Your home tells a story of who you are

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By Julie Cadieux – The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette.   Fall is the time of year where, once we are done closing the pool, storing the outdoor furniture and raking all those leaves, we turn our attention back to ­indoor projects like finally cleaning out those cluttered closets and replacing the leaky faucet. For many, it also means spending on new home decor items like a new lamp, installing shelves or painting the living room a brand new colour. This interest to perfect our homes has been fed by the hundreds of home improvement television shows, magazines, books, websites and of course the new home ­improvement stores that are multiplying in order to feed our habit. I personally love it, and I know I’m not the only one who has wasted hours drooling and ­’pinning’ over at

The $65.2 billion gifts and home decorative accents market has increased 72% since 2002 and is, according to a study done by Harvard, expected to grow 3.5% per year.

A recent survey done by found that 86% of homeowners who were planning to build, remodel or ­decorate in the next two years, stated “improving the look and feel of the space” as the reason. “We expected that in this economy Americans’ highest priority would be increasing home value, but instead we found people are focused on pleasing themselves.” says Liza ­Hausman, vice president of marketing for Houzz.

Figures released this month from Statistics Canada showed that Canadians household debt ratio is currently 163% (which means Canadian owe $1.63 for every $1 of disposable income). While Americans have actually managed to ­reduced their debt from the 165% since before the 2008 crash to just around 140%. It might look good on paper but compared to the average household debt from over 50 years ago of about 113%, it’s still huge.

Bogged down with so much debt why do we keep spending on unnecessary items like throw pillows and area rugs? I think way before credit cards and Home Depot were invented, we have always had a desire to nest. To put a stamp on our homes and create a personal place by using colour, mementos and objects that not only make our spaces an attractive refuge for ourselves and those who live with us, but also to show others a glimpse into who we are.

A new lounge chair by the fireplace with a coordinating blanket might not fall into the important-necessity category, but I do know feeling good about where we live is. A home is a backdrop for our lives and tells a story of who we are, where we have travelled, our hobbies, passions and interests. Which is why we want to feel pride when we walk through the door, comfortable when we gather our loved ones around the dinning room table and happy to invite a friend over for ­coffee.

I get it; if I’m not painting, improving or decorating my own house, it’s only because I’ve been hired to help someone with theirs! However I do feel that there is definitely a huge disconnect if we are willing to put our finances at risk because of it. Wanting to make a house a home for our family versus wanting to have the best and most beautiful things to fill it up with at risk to our family’s financial ­future is not the same thing. What story does your home say about you?

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Feedback on last week’s column All kinds of intelligence:

“I so agree with you. That’s why we are so thankful that our son got into Vanguard. Twelve students per class. Classes are made up of close in age children that have the same types of learning disabilities and about the same level of reading ability. Then let’s say a kid is better than the average in math, he joins a stronger math group for his math classes and so on for different subjects. Plus the teachers are almost all orthopédagogues specialized in helping children with learning disabilities. I too believe our school system is no longer adequate for many children and that you can not blame the teachers, most of the time they do the best they can with what they have. Thanks for the interesting column.” — Cynthia

“You have recognized some really important concepts on multiple intelligence! Keeping up with tech will be just half the battle. Thanks for tackling this issue.” — Guidance Counsellor

“My wife and I agree and feel the exact same way. Thanks” — Peter from St-Lazare

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette-October 31st 2012-Julie Cadieux


All Kinds Of Intelligence

Do you ever wonder if our children’s education even measures up anymore? I mean sure the internet was already invented when my teenage son was born but companies and people were just starting to try and figure out how (and why) to use it back then (I should know, I used to teach Introduction To The Internet and Computer 101 classes!).

The internet has changed everything. We can communicate, locate, debate, watch, cook, snoop and shop so much quicker. Am I the only one who wonders what this means to the future workplace?  Oh sure, we can tell ourselves that some school boards, like Lester B. Pearson have introduced a new curriculum that includes MAC laptops, but let’s be clear: they are reserved for the select few that make it into their special Matrix program. You could also argue that this sort of education can wait for University, but I’m not just talking about computers and the internet. I mean you don’t need to be wealthy nowadays for your child to have access to an internet active device. I’m not very confident about how our education system is keeping up with how fast the world, business and and the economy is changing. Laptops and the web aside, maybe the way our kids our being taught needs to be completely overhauled.

3 years ago my friend enlisted her son in Brookside Montessori (for children potty trained to Kindergarten age). I remember her mentioning that aside from maintaining a 1 to 10 classroom ratio, the rooms were not busy or colourful (apparently simple, plain rooms are less distracting and more conducive for learning) and that they attempted to teach to different learning styles. I can recall her blowing my mind when she said “isn’t it obvious that all children should be taught for how their brains work?”. My response was probably something like “Uh, yeah sure”. But thinking about how our public school curriculum works for maybe half of the students does concern me. In 2007 statistics Canada claimed 1 in 10 had a learning disability but what does that really mean? How many kids struggle in certain areas and never fall into the learning disability category at all?

I myself just found out that my severe math problems in high school, today would probably (hopefully!) be diagnosed as ‘Dyscalculia’. I was schooled in an era where I believed I was stupid. Has anything really changed?

A friend of mine shared that when she told her sister that her son had a been diagnosed with a minor case of Dyslexia she responded with: “oh-no! And I thought he was so smart??!”. FYI: a learning disability has absolutely zero correlation with Intelligence Quotient. In fact, a person can have an I.Q. off the charts but maybe their brain can’t seem to connect the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘d’. How often have you thought “my child is a visual learner”, “my child can only grasp sciences”, “my child seems so smart but can’t follow simple class instructions”?

In the news, there’s been talk about how we (students/parents) should be able to grade our teachers and how difficult it is for school boards to reprimand a “bad” teacher who already has tenure. But is it really a teacher’s fault when she/he is handed a class of 20 to 30 completely different students and is expected to teach each one of them to their ability? I don’t know what the answer is, but maybe not lumping kids by age and by learning style instead, is a start. But the rest of us would need to adapt also and wrap our brains around the idea that just because your 7 year old is in the same class as 5 and 9 year old doesn’t make him/her less or more than, in any way.

A few days ago I was reading a Fast Company article by Robert Safian (November 2012) who originally coined the term ‘Generation Flux’. He discussed how new companies and industries succeed and fail faster than ever before. His article described what companies like Nike, Cisco, Foursquare and Intuit had in common and showcased how traditional business priorities are no longer working: “standby’s like marketplace and competitive advantage are being redefined and being rendered almost meaningless …business life today can shift radically every three moths or so”.

Safian goes on to give examples of how a decade ago a marketing company might outfit it’s department with an obvious marketing background, but today, that same department might also be staffed in science, technology, music, defence and so on. Requiring that the department be able to adapt immediately to the demands of the industry, consumer and business.

This quote by John Landgraf, president and GM of FX Networks says it all: (quoted in Fast Company November 2012) “…you need all kinds of intelligence in all parts of business… you have to value all styles, because you will never know which type will solve a problem…”.

What do you think? I love feedback!



The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – October 24/2012 – Julie Cadieux

Flash Pants (& letter feedbacks)

I recently turned 38 years old. Yes, my real age in black and white for all to see! I never understood why some of my friends prefer to dance around their number or even lie and drop off a few years the way we all wish we could drop off a few pounds. I just don’t care. Maybe one day I will. But so far my age has never bothered me. To the point where I remember my actual birthday but usually not the age I am actually turning!

Getting older has been pretty good to me so far. For one thing, I gave up and gave away all of my size 6 pants recently and I’m totally OK with it (honest). I eat well (in fact, I eat smaller portions than ever) and work out, but unless I suddenly end up with toddlers to chase around all day and decide to give up wine (150 calories a glass), then it’s just not going to happen! Getting older means your metabolism changes. I have adjusted, but refuse to deprive myself.

I’m also in a good place in the ‘being comfortable with myself’ department. Sure, I had a difficult upbringing, made some mistakes and had difficult times,but who hasn’t? I have worked through some of my demons. I am nicer to myself. I give myself a break, which is huge.

Finally, I care less what people think. I recently bought myself a pair of silver and gold leggings (to be fair they were priced at 2 for the price of 1). Am I too old to wear them? My daughter seems to think so. My husband will be the first to admit they are the ‘ugliest thing you have ever purchased!’ But they make me happy and I wear them as appropriately as I can with dress shirts and tall boots, so as to not embarrass the less mature people of my household! Whatever.

Letter feedback

Thank you for the great feedback to last week’s column ‘Parenting is Hard -Dammit!’

Loved it. With a college freshman to first grader, I can relate. Just recently my husband asked me if I wanted another child. The third (we’ll say he’s actually 3 kids in 1) weighed 10 pounds 3 ounces at birth. His strong-willed character has been just as heavy to carry these last six years. Looking ahead to all of my boys’ scholastic to sporting undertakings, not to mention college tuition, I could not imagine going for it one more time! Love them dearly but that energy I had starting at 21 is long gone, along with my waist. Thank you for sharing! Kathleen PS: I told my husband: NO

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Words of comfort these days. My 8 year-old (going on 16) has been a challenge but seems to have turned a small corner. I sometimes struggle with my babies growing, but try to focus on the human beings they will become. Keep up the great work, Julie. T.

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Love it! Thanks for sharing your parenting tips. They affirm my own. We have kids the same age as yours and, no, they never stop needing their mom. Mary

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Great list, for sure. We’ve just survived one of our first nights without any toddlers joining us in bed. As much as many parents said,“Aww just let ‘em, those years go by so fast!” After many nights of no sleep and getting kicked in the face, we decided to embrace these years during the day, not at 1am. Pastor Wick

Pastor Wick: You’re funny! Yes, it does go by fast but a restful night for everyone is also important! Besides, some days it seems no matter what decision you make, you are destined to feel guilty about it! I remember going through this also and was torn by what others said. “Let them stay in bed and they don’t develop a healthy way to soothe themselves.” “Kick them out of your bed and they may feel scared or unloved.” Oh boy! Nothing about raising kids is easy! My advice to parents, which you already seem to know is: Trust your instincts!

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – October 10, 2012 – Julie Cadieux