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Brier Island Whale Watching
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Photo Essay
Parrsboro to Amherst
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Windsor to Truro
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Ontario - North
Autumn Splendor
Driving the TransCanada - The Sault to Wawa
Driving the TransCanada - Wawa to Thunder Bay
North of Superior - Armstrong
North of Superior - Nipigon to Armstrong
North of Superior - Sault Ste. Marie to Terrace Bay
  Sudbury Rocks!
A Woman's Work is Never Done

Ontario - South
A 'Grand' Canyon
A Wee Bit o’ Perth
Christmas in the Valley
Kate Aitken
Lucy Maud
Mennonite Country
Teepee Camping
Fergus - Rural Ontario's Scottish Town

Corridor #132 Grosse Ile through Bay St Laurent to Gaspe
Highway #132, L’Islet to Matane
Highway #132, Matane to Gaspe
Highway #132, Perce to Matapedia
Photo Essay
Photo Essay 2
Montmorency Falls, Ile d'Orleans and the Cote de Beaupre
Quebec City's Historical Treasures
Quebec's Old City & Petit Champlain
The Eastern Townships
The Eastern Townships Photo Essay

Apple Butter & Cheese
Brighton's AppleFest
Celtic Festival
Elvis Festival
Festival of the Maples
Headwaters Country
Herb Festival
Maple Madness
Northern Lights
Pow Wow
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Scarecrow Festival
Split Rail Festival

Quiet Corner
River Valley

Country Music Highway
Golden Triangle - Photo Essay
Golden Triangle
Kentucky East
Kentucky North
Kentucky South
Kentucky South-Central
River Corridor

Bar Harbor
Bounding Maine
Classic Maine

Old Sturbridge Village

New Hampshire
Mount Washington

New York State
Adirondack's Autumn Surprises
Autumn in the Adirondacks
Grandma Moses
More Than Baseball
Lake Placid

North Carolina
Cape Lookout to Cape Fear
Cruising the Coast
From Sea to Mountain
My Heart's in the Highlands
The Gardens of Eden
Western Reaches - Hidden Treasures Photo Essay
Western Reaches of North Carolina

The Quiet Land

Beautiful York
Bridges; Markets
Festivals, Frolics
The History Trail
The Johnstown Flood

Rhode Island

South Carolina
Beaufort, Bluffton
& Hilton Head
Charleston and Area
Myrtle Beach
Olde English District
Photo Essay
Thoroughbred Country

Cumberland Highlands
Eastern Tennessee
Knoxville, Norris, Oak Ridge & The Gap
North & East of Nashville
North & West of Nashville
Pickett County - Photo Essay
Photo Essay
South & East of Nashville
South & West of Nashville
The World of Dale Hollow

Christmas Village
Middlebury Inn


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Jewels of the North
Breezy Blackpool
Witches and Hot Pot
A Lightning Tour

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The Island of Crete

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Ancient Rome
Renaissance Rome

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Some tips on
Living Simply

Tips on allowances and gift giving

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By Pat Mestern

Well, hello there, as a daughter used to say when she arrived home from college for a weekend - and threw bags of laundry in the door with her. I do apologize for not answering all your questions sooner. Hubby and I have been busy with a new grandchildren, our ninth. Some of you undoubted thought me a spring chicken. Not so. I am more closely related to a boiling fowl - old and tough.

Now the questions: How to deal with children, allowances, wants, desires and frugality. We had lots of children but little money. Peer pressure was as prevalent in the ‘70's (that is the 1970's folks. I am not that old a fowl) as it is today. We started early by making it clear to our brood that we did not have money to purchase their wants and desires - just their basic needs. Early? Six years old is good. Our children always had the basics, clean clothing, food on the table and a loving home, warm home to enjoy. They did not receive a substantial allowance. They did not eat in the school cafeteria. Nor did they own the latest trendy jacket or shoes. We did not buy into "the look." They were all encouraged to find part time entry level work to enable them to purchase those desires, if they wanted to own them. They were also encouraged to be individuals and to tell the truth. Are we poor, one asked? Poor in money but rich in love and care for each other was the answer. This might not go down so well when the desire is the expensive team jacket and the reality is "can't have" unless you work for it. The message bears repeating a number of times, "If you want it, you work for it."

If they were "ragged" at school their answer was simple - mom and dad cannot afford to purchase . . . . . They were also told at a very early age that we could not afford university or college expenses. If they desired further education they would have to work for the privilege. Every one today has a degree and a good job. While in college we kept an old car on the road for each of them (took care of the insurance) and regularly sent care packages to them - canned goods, Kleenex, toilet paper, treats. As they all attended college early they used home facilities for laundry and such. I asked several at our last family gathering how they handled peer pressure. Basically the answer was that we taught them to be independent individuals with a positive outlook and an initiative to success under any circumstances. They cut their own trails through life - and great trails they are too! As a son said - we were not out to impress. We were in school to learn, not to play games and dress a part. We were taught that very early in life.

The moral of the story is that if one teaches by example, children with learn by example.

Tough love? You bet. But it worked!

By the way, when we did have a little money - we never loaned money to our children. We never gifted our children money. We never make a gift of money to our grandchildren. They knew enough not to ask. We knew enough not to give. Makes for better relations and independence all around.

Now for Mice!
Boy, does my nice warm home ever look good to these four footed beggars at this time of the year! Baiting traps is not my specialty. Neither is tossing dead mouse bodies. Adumb, the cat figures that if they are in the house, we obvious meant they should be left alive. Pacifist cat! We have solved the problem nicely. Take a five gallon plastic pail with a tight fitting lid (a lard or small garbage pail). Cut a small round hole, somewhere in the lid, just big enough for a mouse to get through. Bait the bottom of the pail with a sprinkling of bird seed, some dabs of peanut butter - whatever attracts the little beggars. Clamp the lid on the pail and place the "trap" in a location where you have lots of mouse activity. Leave a piece of wood conveniently propped against the pail - the stairway to food. AND RELAX. Mice fall nicely through the hold, eat their fill but cannot jump back out again. Oh they try. That is when you hear them and know enough to dump the pail - far, far away from your house. Check the bait and set it for another catch. The most we have caught in one evening's "shed fishing" - six. If you are bent on destruction, you can drown the little beggars by dumping the contents of the pail into the nearest pond or ditch - or baiting the bottom of the pail with mouse seed and peanut butter. Whatever your choice the trap does work.

What do we do about presents? What about family gatherings? Hubby and I never put pressure on our children to return to the home fold for Christmas. We're easy! As a matter of fact, some Christmas seasons we are away from home on our own little excursions. But we let the family know six months ahead if we plan to be away. When they do come home for the holiday, they all get together and decide what day best suits everyone, and what to bring for the dinner. We supply the turkey. The house rule regarding gifts is - we give small useful items to the grandchildren - books, mittens, socks and each family gets one gift - a video, collection of favourite songs, a book that all can enjoy, a jig saw puzzle. We tell our children that if they must give us a gift make it bird seed. We do love to feed the birds during the winter months. No one is obligated to give anything but a hug, a kiss and an "I love you." Our extended family does not buy into "status gift giving." Retailers do not make a fortune off any of us during the Christmas shopping season. One other rule which our children were raised with - and which has been extended to their own family units - nothing seen advertised on television is ever purchased as a gift item. In other words, children need not ask for anything seen in the toy ads, adults know enough not to pine for the latest power tool & etc. I do give one special gift to each of my children each year. I wrap a household item which is chosen specially for each individual. It might be grandmother's crystal sugar bowl for one; an heirloom portrait for another; an antiquarian book a son has expressed an interest in; an 1870's cake plate. They also receive an informal family "portrait" - Hubby, an excellent photographer, snaps informal family photos all year.

We do make sure that when the extended family is here during the holiday season we have one great, big, live, overwhelming Christmas tree hung with decorations we have collected over the years and also gotten from parents and grandparents. We do not spend big dollars on fake decorations for the home and property. We hang a simple cedar wreath on our front door. The house radiates with love, laughter, music, good food and a respect for the true meaning of the Christmas season.

As for our brothers and sisters, aunt and uncles - we told them a very long time ago that we simply could not afford gifts for nieces, nephews, in-laws and outlaws, aunts and uncles. Some did not buy into the situation - the wealthy ones - thought we were miserly - did not understand "poor." Too bad for them. Each year they receive a nice long personal letter in December - I stress personal.

Realize that Christmas is an emotional time for many people. It brings out both the best and the worse in people. It does take effort to say "enough is enough" - back to the basics - the true meaning of Christmas. But having said and done it years ago, I can tell you that the season for this household is truly festive, relaxed and meaningful.

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