The World Needs YOUR Family

International activists and co-founders of WE, Craig & Marc Kielburger, inspires 20,000 attendees at the inaugural WE Day Family in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on October 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Maria Gagliardi for WE Day

Comedian, actress and YouTube entertainer, Lilly Singh, inspires 20,000 attendees at the inaugural WE Day Family in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on October 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Maria Gagliardi for WE Day

Last year, I read Craig & Marc Kielburger’s book The World Needs Your Kid: How to Raise Children Who Care and Contribute and was inspired to help my children find their own ways to give back in our community.  Then in April of 2016, Ontario announced a cut to services for children with Autism over the age of 5 (a decision which did not impact my son with Autism, but greatly impacted his same age peers), and suddenly, my daughter and I were off and running. We marched in a rally in our hometown, headed to Queen’s Park for a protest and attended Question Period, and we helped organize a small protest at a local MPP’s office. We engaged on social media (#AutismDoesntEndAt5), posted signs, printed and distributed flyers in parking lots along with many other families across the Province. Thankfully, the government reversed its decision, but for our family, teaching our daughter that she has a voice and can use it, was the best outcome.

Craig  and Marc Kielburger were raised in a family who practiced seeing the world through a lens where they were active participants in making the world a better place. At a young age they were moved to create Free the Children (now and worked tirelessly to create a world where child slavery could be a thing of the past. Over the years, their effort has morphed into the WE movement. Children all over the world earn their way to attend WE Day events by fundraising and participating in volunteer projects and initiatives.

The first ever WE Day Family!

Many local school children participate in WE Day clubs and volunteer to earn their ticket to WE Day. There they are inspired to do more and find their own way to change the world. Kids come home from WE Day pumped up and excited, and they bring this enthusiasm home to their families. Families were looking for direction and ways to support their children and get involved.  This was the inspiration for the first ever WE Day Family event, held in Toronto on October 19th, 2016.

My daughter and I were honoured to join over 20,000 people at the Air Canada Centre where we were treated to inspirational talks from speakers such as Chris Hadfield, Rick Hansen, Nelly Furtado, Paula Abdul, Lilly Singh and music from The Barenaked Ladies, Gord Downie and Hedley.

WE Were Inspired to Spread #GirlLove

Lilly Singh (aka YouTube sensation IISuperwomanII) shared her #GirlLove movement and the Rafiki bracelet she created while visiting Kenya on a WE Villages trip. Sales of her GirlLove Rafiki bracelets help girls in Kenya access primary education. Lilly wants to end ‘girl-on-girl hate’ and spread #GirlLove!


Rafiki bracelets are handmade by women in Kenya! Purchasing Rafiki bracelets through the ME to WE store helps a variety of causes such as access to clean water!
newrafikiwaterMy daughter, was inspired to help communities access clean water and proudly purchased a WE GIVE CLEAN WATER Rafiki bracelet. She also picked up a #GirlLove Rafiki bracelet!

WE were Moved to Tears

Gord Downie is lending his voice to furthering the cause of the Reconciliation movement in Canada. Gord delivered an emotional rendition of “The Stranger” from his Secret Path concept album/Graphic novel collaboration with Jeff Lemire.  Gord sang of the tragic death of Chanie Wenjack, who died while fleeing a residential school and attempting to walk to his home (not knowing it was over 400 miles away). Gord walked the stage as if Chanie, falling to the stage floor – a move that left many of us in tears. After the song, Gord was joined on stage by Chanie’s sister Pearl Wenjack, who sang a heart wrenching song. Although Chanie died 50 years ago today (Oct. 22, 1966), his sister’s ever present pain was evident in her voice.

TAKE ACTION: Tune in and watch as a family, then start the difficult conversation of Reconciliation in your home. The Secret Path will be broadcast by CBC in an hour-long commercial-free television special on Sunday, October 23, 2016, at 9pm (9:30 NT).


Gord Downie, Mike Downie, Pearl Wenjack and William Wenjack inspire 20,000 attendees at the inaugural WE Day Family in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on October 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Maria Gagliardi for WE Day

WE Were Encouraged to Aim For The Stars

Astronaut Chris Hadfield joined the Barenaked Ladies to play his guitar and sing along with “If I Had A Million Dollars”, then joined a room full of children and Mom Bloggers for an inspiring Q&A. When he was little, there was no such thing as a Canadian Astronaut, but he didn’t let that stop him. He dreamed big and achieved his goal through hard work and determination.

His time in space inspired his commitment to – having a space-eye view of Earth, taught him the “WEness” of us all. WE are all in this together, and WE can make a difference to the lives of others around the globe.


Juno and MMVA Award-winning alternative rock band, Barenaked Ladies, and astronaut, author, professor, musician, first Canadian to walk in space and command a spaceship, Chris Hadfield, perform for 20,000 attendees at the inaugural WE Day Family in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on October 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Maria Gagliardi for WE Day

Paula Abdul shared her story of achieving her dream to be a dancer and a choreographer, cleaning a dance studio in exchange for lessons and not letting her petite physique keep her from mastering the grace of ballet. Now she is a WE Ambassador and has traveled to Kenya.  Her message was about taking action to achieve your goals, which really resonated with my daughter (who dreams of Broadway).


Yes, she is the nicest celebrity you’ll ever meet!

WHY Should WE Get Involved With

If you need a reason to get involved as a family, studies have shown that by engaging your children in WE Movement charities “youth experience profound academic and professional growth and develop critical 21st century skills, including leadership skills, as well as collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills, all of which contribute to creating better prepared students and job candidates.”

By living “WE” at home, families learn how to make a difference through their everyday actions. Families bond over causes that matter to them, and raise children who become caring and compassionate adults.

HOW Can WE help?

If you only do one thing today, take a minute and join the WE movement, visit and take the WE pledge. $10 will be donated for every pledge taken, up to $1 Million dollars will be donated to support charitable domestic empowerment programs and sustainable development programs in communities oversees.


TAKE ACTION: WE Scare Hunger Campaign

One of the action campaigns my Tween wants us to take on as a WE Day Family, is called “WE Scare Hunger.” With materials available online, we have all the resources we need to organize and collect food for our local food bank on Halloween. A few days before Halloween, we will be delivering notes to our neighbours, so they can be ready for us to collect non-perishable donations for the food bank when we visit them for Trick-or-Treat.
This is also a great way for kids who are starting to feel a bit too old to Trick-or-Treat to stay involved with the Halloween fun!


We Day Family was proudly sponsored by RBC. Check out their Make 150 Count campaign and share how you would use $150 to make a change!

The world needs your family! WE Hope You Will Join WE

❤ Jennpup❤

P.S. Check out Canadian Living’s Me to We Family Award winners, the Bodanis Family here.

We send our heartfelt thanks to  Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club for tickets and Media Access to We Day Family, Toronto 2016. Thank you to Canadian Living Magazine, Craig and Mark Kielburger and the staff for an unforgettable and inspiring event! 


Adventures in The Deep End: Finding Dory


As a mom of a child with autism, I have a ready list of worries relating to him being out in the world. I recently took my eldest child to see an advance screening of Pixar’s latest release, “Finding Dory” which we both enjoyed immensely. I chose not to bring my son with autism, because an advance screening means a big crowd, long line-ups and sometimes a late start. It is potentially too overwhelming for him, so it felt safer to keep him home.

He won’t miss out – Cineplex in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada is offering a sensory friendly screening of Finding Dory on July 2nd, so my partner will take my son to see Finding Dory then, when my son can move in his seat, make noise and we can ‘relax’ that we are in an audience of people who “get it”.

But this is just one of the ways that having a child with autism impacts our family. I worry about him every time we leave the house and go out into the community, and even in the house I worry – we have baby gates and high bolts to help keep him from wandering.

I worry about how he’ll do at school, if he’ll be able to attend integrated ‘typical’ classrooms or if he’ll be separated. I worry about potential bullies and people who might harm him due to his sweet nature and trust of other people.

In “Finding Dory”, the main premise is that Dory remembers she has a family and that she misses them, so she sets out to find them. Through flashbacks we learn about her parents Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) and how they worried about Dory.  charliejennyDory suffers from Short Term Memory Loss and if she leaves home without her parents, her parents are afraid (and rightfully so) she won’t be able to make it home on her own. They practice playing ‘hide and seek’, devise a way of leaving shell paths to help Dory find her way and come up with songs and rhymes to try to help Dory retain important information so that she can be safe when away from them.  Dory wants to learn and tries to learn, but her disability prevents her from being successful. Her parents spend every day practicing these drills over and over again, not unlike how we work with our son at his IBI therapy. I can completely relate to their worry about Dory, how hard they work to try to help her and how proud they are when she accomplishes her goals.

Unfortunately, Dory’s parents fear is justified. Dory does get separated from her family, and she does encounter many dangers in the ocean, but luckily escapes harm. She meets Marlin and later Nemo, who end up taking her in to be a part of their community and family. They offer her support and patience and do what they can to keep her safe and help her be included in their community.  They accept that she can’t help but wake them up in the night and that she makes unsafe decisions, and they love her anyway.

dory marlin nemo

I hope my child with the support received in his childhood is able to be an independent adult who can find companionship and form a family of his own. I hope that he can be gainfully employed and help make the world a better place with his beautiful spirit. I worry about him and hope he makes it safely through the world into the future I dream of for him. I am hopeful that there will be community living options for him should he need them, such as those offered at the organization I work for*, and I will continue to advocate for a more inclusive world for him, not unlike the reef Dory lives in with Nemo and Marlin (her chosen family).

In her community, Dory finds acceptance, inclusion and a feeling of independence while being supported. These are the things that help me worry less while advocating strongly so this future can be a reality for children like mine.

❤ Jennpup❤

-*Jennifer works in KW Habilitation’s Residential Services since 2013. Her son was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 with autism and benefited from KW Habilitation’s ELCCFR Special Needs Access Point (SNAP) program which brought additional supports in to his daycare, to address his early social and communication needs, prior to and following diagnosis.






I took the Stayfree Challenge!

I just took the Stayfree Challenge!

Thanks to Sarah at Journeys of the Zoo I was selected to participate in the #StayfreeChallengeContest – and I was *shocked* by the results!

I received this cool test kit in the mail from Stayfree® so I could test the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pad against my current product.

Meet the competition: I chose an Always® Radiant Infinity pad with Flexfoam.  It looks almost like a sponge and I’ve found it to be very absorbent – I thought for sure it would beat Stayfree.


Next I was to pour 5ml of blue liquid on the centre of the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pad, and wait 30 seconds…
IMG_8898.JPGAfter 30 seconds elapsed, I placed a blotter sheet, an acrylic sheet to protect my book – and then I had to place a heavy hardcover book on top.


I chose Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Seemed fitting…🙂 Then I pressed down for 5 seconds.


After 5 seconds it was time to check the blotter paper! LOOK!!


Well, I wasn’t actually surprised. I had seen Sarah’s results and expected the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® to pass this part of the test.  I was sure my fancy Always® pad would do *just* as well.

Next up! The COMPETITOR. Cue the Eye of the Tiger!🙂IMG_8910.JPG

Yep, just like a sponge! It soaked up all of the liquid.  I waited 30 seconds (timed with my FitBit Charge HR) and then added the blotter sheet, acetate and same book:


After pressing down for 5 seconds, it was time to see if my product won!

Sorry, Charlie! Not even close! I was truly shocked!

It wasn’t even CLOSE!

Wow! Super fun! I enjoyed sharing the results with my tween – I know we’ll be picking up some Stayfree® Ultra Thins® when it’s her turn to start using pads. We’ll both feel more secure in our new ‘pad of choice’.

Congratulations, Stayfree® Ultra Thin®!

Thanks for following my adventures!

❤ Jennpup❤

Ontario to Deny Children with Autism over 5 Intensive Therapy


Imagine  you are a parent of a child with autism in Ontario. Three years ago your child was diagnosed with autism, and you immediately applied for an IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention) assessment. Your child was assessed by a team who agreed that IBI was the best therapy for your child and you were put on the wait list. Now your child just began, or is about to begin the therapy (the average wait list is 2 1/2-3 years in Ontario), but the Province decided a few weeks ago to change the rules and that your child is now considered too old and will no longer be receiving the therapy.  You will receive a one time payment of $8,000.00 (enough to purchase about 8 weeks of IBI therapy), while the average cost for one year of therapy is approximately $50,000.00.

According to the Province, this is the only solution to the wait list problem. Not increasing funding and creating more spaces, but drastically cutting funding and arbitrarily kicking children off of the wait list based on AGE and not by whether or not the therapy IS the best option for that particular child. 


Please stand with these ‘lost children’ and ask that they receive the service promised to them when they were first diagnosed with autism and the province assessed them and deemed them in need of receiving IBI therapy.

Write to your local MPP.   Keep up the pressure! The Ontario Liberals have changed their mind on closing schools for the Deaf (crazy, right?) and cutting some prescription benefits for seniors.  Thank you to all who showed your support on Friday, April 15th at rallies held all over Ontario.


Note: My child was diagnosed with autism at 2 and started IBI therapy at 4 years 9 months. Prior to the changes to IBI, we had agreed to discharge him from therapy at the end of June, to continue working on his social and communication needs within the framework of the school system. The majority of his IBI therapy happened during the year he was 5 and he made great strides thanks to this vital therapy. He is able to attend our local school and has a much greater chance at being a productive member of society thanks to the therapy he received. Please join me in standing up for the “lost children” of Ontario.

An open letter to Kathleen Wynne, Part 2.

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Our family also ‘dodged the bullet’ – we were discharged in April, effective at the end of June. Great Post, had to share!

crcrsmommy's Blog

Oh, KathleAllYouNeedIsen. What. Have you. Done ?!

After hearing the recent changes announced by the Liberal government, regarding the Ontario Autism Program, I felt inclined to write to you again. Forgive me for having not written sooner, but you dropped a bomb on us Kathleen. I needed some time to crawl through the rubble.

I am the mother of a child with Autism, and I firstwrote to you back in June 2014.

Kathleen, you humiliated me. You humiliated all of us that believed you, when you promised additional support and shorter waitlists for our children with special needs.

My husband and I tuned into our local news station, along with other eager parents in the Autism community, on March 29th. The $333 million in funding sounded promising ! I mean really, how could an announcement for additional fundstowards supporting our children with Autism, be bad…

View original post 982 more words

Win A 3 Night Stay At A Disney Resort Hotel & Park Tickets!

Check out this amazing contest from!

We love everything Disney and we have a magical time every time we visit Disneyland! Our last visit was just in February but it already feels like forever ago and we can’t wait to go back!!!  Now we want YOU to experience the magic and thanks to Park Savers we are giving away an amazing prize pack…

Source: Win A 3 Night Stay At A Disney Resort Hotel & Park Tickets!

Welcome To The Show!

I can’t imagine my life without music! Without Squeeze and without Walk Off The Earth! So proud of this new venture! Please follow, share!🙂

Music Mommas

This is it, the big day here at Music Mommas – launch day.  I admit that there isn’t a lot to see here, yet. We still have to decorate and move in all of the furniture, but with a little patience, we will get there.

What can you expect to find here?  You can expect to find three moms (hence the name) who love music, who find solace in music, who believe that music is life.

Our goal is to share the stories of people who bring music to life. Full-time musicians, teachers, technicians, and people who run venues will join us to talk about music. If we’re lucky, we might even convince a few musicians to play some music for us.

The postings will be slow at first; most of the Music Mommas have full-time jobs and will post when they can. We are also working on securing more…

View original post 180 more words


MLP Friendship Games

We’re pretty excited here about the release of My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Friendship Games!  I took my daughter and her Brony friend to see the 2nd installment in theatres, and they loved every minute. My daughter thinks this is the BEST of the three movies and really ties together the series. In this story, fans get to learn more about the magic of the Equestria Girls and how they ‘pony up’ (transform with pony ears and tails when they tap into their magic).

friendshipgames 2

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Friendship Games is available NOW on DVD, Blu-ray combo pack and on iTunes for immediate digital download!

Check it out, it’s awesome!

My followers have the chance to WIN the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack!  To enter, please follow the Shout! Factory Facebook and Twitter pages and complete the entry form below:


Good Luck!!  Tweet every day for bonus entries!

❤ Jennpup❤

It was right in front of my eyes and I missed it! #FamilyEyeHealth


Did you see it?

Did you see it? When my daughter was 2, I shared some pictures of her spinning around with family – she looked so joyous!  Our aunt replied, noticing our DD’s eyes were not aligned and suggested I see an eye doctor.  I could see it in the pictures, but thought it was from the spinning.  I booked her for an eye exam the following week just to be safe and the Optometrist confirmed it, my daughter had a ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia) due to a slight misalignment.

Lazy eye (amblyopia) is decreased vision that results from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood. Although lazy eye usually affects only one eye, it can affect both eyes. Lazy eye is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. – The Mayo Clinic

In most pictures, and most of the time, her eyes appeared to be fine. It was so slight, I couldn’t see it myself.  I thought it would be more obvious if there was a problem. I thought my child had to be able to read letters on a chart to get a thorough eye exam. I didn’t know that optometrists can screen and assess eyes for infants.

At the time, our treatment options were fairly limited. The optometrist advised that we had caught the eye turn too late to correct itI was shocked! She was only 2, surely, there was time to fix it!  But I learned that I should have brought her in at 6 months.

This was almost 10 years ago, there have been some advances since that time. We followed a routine of patching and doing exercises to help my daughter strengthen her weak eye. Ultimately, we were able to get her vision back and each eye is now 20/20.  Surgery was offered for cosmetic purposes only, but with her eye turn being so slight, I was unwilling to opt for the surgery.

She currently uses one eye or the other, never both at the same time. The optometrists at UW Optometry check up on her every year and seem impressed with her ability to switch eyes.  She does not have ‘3D’ vision, but her brain compensates for this and although some skills may take her longer (hitting a baseball or riding her bike) she will lead a normal life and be able to drive if she chooses.

When my son was 6 months, I took him to our local Ontario Early Years Centre for a vision screening. No eye turn, healthy eyes. Please check with your local Early Years Centre or equivalent to see if they offer this program:

The University of Waterloo, School of Optometry offers vision screening for children 6 months to 6 years of age. The vision screening examination will include an assessment on your child’s visual acuity, eye coordination and depth perception. Question’s you many have regarding you or your child’s vision can be answered. – Our Place Early Years Centre

In Ontario, OHIP covers annual eye exams for children and young adults under the age of 20 (and seniors over 65).  We take both of our children annually for their free exam.

People 65 years and older and those younger than 20, are covered by OHIP for a routine eye examination provided by either an optometrist or physician once every 12 months plus any follow-up assessments that may be required.Ontario Ministry of Health

October is Children’s Vision Month. Please join @YMCBuzz and Doctors of Optometry Canada to learn more about keeping your children’s eyes healthy at the #FamilyEyeHealth Twitter Party on October 18th at 9pm ET.  There will be lots of good information as well as awesome prizes!

During the party, five lucky winners will win the following:

  • A HP Pavilion 360 laptop and a $200 gift voucher to be used for goods/services from a local doctor of optometry.

I hope to see you there!🙂



❤ Jennpup❤

This post was not sponsored, but it is an issue I care very much about!❤

Dinner in Minutes with #CardinalReady

Cardinal Ready

My kids are vegetarian and picky. My hubby is pure carnivore and I am somewhere in the middle. So, it’s no surprise that I’m a bit of a short order cook!  I like meals that are fast and if there are individual portions, even better!

I was super happy to get to be a #CardinalReady tester for my blog!  The hardest part was picking which meal kit to try!  I am a sucker for Butter Chicken, but I decided to follow my man’s heart and cook the Pork Back Ribs in Barbecue Sauce!

My husband is on a special diet that requires a lot of protein each day. For my main side dish, I made a quinoa pilaf, as it is rich in protein. I always have some ‘omelette mix’ from Robert’s Boxed Meats in Kitchener in the freezer – a pre-diced red pepper, green pepper and onion blend.  I sauteed about 2 cups of onion/pepper mix, ’til the onions were cooked how I like them, then added a full package of Sobey’s Quinoa and toasted it a bit, then poured in the whole carton of Sobey’s Compliments brand Chicken Broth. Once this was nearly boiling, I covered the pot and turned the heat way down. Ignored it until everything else was ready to go.  Fluffed at the end and it was perfect.

I love that the ribs are sealed in two portions –  and that I can cook one or both.  The ribs can be baked or heated in the microwave oven.  I decided to try the microwave oven method, but then broiled them a bit in my toaster oven to help the sauce caramelize.

I opened one serving and put it on an oven safe dish. Covered it with a paper towel as per the directions and heated in the microwave oven for 8 minutes on med-high.  After it was done, I transferred the dish into my toaster oven and set it to broil for 5 minutes. It turned out beautifully!

Have you seen the no-shuck corn cooking method online? I tried it this summer and it WORKS! I put the whole ear of corn right into the microwave oven. Cooked it on high for 2 minutes, flipped it over and cooked another two minutes. Cut off the ‘bottom’ and slid the perfectly cooked corn out of the sleeve – not one silk string was left behind. Pure magic!

All that was left to do was to transfer the ribs and corn onto a serving plate, adding 2 ice cream scoops full of Quinoa Pilaf – and dinner was ready to go in less than 30 minutes!

Thank you Cardinal Ready and ListenToLena for the opportunity! The ribs were so good my husband was asking for more ribs (and in less than 10 minutes they were hot and ready)!

Hurry and claim your coupon here so you too can try #CardinalReady – enjoy!

❤ Jennpup❤