easy to set up, clean and store. Check out the Perch chair from Canadian company Guzzie + Guss, or the philandteds Poppy chair which can also be used as the My Chair for an older child. • Feeding utensils. For a young baby, try the Boon Swap utensils which are great for introducing those first solid foods. For an older toddler, check out the Boon Benders flexible cutlery sets or a more traditional stainless steel option such as the Sugar Booger Silverware Set. For mess-free smoothies, yogurt or puree on the go, consider the Sili Squeeze reusable silicone feeding pouches. • 2 bibs. For super easy clean-up, try the Bibetta reversible neoprene bibs with their structured catch basin. Kushies or Sugar Booger bibs are lightweight and waterproof. • Tableware (one bowl, one sectioned plate); look for silicone, such as Kinderville’s brand. • Have 1 bottle on hand, just in case. For a natural feel that’s as close to mom as it gets, check out the Como Tomo Natural Feel silicone bottle, or the Medela Calma bottle. Many bottle companies offer nipples with different flows depending on baby’s age, so follow the recommendations. • 2 sippy cups: a must when caring for older babies and toddlers. Look for easy cleaning and handles where little ones can easily hang on. For an innovative option, try out the Zoli Bot which features a weighted straw that stays put in your liquid any way you tip it! Boon’s Modster sippy cups are bright, funky and leak-free. Stainless steel options are the Sugar Booger Flip and Sip or the Safe Sippy 2 from KidBasix.


• 4-6 reusable cloth wipes. Natural options include bamboo and organic cotton and both wash up well for long-term use.

Sleep Time • Portable bed, playard or cot for nap time or sleepovers. The

4moms Breeze playard boasts a one-step set up and take down, and can be used with the included bassinet from birth to approximately 3 years. If space is limited and a full-sized playard is not an option, check out the new-to-Canada Nuna Sena Mini, which also folds easily and includes a smaller bassinet. A waterproof sheet for the mattress is also a great idea! • 1 sleep sack or wearable blanket. Babies and young children are safer in bed with no loose blankets or crib bumpers. Most sleep bags have length and weight guidelines to ensure a safe and appropriate fit for baby, so be sure to read each manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Some wonderful sleep sack options include: the year- round and long-lasting Merino Wool Sleep Sack by local company Wee Woollies, the cotton muslin Slumber Sleeping Bags from aden+anais, The Gro Company Grobags, and Canadian company Wee Urban’s bamboo and organic cotton Wee Dreams Sleep Bags.

Island Grandparent 2014

• Night light to help baby feel comfortable and safe, as well as to illuminate those latenight feeds or diaper changes.

Bath Time • 1 hooded towel. • Baby bathtub if you’ll be providing care over bath times. For babies 0-6 months, the soft yet supportive Puj Infant Tub is specially designed for use in a kitchen or bathroom sink, and is simply unfolded and hung on the back of a door afterwards. For bathing an older baby, the collapsible Naked tub from Boon is perfect. With settings for newborns and toddlers, the Boon Naked also folds flat and comes with a hook for easy storage between baths. • 4-6 wash cloths. Bamboo or organic cotton wash cloths are super soft and eco-friendly. • Bath toys. Companies like Alex, Skip Hop, and Boon all make fun bath toys. • Bath storage container for toys and bath products to keep things neat and tidy in the bathroom. Two good examples are the Boon Frog Pod or the smaller, washable neoprene bath storage animals from 3 Sprouts. • Natural skin and haircare. The Hair and Body Babywash from Original Sprout is a natural and safe product to wash both hair and body.

won’t be an issue. The 4moms mamaRoo infant swing offers innovative features like 5 unique and natural motions, white noise and iPod compatibility, as well as a modern design and easy-to-clean materials. For a nonmechanized option, consider the Nuna LEAF swing which is manufactured using green technology and organic materials.

Travel Time • Car seat. If you’ll be transporting baby on a regular basis, you may want to invest in an infant car seat or even just an extra base that stays in your vehicle and can be used as needed with baby’s main infant seat. For an older child, the made-in-Canada Clek Olli backless booster seat locks quickly and easily into place using your vehicle’s UAS anchorage system with an audible “click.” Removal is also a breeze. • Lightweight stroller to make travel time with grandchildren a lot easier to handle. Some good options: the Valco Baby Snap stroller with its large basket and infant-ready recline, the Mountain Buggy Mini with its 3 maintenance-free Aerotech

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Play Time • Developmental toys. The Senso Dot balls from EduShape are always a hit and can be used for infant massage as well. Cloth or wooden rattles keep baby busy, as well as the developmental toys from Lamaze which offer a variety of textures, colours and sounds in one toy and can be attached to a stroller or car seat for portable play. For classic shape sorters, stacking toys and building blocks, consider Green Toys which are made in the USA from baby-safe recycled milk jugs. • Baby gym or activity mat. Having a clean surface for baby to lie and play on can be as simple as a light blanket placed on the ground. Baby gyms or activity mats combine a washable surface for baby to lie on, with removable toys, various textures, and activities such as music, movement and lights. • Infant Swing. When considering a swing or bouncy chair for baby, look for a small footprint so that storage in between visits

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Eileen Bennewith & Janet Krenz

Healthy Families, Happy Families

Being Active with Your Grandchildren

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s there anything better than being a grandparent? You’ve put in years of hard work as a parent and now it’s time to experience parenthood in a new and different way—as a grandparent! With many parents juggling work and maintaining a busy household, grandparents are an important part of today’s families. Grandparents have a lifetime of experience and parenting knowledge to offer, but more importantly, you have something parents may not always have—leisure time. Why not schedule time to have a play date with your grandchildren? Living on Vancouver Island, it’s easy to lead an active lifestyle at any age. When you plan time to be with your grandchildren, many of the regular activities you do to stay active and healthy are exactly what your grandchildren want to do as well, activities that help them learn that physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Do you enjoy going to the pool in the morning? Instead of swimming lengths, take your grandchildren for a swim in a family-friendly pool. You’d be surprised what a workout you’ll get while showing them that even older bodies enjoy swimming and playing in the water. If your routine includes long walks, plan an outing and take your grandkids with you. Most children have boundless energy and will be able to keep up with you on your favourite hiking trail. If the hike is long, plan water breaks and a picnic lunch before you head back. This will make the event more memorable and give you and your grandchild

a chance to spend more time together; time to listen to their dreams and concerns and to share family stories. Grandparents who excel at a specific sport may want to pass on some helpful tips and techniques. Tell them how you trained or travelled for your sport and the successes you’ve had. It’s also good to talk about how you handled it when things didn’t go your way. Children who hear about your enthusiasm for sports may be

fired up to pursue their own athletic dreams. And it’s never too late to be active; recently, the media covered a story about a weight-lifting grandmother who broke a record at age 73. For babies and young children, it’s important for them to be as active as possible from a very early age. Small babies should be put on their tummies several times every day to strengthen muscles, to help them learn to roll and crawl, and to support their overall development. As they become toddlers, they shouldn’t be inactive for more than an hour at a time unless they are sleeping. Preschoolers Island Grandparent 2014

and school-aged children should spend 60 to 90 minutes every day in active play. When you care for your grandchildren, make sure there are plenty of fun, active toys to play with, or plan outings that involve being active. Things to have around the house might be a Frisbee, a skipping rope, a basketball hoop, a trampoline or a ping-pong table. Most of these items can be set up in the backyard, driveway or under cover in a garage so you can still be active on rainy days. If space is limited, find out where the parks are and go to a playground or bring a soccer ball to kick back and forth. Making time for active play every day will help your grandchildren to be healthier and happier while helping you feel young at heart. If being active with young children is hard for you due to health concerns, think about ways to build physical activity into the day. For little ones, there are many free drop-in groups or classes where kids can be active. Many schools have Strong-Start or Head-Start centres for children under five. Contact your local recreation centre, community centre, neighbourhood house or school to find out about programs near you. Children under age two years shouldn’t watch video screens such as television, computers or video games. As they get older, it’s still important to limit the amount of time spent sitting with electronic devices. Plan physical activities ahead of time so it’s easier when you are with your grandkids. Consider participating in a charity event like a walka-thon or bottle drive. Older grandchildren might help you organize a family bowling night or baseball tournament. Let your grandchildren pick the teams. You are a powerful role model for your grandchildren. Be as active as you can with them. Let your actions speak louder than words. And remember, whatever you choose to do together, the important part is being active and having fun. Some great health-related websites include: • Physical Activity & Screen Time Guidelines • Canada’s Food Guide fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php • Ellyn Satter (“picky” eating advice) www. • Media Awareness Network • Healthy Families BC • HealthLinkBC or call 8-1-1 free of charge. Eileen Bennewith and Janet Krenz are registered dietitians with Island Health.

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Barbara Julian

Telling It Like It Was A

recent study reveals that the Number One Thing baby boomers want to do in retirement is write their memoirs. Memoir-writing binds families together, young to elders, and is a mental house-cleaning for the writer, setting the stage for life’s next adventure. It also contributes to the written (or oral) history of a community or a nation. Many people regret not knowing more about their grandparents’ lives, and we should not assume that our grandchildren, although carried along on the wave of constant novelty and technological change, will never want to know what came before. It is up to the senior members of a family to anticipate what the younger ones will one day want to know. Memoir coaches urge clients not to worry about whether they are “good writers.” If

you can speak, if you can remember, you have something to share and you can write it down. You might surprise yourself with your literary abilities. The best memoirs are written by people who don’t take themselves too seriously, people with a light touch, sharp eye and lively turn of phrase who don’t feel the need to be ponderous or judgmental. In other words, their memoirs make us wish we had known them personally. So how might you start writing yours? Some start at the beginning (“I was born in …”), others start with the present and work backwards, and still others start in the middle and see what happens. There is the chronological account, and then there is the stream-of-consciousness account; whichever you choose, this is your chance to tell your story your way.

Some people begin with lists (significant events, countries of residence, jobs best and worst, most important relationships…) and then expand into prose. Others use the technique of imagining you are interviewing yourself as if talking to someone else. Ask yourself questions and write down the answers. You might play around with writing your account in the third person. Whatever gets the creative juices flowing and the memories flooding back is part of this preliminary, journaling stage. Gather together whatever documents you have to jog your memory (certificates, degrees, newspaper articles, personal correspondence, photos) and keep them in a file for easy reference. If you are one of those people who never threw out a single receipt or party invitation, you may be overwhelmed at this stage of “gathering the materials.” You may get on best by putting them all away again for future reference and just getting your memories down on paper first. Fact-checking can come later. Eventually, you will want to shape your material into a presentable and printable form. Here you must ask yourself: who is my audience (family, descendants, colleagues, a general readership)? Will I print and staple my booklet together at home, or will I want it professionally bound? How many copies do I want? What’s my budget? Do I want to sell

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Island Grandparent 2014

the book or give copies to a select few? If the former, how will I distribute it? Many people launch into serious authorship with their life story, promoting the publication in the media and giving readings for interested groups in their field. If that is your aim, you would be wise to get an editor to look over your near-final draft before going to a printer. Having someone’s memoirs printed and bound in book form can be an ideal Christmas, birthday or retirement gift for them, or the memoir writer could present his/her document as a gift to a grandchild, or to whoever keeps the family archive. Thanks to home office technology, writing and printing have never been easier, but many local firms, easy to find in the Yellow Pages or through Google, offer affordable printing and binding services (the cost of which depends on the number and quality of copies printed) and will also put you in touch with editors and cover designers. Memoir writing as a literary form dates from the 18th century, when lettered people began to accept more personal and less formal styles of writing. Self-revelation was not popular with everyone, however, at least not for a couple of hundred years. My grandparents came from a generation that did not share secrets easily. Reserve, modesty and privacy were important, whereas we live now in a tell-all culture. The line between discretion and confession has blurred, or maybe we just place more value on finding our voice. Without accounts written by those who were there we don’t know how a particular era of history felt to the “ordinary” person. History is made not by the famous but by everyone else: the general population creates the circumstances which make this or that person famous, whether through privilege, accomplishment or notoriety. Without the inside story told by “Anonymous,” we don’t know where collectively we have come from. Writing your memoir is also, of course, your chance to set the record straight. You might show a side of yourself no one knew—especially you. “Personal archaeology”—digging into your own buried thoughts and motivations—can be quite exhilarating, and if you are edified and amused by the process, chances are, your readers will be, too. So if you are a grandparent or great-grandparent, the time to start writing is now: your readers await! Barbara Julian facilitates Memoirs Projects in retirement homes. A local history buff, she learns more from participants’ life stories than she did from studying History at university.

GNS. Family. “GNS is, in every sense, a family school. And it’s my family’s school.” – Jean ‘71, Junior School Principal (grandmother)

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Annie ‘97, Middle School teacher (mother)


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Jane Forner

Your Inner Censor May Need Tweaking W

hen’s the last time someone said to you, “Oh, that’s really nice,” and you knew they were politely lying through their teeth? And when’s the last time you said something similar as you gagged on bacon-wrapped tofu or watched your 10-year-old granddaughter leave for school in a skirt two inches below her panty line? Enter our closest and best friend, our Inner Censor. Not always reliable, sometimes snoozing at the switch, Grace (as I call mine) is my hard-working prefrontal cortex sprite that tries to keep me out of trouble. Grace and I have had our disagreements, but most of the time she has prevailed. Even in extreme cases, as with

my fearless step-mother. Her mantra was, “I only speak the truth” which could unleash a tsunami of personal jetsam with no concern for the toxic effect on the family environment. It was, she thought, her right. Well, it wasn’t. No one “only speaks the truth”—certainly not me. I speak an amalgamation of second-hand information, newsspeak, propaganda, rumour, hearsay, false conclusions, misheard reports, memories, assumptions, opinions, prejudices, favouritism and, if lucky, some truths, facts, considered deductions, accurate recollections, valid experiences and now, in my senior years, a soupçon of wisdom.

Grace: Well, la-dee-da. A soupçon is it? Aren’t we continental. The readers will certainly think you are “special,” dear. Me: It’s French, nitwit, and this is Canada. We’re bi-lingual, get it? Grace: Well, pardonez-moi! You don’t speak French, though, so stop putting on airs. Besides, why do you think the French put “soup” in soupçon? It’s what you land in if you get too artsy. Let me get back to my point. Have you ever said to any relative under 40?: • My kids were never allowed to… • What have you done with your…? • You’re thinking of getting a what! • Do you think he/she should…? • When I was your age… • I know I shouldn’t say this, but… We’ve all uttered similar annoyances even as our Graces yelled, Stop! (Actually, my Grace would probably not even put down her magazine to warn me of the above. Compared to some of the verbal transgressions I’ve committed, this is small stuff.) Consider the pitfalls of becoming our own mothers/ fathers-in-law. Not a pretty picture. Add one of those dreaded “tones” to the comments: really sincere/innocent/just helping/thinking of the child/concerned/only want what’s best, etc., and you are in peril. Such utterances have been scientifically proven to produce a strangulation reflex in the listener. And all of this is just “normal” stuff—reactive responses, brain defaults, pesky pre-sets— practically harmless. Not so the following. If you have said any of the following to your daughters/sons-in-law, you are in need of an intervention. Beware, grandparents! Trouble lurks. • Of course you’re family. I just meant our family. • I have lots of clothes you could borrow. • Now I understand the pre-nup. • But I thought you would love this adorable kitten/puppy. • I remember that wonderful party/speech/ gift you gave… oh, wait, that wasn’t you, was it? • Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser? • Sounds like someone has issues. How is your sex life? And the one thing you should never, ever say to your offspring: • You have both been so nice, I’ve decided to stay another month. Grace: Big deal! You’ve said far worse things. Remember the time Margie came for a visit… Me: Shut up, Grace, and go back to sleep. Jane Forner is a freelance writer in Victoria working on her Bucket List.


Island Grandparent 2014

Nancie Dohan

A Perfect Park Outing


urry up, let’s go, we’re going to be late”—a familiar refrain from parent to child. When I was a mother of young children, I recall often being in a rush to go from A to Z, and back again. Happy was the day when my parents

with your grandchildren, and you needn’t go very far to access a kid-friendly, or shall I say grandkid-friendly, park. Here are a few tried, tested and true: Take a bus to Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park for an exploration of freshwater habitat. Bring along a small dip net and bucket and wile away the hours checking out water bugs and watching for ducks and woodpeckers. There are picnic areas at Beaver, Hamsterly and Eagle Beaches. For an ocean expedition, check out Island View Beach Regional Park—it’s the perfect example of a grandkid-friendly regional park, with a picnic shelter, bathrooms, and a long stretch of oceanfront crawling with ticklish shore crabs. Pick a section of the Galloping Goose or Lochside Regional Trails to explore—these former railway lines are mostly level and offer boundless nature outings. Or, if you would like to go on a forest adventure, Francis/King Regional Park offers a nature centre which is open weekends, with an observation bee hive, bird feeders, a cozy nook for reading nature-inspired children’s books, a stroller-friendly boardwalk trail, bathrooms and a forest full of a wide assortment of “everything magical” to a grandchild’s curious mind and eye. Here’s the perfect recipe for a perfect outing, and I’m sure you can add many magical ingredients of your own: • A dash of doddling • A sprinkle of surprises • A cup of curiosity • And an ocean of grandparent love. Rest assured, grandparents. You don’t need to know the answers to your grandchild’s endless questions. You can simply enjoy just “be-ing” with them, sharing in the wonder, fostering respect for nature, marvelling at their wonderful imaginations and joining in, if you dare. CRD Regional Parks offers free guided nature outings for all ages. See the calendar of events at Also look at the Guide to User-Friendly Trails, a good resource for planning a park outing.


the day when I can grandparent and spend grand times outdoors with my grandkids. Children love the outdoors and are “naturals” at being “naturalists.” They possess that wonderful combination of curiosity, enthu-




photo by

would visit to provide the “stressed-out parents” with some healthy respite. I witnessed a special bond that developed between my parents and their grandchildren that continues to this day. Without a doubt, when my children would return from outdoor spaces that they frequented with their grandparents, I saw rosy glowing cheeks and happy smiles from everyone as they tumbled through the door. Now, with grown children, I look forward to

siasm, and wonder. Sometimes, the muckier the environment, the better. The beach was one of my children’s favourite places to visit with their grandparents. Hours can fly by just looking under rocks, watching birds wade, or throwing sticks into the water. We are blessed with many green spaces on Southern Vancouver Island, not to mention being surrounded by water. There are a great many places and opportunities to explore

Nancie Dohan is Coordinator of Environmental Interpretation at CRD Regional Parks.


Here… Sidney Spitfo… p if you want r a summer day tri

is a beautiful spot arshes, rolling s, tidal flats, salt m to see sandy beache life. Pack ld ths and various wi meadows, forest pa d towels, an its su creen, bathing a picnic, your suns dney (at Si m fro ry assenger fer and take the foot-p an Isl d. For on Ave.) to Sidney the bottom of Beac rates, visit d arting in May) an a ferry schedule (st .ca. www.alpinegroup

Pacific Rim Wha le

Fest… runs from March 15 -23 in Tofino and Ucluelet and around the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It’s an all-out celebratio n of life on the coas t! It’s about grey whales and marine life ed ucation, inspirational talks and interpretive walks, children’s fu n, culinar y events, First Nations cultu ral workshops and more—come and experience a coas tal tradition! cificrimwhalefestiv

Royal BC Museum…

offers interactive, learning-based activ ities at Wonder Sunday on the last Sunday of each month (excluding July, August and December). Each theme, based on idea s inspired by the museum’s current exhi bitions, is offered through activities and lively presentations. Make crafts, join spec ial tours, and let your imagination “wo nder ” away with you. Suitable for children 3-12 years old and is included with admissio n.

McLean Mill…

in Port Alberni is the only commercial steam-operated sawmill in Canada. other Watch the woodcutting demonstrations and see the steam donkey and y Compan eatre Th historical logging equipment. The resident Tin Pants members make history come alive on stage and around the site. Children of all ages will get a sense of the life that people led in this site on the edge visit of the world. Open daily June 28-August 31. For schedules and details,

Beacon Hill Children’s Farm…

is a great outdoor activity that is inexpensive and fun for all ages. The farm’s goats, bunnies, peacocks, potbellied pigs, horses, guinea pigs and other animals are perennial favourites. Kids especially love the renowned goat stampedes at 10:10am and 5:10pm. The farm re-opens for the 2014 season in early March. Hours of operation are 10am-5pm daily, weather permitting. Admission by donation.



Things to Do With Your Grandkids For more ideas and a fun map of the Island, pick up a copy of the Kids Guide to Vancouver Island at Tourist Info Centres or at your local recreation centre. Island Grandparent 2014

ill… imalt Fort RoddlatH Victoria and Esqu e 1890s to defend

cements, was built in the searchlight empla the gun batteries, the first e sid in ep St Harbour. Explore . d magazines un ro rg de ked un d an s ip guardhouse rn about sh s wrec West Coast and lea e ct th rfe on pe s, ilt ea bu ar e us sy lightho hes and gras joy the forest, beac En . ed sav es liv d an com www.fortroddhill. for family picnics.

AGGV Family Sundays…

on the third Sunday of the month are inspired by the current Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibitions. Bring your grandchild and join this afternoon of artmaking for the whole family. 2-4pm. The program is included with admission.

BC Forest Discovery Centre…

just north of Duncan includes 100 acres of indoor and outdoor forestry exhibits, walking trails and a bird sanctuary. Ride on the garrow gauge steam train and tour the old logging camp. Bring a picnic lunch and come any time or for one of the special events (check the calendar online for dates and details).

Parksville Sandcastle Competition…

draws world class master sand sculptor s who create incredible works of art. This year ’s competition and exhibition takes plac e July 12-August 17. Once the masterpiece s have been completed (from just sand and water, and a lot of ingenuity!) and judged, the site is open to the public. Wander through starting on July 14 (open 9am-9pm daily).

Chemainus Thay,eaMutrnsce… h-ercise,

presents its 2014 Kidzpl at-heart. The Pafor the young and youngfavourite Robert er perbag Princess and oth the eye of the h oug thr Munsch stories go of fun, kid ion fus p t-u igh stra tiger in this sin ng, g along and health and story. Play alo y 19-August 16. Jul . enjoy this wacky world tiva fes tre hea www.chemainust

&There 21

Erlene Amero, as told by Linda Coyle

Lillie, Sparks & Giving Time F

ourteen girls aged five and six sit in a circle taking turns sharing an anecdote from their life during their weekly Girl Guide

Sparks meeting. Even the shyest members of the group squirm in anticipation of their turn. My granddaughter Lillie is among them. At

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home she is a cheerful bundle of energy with lots to say. Her public personality at school and activities, however, is quiet and reserved. Each week she can’t wait for me to drive her to her Sparks meeting where I mentor the new leaders and help out with activities. Thirty-two years ago, I drove my eldest daughter to a Brownie meeting. It seemed like a waste of time to wait in the car. I went in and volunteered to be a leader. Many Brownie, Guide and Sparks meetings later and two years into retirement, I’m still involved in Guiding. The most profound change I have found as a long-term volunteer is in myself. When I was a young working mother, I was concerned about providing for my family and making sure homework and chores were done. There never seemed to be enough time in the day. As a Brownie leader and later with Guides, I felt I was spending quality time with my daughters in a fun, social atmosphere where they could learn community and personal responsibility. The all-girl environment of Girl Guides of Canada appealed to me. The daily peer pressure they experienced at school was absent as were the stresses on me from work. The girls wore uniforms and learned about everything, from how government works to camping in all kinds of weather. They sang songs, laughed together and built confidence with every badge and skill. Both of my daughters grew up, are settled in their careers and have become active adult members of Girl Guides. Spending time with my granddaughter both one on one and in a group, I appreciate how full of wonder Lillie is at the simple things. A deer in the yard is a major event in her life, as is singing a song at a Sparks meeting or waving her latest craft under her grandfather’s nose. Over the years my husband, a professional chef, has volunteered to cook at District camps and come to meetings with other fathers to help out with carpentry projects. Single fathers are more common now than they were 30 years ago. It isn’t unusual to have a father who stays at a meeting to help with a craft or joins the unit on an outdoor activity. I know other women in the organization whose husbands do everything from volunteering to cut grass at camp sites to tending bonfires while the girls toast marshmallows and play scavenger games. As a retiree I find the friends I have made through Guiding have become some of my most treasured. During the last few years of work I changed jobs three times due to restructuring. There never seemed to be the time or common interests at work to build long-lasting friendships. I constantly run into people I’ve met through Guiding over the years. There



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Island Grandparent 2014

are more than enough events within the organization so I never lack for outings. Within Girl Guides we talk about the sisterhood of Guiding. Through the years I can think of many times when all it took was a phone call and my Guiding sisters dropped what they were doing and made helping each other a priority. They are women I know I can rely on. My granddaughter is now six years old. As I watch her singing songs, doing crafts and playing games with her group of Sparks friends, I value the time I spend with her. I know as she grows she will change faster than


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Toddler Social the seasons, experience the social whirl of her teenage years and become her own person in time. My fondest wish for Lillie for the next few years is that she finds a sense of community and friendship through Girl Guides as my daughters and I have done. I have strong hope my family will continue in Guiding for many years and generations to come. Through Girl Guides of Canada, Linda Coyle has worked with girls and young women aged five to adult. She lives in Victoria near her two daughters. Erlene Amero lives in Victoria, and shares her home with her husband and two cats when she isn’t busy with Girl Guides activities. She has written articles for magazines as well as technical material for software.

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Laura Trunkey

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The Perks of Being a Grandparent M y two-year-old, Angus, has informed me that, while Curious George’s best friend is the man with the yellow hat, his best friend is Granny. When asked how his dad and I factor into the equation, he laughs. The answer, to him, is obvious. Parents are not best-friend material. Grandparents are. You grandparents are lucky. Some might say you don’t know how good you have it, but of course you know. No one is more cheerful than a grandparent—especially a newly-minted one. Even prospective grandparents can’t disguise their delight. On numerous occasions I have had strangers in grocery stores use Angus as a launching-off point for stories about their offspring’s offspring. Even if these are tales of woe (colic, sleeplessness, pervasive baby acne), their eyes become dreamy as soon as they mention their grandchildren’s names. These aren’t just any stories; they’re love stories. Sure, being a parent allows for many of the perks you grandparents boast of. We get to spend time with the little monkeys too. We watch them grow and we marvel at their cuteness and the wild and wonderful ways they interpret the world. But no matter how cute they are to us, to you they’re cuter. It’s easy enough for you to be charmed when little Alex wants Go Dogs, Go read to him for an hour straight. Not as easy for Mom and Dad, who have read the story 80 times in the past two days. But then, you grandparents can even be charmed by temper-tantrums. Which is an appropriate segue to that one great advantage you have: when you’re ready for a break, you can leave. Which helps to explain the battery-powered monstrosities that appear at Christmas and birthdays. Sure, it’s funny when little Suzy continuously presses the button on the screeching life-size parakeet you bought her, but you get to say your good-byes before the headache begins. And you’re always happy to share your cake with Sam, so as to take pictures of his smeary chocolate smile, but when the sugar high spirals out of control you’ve already hugged and high-fived your way to the car.

We can’t hold this against you. After all, you earned the right. You went through this already, and from all accounts, however trying Suzy and Sam can be, we were worse. Yet you’re still here. You still love us. And we love you. Also, we love that you love our offspring. You want to take them to the park? To your house for a sleepover? You want to make us

Parents are not best-friend material. Grandparents are. all a meal, then cut the little munchkins’ food into bite-sized pieces while we sit out of reach of their sticky fingers? Yes, yes and yes please! And besides, when we’re grandparents it’ll be our turn. But the majority of us are having children later than you did. In B.C., more than half of first-time moms are over 30. When I was born, my grandmother was 54, but she’d already had nine years of grandparent practice. Angus was my mum’s first grandchild, born when she was 58. If Angus waits until he’s as old as I was, I’ll become a senior citizen before I become a grandmother. But being a grandparent isn’t guaranteed. Angus may be one of those people who’s too busy for kids or too concerned about overpopulation. He might be plain disinterested. Then I’ll never get the chance to become dreamy-eyed in the grocery store, telling strangers about my precious grandchildren. I’ll never be able to display my abundance of grandmotherly love through noisy gifts and too much sugar. You grandparents are lucky. But why am I telling you something you already know? Laura Trunkey, mother of the amazing Angus, is a writer, and a children’s writing instructor at StoryStudio. She can be reached at

Island Grandparent 2014

Joanne Rada

My Mummers Bag M

y friend Janet had no idea what she was to start when she gifted me with a large, sturdy, vinyl, beautifully bright, fuchsia gardening bag. It was something she picked up at Lee Valley, simply because the colour reminded her of me. Mummers is the name my daughter gave me long before my first grandchild, Benjamin, was born last summer. The bag has become “the Mummers bag” and has developed a story of its own. At first it carried all the things I needed in my car for a fun summer day early into my retirement this past July. The sunny days beckoned for a good book, a towel and a large bottle of water, or sometimes the fresh fruit and veggies from a trip to the Root Cellar. Then in August my daughter returned to work and I was delighted to be babysitting one or two days a week. Each day I go to babysit little Benjamin, I bring this bag, which I carefully load the night before, needing only to add my lunchbag in the morning. At first I used the bag for bringing things that I might need for my day and perhaps a treat for my daughter—a jar of home canning or a little something that I had knit for wee Benjamin—but I soon realized that Benjamin sees this bag as a place of wonder and magic. He would scootch and then crawl over to the bag as soon as it was set on the floor of the doorway, anxious to explore its mysterious contents. It was a delightful and seamless transition to creating my own Mary Poppins bag. Now, the bag is filled with things that I think will amuse, surprise or interest him. At 15 months, the choices are simple and, surprisingly to me, often provide hours of entertainment for him. One day it was a small, stuffed, striped zebra with magnetic paws, so that Benjamin could make him stick to the fridge. That was fun and kept Benjamin busy for a long time. He discovered that the little zebra would also stick to the washing machine and the kitchen garbage can. He carried the zebra around all day long to see if it would

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stick to other places and was surprised to find • Kodaly music program that it also stuck to the side of Mummers’ car • lovely rural location connecting children to nature and to the bars of his stroller. It even stuck to the lawnmower that Daddy had left out in the yard. The next time I arrived Benjamin remembered the zebra and he was very curious about what else might be in the bag. He 5575 West Saanich Road pulled out all of the things that were familiar (across from Red Barn Market) to him… Mummers’ fingerless knitted gloves, 250 592 4411 the fat Sudoku book and an apple. Down at the bottom of the bag was a square container. It rattled when Benjamin picked it up and he was so curious. What was inside? He gave it a good, hard shake and then handed it to me to F GIRLS! open. Plastic clothespins IN THE LIVES O became the discovery of that day. Benjamin had no idea what they were, but they made him smile and then laugh. They were just the right size for his hands and Benjamin spent a long time taking them out and then putting them all back into the square container. Another day my near empty waterFUN WITH MARY ROGERS! SEASONAL bottle became the thing BMus (Piano Performance) UBC, JOIN TODAY! ARCT and BCRMT of interest as he figured PRIZES! 1-800-565-8111 out how to open it and tip it sufficiently to get a drip of water. Small toy cars, balls of yarn, an extra pair of socks, and a small box of felt wine glass markers shaped like butterflies—almost anything could appear in the Mummers bag. FUN WITH MARY ROGERS! SEASONAL I recall with great fondness as a child watchPRIZES! ing Mary Poppins pull out a lamp and an umbrella from her carpet bag, that delicious place where small things are magical and surprising because we have not yet learned about the limitations of the bigger LESSONS FORworld. Now, fresh into LESSONS FOR retirement and into my life as a grandmother ALL, BEGINNER ALL,I BEGINNER TO ADVANCED! to Benjamin, am learning a new lesson while ! being reminded of an old one…stay curious • ENTHUSIASTIC, FLEXIBLE TO ADVANCED! LESSONS! • ENTHUSIASTIC, FLEXIBLE LESSONS and delight in the surprises as they appear 250-744-9049! 30+ YEARS OFOF TEACHING • 30+• YEARS TEACHING EXPERIENCE every day. Thank you, Benjamin, and thank! EXCELLENCE! • STUDIO NEAR UVIC ENTHUSIASTIC, FLEXIBLE you, Janet, for my• wonderful Mummers bag. • STUDIO NEAR UVIC





PIANO! ! BMus (Piano Performance) UBC, ARCT and BCRMT




Joanne Rada is a new grandmother, recently • 30+ YEARS OF TEACHING retired from a 35-year career in Mental Health Nursing. EXCELLENCE! • STUDIO NEAR UVIC




Maxine Fisher

Raising Your Grandchildren J

Grandparents in this situation often express the need for self-care and relaxation. They can feel overwhelmed, and it’s helpful to connect with other grandparents who are experiencing similar issues. If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, it is important to know what resources you have available. The Parents Support Ser vices Society of BC (www. can provide information on support services and opportunities to meet and talk with other grandparents raising grandchildren. In addition, every individual will respond in their own ways, so it is essential that self-care be a part caring for your grandchildren. You may think there is no time to take care of yourself, but the truth is if you burn out, your grandchildren will no longer


ust when your children have grown up and you think there’s time to relax and focus on your own life, you are faced with the reality of caring for your grandchildren full-time. This can happen for many reasons. There may have been a death, an illness, an addiction challenge, or your child may simply not be able to look after their own children. This is a temporary situation for some, a permanent one for others. The task of being a parent again can be overwhelming. Many grandparents are also dealing with the added stress of their child’s suffering. You may take on this task with the best of intentions only to find that your own health and well-being is at risk. The rewards of knowing your grandchildren are safe and loved in your care often outweigh the hardships, but looking after yourself becomes a daily challenge for many.

have you to care for them. If you consider your own self-care as part of your grandparenting responsibilities, you will find time. As we get older, we get to know ourselves better. We have lived, and we know what works and what does not work. Self-care means different things to different people. My mother loves to play bridge, my aunt loves to hike. What do you love to do? If the answer is not immediately apparent, take some time to think about it. Some guidelines that will help point you towards health are: some form of regular exercise such as walking, swimming, any kind of moving and stretching; making healthy choices around food whenever you can; seeing your health as something worth caring for so you’ll be energized instead of tired. Most of all, make sure you have someone to talk with, someone who really listens and understands the heroic task you have taken on. You need to appreciate yourself and give yourself credit for the incredible work you are doing. With love, enormous hurdles are overcome. Maxine Fisher M. Ed., MTA, RCC is a registered clinical counsellor who works with families and children. She can be reached at or 250-686-7582.

“Being at SMS gave our daughter the confidence and skills she needed to go on to become a successful adult. It was the best decision we ever made.” - PARENT OF AN SMS ALUMNA

Visit our Open House on February 21, or contact us to set up a private tour: 250-479-7171 | Because a great education involves the whole family. Confident girls. Inspiring women. | Age 3 to Grade 12 | Day & Boarding | 1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria IG_SMS_February2014.indd 1


1/29/2014 5:20:38 PM

Island Grandparent 2014

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