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Archive for May, 2008

The fashion world should have been on red alert yesterday.  Ever so quietly, but with great hope and promise, a different kind of fashion show took place at the Rose Garden Theatre of Brampton.  Why was it so quiet?  Well, we’re talking here about a revolution of minds and hearts that needs to start small but sure.  There was none of the glitter and pomp and hoopla that go with the kind of fashion shows that are sponsored by fashion industry bigwigs and feature skinny models wearing clingy, revealing, expensive or artsy clothes that the average person couldn’t afford or would even want to be caught dead in.

No, no, no.  This fashion show in Brampton was on a strict budget and put together by ladies who called on friends and family to help them do what seemed a daunting but very much relevant project:  to showcase stylish clothes for young girls and women that would reflect their true sense of dignity and femininity.  This event — billed as a “Mother and Daughter Fashion Show” — was earnest, honest and sincere.  The best part for me was the fact that the models that showed off the outfits were real women:  mothers and their daughters (the women of the future!).  With a big smile of admiration (okay, so it was probably more goofy than anything….), I watched these women who had 2 or 3 or more kids walk down the runway in outfits I really liked.  They didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or awkward or huge.  Rather, I saw them all as possibilities:  for wearing around while running errands, for going on a picnic, for going on a date with my husband.

The truth is that clothes-shopping has become a chore.  To look for clothes and not be able to find ones that fit is one thing.  But to go into one store after another and not be able to find clothes that I can wear without unnecessarily showing off body parts that should be off limits to others’ eyes can be an exercise is near futility and frustration.  Let’s face it:  a lot of the current fashion available these days are either too clingy, too darn small, too low cut, too sheer — too revealing.

So am I embarrassed about my body?  No, and let us be clear about what the real issue is here.  When I wear clothes, I am not only trying to protect my body from the elements, I am also trying to present myself with dignity and do so with great respect for those who will happen to (whether they mean to or not) rest their eyes on me.  I love my body — it being the only one I’ve got — but I do not have to wear tight-fitting clothes that are barely on me to let the world know that I value this part of me.

We need more designers that are not just creating clothes “for the sake of art” or for pure profit.  We need designers that give due consideration to the women who will be purchasing and wearing their clothes.  These real women may not have children yet or may have 10.  They may be tall or short, slightly overweight or very overweight.  They may be on the go from one errand to another or they may be working from 9 to 5 before rushing on home to get dinner on the table for the family.  They may be a little tired or they may be a lot tired.  They may look in the mirror once in the day or not at all.  They may wear make-up or they may not.  Regardless — these are the real women and most of them (us!!) face the challenge of wanting to look good in their clothes and still maintain that feminine mystique that is so much a part of each individual woman.

I had Daughters #1 and 2 with me at the fashion show.  The thirteen-year old was thrilled — she loves beautiful clothes.  The seven year-old was very observant and tried not to fidget around too much.  She said afterwards how much she liked this polka-dot dress with a poodle skirt, and I had to agree with her as it was a nice outfit.  I enjoyed myself seeing how the audience was a mix of teen-aged girls, pre-teens, mothers and a sprinkling of more mature women (read: grandmothers — one of whom is a good friend and whose daughter-in-law and two granddaughters modelled at the show).  We need events like this in order for women to come together and help each other discover that there are possibilities out there and all is not lost.  We need to encourage each other and bring more women to events like this.

We need to tell our daughters and nieces and other young girls about the kind of beauty that comes from within and does not depend on one’s physical attributes or the comments of other people.  We need to encourage our girls to like what they see in the mirror without wanting a tummy tuck, a face lift, pouty lips or a dress that’s barely there.  We need to teach them how to be real women by showing them how we do it ourselves.

Be on the look out for designers that create clothes that are both stylish and dignified, keeping in mind that this does not mean drab, dull and shapeless.  We don’t want to look like a piece of meat on display; neither do we want to look like a sack of potatoes.  Voice your opinion of bad women’s fashion to the stores that carry them.  Your views will be heard by a store manager (make sure you ask for one) who will match your face with lost sales for the store.   Do check out this young and stylish designer, Christa Taylor, whose designs are modest but modern.

Finally, as the fashion show’s guest speaker, Shaylin Aarssen of TRENDS, very aptly pointed out in her well-composed speech, the minute we put on our clothes, we are on a runway.   Our clothes reflect a lot about ourselves and we need to be mindful of that.  Putting the effort to dressing well makes a difference in our way of working and dealing with people.  We feel more confident and more efficient — and that certainly makes for a happier and classier woman all around.

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If you’ve cared to look for something new on this blog for the past two and a half weeks — I must apologize for not having posted anything at all. I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I’m still here and am just finding my way back to blogging after being immersed in one adventure after another these past few weeks. I’m telling you the truth: Indiana Jones has NOTHING on mothers and the things we do!

Five days into T-TRAININGThis little girl you see in this picture is Daughter #3 who has been undergoing a most rigorous and intensive program of self-discipline involving the body and the will with our assistance and encouragement. Simply put, she has been toilet-training….or at least she is now mostly toilet-trained. At first, it seemed as if she was training us rather than we training her. Barely three days into the process of toilet-training, our family left for a road trip to Ottawa, about five hours away by car. It would have been so much easier to just put a diaper on her — but we resisted the temptation. It is three weeks since we started and she is — for the most part — disciplined enough during the day to make those very necessary trips to the bathroom when the need arises. This is quite a milestone for her and we are all very happy about it!

Our thirteen-year old daughter (Daughter #1) has also recently reached a milestone of a very different nature — a spiritual one. A new soldier of ChristOn May 7th, together with about 60 or so other young teens, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation at our parish. This is the final rite of initiation to the Catholic church. (The photo shows my daughter with our energetic parish priest, Fr. Vid.) I watched from the back of the church, holding onto the hand of a fidgety three-year old who had just been to the bathroom. Suddenly, my mind seemed to hurtle back in time nearly nine years ago to the day I watched this same child fall in line with other 5 year-olds on the first day of kindergarten. I had cried then, albeit briefly, feeling the poignancy of the moment. The same feelings came back, as I witnessed my daughter’s maturity over the years and thanked God for the immense privilege of having been blessed with her and her siblings.

Within these past weeks, our middle daughter (Daughter #2) also celebrated a milestone — she turned seven years old! This little girl, whom we prayed for and asked God to bless us with, was all of seven years old last May 1st. What a wondrous age seven is! She is now able to read quite a bit and loves to write up little notes for different members of the family. She has several friends, but I think her siblings are numbered among the best. She is a burst of sunshine and boundless energy, and is quite precious to us.

Each child in our family is allowed to invite friends to a bigger party to celebrate the birthday only on his or her 7th and 13th birthdays. (You can imagine how nutty it would be if we did this for every single child on every single birthday……not to mention expensive…..) So this seven-year old girl will be having a proper garden tea party with some very special girl friends who will be asked to come in their very best party dress. That will happen as soon as our party planner (a.k.a. Mom) gets her act together and organizes the whole thing.

In the meantime, we did celebrate her birthday with our family’s traditional “birthday cake” (chocolate cake with fudgy filling and whipped cream frosting), followed by the opening of presents. Here is part of the gang of siblings posing with the the traditional birthday cake (baked from scratch by Daughter #1, frosted with love by Mom):

(Note the general sense of gaiety and celebration made somewhat surreal by the presence of a grenade — just plastic, folks…..– in the hand of our impish three year-old daughter. The birthday girl is wearing the Dora the Explorer shirt. The boys are Sons #4 — left side — and #3 — right side.)

Of course, before this image was captured, there was a bit of thrilling action caught by my husband (a.k.a. The Cool Photographer), as you can see below: (Note his determined look and the toy pizza slice this little infant wonder is clutching in his left hand as he makes a grab with his right hand for the birthday cake his sister hasn’t even cut into!)

In between celebrations and training programs, I managed to give a talk at the “Mom You’re Incredible” event in Ottawa last May 3rd, got together with some very good and much-missed friends, went on a road trip with the family, did a bit of demo-cooking, went here, there and feel like I’ve been everywhere!

There are no better adventures I know than the ones you find within life with the family.

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