Category Archives: Family

Puzzling With My Sister

My sister and I like doing jigsaw puzzles but neither of us had thought to bring one along to Merida, Mexico. It took a little searching but finally I found a good selection in an educational toy store in a large mall.  I bought one for our house in La Ceiba and one for my sister’s house in Merida. I decided to go with Mexican themes for both of them. The one at my house was a picture of Mexican food.  It was not an easy puzzle but over a period of a couple of weeks and in between visiting and eating and glasses of wine and lunches and phoning our Dad together and cups of coffee we got it done.  The puzzle at my sister’s house was very challenging!!  I admit I only put in a couple of pieces.  Luckily my sister had  friends visiting for a week and they are both excellent puzzlers so they helped Kaaren do the puzzle.  

I found a couple of websites that list all the benefits of adults doing jigsaw puzzles. It can improve your short term memory, develop problem solving and visual spacial skills and boost your intelligence quotient.  It can lift your mood,  help stave off dementia, lower stress levels, increase attention to detail and foster cooperation and collaboration.  And I would add  provide an opportunity to do something enjoyable, challenging and fun with your sister. 

Other posts about puzzling……….

I’m On My Own Now

Globe Trotting Vicariously

Puzzling with the T-4s

Puzzling a Family Christmas Tradition



Filed under Family, Mexico

Films That Mirror Life

The world of film offers a way to explore some important changes that are happening in families.  I’ve watched a variety of movies and television series lately that illustrate some of the new family dynamics developing in society.

The number of Canadian children living alone with their father has increased by 35% in the last decade. Statistics Canada says this reflects a growing acknowledgement of the important role of fathers in family life. 

eighth grade movieThe movie Eighth Grade available for rent on Amazon tells the story of a dedicated single Dad raising his teenage daughter who is beset with self- esteem issues, anxious about her appearance, her friendships and her online presence.  Although she finds her father bumbling and irritating at times he is the rock in her life always there to listen, tell her how great she is, and to provide protection and support.

Nearly 16% of Canadian couples will struggle with infertility in 2019. Only 5% had problems conceiving children in 1985. Many different factors contribute to this increased rate. While new ways of helping such couples are constantly being explored infertility is still very difficult.

private-life-poster-thumbThe movie Private Life on Netflix looks at a couple Richard and Rachel who desperately want to conceive a child. They’ve tried everything but won’t give up.  I found their story heartbreaking even thought it is told with a sense of wry humor.

There has been a significant increase in the number of same sex Canadian couples having children and raising families together. These families tend to live in urban areas. Their children may be biological or adopted or a combination of both. 

CIERRA RAMIREZ, TERI POLO, SHERRI SAUM, DAVID LAMBERT, NOAH CENTINEO, HAYDEN BYERLY, MAIA MITCHELLThe Fosters is a Netflix series that tells the story of Lena and Stefanie, a married lesbian couple living in San Diego. They are raising one biological and four adopted children together. Lena is the vice-principal at a charter high school and Stefanie is a police officer. Together they provide their children with a loving and stable home.

About 10% of Canadian children live in stepfamilies. About 30% of those children live in what is called complex stepfamilies, with both biological parents having some custody rights and stepbrothers and sisters playing a role in their lives.

The Netflix series Bonus Family examines just such a situation. Lisa and Patrick are a Swedish couple who have both left unhappy marriages to live together. Lisa has a son and daughter and Patrick has a son. They retain joint custody of their children with their former partners and Patrick and Lisa have a new baby together. It is a very complex situation and Patrick and Lisa seek help from a therapist team to try and sort it all out.

There are more Canadian children with disabilities and they are living longer. A Lethbridge University research report said this statistic raises concerns for parents who worry about who will care for their disabled children once they can no longer do so.

In the moving and inspiring Netflix documentary Far From The Tree we meet a whole series of families who are doing their best to find happiness even though their children face some major challenges in life.  One of the families profiled is that of Jason Kingsley a man with Down syndrome and his elderly mother Emily. Jason’s father has died, and Jason has no siblings. Emily expresses her anxiety about who will care for her son once she is gone.

Canadian families are changing and one way we can further understand those changes and think about them is to watch films and television series that explore a wide variety of family experiences.

This post was a newspaper column published in The Carillon recently. 

Other columns published on my blog…….

The Great Statue Debate

Women in Politics

On The Rock

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Filed under Family, Media, Movies

My Husband is Famous

Our family posing outside the Burton Cummings Theatre before the release of Royal Canoe’s album Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit in 2016. My husband Dave is front and center. 

When my husband’s favourite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe put out a call recently for people to appear in a new music video lip syncing lyrics to one of their latest tunes, Dave decided he would apply for the gig.  His bid for musical stardom was accepted and he was given an appointment to record his contribution to the video.  dave on royal canoe's 77-76The video was released last week and there is Dave featured in a tune called 77-76 from Royal Canoe’s upcoming new album Waver which will be officially released at the end of January.  According to an interview with band member Matt Peters on the Spill New Music site the song “is about seeing a storm approaching on the horizon. The ship is beginning to rock back and forth violently, but the captain is drunk. Your last captain was alright, but this new one is an idiot. You go up on the deck and see the sky darkening fast. In spite of that, all you can do is hope the crew can rally on their own and keep the ship above water. You always find a way.”

Check Dave out on the video here.  Why not give it a like and perhaps even a comment while you are at it? 

Other posts………

The Daily Bonnet Just Made Us Famous

Fun Evening in Toronto


Filed under Family, Music

Far From The Tree

What could make you stop loving a child?  

far from the tree movie posterAs I watched the movie Far From the Tree on Netflix I asked that question.  I marveled at the sets of parents it profiled who continued to love their children despite the fact they presented their families with fierce challenges and in many cases considerable heartbreak. Far From the Tree is a documentary that looks at parents with a child who is not like them, a child who defies that old saying about how much children often resemble their parents “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  

In the film we meet Jack who is autistic, often violent and can’t speak, Jason who has Down Syndrome, Trevor who has committed murder, and Joe, Lena and Lioni who are dwarfs. far from the treeThe documentary is narrated by Andrew Solomon a gay man who wrote the book on which the movie Far From the Tree is based. In his book Andrew explores how some families, including his own, handle having a child who is very different than his or her parents, a child who presents the family with unique challenges.

Two things shone through for me as I watched Far From The Tree.  The first was that every parent in the film loved their child unconditionally. There was nothing their child could do to make them stop loving them.  And the second was how the families in the film managed to find happiness in situations where being happy might seem challenging. 

I highly recommend Far From The Tree.  Although not an easy movie to watch it is inspirational and a testament to the power of love. 

Other posts about movies that look at parenting……..


Right To Have Children? 

Why Do We Share Our Worst Selves With Those We Love the Most? 

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Filed under Family, Movies


I learned about hygge at a wellness workshop I attended.  It is a Danish word that means ‘enjoying the good things in life with good people.’  The importance of hygge in Danish culture is perhaps the reason it is repeatedly listed as home to the happiest people in the world.  I just had a wonderful couple of days of hygge. Our children and grandchildren from Saskatoon were here for a visit and we were joined by our Winnipeg children.  The weather was sunny and warm and we spent a beautiful morning at the Forks making our way down part of the river walk, checking out some of the architecturally creative warming huts and trying out all the interesting things in the playground behind the Children’s Museum.  The next day we headed out to Fort Whyte where the younger two generations had such fun on the toboggan slide. Later we explored the tipi, the sod house and watched the bison. Our days together included a turkey dinner complete with my husband’s traditional bread pudding made with the help of our older grandson, a faspa with extended family, a lunch of home-made hearty soups courtesy of our daughter-in-law, a waffle breakfast, music making, some game playing, puzzling, drawing and coloring, visiting, story reading, stocking opening, sharing last year’s highlights and our expectations for the coming year, going out for coffee,and even a little napping and knitting.  It was certainly a time of hygge- “enjoying the good things in life with good people.” 

Other posts………..

600 Million Moments

The Breath of Life



Filed under Family

Violence in Christian Families

Illustration by Rocco Fazzari

Violence and abuse are no strangers to people in Christian families, in fact the rates of violence and abuse in Christian families may be higher than in the general population.  That is one of the thought -provoking points in a talk given by Dr. Val Hiebert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence University College.  Yesterday I listened to her lecture called Shattering the Holy Hush:  Domestic Violence and Christianity. val hiebert providence college Dr. Hiebert suggests that the problem of violence in Christian families may have its roots in the largely patriarchal evangelical church which assigns power and leadership almost exclusively to men and instructs pious women to be submissive to men.   Hence women are encouraged to submit rather than admit to the violence  their fathers, husbands, brothers or even grandfathers inflict.

Dr. Hiebert says the evangelical church tends to put intact, happy families on a pedestal and anything that would disrupt that vision is surrounded by a kind of ‘holy hush.’  The phrase ‘holy hush’  as a descriptor for the church’s attitude towards domestic violence was coined by New Brunswick researcher Nancy- Nason Clark who has published more than a dozen books about violence in Christian families.  

Dr. Hiebert points out that in the geographical area where her university is located virtually every evangelical church is led by a male pastor.  It leaves the listener wondering whether statistics about violence in Christian families would be different if more churches were led by women? 

I’ve given you just a glimpse into Val Hiebert’s talk, hopefully enough to convince you to listen to her lecture yourself.  Dr. Hiebert wants to end the ‘holy hush’ around violence in Christian families. Listening to her ideas and then talking about them with others is perhaps one way we can help her to do that. 

Other posts………..

Laughing At the Suffering of Others

Hot Wives and Christian Leaders

A Grandmother’s Heart

More Visible But Not Equal

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Filed under Family, Religion

Good-Bye John

On Tuesday we attended the funeral of my brother-in-law John in Leamington, Ontario. John once teased me that in my writing I have a tendency to make lists.  So I thought I’d make a list for John.

He was a husband, teacher, father, urban planner, son, border crossing officer, brother, farmer, uncle, business owner, grandfather, book lover, friend, sommilier,brother-in-law, world traveler, nephew, dragon boat racer, municipal councillor, news junkie, father-in-law, writer, great-uncle, coffee connoisseur, conversationalist, island dweller, nature lover, cousin, landscaper, grandson, art aficionado, talker, singer, Scrabble player, swimmer, genial host and the list could go on and on.  

On Monday night we were at the funeral home for seven hours as nearly eight hundred people came to pay their respects to John and his family. He was clearly a man well-loved  by his community. I pulled some photos of John from my collection and hope they reveal just a little of the colorful, friendly and interesting man he was. 

Even as a child John had a friendly face that just hinted of mischief afoot

John walking his daughter Hannah down the aisle

John with his four brothers. He is furthest to the left.

John with his daughter Olivia

John’s university graduation

John with his son Sam

At his parents 25th wedding anniversary. John is just to the left of his mother

John his wife Linda and their daughter Grace

John and his brothers performing at their parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. John is furthest to the right.

John, his wife Linda and their four children are furthest to the right in this family photo with his parents, their children and grandchildren

John is to the far right in the back row in this family photo

John on his yard with an oak tree planted with the cutting of a tree that originally came from the area of Ukraine where both of John’s parents were born

John was the bestman at our wedding.

John, my husband Dave and our niece Hannah at a fun family golf tournament

John is to my left in this photo taken at our son’s wedding

John with his wife Linda and their two daughters on a Driedger family vacation in Arizona

John with his grandson

You can read John’s obituary here.

Other posts…….

The Amazing Race Driedger Style

Dave The Professional Driver

Making Memories



Filed under Family