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Which Super Hero Wears What Underwear?

If you  have kids at home who love super heroes, beware. These guys are kinda weird – the super heroes, not the kids. They’re supposed to be above and beyond normal beings. Stronger, better, smarter. You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between that and moms, right? Well, the difference is they have secrets that Moms don’t. Some pretty surprising, if not a little . . . strange.

How do I know all this? It started with a very straight forward quiz that my daughter saw online, “Which Super Hero are you?” It sounded innocent enough so when she begged me to take the quiz, I thought nothing of it. A few minutes later, she was done and announced proudly which of the million unrealistic characters with impeccable hair and flawless skin she was. I was a little surprised to hear that she was akin to Batman, given that she’s a girl. But let’s not be gender-funny and stereotype our daughters into thinking they can’t be Batman if they want to. Whatever.

“Mom, why don’t you take the quiz?” she asked

“Okay. Ask me the questions” And that’s when it started to go all weird. After a few normal questions, like “Are you strong?”, “Do you like fighting?”, came this, “Do you wear thongs?”, followed by “Do you wear push up bras?”

I didn’t think this was too appropriate for kids. But that’s not the weirdest thing about this quiz. No, what’s really comical is that if you answer “Yes” to both questions, you are akin to Wonder-Woman, which is a total joke given that her costume consists of larger than life panties. And – I can’t know for sure, but these boobs don’t look real to me. Or if they are, there really is no need to push them up. Now, here’s the interesting fact: if you answer “Yes” to thong and “No” to push up bras, you end up being like Superman. Superman wears thongs. And it must be true, because it’s on a quiz on the internet.

FYI, Batman isn’t into that S&M stuff. He wears no push up bra, and no thong. Just plain ol’ whiteys. Well, now you know.

Speaking of gender stereotype, why is it that the quiz asks about push up bras and thongs, and not about whether you wear butt enhancing cuts, or package busting pouches? Oh yes, it’s a real thing. Go check out underwear for men websites if you don’t believe me .

Anyway, all this is BS, we all know super heroes aren’t real. Plus, I gotta go. Gotta spin three times in a telephone booth so I can be all dressed and dolled up for the day. And to the nasty voices who are thinking, “I know that Nadege-woman, she never looks as neat and well put as WonderWoman”, I say this: When is the last time you saw a telephone booth, huh? So cut me some slacks!

Who would have thought?

 

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When Chaos Runs In The Family

Know what this is?

bday

This is a birthday card, meant for me. No, it’s not my birthday. I already have far too many of those every year. But it is my birthday card that I got for Valentines. By accident, may I add.

The story is, I was tidying up my son’s bedroom yesterday. I don’t do that too often, because the simple act of stepping in the bedroom is both heroic given the sheer number of obstacles littering the floor, and depressing, because said floor is barely visible. But occasionally, I feel brave, I feel indestructible, I feel like nothing is gonna set me back. So I go in there, with a big trash bag, and rid the drawers, book shelves, and other surfaces of their pile of junk.

As I opened one drawer, I found a sealed envelope, with my name on it. My first thought was to put it back and stop snooping in my kid’s room. what if it was a secret Valentines card he was planning on giving me later? I dismissed this idea right away, because I know my kids. The only surprise I will get from them today is the look on their face when I actually tell them that YES, Valentines IS today. So I opened the card and there it was. A birthday card, from my husband to me. Unfortunately, there is no year on it so we don’t know whether it’s from last year, two, three, or ten years ago.

There’s also no plausible explanation as to why my son would have a potentially ancient birthday card for me, written by my husband, in his drawer. All my husband could come up with was, “I must have put it in his bedroom for him to sign and then I forgot about it”

Still, that doesn’t explain why the card would have made its way in a drawer. Nobody puts stuff in drawers, except me. And I am positive I didn’t put my own birthday card in my kid’s drawer.

I guess sometimes, chaos cannot be explained by anything other than, “It’s an utter mess”

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Syria: Someone Extraordinary lives Near You . . .

And I am lucky that I get to meet a lot of them!

This week, I want to put the spotlight on Laila Extraordinaire! That’s not her last name, but it might as well be.

I don’t remember how Laila heard about our work with the Syrian families. I just remember her email, modestly asking what she could do to help. She came to a tutoring session to meet everybody,  and let me tell you this: inside her petite frame with a sweet voice lies a hurricane of kindness. Storm Laila had been unleashed and life was never gonna be the same for a lot of us.

Within a few days, she was tutoring a whole family, advocating for the kids in school, talking to the teachers. Thanks to her, a little girl was able to celebrate her birthday with her classmates, like all the other children. Another was able to practice and take a test. A guy needed help to start his job? No worries, Laila was there with her contacts to make that happen. Funds needed to be raised to pay for tutoring? Bam! Done!

Which makes me wonder: how many Lailas are there?

I must admit I am a little envious of her stream of positive energy. And I wish that the world had more Lailas.  All the work she does is having a major impact on the people she is supporting. And what’s more, she does all this selflessly, doesn’t expect acknowledgment, or reward, AND she always has a smile on her face. I am not even exaggerating one bit. Such person exists.  If there ever is someone who is sent by the Gods, this is as close as we are going to get.

You know the saying that goes something along the lines of, if you change the life of ten people, you can change the world. Well, Laila has revolutionized the world, over and over. And she is not done!

I could never find the right words to tell Laila how grateful I am that our path have crossed, so I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart: thank you for being you.

 

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Set Your Priorities Right

I think I am finally working out what’s going wrong in the way I handle life. And that’s no small achievement! After so many years of being late everywhere, never having time for anything, I have narrowed down the source of all my problems: I need to set my priorities right.

I think that generally speaking, women are over-achievers. We want to be CEO of some major corporation, take pride that we are living in a show house, raise our children all by ourselves, and have neighbors dribble with envy: “how does she fit it all in? How can she have the time to play with her kids, walk the dog (oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we are also the proud owner of a great dane), and her car isn’t even dirty!”

That’s what we all want. And occasionally, we think we know someone who has that, making this unachievable goal even more convoluted. “If she can do it, why can’t I? What is so special about her that some divine intervention grants her 30 hours in a day?”

Well, I’ll tell you what it is. Nobody gets an extra few hours in the day. Moreover, people like me who loves sleeping are at a clear disadvantage, but if we set our priorities right, we can definitely do it.

So I’m going to share my method with you. Ready? This is the point where you life changes for ever . . . You are welcome . . .

First, set a list of the things that you need to achieve in a given day. In an ideal world, if you (1) get up in a good mood,  (2) have nobody to bug you, (3) are going to be successful in everything that you do, what would that list look like? I know I lost some of you at (1), but try to keep up, okay?

Next, scrap the first and last task on your list. You are bound to fail the first one given that you haven’t had any coffee yet. As for the last one, who expects you to achieve anything after such a long day?

Then break down each task into three or four steps. And scrap at least two of them.

I just saved you half a day to do whatever the heck you want.

Here is an example of how to set your priorities right . . .

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Original crazy list of unachievable goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide3

Crazy list broken up into more unachievable steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TADAAA!! Et Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doing Laundry: Las Vegas Or Russian Roulette

Who could have thought that washing a few dirty clothes could trigger such high emotions! I don’t know about you, but for me, on occasions, doing the laundry is more exciting that winning the lottery. Likewise, I can fall into the depth of dark thoughts and full blown depression just by opening the washing machine. And here is why . . .

I never bother checking pants pockets before I wash them. I hear some of you screaming, “Are you crazy?”, and I get it now. Believe me, I do. But up until yesterday, I thought you were the crazy one: why would anyone want to waste more time with such a boring chore? Sure, I have washed my fair share of candies, and gums. But fortunately, they stay well wrapped so that never caused any major drama. I also don’t bother asking anyone to check their pockets before throwing clothes in the dirty basket. For starters, nobody listens to what I say anyway, so what’s the point? More importantly, I have a rule, which is, “Whatever I find in your pockets when I do the laundry belongs to me”. This rule is supposed to be an incentive for my kids (and husband) to make sure they don’t leave any valuables. But of course, it doesn’t work, because like I said, nobody cares. For once, I couldn’t be any happier that nobody listens to me. So far, I have washed, ironed and kept a good two hundred dollars that had been left  inside pockets. Repeatedly. Clean, free money. That’s not quite as good as having money growing on trees, but close enough!

So knock yourselves out, people! My husband doesn’t want to take me to Vegas (explanatory note: he thinks I have an addictive personality and will gamble until I lose the house . . . pfff . . . who cares about the house . . . ) but I don’t need to.  Every time I put a load in the washing, it’s like winning a (small) jackpot.

Except, yesterday. Yesterday was a turning point as far as laundry goes.

It started like a pretty normal day: screaming match to get the kids at school on time, walking around bedrooms and picking up dirty clothes from the floor while swearing under my breadth that nobody cares, loading the washing machine, and getting on with the rest of the day. WAKE UP!! I am done with the boring bit. Now it’s two hours later, the washing is done and the dryer has just called me, “Ding! Come and get your surprise! What will you find today? 50 bucks? candies?”

Nope. Instead, what I found is this:

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And not just on my kid’s pants, but all over my nice, light colored, clean yet trashed load of laundry. And let’s not forget the dryer: beautifully lined with red ink that cannot be removed. Trust me, I tried!

I did chew my son’s ear off when he came back home. All he said was, “If you were not forcing me to go to school, this wouldn’t happen!” I have nothing to say to that . . .

 

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Syrian Families: Sometimes, It’s The Little Things . . .

As a mom, I never want my children to feel they cannot be part of something. I want them to belong and not experience any kind of rejection, especially in the school environment. My kids know this too well and have learnt how to use and abuse my weakness. If they want something, all they have to say is, “But Mom, everybody’s got it” and I just melt. Sure I’ll argue a bit, and pretend I don’t care what other parents do. But the truth is, no kid of mine is going to sit something out if I can help it.

I know you feel the same. No mother wants their kids to be left out. Our Syrian moms don’t want that either. Yet, whenever a school activity is organized, it’s nearly impossible for their children to participate, because nobody can explain to the parents how to be a part of it.

But all that was before. Before Wafa made sure this wouldn’t happen again. The thing I love most about Wafa is that she gets sh*t done! If you tell her you need something, then consider it sorted. Nothing stops Wafa until she gets results. And that is that!

When she heard that kids were being excluded from certain aspects of school life because they and their parents didn’t understand what was expected of them, she set off on a mission. She established communications with the teachers, and the parents. If one needed to tell something to the other, they would text Wafa with their questions,  documents, or requests. Wafa would translate, and help both parents and kids complete whatever would need completing.

Next week, some schools are going to make gingerbread houses. A fun, creative and social activity that nobody should miss. Our Syrian little friends now have all the equipments they need: candy canes, gum drops and other yummy treats. They will fully participate, like all the other children, and will have a blast decorating their own little house. Thanks to Mrs G, the teacher, who sent her instructions so that Wafa could translate them. Thanks to the Syrian moms, who got in touch with one another to see who had received the same document and explained what they needed to do. Thanks to Wafa who went above and beyond and bought all the supplies.

It might not sound much. But sometimes, it’s the little things that make you feel  you belong.

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Popularity Contest: Mom Vs Dad

One of our kids is accusing us of liking the others more when it comes to buying presents. And he is outsmarting us every single time we try to reason with him. If we argue that they are getting the same thing at the same age, he argues that it’s not about age, it’s about grades. And vice-versa. Basically, we never win. Parents: 0 – Kid: 1 million points. These arguments usually end up with him slamming a door, screaming, “It’s not fair!”, my husband rolling his eyes, and me, sitting on the sofa, replaying the last decade to see what on earth gave him the idea that we have preferences. These “events” usually happen around Christmas or birthdays.

This year, kids have been writing their Christmas lists early, because it would seem that demands are very specific and require some planning – Well, good luck with that! The only one who’s really supposed to write a list is my daughter, but we ask her brothers to do one as well in order to encourage her. Normally, whenever we ask them to do something for their sister (like dress up for Halloween, go to bed early, read a book), we are met with much resistance and defiance. But when it comes to Christmas lists, nobody complains.

Once they were done with their lists, they checked out one another’s list. My “least favorite child” (it even hurts to write it) as he has labelled himself, had some major issues with what his brother had written, and started along the lines of, “It’s not fair, why should he get the latest electronic gadget when I didn’t get it when I was in his grade?”

I am never ready for that, so I always try to use logic and common sense to diffuse the argument. This time it ended up with him stomping to his bedroom with a, “You’re a horrible mom”, so I suppose I didn’t win that one. Yet again.

My husband called foul mouth tween back in the room and decided it was time to get a few things straight. So he explained to him that one  needs to look at the big picture,

“Maybe your brother will get something earlier than you did. But let’s not forget that I have been spending most of my week ends with you only, whereas your siblings are with Mom. So if you are looking for fairness in each individual action, maybe I should split my time equally between the three of you”

In essence, what my husband said to him was, “Spending time with Dad is a rewarding experience.  Spending time with Mom is lame and boring. And as of now, it is officially used as punishment: stop being so annoying or you’ll spend your week end with Mom.

I am literally speechless . . .

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Plan vs Reality

This morning, I had a plan. A well, laid-out, proactive, no-nonsense plan that would fit all my tasks for the day. I normally don’t bother with organizing anything, but on occasions I have to. Like today. So here was my plan:

6.30: Wake up. See, realistic plan! No stupid impossible get-up-early-and-exercise ridiculous commitment that never happens. I am long done with that!

6.31: Wake up kid 1. Explain to him that yes, he has to go to school again, even though he already went yesterday.

6.50: Argue with kid 1 about putting clothes, shoes and jacket on.  As incredibly as it sounds, my child still doesn’t get why he needs to get dressed in the morning. . .

7.05: Put kid 1 in bus.

7.06: Shower and wash hair.

7.30: Wake up kid 2 and kid 3. Get them dressed.

7.45: Make lunch box while kid 2 and kid 3 have breakfast

8.00: Argue with kid 2 about going to school. It’s okay, it wouldn’t be a normal day if we didn’t . . .

8.05: Drop kid 2 at school

8.10: Finish homework with kid 3.  I admit, we do that in the morning. . .

8.30: Drop kid 3 at school

8.35: Be at my desk and finish my news article, prepare my speech for tomorrow, write a blog, post on social media, photocopy worksheets for French class, call lawyer in France. Estimated time for all this: six hours.

Now, here is what really happened:

6.27: Get up. Yay! A full three minutes earlier than plan. It’s gonna be a good day. . .

6.50: argue wit kid 1. Still good, all going according to plan.

7.05: Drop kid 1 to bus.

7.25: Still waiting for bus. Where’s the bus? Now I have to forego the shower and hair washing.

7.35: Bus has a flat tire. Bummer! Get kid 2 and kid 3 in the car, with no breakfast, some clothes on. Maybe shoes, if they are lucky…

7.40: Shlep all the way to kid 1 school, trying to make it for the 8.00 am bell. Can’t estimate what speed I would need to drive to achieve that, due to caffeine deprivation, but it’s a lot of miles and not enough minutes.

8.10: Spit out kid 1 from car, ten minutes late. Not too bad, considering I was driving without any coffee.

8.45: drop kid 2 fifteen minutes late. Oh, wait. Kid 2 has an urgent question to ask: why is there a pie sale? What is it for? When? And how?

8.50: Promise to buy all the pies in the bloody sale if only she could go to her classroom.

8.55: Try to ignore whaling cries from kid 3 who wants breakfast before he goes to school. Launch into a speech about how unreasonable his last minute demands are, but get an evil look from a mom eavesdropping. Tempted to be rude, but decide to cave in and drive kid 3 home for a speedy breakfast.

9.00: Shovel cereals in kid 3’s bowl while calling the school to advise of our impending arrival.

9.01: Try to think of a clever line to answer school lady question, “Why are you wasting five minutes calling me to say you will be here in two?” Nothing comes to mind. Decide that “clever” and “sensible” are off the agenda today. Yet again . . .

9.15: drive kid 3 to school, who’s supposed to start at 8.15 but guess what? Ain’t gonna happen.

9.20: Prepare a cup of coffee in order to start the day. NO MILK! What the . . . !!!!

9.30: Dash to supermarket, after crying uncontrollably about lack of milk

10.00: No more petrol so stop to refill tank.

10.15: Computer has rebooted automatically so lost newspaper article, photos I prepared for social media and blog outline.

10.16: Go back to bed, cursing that this day is sh..t.

1.15: Get a shower, wash my hair.

Some plans just need a little tweaking . . .

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The Power Of One

Over the past few weeks, friends and neighbors embarked on a journey to help relocated Syrian families get back on their feet. This effort, led by my friend Rana, is intended to go the extra mile, with a  holistic approach to help. It’s not just about providing immediate necessities, but also teaching the families tools that will enable them to rebuild their lives. Last week, Rana decided to introduce the families to the public library, a place that not only has books, but tons of other resources to serve the community they now belong to.

A couple of days before the library meeting, our kids prepared some Hallothumb_DSCN2290_1024ween bags to give to each of the children. We made an enormous mess cutting stickers, gluing stuff to the floor, and drawing on about everything that came in sight. But none of that mattered, nobody got mad. We felt good about what we were doing and we knew that we were sharing a special moment. Even we, grumpy moms agreed!

On the day, of the library visit,  we had assigned ourselves the mission to help the families register to, and navigate the place. Our kids were tasked with giving candy bags and distribute books to the children.

We all had a job to do, but we didn’t work. Not one of us. Because none of it fell like a task, an assignment. It was sheer pleasure and pure reward. We connected, we made friends, we hugged, we laughed. And more importantly, we learnt many life lessons from the very people we came to help. At the end of the afternoon, it wasn’t clear who was helping whom. I think it’s fair to say we were all helping one another.

This is what the Power Of One is about. We all have the ability to bring life changing moments. We don’t have to be powerful, rich or grown-ups to make a difference. We are not expected to cure the world of all its illnesses, to find big scale solutions. But we can help our neighbors. With our individual talent, we can give without counting, comparing or expecting something back. The Power Of One doesn’t move a mountain. The Power Of One picks up a person who stumbled, gives the encouragement that one needs to move forward.  That afternoon, at the library, I witnessed many examples of The Power Of One:

The librarian, Miss Amy welcomed the families, showed them the resources they can use to learn English, get books to their kids. She even set up classes with special softwares to help them learn faster and more efficiently.

Syrian moms and dads taught us that real strength comes form resilience. They showed us that humility and dignity are pillars, and they don’t come with money or status.

Friends volunteered to tutor adults, because they saw successful people, just needing a little hand.

Kids hugged one another and whispered, “You are my friend”, even though they had just met. They can’t wait to meet again, next week.

Are we going to solve any crisis with hugs, English lessons and a few candies? No, of course not. Will our action be like a drop in the ocean? Probably even less than that. But not to our forty seven friends. To them, and to us, we are empowering one another to believe, move forward and take positive strides. The power of one.

When it was time to leave, everybody had to go somewhere, but nobody could extract themselves from this surreal atmosphere. No doubt it won’t always be so nice and cute and there will be bumps. But it’s okay, because we are connected, and we are there for the long haul. Not because we have to. But because it’s meant to be.

 

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Elsa Ruined My Life

If I ever have to answer the question, “What changed your life in the past few years, I definitely know what to say, “Elsa!” Followed by, “change is the understatement of the year”. Elsa and her gang have turned my life upside down. When I share my frustrated comment with other moms, some go, “Oh, yes, I know. My daughter likes Frozen too”

Likes? LIKES! No, ladies, this has nothing to do with liking, or loving. It has to do with complete, utter obsession.

So if your daughter gets addicted, recognize the signs, and get help before it’s too late, like it is for us. The advanced warnings of a HyperFrozenmadmaniatis (not even dramatic enough)  are:

1.  You’ve seen the movie so many times that you know all the lines by heart.

2. Point 1. in at least one foreign language.

3. You’ve seen Frozen on ice, on fire, under water and in space.

4. Your daughter owns three Elsa dresses, the shoes, the jewelry, the wig, the crown, and just put an offer on a castle.

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5. Your house is full of plastic Elsas of all sizes.

6. You’ve decorated your queen’s bedroom with Elsa’s posters, Elsa’s bed sheets, Elsa’s cushions, and a big, giant Olaf guarding the bedroom. And just so you know, Olaf looks very creepy in the middle of the night with his scary grin, like he’s going to swallow you. If I meet him in a dark alley, I won’t be giving him warm hugs.

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Olaf at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your dog has been renamed Kristoff – must have to do with the smell.

8. You’ve intentionally scratched the CD, totally by accident! Because if you hear someone telling you to “Let It Go” once more, you’re gonna give them what they’re asking for.

9. You own more Elsa books than you can possibly imagine. Even Disney doesn’t know there are that many.

10. You’ve heard a rumor that there’s a sequel coming out, so you need to remortgage the house to get the new outfits, toys and houses.

Finally, if every single conversation in your house has turned into an excerpt of Frozen, you’re cursed. Like whenever there’s an argument brewing between two people, and your daughter mumbles, “Let the storm rage on”. Or if you ask her to put a jacket on to go to school and she blurts out, “The cold never bothered me anyway”, you’re doomed. The only option is to move to another planet. I’m seriously considering that plan.