Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Is that the tax man?"

So it's election night in Ontario, and the evidence is everywhere in my household, with newspapers and magazines strewn about (I'll get to picking them up very soon). As always, I'll soon head out to spend the night helping out in the newsroom, but this morning, as I look over the Citizen and the Globe, a funny anecdote comes to mind.

It was the night of the leaders' debate, which had just begun playing on the living room TV while I chased my 10-month old around (it took about three hours for me to finish watching that hour and a half-long debate!), and my 13-year-old son relaxed on the loveseat, playing his Nintendo DS.

As Dalton McGuinty began to speak, without even looking up from his video game, my son blurted out, "Is that the tax man?" I began to roar with laughter.

Whether it speaks to the stickiness of the NDP/PC's anti-McGuinty messages, or simply the effectiveness of attack ads, it really was hilarious, and it helped open up a good chat about where the "tax man" moniker came from.

Parents, do you talk about politics with your kids? Are you engaged in this Ontario election? I'd love to hear from you:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Supermom? Not really

My apologies, dear readers--if you're still around.

I would understand completely if you've lost patience and given up on this blog. This has been a tremendously hectic fall season, with my newsroom job, teaching two college courses, putting the finishing touches on the winter issue of Ottawa Parenting Times (out in early December!) and continuing to freelance for various publications.

As per the cliche, I truly feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am well aware that I tend to, as do so many women and mothers, take on more and more work, even when it becomes increasingly (and evidently) impossible, hesitating to say "no" to any project, for fear no more offers will come.

It's a constant fight for working moms, struggling not to lose your professional identity and the constant dread of only being seen, and valued, as "mom." Eventually, you push yourself to the point I'm at now--feeling that I'm doing too much and doing none of it well.

It's been well documented that women strive to "have it all." But can you have it all, and be all things to everyone in your life, and keep your sanity? Right now, I'm inclined to give an emphatic "no."

Further to this, I came across two interesting pieces in the Globe & Mail today; one on how chronic stress can make mothers hostile and insensitive, and another on alcohol as Mom's stress relieving secret, evoking  a bit of guilt about those occasional and treasured glasses of wine.

What do you think, working parents? How do you maintain balance in your life? And how do you cope with the constant stresses of juggling parenting and work?

Friday, August 26, 2011

A family farewell to Jack

On Wednesday night, I brought my 13-year-old son to Parliament Hill to pay our respects to the late Jack Layton. He had asked me to take him, something I found remarkable.

Over the years, he has shown some interest in politics and the key players. Like so many of us, he enjoyed Jack's sunny disposition, his honest and hardworking nature and even the feistiness that emerged during leaders' debates and at other times.

The public viewing was a historical moment, and he knew that and wanted to be part of it. Moreover, he wanted to thank Jack for his work and his fight for families.

And so we did, waiting an hour and a half in line outside until we finally entered the foyer of the House of Commons. He was intrigued to see the place where so much of the work of Canada's politicians is done. In the condolence book, I watched as he very carefully printed, without any coaching, "Thank you  Jack, for your amazing work as the leader of the NDP."

As we approached the casket, and bowed our heads to say goodbye to someone we'd never met, but admired, I saw his eyes moisten with sadness. It seemed the realization of life's fragility had dawned on him, for the first time. He has never experienced the death of a loved one or attended a public viewing or funeral service. This was an important moment for many reasons, and I was glad we had come.

As for the lengthy wait in line, we spent the time just chatting. I loved the quality time. And then the questions came: he wanted to know how party candidates were chosen and how they came to represent their constituents, and how members could rise to the top to represent their parties. I tried to explain all of this, but I don't know how well I did.

Absorbing it all, he paused for thought for a few moments. Then he spoke, to articulate a sentiment that without a doubt, would have had Jack Layton beaming proudly: "Maybe I'll join the NDP."

Ottawa Parenting Times fall issue out now!

In case you haven't heard, the fall edition of Ottawa Parenting Times is out now. Look for it in your Ottawa Citizen, at local community centres and other family venues or check out the digital edition at

With plenty of handy back-to-school tips, good reads and regular features such as Grandparents Connection and Just for Moms, as well as the most glorious spots to bring the fam to view fall foliage, you won't want to miss our fourth issue.

Comments, questions or suggestions? I'm reachable at or on Twitter: @kelly_roesler.

A long summer break

After a much-needed, extended summer break, And Baby Makes Three is back. I'll be sharing more colourful anecdotes from my crazy-busy life as mom of a nine-month-old, nine-year-old, and now, 13-year-old. Please be sure to stop by regularly, and I'd love to hear your funny and poignant parenting stories:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mother's Day photo shoot with the fam

These were taken on Mother's Day 2011 by the very talented Dimitri of Alpha Studio. Check out to see more of his work.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why "16 & Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" are must-see family TV

Have you seen either of these MTV hit shows? If not, you really should. And so should your preteen/teenage children.
"16 & Pregnant," is an hour-long documentary series focusing on teen pregnancy. Each episode follows a five to seven-month period in the life of a teenager as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, rebellion, and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.
The spinoff, "Teen Mom," follows four of the featured "16 & Pregnant" moms in the year or so after giving birth and how they cope with the relentless demands of parenthood, school work and their relationships. It's absolutely compelling TV, with plenty of drama and heartfelt moments. But it's important viewing as well, for parents of all ages.
The launch of these shows has been met with much controversy and debate, with some claiming they "glamorize" teen pregnancy, and are in fact encouraging many girls to run out and get pregnant in hopes of landing a spot on the series, and eventual fame and fortune. On the flip side, there are some stats that are said to support the claim that the rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S. is declining in light of the immense popularity of the shows.
I can't speak to what tangible impact these shows are having on the rate of teen pregnancies in the countries in which they air, but I can tell you one thing: if you've watched even one episode of either series, you can plainly see there is nothing glamorous about these girls' lives and about teen pregnancy in general. Often, these are sad and painful stories that are hard to watch; in some cases, tinged with hope, but for many, filled with despair and hardship as these girls, faced with incredibly adult decisions, are forced to sacrifice their teenage years, their high school experiences and their relationships.
More often than not, the teen dads prove irresponsible and eventually absent (if not abusive). And it's devastating to watch, as happens in too many cases, the family dreams of a pregnant teen mom quickly dissipate amid the birth of her baby and the harsh realities of life caring for a newborn, almost always as a single parent, set in. There's no sugar-coating or glamour to be found here, as viewers watch the teen moms face marriage, divorce, adoption, religion, gossip, finances, rumours among the community, graduating high school (or not), and getting (or losing) a job. Some find trouble with the law, some struggle with eating disorders and other mental health issues, some turn to drugs and alcohol and partying, and some eventually relinquish custody of their children. I have no doubt these stories are a reasonably accurate reflection of the majority of teen pregnancies: it's brutally hard, it changes life radically, and there is a great deal of pain and sadness that comes with having a child as a teenager.
As a teen mom myself, (my first child was born when I was 18) I truly wish I would have had this fascinating glimpse into the real lives of teenage parents when I first became sexually active. There's certainly room for debate about the editing of the show, and the consequences that the money and exposure inevitably has for the moms who star in the show, but I remain convinced this reality series is extremely beneficial as a cautionary tale about the consequences of unprotected sex for teens everywhere. It airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV Canada.

What do you think about "16 & Pregnant" and "Teen Mom"? Are these shows helpful or harmful when it comes to educating about teen pregnancy?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Edgy new parenting book: Go the F**k to Sleep

I stumbled across a hilarious blog post at about a new offbeat parenting book by author and dad Adam Mansbach.

Mansbach has taken the bold step of naming his soon-to-be released book after the natural and very common thought that often crosses a parent's mind after several middle-of-the-night wakings, or when simply dealing with a fussy baby or toddler who doesn't feel like settling down (yes, it does--admit it): Go the F**k to Sleep.

Apparently, a PDF of the book, which poetically chronicles the "love and hate"of bedtime, has been circulating on the Internet in the weeks before the official release, and it's generating major buzz.

 Here's a sample from Mansbach's book:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the f**k to sleep.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The election post-mortem in my household

 When I stumbled out of bed this morning, after a long night of election-related duties in the newsroom, my 12-year-old immediately greeted me with a recap of the night's events: "It's a Conservative majority," he said. "I know," I mumbled.
"The NDP is the official opposition," he continued. "Yes, I know," I repeated.
And he didn't forget to include the Bloc's humiliation: "Duceppe quit." I nodded, impressed with his knowledge of the facts.
And then came the editorial: "I don't like the Conservatives," he frowned. I was curious to hear more, but frankly, it was just too early in the morning for in-depth analysis and debate. That will come soon, as I certainly plan to explore his political views, but for now, I'm quite proud that my pre-teen is engaged enough to not only pay attention to the results, but to actually form an opinion. I think it's super-cool, and bodes well.

Do you discuss politics with your children? What do you think of last night's outcome? What impact will the new majority Conservative government have on your family? Share your thoughts below or visit Ottawa Parenting Times on Facebook and Twitter: @ParentingTimes

Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal weddings, children and happily ever afters

Along with some two billion people, my nine-year-old daughter and I tuned in to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton. As we chatted about The Dress, William's appearance, and the grandeur of the Abbey and Buckingham Palace, seemingly out of nowhere, my daughter noted that the royal couple "might not be together that long."
Startled, I asked her where that came from, adding that I (and the millions of others watching) certainly hoped the pair would see years of wedded happiness. She merely shrugged, and said "they just might not." And this coming from a little girl who doesn't even know the backstory of William's mother, having been born five years after Diana's death.
In that moment, it struck me just how much the model of--and our perceptions of--marriage and family has changed. Nothing is forever, quite often, neither is marriage and even children are picking up on that fact. And the makeup of families is ever-changing. My daughter is keenly aware that single-parent families exist, and why.
Thirty years ago, as millions watched Diana and Charles walk down the altar in their "fairy tale" wedding, many hoped and likely believed their story would play out that way. But we know better now, and so it seems, do our children.
Still, we hope and still we long for the romance. My worries about my daughter's cynicism quickly evaporated as she impatiently waited for The Kiss. "When are they going to kiss, mom? I want to see the kiss." Some things never change.

***On another Royal note, I read a lovely op-ed from the Daily Mail Online written by Diana's friend Rosa Monckton on how Diana's greatest legacy is that William married for love. She writes: "Somehow, Diana’s own unhappiness has helped to give her son both the capacity and the opportunity for great love."  
 As a parent, I can think of no greater gift. 

Did you watch the royal wedding with your children?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pregnancy and addiction

I've recently noticed a significant amount of U.S. media coverage dedicated to the sad plight of pregnant women who are addicted to drugs, particularly prescription opiates such as Oxycontin. Apparently, this is a growing national problem, especially in rural areas. There's a in-depth feature on this in the NY Times today (Read it here).

This problem has always existed, going back to the days of cocaine-exposed babies in the 1980s, but the rapidly increasing abuse of prescription drugs is bringing this to a new level, according to the article.

There are so many layers to this issue: how care for mom and baby is hard to find, how detoxing is tough on mom and excruciating for baby, which treatments are least harmful, and particularly, the lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of prescription and non-prescription drugs on a developing fetus.

Added to all this is the fact that many addicted pregnant women don't admit to it (pregnant women are rarely tested for drugs) or even obtain prenatal care.

I watched an hour-long special on this issue the other night on A&E. As utterly disturbing as it is, it's crucial to shed light on this so more women feel they can come forward and seek treatment in order to give their children the best possible start. And hopefully, researchers will soon find appropriate treatments that will allow mom to get clean--and therefore baby--with minimal effects.

It certainly makes me curious as to what is known about pregnancy and addiction in Canada, and whether we're seeing similarly rising levels of drug abuse in women who are expecting. And if so, I wonder what's being done to get the message out to women that, although they've made some very grave mistakes, they need to come forward and get help for themselves and their babies as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Help! Charlie Sheen is tainting my kids' vocabulary

As much as I really hate to give this man more press, his name and his horrible antics have not gone unnoticed by my children, particularly my very plugged in 12-year-old son .

Last night, while shopping in the baby section at Wal-Mart, my son, upon spotting a cute, innocently sport-themed baby bib (It had a helmet and I believe a bat or a ball and it read "WINNING is my goal") immediately blurted out, "Look! It's a Charlie Sheen bib!"

His voice rang out so loudly, a few nearby shoppers turned to look in our direction (were they expecting to see a picture of a ghastly, gaunt man sandwiched between two 'goddesses'?) and my face immediately turned red. "Shhhhh"! I hissed, mortified that his bold statement seems to reveal us as part of the hysterically curious following Sheen has recently gathered.

And this is not the first time my son has brought this up. Just a few days ago, the word "drunk" came up on a TV program, and before the sentence was finished, my son had chirped, "like Charlie Sheen!"

OK, so the word "drunk" might be a given, but words such as "winning" used to have a positive energy. Now, my son associates that word with the bizarre ramblings of Sheen, and it's a little disturbing.

But all this brings up a larger issue, a topic definitely worth exploring: just how to explain Charlie Sheen to your kids. Hopefully, with young(er) children, it's not even an issue. But with the onslaught of media coverage, tales of sordid escapades and drug use are filtering through, all the way to our children, especially our teenage children.

As disturbing as it is that Sheen's bad behaviour is not only being tolerated by the public at large (Warner Bros., not so much), but actually celebrated (i.e. the hot-selling standup tour!), much more disturbing is that kids are witnessing this spectacle--and could be conditioned to think that addiction, promiscuity and nonsensical tirades are a form of entertainment or somehow funny. When it's anything but.

It's an awkward subject, but the media saturation is almost inescapable. When I have to talk about it, I explain that this behaviour is not normal and desperately requires treatment. And that it's absolutely not "winning."

Do you have suggestions on how to explain Charlie Sheen and the media furor to impressionable kids? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

For sale: One defiant teenage boy, complete with full-on attitude...

...well, OK, maybe I won't actually sell him (as if anyone is in the market for this notoriously tough age group, anyway), but right now, I sure feel like it.

My oldest will be 13 this August, and with the advent of adolescence comes all those scary things I've heard so much about: the attitude, talking back, unbelievable sense of entitlement, etc., etc.

It all reached a peak the other day, after my many stern warnings that if the attitude continued, there would be major consequences. Lo and behold, he put me to the test. And so I brought out the "big guns": a strategy I picked up from  Dr. Phil (OK, you can stop laughing now).

It involves "stripping" your child of their material possessions: toys, video games, computer, etc. and allowing them to gradually earn them back through extended periods of good behaviour.

So, he's officially been stripped: the cell phone is gone, the only fun left in his bedroom now is some books. It's going to be hard to stick to, though I know it had to be done. But will it work? Is it a monstrous tactic? Is it age-appropriate? Time will tell.

Do you have any ideas, thoughts or comments on discipline for teens? What's your experience? What has worked for you? I'd love to hear about it. Please leave a comment or e-mail

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Awesome video of squealing baby--guaranteed to make your day!

Is there anything better to lift one's spirits than a two-minute video of a cute, squealing baby? How can you resist? Maybe she'll go viral...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to work, sadly

A few days ago, I returned to work at my part-time office job, and baby Chloe began daycare. It was tough. I had a wonderful time staying home for four months, often doing nothing other than cuddling, feeding and playing with Chloe. I already miss those days.

Now, we're having to adjust to a new, frantic daily routine of getting up, fed, dressed and out the door to daycare and work. We have much less time together, even though I'm part-time, and I feel it keenly.

I'm starting to think of the moments I may miss while at work: the crawling, walking, the first recognizable word, and my heart sinks.

I enjoy my career in the news business, and in some ways, it's nice to be among adults again. But I find much of my attention--and all of my heart--stays with Chloe, no matter where I am or what I'm doing...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Need a romantic escape from parenting pressures?

So if you happen to have a few minutes free of crying, feeding, diapers, fielding questions and breaking up fights, and could use a little web-based escapism from the rather harsh realities of parenthood, I highly recommend checking out a super-interesting blog by my dear friend Kerry MacGregor: Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French. 

Kerry is a Canadian journalist who left it all behind to pursue her romance with a tall, French professor living in Nice. In her blog, she documents her romance and her "lovely, but awkward adaptation into life along the Mediterranean." It's simply dreamy...

My underage Facebook users

There's been lots of debate lately about whether parents should allow their kids to fudge their age for the purpose of joining Facebook (a disclaimer on the site says members must be 13 and up).

A recent NY Times article on the concerns surrounding the growing number of underage Facebook users (Read it here) quite rightly points out that allowing children to break the rules--even for what is largely seen as a minor fib that is necessary to let their children participate in the digital world--sends the wrong message.

I struggled with this very dilemma when contemplating whether to allow my two older children, ages 12 and 9, to essentially lie about their age in order to join Facebook. I wondered whether this would be a slippery slope. I constantly try to convey the value of honesty to them. Was I undermining myself as a parent by allowing this?

After much pleading from the kids--and with full access to passwords, maximized privacy settings and constantly supervised computer time--I decided to allow both to join Facebook. With proper controls in place, I really had no problem with the kids having access to the site, but what really got me--and still gets me to this day--is the idea of giving approval to lying about their age. So far, there've been no problems. Yet I still struggle with the mixed message.What happens if/when I have to lay down the law with regard to fake IDs and the many other issues that will inevitably arise?

Do you have underage Facebook users in your home? What do you think: is it a problem for kids of all ages to inflate their age for social networking purposes, or is it no big deal? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The nightmare that is moving

It's been rather quiet here at this blog lately, largely due to the fact that we've just moved to a new place. The many stresses of moving reach a new level when a very active and high-need three-month-old is added to the mix. More soon...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interesting parenting blog, NOT about Charlie Sheen

Check out Lisa Belkin's view on the whole Sheen mess. She writes a great parenting blog for the New York Times. In this entry, she focuses on the little people who are sadly overlooked in all of this. Read it here.

Thoughts? Comments? Have your say below or e-mail

Music, food for a parent's soul

In the spring edition of Ottawa Parenting Times, we feature several stories about the importance of music in a child's life, whether in the classroom, at home, or at summer camp. And I'm starting to see just how meaningful this is when it comes to my own children.

This fall, I decided to send my 12-year-old son to Broadview Public School, primarily for the chance to enter late French Immersion, an entry point the board is phasing out. I soon learned that music is greatly emphasized at Broadview, as my son began to study instrument for the first time--the clarinet--and then joined the school band.

We've had our ups and downs through this, including his incessant grumbling about waking up an hour earlier on band practice days (to the point of wanting to quit--but I wouldn't let him!). But we're also seeing some truly incredible moments. He couldn't be any more keen or proud when it comes to playing concerts and he's learned the value of all those early-morning practice sessions.

What's more, the other day, he actually wrote his first song, a snappy, infectious number titled, "Riding in the Sun." I was over the moon when I heard it, and saw his eyes sparkle as he showed off his creation.

I have to say, I love the sound of the smooth, jazzy clarinet coming from his bedroom, as he practices and perfects his technique, all the while learning discipline and the rewards that come from persistence and hard work. Now, he wants to form his own band, and I can't wait to see where this goes...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Breast milk all well and good, but ice cream?

 From time to time, in this parenting blog, I'll mention controversial, quirky and surprising parenting stories I often come across, such as this:

A London council has confiscated supplies of breast milk ice cream from a specialist parlor which launched the new flavor in the British capital last week on concerns the frozen treat may spread viruses.

Read the Reuters story here.

What do you think? Does breast milk ice cream appeal to you? Or is it just wrong?

Breastfeeding: to wean or not to wean?

In the current issue of Ottawa Parenting Times ("The breastfeeding debate rages on"), we examine how the much-touted advantages and health benefits of breastfeeding continue to be challenged with the release of a new book in which university professor Joan Wolf openly challenges the health claims made by breastfeeding proponents, and a new study by British researchers that reveals that, in developed countries, breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months may not be the best for infant health, contrary to WHO guidelines.

The topic of breastfeeding never fails to stir passionate debate, and the story sparked quick response from OPT readers

Louise Arsenault of Winchester wrote: "I wonder why educated people would ever doubt that Mom's milk is the perfect food for her baby. All mammals were created to receive this and this is the sole purpose of the female breast. Joan states "there is no conclusive evidence of breastfeeding's superiority to formula," and so on, when the word breastfeeding should be breast milk.  

The change makes a huge difference in the context. Breast milk cannot be duplicated and is constantly changing to meet the baby's needs as he grows. Babies always receive immunities through breastmilk and these things cannot be put into formula."

When I gave birth to my third child, Chloe, in November, I decided to breastfeed her, my first experience doing so. My other two children were formula-fed. I didn't make the decision out of guilt, but mostly due to being wiser and considerably older, with a greater appreciation for the medical evidence that points to breastfeeding being beneficial. 

My older children, I have to say, are very healthy, happy and quite bright. Formula feeding, at the time, was the decision that made sense for us, and I would never judge any mom who chooses to do so.

But nursing Chloe has been a surprisingly beautiful and satisfying experience, though not an easy one. From soreness to her constant feeding, we've had our share of struggles over the last four months (along with having to supplement with formula to simply get a few hours' break from feeding). From time to time, I've been tempted to give up. But I didn't, ultimately wanting to prolong the experience and this special time connecting with her.

Now, I have to make a decision. I have to return to my office job shortly, and Chloe will begin daycare next week. Our days of long, leisurely nursing has come to an abrupt end. I know Chloe can continue to receive breast milk in a bottle (so far, my one attempt at a manual pump yielded almost nothing), but I'm not sure which way to go. Is it time to make the switch to exclusive formula feeding? Or do I invest in a hospital-grade pump and do my best to sustain her breast milk consumption (and some nursing) while working outside the home?

It seems the toughest decision I've ever made.

Do you have any advice to share on weaning your baby? Or how you managed to breastfeed while working outside the home? Please share your breastfeeding experience by commenting below or e-mail

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And Baby Makes Three...

I never thought I would be a mother to three children.

In fact, I remember vowing as a child that I would never have any. Career-minded from a very young age, I felt I didn't need to be a mother and be defined by all that came with it. Or so I said. Loudly.

But in 1998, all that flew out the window with the birth of my son. Being a mom turned out to be much more fun than expected. So in 2002, I did it again, giving birth to my oldest daughter. And that was it. Or so I thought.

In March 2010, I found myself staring in disbelief at the positive pregnancy test. A number kept flashing through my mind: "three kids....three." One was tough, but very manageable. Two was definitely more challenging, but still rewarding. Besides, I had finally made it to the point where the physical work was virtually nonexistent, with a 12 and eight-year-old, and some freedom was slowly starting to unravel.

For years, I had struggled to balance a journalism career with the needs of two children, and we finally seemed to have found our groove. I had to wonder: Could I do the baby thing again?

On November 18, I did just that, with the birth of baby Chloe. Since then, life with a newborn, 'tween and teen has been no less than chaotic, exhausting and stressful--but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

And so I've decided to call my new parenting blog "And baby makes three," because as a parent, the number of children you have is definitely a big deal. Whether you're going from one to two or two to three children, there's simply no way to prepare yourself for how your life will change.

It's a wild ride. And I hope you'll follow along as I recount my life as a working mom of three children in three different stages in this blog: the issues, challenges and the incredible moments. There are so many.

And I hope you'll share your parenting experiences as well, by leaving a comment or e-mail