The Amazing Woman my Daughters call MOM!

So as we arrive upon Mother’s Day it is a chance for us all to reflect on the person that has given us life, whether your mom is close, far away or perhaps no longer with you, we all have cherished memories of our Mothers and today is the day we celebrate them, so Happy Mother’s Day.

For my three girls they are extremely blessed to have my wife Jennie as their Mom, of course she loves them and is caring, but there is so much more that distinguishes her as a terrific Mother.  My wife has sacrificed a lot to be the best Mom she can be to our girls, she has always made the choice, since we had our first child ten years ago, that the kids would come first, and her career was placed on hold, so to speak.

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So as it came to my wife’s career, she decided almost immediately after having our first daughter that she would leave her corporate job and start a small business, with the sole purpose of being able to spend more time with our baby girl.  This wouldn’t be easy, but it was a challenge she was up for as it meant more time with her family.

Jennie always looked at the rewarding aspects of running a business while taking care of a newborn, even if it meant that she would need to go to a client’s location sleep deprived, with a playpen, and diaper bag in-tow.  But the clients understood and most of them welcomed the company; of course we needed to rely on childcare from time-to-time, but that was taking from the time my wife wanted to spend with our daughter.

As the years went on we had another baby girl and then a third daughter, all presenting new rewards and challenges for my wife as she continued to maintain harmony between our busy home life and her thriving business.  As the last of our girls went off to school, my wife found herself in a very unfamiliar situation; she now had time to spend on her business, no mid-morning diaper changes between phone calls, no tag-along kids to clients locations….just time, to refocus on the business and to start to take back some of the well deserved time that was devoted to our girls over the course of eight years.

So for most people this opportunity to finally get the time that you so desired would be a chance to “ramp-up” land a bunch of big clients a get back into a routine of working 40 to 50 hours per week, but not for my wife….she was still dedicated to being the one who put the girls on the bus to school, and wanted to be at home when they got off the bus and the end of the day; she has made commitments to go on as many class trips as possible and when my youngest daughter started JK, Jennie volunteered one day per week to help out in the class.

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One of the key principles of my wife’s business is based on the fact that she only works twenty six hours per week, and she has made that decision in order to be the mom that spends as much time as possible with her kids, while they are young; but the incredible thing about that is that her business is extremely successful, her services are in high demand and she is highly regarded in her industry as a mentor, an entrepreneur and a promoter of innovation and technology.

So if the industry she represents can place her in such high regard  and she only gives them twenty six hours per week, you can start to see how lucky my girls and I are when we get her for the remaining of  hours.  My wife has made it her passion to bring harmony to our home life and her business, and now we all get to tag along with her when she has business engagements in Toronto, Niagara and even California.

When I asked by daughters what their favourite thing about their mommy was, I probably should have been prepared with a pen and paper, because I was flooded with responses immediately, of all of those responses here is one from each of the girls:

Marissa, the youngest said, “my favourite thing about mom is that she gives me lots of hugs and kisses”.

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Our middled daughter Vanessa noted “my favourite thing about my mommy is that she takes time to go on class trips with me“.

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And our oldest girl Natasha had this to say “my mom makes be laugh, she is very funny and is a fun person too“.

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As for me, I would have to say my favourite thing about my wife as a mother is that she truly cares about our girls, she is always there for them, encourages them and provides them unconditional love.  So what more could I ask for, a successful wife who is focused on her family and brings a smile to the faces of so many people.

So Happy Mother’s Day Jennie, you are an inspirational mother and wife!

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….Canadian Imperial Bank of Dad!

So I was fortunate enough to have received a promotion at work recently; upon communicating this with my family, my middle daughter Vanessa doesn’t skip a beat, she says….a promotion means more money right dad?  does that mean we get a raise in our allowance dad?  Leave it to the quiet one to pick up on that, she certainly does not miss much.  This is where I am supposed to say money doesn’t grow on trees….which ironically my wife has latched on to that saying and has branded her bookkeeping business very creatively with a money tree.

The statement from my daughter got me thinking about allowances and teaching the value of money to the girls, money is a fairly open subject in our house; my wife owns a financial business and I manage construction finances as part of my job, but it’s important that we communicate to our children the value of personal finances and how money can be used wisely.

For quite some time now we have been giving the girls an allowance, we decided on $5 every two weeks, which isn’t a lot perhaps but it allows them to learn how saving up for something takes time.  The girls have found that saving up for something can be quite rewarding; or spending it as soon as it’s received can be rewarding too, but the joy of spending it quickly usually only lasts for a short time.  For us though the allowance isn’t automatic, the girls are expected to do chores, like keeping their rooms clean, dusting, dishes and shovelling snow off the roof in the winter time….well maybe not that last one, just yet!

It is interesting to watch them save up the allowances, until they have decided on something; once they have enough saved up we plan a trip to the mall and they get to spend their savings.  Sometimes they come home with exactly what they wanted, other times they decide while at the store that maybe $40 worth of gummy bears isn’t the best way to spend their money and they return the money  back into their wallet until the next exciting thing catches their eye.  As an adult I find myself learning from the children about restraint and splurge purchases, in the era we are in where money is primarily exchanged on plastic, you sometimes loose the sense of letting it go on things that may not necessarily be essential.

The retail business does not make this easy, any store you go to have bins and shelves of non-essential items lined up at the check-out in hopes of attracting that impulse buy.  But if you watch children, of course they are tempted by the splurge purchases, after all who wouldn’t want a OneDirection Pez Dispenser, but when mom and dad’s response is….you will have to use your own money, it’s funny how fast their desire for the purchase goes away.
But managing money is stressful and its stress a child does not need, so for us we are trying to teach our girls the value of a dollar, without letting them worry too much about buying the things they want; they can still learn the value of dollar and that they can’t always get something, just because they want it.  Recently this Christmas my oldest daughter felt the need to buy everyone in the family something so that she had a gift for each of us under the tree, she was stressing about having enough money to get us something we would like and having the time to go and pick it out.  My wife and I talked about this and we didn’t want her to feel obligated to spend her money on her sisters and us, so we decided to have a secret santa between the three girls and my wife and I.

So what we did was put all of our names in a hat and took turns drawing names; everyone picked out a name and kept it to themselves, IMG_2782yes even the youngest;  we then set a $10 budget and decided to take them to
Value Village.  We got there and picked out some items, keeping in mind the modest budget and then all snuck our finds to the front to pay and headed home to wrap them.  Of course we still provided the girls with the usual gifts under the tree but what we found with this experiment was the girls were very proud of their frugalness and not to mention, everyone really liked what their secret santa got them

So it’s not always about how much money is spent, it is more about the thought and with the girls it seems that they are learning to appreciate the value of a dollar.