This is Why Illegal Tobacco Affects Us All

I was eleven when I tried my first cigarette. Eleven. My youngest is eleven now and every time I look at her I can’t imagine a cigarette dangling between her lips. I can only imagine how absurd I must have looked, all 80 lbs of me, lighting up a cigarette. That one act, led to another and another and by the time I was 16, I was smoking a full pack of cigarettes a day.  I smoked for 20 years when all was said and done. Since I quit, I’ve lived in fear that the health consequences have still not reared their ugly head for me.

This is not a reality I want for my kids.

I’ve had countless discussions with my daughters about smoking. For a time I was encouraged to see our government placing warnings on cigarettes, putting them behind doors at stores, demanding ID to purchase them and taxing them sky-high. These are all good deterrents for the next generation. 

Unfortunately, the corner store is not the only place cigarettes can be obtained. With 50 illegal factories producing cigarettes in Ontario and Quebec, there are over 10,000 contraband cigarettes produced every minute. That’s millions of illegal cigarettes a year.

What’s the big deal, right? Smokers are only harming themselves. WRONG.

illegal cigarettes

Illegal tobacco is big business representing $75 million in pure profit every year. That’s millions of dollars lining the pockets of organized crime. The money raised from the sale of illegal tobacco is linked to gang activity and a rise of illegal guns on the street.  And nobody’s talking about it.

Most of us simply don’t know how big an issue it is. When polled, almost half of Ontarians were unaware that illegal tobacco is fueling gun and drug trafficking and were completely unconcerned with this growing industry. Once average citizens were informed that the funds raised from the sale of illegal tobacco was aiding gang activity, our concern jumped from 30% to 76%. No surprise, because it’s not just the smoker harming themselves anymore.

illegal tobacco

Awareness is obviously the key in this fight. The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about they growing danger of contraband cigarettes. They’ve started an ad campaign to raise awareness among Ontarians. For me, this means knowing that it’s not just the devastating health effects of cigarettes that I need to be concerned about for my daughters but also the illegal guns and gang activity that affects all of us.

To learn more about the sale of illegal tobacco in Ontario and Quebec, visit Join the discussion on Twitter by using the hashtag #StopIllegalTobacco

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Hey Sports Organizations, Stop Treating Parents Like Money Trees

competitive money tree

My girls love competitive cheerleading. L-O-V-E it. They love the hard work, the dance, the tumbling, the camaraderie and the competition. I love seeing them happy. As a mom, I want them to have a physical activity they love pursuing. Also, as we enter the teen years, I’m happy to keep them busy because there is nothing worse than a teenager with time on their hands in my opinion.

Competitive sports nowadays though can run into thousands and thousands of dollars and can create financial hardship for many families and yet I talk to parents with kids in every competitive sport (hockey, dance, gymnastics, soccer, cheer,ski) and the story remains the same. The stakes are getting higher and higher and parents are accepting it through gritted teeth so they don’t break their children’s heart.


A lot of professional sports organizations are run for profit, and as a paying customer we get to complain. You wouldn’t let any other business arbitrarily tell you you’re flying somewhere you don’t want to go, buying clothes way out of your budget or dictating what hotel rooms you can book and yet this is the stuff competitive sports are made of. So you know what, owners of for-profit sports organizations, here’s a few things parents would like you to know.

They don’t want to take vacation time with the team. Believe it or not, when parents kick back and dream about how they’ll spend their limited family vacation time, it usually doesn’t involve spending it with twenty other families they barely know. Increasingly though, I am hearing stories of at least one parent needing to book off a full week of their vacation time so they can travel with their child to some far-off destination. Which brings me to my next point.

Stop booking competitions in far-off destinations. Soccer teams heading to Italy for a week? Cheer clubs heading to Texas? Ski teams hitting South America? Who on earth is benefiting from this? Let me be clear to all the for-profit organizations out there. If these trips are nothing more than vanity plates for your organization to place on their website then maybe you should re-consider. Teams should have to earn a spot in competitions that far away. And by earn, I mean win A LOT of local competitions first and if they don’t, they don’t get to go. Simple.  Just saying your team traveled to a destination does not make them a good team. Getting yourself to an exotic locale on the backs of hard-working parents is shady.

They don’t want you consulting with their kids. Nope. Go directly to the money source please before you make any decision affecting an athlete. If you need to change anything that will require a schedule change, more money or a bigger commitment go to the parents. See next point.

Stop manipulating kids. Don’t tell Susie you’d like her on another team because she’s so amazingly athletic. Do you know what happens when you do this? Susie goes home to Mom and Dad who are already stretched thin for time and money and Mom and Dad suddenly become the bad guys when they say no. Don’t put us in that position.

School actually does come first. Full stop. As a travel writer I’m a little lackadaisical when it comes to school but I’m an anamoly. I have heard of clubs that start a half hour before school ends and simply expect parents to write a note excusing their kids early from school for a full year. While I’m pretty sure math will secure a kid a job someday, 99% of kids will not financially profit from their extra-curricular sport of choice. This also includes competitions (as mentioned above).

Do not relay important messages through kids. There’s really one simple explanation for this—because THEY ARE NOT RELIABLE. I still have to remind my kids to brush their teeth everyday. Do you really think they’re going to remember to tell me that practice time has changed?

Don’t spend their money recklessly. I recently talked to a parent who was expected to shell out $250 for a gymnastics leotard. I find it hard to believe there were no better options. As this parent pointed out, they’re not being judged on what they’re wearing but rather their ability. Be reasonable when it comes to uniforms.

Let parents opt-out of fundraising. Fundraising is a touchy subject. Many parents appreciate the financial relief and others resent the time they have to spend collecting bottles. I fall in the latter. I’d rather book a root canal then attend a bake sale, but that does not mean I think I should get a piece of the fundraising pie. If you participate zero, you get zero. Give parents the option though.

Give back. Increasingly sports are becoming very elitist; only those with the money can participate. Set up a team for special needs kids that is comprised of volunteer hours and that you don’t profit from. Give spots on teams to kids who have the skill but not the money and help with financial costs.

Stop booking competitions in December. This one is really just mine but December has got to be the busiest month on record for most parents. The holiday season is filled with parties and concerts, gift buying, wrapping and cooking. The last thing any parent who celebrates these things wants to do it remove one whole weekend from the equation for a competition. Seriously, there are eleven, less busy months through the year.

Far too often I have conversations with parents of kids in competitive sports who don’t speak up because they’re afraid of being “that” parent or they fear it will be taken out on their kid. I used to be that parent, until I sat down and calculated what I really spent in a year. The bottom line is this, my pockets are only so deep and my patience is wearing thin.




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Snack Attack: Stop the Madness


When I became a mother I knew the role would require me to fulfill certain tasks, but I never realized how it would be a full-time job keeping my children satiated. Children everywhere around me appeared to be hungry at all times and it was a given that I should prevent my kids from understanding what hunger felt like. As I looked around and learned from other parents in my environment, I came to understand that full stomach = good and forgetting to load diaper bag with equivalent to wartime food drop = bad. Being hungry – even for a second – was not an option. Emergency provisions were to be available and within arms reach at all times, and upon landing on Earth, aliens from galaxies far and beyond would believe that human children were born attached to bright plastic bowls of toasted O’s. The message was clear: If you’re even thinking about becoming a parent, start clipping  snack cracker coupons now.

I was guilty of Unnecessary Snacks for many years. When my daughter was an infant I went through several hundred diapers, a breast pump or two, 4 strollers, and 16, 229 zip-sealed snack bags. I had several bags in various states of fullness on me at any given time. I couldn’t go anywhere without my glasses, my wallet, or sliced grapes and dry cereal.

When I decided to stop the snack madness I started slowly and tentatively, because I didn’t want to cause an unbridled crisis.  I limited our initial “snack-free” outings to  a 5 foot safety-zone, by first venturing to the living room without our standard tag-a-long cooler of yogurt tubes. Then we tried going to the park with only one snack and a water bottle. It worked! No one perished and when my son said “I’m hungry!” 10 minutes after the breakfast dishes were cleared, I responded with “Hi, Hungry! I’m Jeni and it’s nice to meet you.

Snack Platter

Why are we so afraid of hunger? We live in one of the wealthiest countries on this blue spinning ball, and for most people who live here, food scarcity is not an issue. I certainly don’t advocate a starvation diet for children (or anyone for that matter) but what is with this notion that our children must be completely topped-up full at all times? Are snacking crackers and banana slices the new Mother’s Little Helper? The hardest words for some parents to say are not “I’ll be right down with bail money,” but “You can wait until dinner.”

Reasonable snacks are just that – reasonable. I enjoy snacking as much as the next person but it doesn’t need to become the focus of an outing and if your child is old enough and physically capable of eating three meals and a reasonable snack per day then I think (even without medical credentials) that it is probably okay to let them wait for food for up to three-hour intervals. My son has asked for “something to eat” three times since breakfast today and it’s from boredom, not genuine hunger. I know this because when I offered the option of raw onions or dry bread he disappeared back outside. Real hunger would have taken a raw onion sandwich and it would have liked it. Fingers to mouth is almost a reflex now, but I’m making him wait until noon when he can instead feel the weight of a fork in his hand.


 Image Source: WikiCommons



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Social Media & Living in a 911 World

Yesterday, when the news came through that explosions had rocked the Boston Marathon, I immediately turned to Twitter to get updates. After all, if you want the news fast and often in first person, Twitter is where you need to be. I read and absorbed as much as I could emotionally handle, sent out a tweet of condolences in a sea of thousands, retweeted something Liz Gumbiner (@MOM101) said and then I got the hell away from social media.

Because I knew. I knew like every other time something tragic has happened that it would turn quickly from a wave of support to a sea of vehement discourse. Offer up your prayers and someone is questioning how prayers are going to help, had a tweet scheduled about Product XYZ but you hadn’t heard the news yet or didn’t shut them off, prepare to be vilified. I knew that nothing good would come of hanging out on Twitter or Facebook……for me it would only make matters worse.

After the birth of my daughters, I took a little trip on the Crazy Train. Okay, “crazy” is harsh, let’s say I was on the Emotionally Unstable Train. As in, I thought every muscle ache, every headache, every rash, every gas pain meant that I had one of two things, Cancer or Aids. At least that’s what WebMD told me. This is why self-diagnosis by internet is a bad idea.

Certain I was on death’s doorstep I booked an appointment with my family doctor to, you know, get a second opinion. Now, my doctor, God love her, was incredibly patient with me. She sent me for tests that were all returned negative and suggested kindly that maybe I needed to talk to someone. I dismissed her out of hand and went home, momentarily relieved that I wasn’t dying. A month later though I was back in her office because this time I was convinced I had lung cancer. I was having a hard time breathing, there were times I couldn’t catch my breath at all and I felt like I was being smothered. Obviously all those years I spent smoking caught up with me and I was going to die. My doctor once again agreed to take a look but this time she insisted that I also go talk to a psychologist.

My girls around the time I thought I was doomed.

My girls around the time I thought I was doomed.

I often relate the story of visiting the psychologist as a bit of a epiphany for me. As soon as I sat down in his office the first words out of his mouth were, “You’re not breathing.” I laughed. “Of course I am.” I said. “No, you’re breathing like your out of wind, like you just ran a race. You’re not stopping to catch your breath.”

And then we talked. Floodgates opened and I cried and cried and all my anxiety about bringing two beautiful little girls into the world came pouring out. What if something happened to me? What if something happened to them? Damnit, I can not control everything!

We also talked about my obsession with the news. Daily, I must have checked the news about 20 times. I didn’t listen to music stations, I listened to news radio and in my down time I was reading opinion column after opinion column. My need to control the uncontrollable also meant that I needed to know what was happening every single moment in the world. As my psychologist pointed out, I was living in a 911 world. Always waiting for the next disaster. Never catching my breath because I was always on guard.

Surprise, surprise, he was right. So I laid off the news, I started working out daily to increase my levels of serotonin and I became an expert filterer.

Which brings me back around to social media. Thankfully, for me anyway, social media wasn’t really huge at the time I was going through this. I can only surmise that if it was I may have had a full mental breakdown.

When I was first introduced to Twitter, I had already adjusted to my “new” way of life and immediately saw the pitfalls in a platform that allowed thousands upon thousands of people to share their opinions on absolutely everything.(yes, yes, there are many positives as well)  Which is why, I walked away from it yesterday. I walked away from it after Newtown, and after the Aurora shooting and I will walk away from it during the next tragedy because more often than not the matter at hand becomes diluted with our own personal grievances about religion, politics, business or even someone’s poor spelling. We are silly creatures sometimes.

Having a filter is a good thing when tragedies like this happen.

Three people were killed yesterday and 140 injured. That’s all that matters. The rest is just noise. Sometimes the best way to deal with social media is to just walk away and catch your breath.



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Rape Culture Alive And Well In Canada

One month before she committed suicide, Rehtaeh Parsons posted a picture of herself on Facebook with a quote from Martin Luther King captioning it as such:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And in the end that is exactly what happened for Rehtaeh. It took 17 months, but eventually the silence of her friends became too much to bear and she left this world not knowing the storm of outrage she’d leave behind. I wonder if we knew 17 months ago what we know now, would Rehtaeh’s story had played out differently? Would we have been as outraged?

At 15 she was raped by four boys after drinking vodka at someone’s house. Let’s change that sentence for a second though. At 15 she was raped by four boys at someone’s house. You see, the vodka is actually of little consequence here. It is the first part of our reaction to rape that has to change. Many will see vodka in the story and immediately blame the alcohol. Well, if she hadn’t been drinking, this wouldn’t have happened. Really? I know lots of girls, myself included that drank at that age and weren’t gang-raped. Next, we go to “why was she at a house with four boys anyway?”. Again, victim-shaming.

Rape is rape is rape no matter where, when, who, or why it happens. It is wrong under any circumstances. Full stop.


Now, let’s ask the real questions. Why did four boys feel it was okay to rape a girl? How is it that four boys actually have the same sick mentality? How is that four boys felt it was okay to distribute a picture of Rehtaeh being raped and not even fear consequences? This is immediately where our head should go, but instead we have been trained by society to always blame the victim. In some sick way, it makes us feel better. It gives us a way to reason out the horrific nature of the crime. Well obviously, if she hadn’t of done A then B wouldn’t have happened. Sort of like, if that young woman hadn’t boarded a bus to take her home she wouldn’t have been raped.

The humiliation and pain of being raped wasn’t the end for Rehtaeh but only the beginning. And for that, we only have ourselves to blame.

There are equally disturbing events that happened here besides the rape and subsequent distribution of child pornography.

How is it that a girl can be raped and then bullied by other girls? One of her “friends” on facebook left a comment reading “Sluts need to leave this school anyway”. So much for girl power. What kinds of conversations are happening in the homes of these girls who would leave such a comment? These girls should be outraged. They should be scared for their own safety. And they should have had Rehtaeh’s back. Instead, they added insult to injury and beat her down even further.

I also can’t help but put myself in the shoes of parents when something like this happens. My heart is heavy and sickened when I think of Rehtaeh’s parents. My rage is palpable when I think of this happening to my daughter. But what of the other parents? How would I feel if my son did something like this? Would I be so blinded by my love for him that I would ignore the facts in front of me? Would I force him to do the right thing and accept responsibility despite the consequences to his future? What of the parents of the bullies? Do they even know that their kids are complicit in a young girls death? If they know, did the conversations they had around their own dinner table contribute to the “slut” mentality?

Finally, why have these boys not been charged? Apparently, the RCMP investigated this case for a year and was unable to lay charges for lack of evidence. There is photographic evidence, not to mention four culprits, and another girl who was a witness. This reeks of incompetence.

If we remove the shame of rape from the victim and heap it on the perpetrator then we change the story. If we can re-train ourselves to be a more positive person, or a more fit person or a more productive person, than surely we can relearn how to react to rape.

My gut, as usual, tells me to lock my daughters up, but my gut is instinctive and mother bearish and when is comes to stuff like this, it’s usually wrong. My head tells me to stay alert, stay informed and talk to my girls about every single aspect of growing up in today’s society, no matter how uncomfortable it may make me feel. It tells me to model how to talk about other women. It tells me to speak up.

Make your voice heard and sign the petition here to demand an inquiry into the police investigation of Rehtaeh Parson’s rape. Educate yourself and your children about the media’s role in portraying women as sex objects by signing up at Finally, learn what rape culture is and change the conversation around your dinner table. Ours daughters and sons will have better lives if we step up now.

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Shut Your Damn Phone Off

We live in a society where most of us are attached to our phones. I am guilty of this myself with my hand often holding it for no other reason but to feel the comfort of knowing it’s there I guess. It’s become my fourth appendage, never far, always charged and ready to connect me to someone, somewhere in a nanosecond. This is not a good thing.

I remember what life was like before cell phones and portable tablets. It was much calmer. I suspect this is because I was unattainable during down time. You remember down time? The time we used to have alone when we weren’t concerned about work, what the guy you used to know in high school had for lunch, for what some perfect stranger just got upset about. Down time meant you were intrusion free and increasingly that is becoming obsolete. And it’s not just my phone that’s intruding, it’s others.

If you want to surf while on vacation, or sit on the bus and not talk to a stranger than I think you have that right. You are bothering no one. Who am I to judge? I’ve got attachment issues too. I draw lines though on where my phone is acceptable and not acceptable. Eating dinner with my family or friends, unacceptable. Eating lunch alone, acceptable. We all have to draw parameters around our phone usage or it will take over our life. That being said, I think we’re going to have start calling out the people who have no phone etiquette.

shut your damn phone off

Last year, while driving across the United States, high up in a seat in our motor home, I was appalled to see how many people were texting while driving. Warning: Graphic image if you click through.

Even though it’s illegal in most States and Provinces, most people just don’t care. You are eight times more likely to be in a car accident while texting. That’s double the odds of drinking and driving, and yet I continue to see people everyday getting that one little peek while driving down the highway. This is a perfect example of someone’s phone usage affecting those around them.

While on vacation in Jamaica last week, I came across three more examples of people using their phones in socially unacceptable ways.

As I’ve mentioned, my phone doesn’t come to the dinner table. If you want to bring yours, go for it, just not dining with me please, but I digress. If you want to bring your phone to dinner at a restaurant, go ahead. There is this neat little thing though on your phone called a silent button. Please, for the love of romantic meals everywhere, find it. Our meal last week was interrupted repeatedly by the man next to us texting. The best part was every time his phone would ding, loudly I might add — there’s volume too you know — he would sigh and roll his eyes like “how dare this person keep texting me”. Yes sir, not only are they bothering you and your pompous need to impress, but they are bothering everyone in the restaurant. Now, I don’t think it was my job to get up and tell this man to silence his phone, but I do think it was the restaurant’s responsibility to tell him to shut it off.

There is no place more sacred than the spa. Most women know it and dutifully shut their phone off upon entry. Imagine my surprise when last week, while receiving a lovely massage the masseuse started texting! You have go to be kidding me?! I’m in there for down time, and your phone is buzzing away?! So, I’m lying there with cucumbers on my eyes and my foot is being rubbed by two hands in the most magnificent way and *buzz*, one hand rubbing now and click, click, click….two hands, *buzz*, one hand, click, click, click… get the idea right? While I consider this one of the most shocking workplaces I’ve seen phones used, it’s definitely an epidemic. I’ve seen lifeguards, on duty, texting. I’ve watched the person behind the fast food counter hold up their finger to me and fire off another message before taking my order. So, maybe, just maybe, employers should ask for phones to be handed in at the beginning of the shift and picked up on the way out? Just a thought.

Finally, I know it’s a real drag when the flight attendants ask you to shut off all electronic devices upon take off and landing. That three minutes without your phone is scary, but they ask for a reason — your safety and the 297 other people you’re flying with. Now, I get that there is evidence to suggest that perhaps these devices aren’t interfering with the planes equipment at all. In fact, just yesterday, I heard the FAA is considering lifting that ban so that we can continue to play Candy Crush while heading off into the wild blue yonder. Oh, those will be happy days indeed. But you sir, you are the worst offender, because not only is your phone still on but your are sending and receiving messages while we’re landing! Device on, in airplane mode, probably ok. Device on, sending and receiving? Probably not. Now I’m not Albert Einstein, but I’m thinking you’re not either, so until the evidence is in, shut your damn phone off.

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Put Down Your Guns America



Back in late July, I wrote a post titled “Put Your Stones Down”. (God, was it really only July?) Long story short, it was a from-the-heart post in which I begged, probably even condemned, people who were quick to throw judgment about in light of horrific events, to put their stones down. Ultimately, it didn’t really matter why people had children at a midnight screening of Batman. It wasn’t the parents fault they were shot. [Read more…]

Stop Humiliating Your Kids On the Internet Please


A couple of weeks ago, somebody brought to my attention a website called Dogshaming. People submit pictures of their dogs wearing signs around their neck that are meant to be confessions of bad deeds. As the owner of two dogs who do some pretty stupid things, I thought it was hysterical in a twisted sort of way.

Shaming a dog is funny.

Shaming a child is not.

Shaming dogs is good for a chuckle, children no so much. *photo source

Yesterday I tripped across this apalling article on Huffington Post. Basically, this dad thought shaming his toddler for having an accident in the tub was hysterical. He went to the trouble of making a sign and having her autograph it, he then hung it around her neck and had her pose smiling with it and then, well then he posted it on the internet.

And this is where my head explodes.

Because it’s not just this guy. Humiliating children on the internet is epidemic. And the worst part is it’s the parents that are doing it. Whether it’s declaring favourites, shooting up laptops, admitting you don’t love one, or the double whammy, making them stand in public with a sign around their neck AND posting it on the internet, it appears that embarrassing your kids is the new trend.

And it’s disgusting.

Blogging in particular has brought about a new breed of bullies. Parents that use their children as pawns for page views.

I understand that quest for page views.

If a blog is monetized then page views matter. I’ve written those posts that get tremendous hits and I’ve watched my traffic sky rocket. The flip side of that of course, is that when the herd moves on to the next big thing, your traffic dies and you start to stress about bringing them back. After all, you’re only as hot as your Google Analytics, right?

Being a parent means your children give you scads of material to work with. Heaven knows my kids give me loads of good blog fodder. And then I quickly forget about it and post another recipe or a song that gets me hopping. Because in the end amusing you is not worth embarrassing them.

The internet requires restraint. It means you have to think every single time you put a word on it or every time you post a picture. You have to ask yourself if this will hurt someone you love. Because I guarantee you, those people behind the keyboards don’t love you. They’ll be long gone years down the road, as you’re left picking up the pieces of a broken heart.

When I blog about my children, I ask myself will this embarrass them in any way? I don’t ask my child. At 10 and 8 they don’t have a frickin’ clue what’s going to embarrass them at 16. That’s up to me to use my better judgment. If I’m not sure I ask my spouse, who does not blog, but consumes the goods. If he says no way, then it doesn’t happen. Also, and this is important, so come very, very close so that you understand me — what goes around, comes around. Blogging isn’t going anywhere. Many of our children will have wonderfully popular blogs of their own in the future.

Me thinks there will be a lot of sorry parents in the future. Comeuppance can be a beautiful thing.

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Put Your Stones Down

A few weeks ago I had a gathering of good friends at my house. It was a fantastic weekend , in which we threw our best parenting judgement to the wind. Our children were jumping in my pool long past midnight and eating junk food in excessive amounts until 2am. Yup, those kids should have been in bed. It was totally irresponsible parenting according to the status quo and in the process we helped create memories that will last a lifetime.

Oh and there was that one time I let my daughter watch a movie that was definitely a little beyond her years, but good gawd it was going to give me two hours of peace and quiet on a road trip, so out the window went my common sense. Oh, oh, and let’s not forget about the time that I took my two year old to Midnight Mass at Christmas and she wailed through the whole thing.

And then there’s this.

There was that one time I took my 9 year old daughter to see a midnight movie screening because she’d been begging me for months to see it and I thought I’d do something totally crazy and fun with her. But she was shot and killed by a madman, and my heart collapsed from the grief. And in the midst of all this people immediately started to call me a bad mom for having her there at all.

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

It’s hard to believe it happened at all. It’s a completely unimaginable, horrific reality, and yet, there it is. Screaming at us from every media outlet today.

So many parents lives were changed forever yesterday. Pain, horror, guilt, grief, anger, are only some of the emotions these poor people with have to deal with for years to come. They should have nothing but our complete sympathy, but instead the judgers come out, in record time really, to shame the parents a little more.

I certainly hope none of them live in a glass house, throwing stones about like that and all.

Really? You ask who would take a three month old to movie? Maybe a mom who was breastfeeding and wanted to see a great movie and figured, reasonably enough I might add, what harm could come of this? She wasn’t walking the infant into a war zone, but a theatre. And three month olds, being three months old and all, generally eat and sleep pretty much anywhere. And the six year old, well, who knows why they were there, but it’s possible the parents had a momentary lapse of judgement. LIKE.WE.ALL.DO. And the other side of the coin is that the parent thought maybe their kid could handle it. Does it really friggin’ matter at this point?

While, quite obviously, this didn’t happen to me as described above, I’m trying to make a point. A “walk a mile in their shoes” point.

I, for one, wasn’t handed the Perfect Parenting manual when my children were born. Different parents are going to make different calls. Sometimes they’ll look back and cringe. Sometimes they’ll look back and smile. I may not agree with everything you do and vice versa. I’ll share my opinion, you’ll share yours. We’ll both move on.

Today though, the bottom line is this; nobody, not one single person, in that theatre thought something so awful could happen. It is just as tragic that a 13 year old was shot and killed as it is a 3 month old. The grief is no different for those left behind.

Sometimes it’s nice to throw our judgment around. We’re entitled to do that. It can change opinions, it creates discussion and hey, sometimes it just brings you page views. Whatever makes you happy. But when parents are grieving in a way that is completely unimaginable to any of us, it’s time to put your stones away.

Pleasantville Postscript: I am overwhelmed by the response to this article and by the many thoughtful comments left behind. I have struggled for days about responding to those that are clearly in disagreement. This is what I’ve decided upon. By engaging in an argument with them about the merits of whether a young child should have been at that movie or not, I am bringing the conversation exactly where I didn’t think it should be. I don’t think I could have been much clearer in this post, so I am biting my tongue. I love those of you that didn’t.

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Joseph Kony


When you get 10 million eyeballs on something you are obviously going to get a lot of opposing opinions, as has become abundantly obvious to me with this video. I’d like to thank everyone who sent me articles that present strong arguments against the organization Invisible Children, most notably here, here(for which I agree with him and changed the title of this post from Kony 2012 to Joseph Kony) and here. I recommend you read them all. You can also read Invisible Children’s response to some of the critique it’s been receiving here.

I did not ask anyone below to donate money to this cause, because that is a very personal decision and it should also be an educated one, as I wrote about here back in July. You can view Invisible Children’s financial statements here and form your own opinion on whether you’d like to donate money or not.

I did ask for others to share their voice on this and here is why. I think that this man has got away with this for too long. I don’t suffer from “white man’s guilt” as some writers suggest, but I certainly do suffer from mother’s empathy. My children go to bed safe in their beds each night and I sleep sound knowing that some madman is not going to take them from their beds and turn them into child soldiers, not to mention rape and mutilate them. There are mothers across the sea that do not sleep so well. My heart breaks for them.

Joseph Kony is a terrible man who has committed crimes against children for 30 years now. Sadly, I would bet most know more about Kim Kardashian’s ass than what this man has done. That’s not meant as an insult but merely a statement on what our society values. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to change the channel and raise awareness. I’m ok with spreading the word. I understand if you’re not.

Original Post

My stepson is 18 and has grown up in the Facebook generation. Despite the fact that he still ignores my friend requests, I am encouraged that he is on the right track when he sends me YouTube videos like the one he sent me today about the Invisible Children. Viewed almost 10 million times now, it is an incredibly powerful short film. You must take 29 minutes out of your day to watch this. Really, it is probably the most important thing you’ll do all day….possibly this week, maybe this year.

Watching it, I couldn’t help but cry. But mostly I got angry. Let’s file this one under a World Gone Mad, because can you tell me how the hell a man has been able to kidnap 30,000 children for 20 years? It’s not like we don’t know who’s responsible, for Pete’s sake? Yet one more indication that we’ve got our priorities all screwed up when something like this can continue for this long and nothing has been done to stop it.

On April 20th, I’m going to lend my voice to this worthy cause by helping make Kony famous. For that one day, my blog post(s) will be about Joseph Kony and the atrocities he’s committed. I will write about it on my page at the YummyMummyClub and I will write about it here. No sponsored posts, no songs, no travel, no recipes. Just Kony. I will also direct my Facebook status to the Facebook page of Invisible Children.

Here’s the challenge to my blogging friends. I invite you to do the same. Just as our youth will be plastering Joseph Kony’s name everywhere on the streets, I’m encouraging my blogging friends to plaster the internet with his name. For one day, let’s focus all our attention on making this bastard famous and helping to bring him to justice.

Let me know below if you’ll be joining me April 20th.

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