Vacation. Holidays. Days off. Rehab…

We spend all year looking forward to a handful of days where we can get away from the routine of early mornings, commutes and emails – or whatever your equivalent is. The past few years, we’ve been purposefully NOT making plans for our holidays. We’ve ask the boys what they want to do on our days together, and it’s usually been a great experience. This year was no exception. However, I did get my request in first – to the Scenic Caves in Collingwood. While we’re there, we should do the zipline and the suspension bridge!

Great view - foreground and background!

Great view – foreground and background!

Unfortunately, First Born Son was unable to join us, working 18 hour days six days out of seven. So we took lots of pictures to make him jealous…he still had more fun at work, he said!

One of the many amazing caverns.

One of the many amazing caverns.

Second Born Son didn’t know what to expect, but ended up loving the gorgeous, natural wonder.

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SBS tried out the highlight of the trail – Fat Man’s Misery.

Here at the start, but he made it through!

Here at the start, but he made it through!

Finally, it was time to move on to the zipline. This was my idea. I thought it would be cool. And, admittedly, that feeling cooled tremendously at the top of the launch tower, looking at half a kilometre of cable. That one glorified rope was all that held me from a a forest of treetops. And my son was about to launch beside me. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER AM I?!?!?

Looking all brave right before the tower ascent!

Looking all brave right before the tower ascent!

Seriously weighing my options at this point.

Seriously weighing my options at this point.

As I’m getting the last minute instructions from the staff (which, btw, I’m clearly incapable of absorbing) the only thing I see is the cable that disappears into the canopy of trees below me. I hear SBS enthusiastically repeating the instructions being fed to him only 10 feet away. He’s not afraid. He’s excited. I’m questioning his intellect and his ability to see. As soon as the gate releases, the two of us head out of the launch platform and I vaguely hear him saying to me something about being “gone”.

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Half way through the way down, SBS is gone and I can focus on the view, the controls and the fact that I can actually relax and ENJOY the experience. However, it not until I’m at the bottom platform that I realize that not only did I LIVE, but I LOVED it! I’d freakin’ do it again!!!!

Entering suspension bridge.

Entering suspension bridge.

The suspension bridge was no biggie after the zipline. Sadly, some ass felt it was necessary to grab the hand cable and get some sway going. Wanted to impress his daughters. Managed to traumatize more than one youth participating in a day tour.

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking!

The Three Amigos (but missing the Fourth!)

The Three Amigos (but missing the Fourth!)

We then followed up with a great day at the market AND two days at the beach.

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It’s a jam-packed week – without a minute of it planned in advance. Can’t wait for the next week! Only four weeks away. Not that I’m counting! 🙂

When is More Simply Too Much – Archive

This isn’t the first incarnation of The Bowery Girl, and I’ve been having a blast going through the previous site and reviewing my posts. Here’s one I had to share, and hopefully you find it timely, given that it is Wedding Season…

 

Monday, May 17, 2010

When More is Simply Too Much
Since when is “more” better?

I prefer to err on the side of “less” especially when it comes to public displays of affection, demonstrative actions etc. unless it is something truly funny. Funny needs to be shared.

But lavish, meh, not so much.

So I’m standing in the bridal salon that I shall not name because I’m still mad at them, waiting for the rolly polly seamstress. In the wall of mirrors I’m watching a tiny young woman leafing through wedding dresses. Honestly, she weighs about as much as my thigh. She’s with her mother and while the young woman is very collegiate looking, her mother looks very tired, dishevelled and not nearly as current in her wardrobe as her daughter.

The woman sits in the middle of the room on the bench and watches her daughter fanning through the gowns and I notice she only looking at short, strappy styles. I figure she’s having a small wedding and doesn’t want to overpower her small frame with a large gown. In my head I’m giving this girl a lot of credit – she’s going to spend about half to three-quarters what she would have spent on the larger dress.

I’m annoyed at the mother, who doesn’t seem engaged in this time with her daughter. Instead of revelling the time to being with her to pick her wedding dress, the woman looks and acts like she’s afraid to touch any of the dresses, and that she’s not buying into the idea of the wedding at all. I’m annoyed big time. If I’ve learned anything in my many trips down the aisle, it’s that the wedding is not about anyone other than the bride and groom – egos and attitudes need to be checked at the door.

Then grandma walks in. Wiry white hair cut bluntly that frames her face, makeup stylish appliced and a kick-ass outfit that makes the mother look even more frumpy. Her artisan jewelery plays off beautifully with the chic hand-crafted wrap and dark-wash jeans she’s wearing. She looks impecable and carries herself with an air of sophistication reserved for Katherine Hepburn. As soon as the woman walks in, the young girl starts to squeal, and the mother stops talking entirely.

Grandma fawns over the young girl, pulling out various dresses and suggesting various alterations to make the dress “her own”. My pleasure at seeing the older woman relishing the time with her granddaughter comes to a screeching halt when the younger female corrects the sales associate.

“Oh, this isn’t my wedding dress,” she said. “I already have my wedding gown.”

dead air

“This is for after the service – and pictures – for the reception,” she clarifies. Now I understand why Mom is hanging her head. She can’t afford this. And the daughter – a recent grad, can’t either. So thank goodness Money Bags showed up.

“I LOVE my dress,” she said. “But I just can’t imagine wearing it ALL DAY!” she gushes. “I mean it’s SO big and SO heavy, I would just DIE wearing it ALL DAY – it’s going to be too hot!”

What

the

hell

So you are getting married at the end of June – you’ve picked your dress – DON’T YOU PICK YOUR DRESS BASED ON WHEN YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED? I felt like asking, “What are you wearing, Angora wool? RAYON? PIG IRON??”

Unless this woman is marrying a multi-millionaire, she is about to start her married life under a grave misapprehension. It’s clear she wasn’t raised with a lot of money, but money is around her. She is having a wedding with TWO wedding gowns because, after all, didn’t Jennifer Lopez or Katie Holmes do that? The cost of having a second dress was over $750 – how much did you pay for your initial gown? Likely between $1,200 – $2,500 – and I’ll bet the farm it was closer to the top end amount. So now, you are looking at well over $3,000 AND TAX just for one day.

Because there was no time to order the dress in, the girl was negotiating the cost of alterations and the sales rep was having a dandy time trying to calculate how much it would cost to alter and cut down a sample dress. Grandma never blinked at the cost. She only concurred with her granddaughter – one dress simply would not DO! Mom just sat there like she was watching it all happen to strangers.

I wondered if she had tried to instill a sense of frugality in her daughter all these years, knowing she had limited resources. Had her mother then trumped her and usurped her rights as a mother when she felt she had the overpowering right as a grandmother? Did the daughter see this dynamic and play one off the other? At what point would the grandmother stand down and let this girl see things for what they are? Maybe the girl was embarassed that her mother was not in the same world as her grandmother was, but I daresay, unless her grandmother planned on supporting her for the rest of her life, the young woman’s wake up call was going to greet her the morning after her honeymoon.

It’s a disturbing trend, young people starting out expecting the best of everything. My parents were the most fortunate of all their friends. They had saved enough money to buy a house when they got married. Many of their friends had to rent an apartment for the first couple of years, finally saving a down payment in time for the first baby to arrive.

Homes were furnished with miss-matched furniture and dinnerware, save for the nicer items they received as wedding gifts. You worked hard and gained throughout your marriage. You had goals and dreams and set targets for yourself, including one day, GASP, buying a NEW car.

When did we decide it was ok to start at top? Newlyweds moving into homes that are fully furnished and model-home ready. Neither of their cars are more than 3 years old. A trip up north or to Niagara Falls is not be considered a worthy honeymoon, and if it didn’t include either a cruise or a number of spa treatments (for both of them)it simply wasn’t worth writing home about.

Methinks we need to adjust our expectations. Otherwise, what do you have to look forward to, other than a mountain of debt and a divorce decree?

CATCH UP

Another stretch of radio silence and I do apologize for that. I was visiting with a dear friend the other night and we were catching up after a long stretch of our own brand of radio silence. We discussed spouses, kids, family members and jobs. Sadly, a lot of the discussion was rather sad, and stressful, but to a certain extent, we both realize that no one gets through this life unscathed. I learned a long time ago to stop asking, “It couldn’t get any worse, could it?” because the answer is sometimes frightening.

Neither of us talks like this on a daily basis. Neither of us is the type to drop our heads, pop our lips out in a pout and whimper “why me?” It’s just that every now and then, a girl has gotta vent!

About a year ago I was fortunate enough to see a motivational speaker who called out a large group of people on the human nature flaw of self-pity. He pointed that drama is toxic, talking about others (gossip) is toxic, ranting is toxic. He also stated the obvious – that everyone who lives this life will face challenges. Some are small and annoying, some are large and life-changing, but EVERYONE will have them both. People who ask “Why me?” should then ask themselves, “If you not you, then WHO?” Does any one person deserve to have an inordinate amount of trials and tribulations so that others may have less??

Part of what makes life sweet, are the sour moments. Think about it. You cannot appreciate the light without the darkness. If you were given an existence without hills and valleys, you would undoubtedly, be bored – not to mention unfulfilled. Each of us has a journey. Whether it’s to learn a lesson, share a gift, have an experience, and we all have our crosses to bare.

Every now and then, it seems like my plate is overflowing with “character building” situations; but I also acknowledge how blessed I am, how good my life is, and how much I have to look forward to. There are days that are challenging, but they come with days that are wonderful. I’ll take the sour with the sweet.

Bound by the ‘Lift & Separate’

We had a major development in our house last week. If you are aware of the phrase, “Happy Wife, Happy Life”, you know that a momma who is uncomfortable is not a pleasant person to be around. So imagine my unbridled enthusiasm when I found that after 30+ years of daily discomfort, my days of irritation were over!

What was the source of such annoyance, you might ask…

[PAUSE] If you are one of my sons, or my nephew, isn’t this a good time to go clean your room? Study for a test? Wash your hair?? [PLAY]

…a BRA!

Ironcially, the bra celebrated its 100th anniversary last week. Now some of you, particularly of the male persuasion, might say, what’s the big deal about wearing a bra? Don’t all women wear them?

For starters, let’s make it relative. Imagine wearing a jock strap that is perhaps too tight around the waist, or maybe the cup doesn’t fit your “jiggly bits” as well as it should; maybe it cuts in or rubs on your delicate skin. Now imagine wearing that apparatus every day from roughly 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. You’d be a rather annoyed individual as well, wouldn’t you?

BRAS 1

Now bras were considered an improvement over corsets, which I agree is progress, but only relatively speaking. For women who have narrow rib cages and popularly sized cup measurements, most off the rack bras are fine. Those those of us who have some specialized requirements, bra shopping is right up there with swim suit shopping and jury duty as a form of torture.

BRAS 6

Now men will look at a Victoria’s Secret model and think, “She looks so happy, there’s no way that bra is anything but comfy!” To which I reply, “That woman is being paid an obscene amount of money to look like that, and do you think it’s a coincidence that her expression is of wanton desire? SHE WANTS SOMEONE TO TAKE THAT FREAKIN’ BRA OFF SO SHE CAN BREATH AGAIN!”

ONLY Katy Perry can get away with this look...

ONLY Katy Perry can get away with this look…

But when a girl can find a bra that fits, she buys five of them and hangs on to them until there’s nothing left!

BRAS 2

Now I fully understand that the bras of 2014 are a quantum leap from those endured by our mothers and grandmothers. We now have padded bras, water bras, bras with straps that adjust to various necklines, and bras with no straps at all.

Choices, choices!

Choices, choices!

But sometimes the vast array of choices means it’s hard to find what you need. And sometimes what you need changes too, am I right ladies? Maybe you want a sport bra, but end up with a Herculian band of elastic that flattens you out like a pancake. Maybe you are a nursing momma and have to have something that is easy to adjust with one hand, so you don’t have to put the baby down. Maybe you want to simply avoid the dreaded “headlight” condition, and want a bra that allows you to leave something to the imagination. Maybe all your bra needs to do is bring your mammary glands back up to the altitude they were when you were 20.

BRAS 5

Instead, it can take years to find that one bra that doesn’t pinch, bind, rub, chaff, itch or gouge, only to have that style discontinued, and you have to begin from square one all over again! Makes you feel a little more sympathetic for the women in your life, doesn’t it? Good! My work here is done.

So now that I’ve found something that actually fits me, I’m heading back to the store to buy another four! It could be another 30+ years for me to find the next comfortable bra!

Road Trip!

To say I was a bit excited when The Big Guy agreed to go away for the weekend would be a serious understatement.

You see, it’s been six and a half years since the last time the two of us went away without les enfants. The purpose was to visit The Big Guy’s niece at university in Kingston, since the poor girl doesn’t get home too often and visits from family are even more rare.

I was so excited, that I didn’t even give him a hard time when we left over an hour late from our mutually agreed upon departure time. I simply programmed the GPS and slipped behind the steering wheel.

That’s when we hit the first bump in the road — pun intended. The Big Guy is old school when it comes to driving. He’s not a fan of the GPS and reaches for the map every time. I agreed to the “scenic route” he wanted, keeping off the 401 on a Friday afternoon is a no-brainer for me! However, when he started arguing with the GPS lady, I knew we were going to have problems. While the route he opted for was lovely (hard to fully appreciate while driving) we were losing light fast and needed to stop for dinner. Passing several opportunities, I begged him to decide on a location. Losing strength and hallucinating platers of food, I was relieved when The Big Guy declared that a tiny roadside diner with a full parking lot was our destination. What made it special from the dozen or so eateries we had passed? Hullo – the parking lot was FULL!

Upon entry, I knew we were in for an experience. It was like stepping back in time to when smokers could kill you indoors and drinking and driving was politically correct. The decor was part corrugated steel wainscotting, part rough cut lumber. The Big Guy was THRILLED! My doubts were reinforced when I entered the ladies’ room.

NEVER a good sign!

NEVER a good sign!

Take a good look at this picture. Exactly what is going on in that stall that required the occupant to use such force that they broke the lock on multiple occasions?!?

Then there was the rest of the bathroom decor…

2014-10-24 19.17.36

Hey, I don’t have anything against a good karaoke session, but one has to question the half naked females used to promote it (cropped it out of shot!!). Don’t even START me on the Halloween poster! Top it off with that lovely chemical toilet smell and you can imagine how I anticipated my meal.

In spite of my reservations, the food was amazing. It gave me a little pain to say so, but The Big Guy nailed it. Chicken Marsala – that’s all I need to say about that!

While The Big Guy flirted with the waitress, which earned him extra serviettes and wet wipes, I realized that the sun had set. So much for the “scenic route”. Determined to stick to his plan The Big Guy insisted we could still take the path less traveled. We stuck with this less than bright idea for about 45 minutes, when I begged him to let me hit the 401 so we could arrive a the hotel the same night.

Long trip short – the four hour drive we were anticipating morphed into a 7 hour adventure. Yes, we are still married.

It was a wonderful weekend of food and family, landmarks and laughs.

The Big Guy's first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

The Big Guy’s first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

But like all good things, the weekend came to an end and it was time to head home.

2014-10-26 18.12.35

While the return trip was much shorter, it was dinner by the time we got home. Imagine my surprise when we walked in the door to this…

2014-10-26 18.32.14

Yes folks, that’s two teenaged boys making dinner in a spotless kitchen! I managed this shot just before losing consciousness.

I think I’m going away next weekend too!

Why You Won’t See My Naked Face on Facebook

I enjoy facebook.

I enjoy catching up with people whom I would have liked to have stayed in contact with, but before facebook, didn’t have the means to do so.

I like being able to see and share photos, learn what’s going with my social and familial circle and keep abreast of news, sometimes faster than traditional media outlets.

I don’t enjoy the games on facebook.

I’m not talking about Farmville,  Candy Crush and those time wasters (actually not a fan of them either), I’m talking about a friend posting a total random status “Used by boobs to get out of a speeding ticket!” “I’m pregnant!” and when you Like or comment on this outrageous status, you get a message from the “friend” advising that because you placed your trust in them, and the authenticity of their information, YOU now HAVE to post a similarly outrageous comment and get YOUR friends to fall for it.

<PAUSE> Word up homey. I don’t tend to do well with the whole “YOU HAVE TO” type of motivation. In fact, it tends to evolk a “HELL NO” type of response. Anyone who knows me, who wants something out of me, has realized this. <PLAY>

But what has really annoyed me to no end is the plethora of “naked” face photos that flooding my newsfeed. Every day for the past three weeks, at least one of my friends has posted a “naked” face photo.

The point is this: you are supposed to take a photo of your face without any makeup in order to share your “natural” beauty and be proud of the “real you”. Next, you add the prerequesite motivational status text where you “nominate” other female friends, family etc. GO GIRL POWER!!! Orignally, the idea was that if you were doing this, you were also making a donation to the Cancer society (how that links together, I’m not entirely sure, unless you want to start the wildfire debate of comestics and potential links to Cancer?).

By now you must be saying, “Hey Sarah, what’s with all the “quotation marks”?

And I would be saying because in many many of these cases, there isn’t anything “natural” about these pix. I would also suggest that not only has this exercise not met its objective, it has actually recessed it. That’s because one of two things is happening:

1. Many women are NOT naked in that they are using subtle amounts of make up and/or filters. How do I know? Because I’ve seen a number of them in the flesh to know the photo on my computer screen is not legit. Why are they doing this? Because they don’t really feel comfortable showing their raw, war-paint free faces. So we really aren’t feeling that empowered here, are we?

2. People are being met with a landslide of effusive comments, usually from other nominees, who will expect, nay, demand that you also fluff their pillow with complimentary commentary. So, we need other people’s opinions to make us feel good about ourselves? Huh?

I for one, don’t go out without at least tinted moisturizer, mascara eyeliner, some concealer and lipstick. Why? Because my face is no different than any other part of my appearance; I wouldn’t go downtown with ratty track pants on either. If I’m at home, I will usually go “fresh faced” (those damn quotation marks again!) to give my face a rest. Wearing makeup, to me, isn’t about “hiding who I am”. This is because I feel GOOD about myself when I feel I look good. When I’ve taken the time to take care of my skin. When I put my best foot/face forward. Because I don’t tend to wear a lot of makeup, it’s not a huge difference when I don’t have any on.

 

I remember a friend of my mother’s who wore so much make up that the one rare day that we saw her without her face on, we stared, slack jawed, at the difference.

Let’s get back to our worthy cause; fighting Cancer. You cannot find a movement closer to my heart. However, I don’t for one minute believe my dozens of friends have made contributions to fight Cancer in order to post their “fresh face fotos”. I don’t believe that part of the meme has made it through the social media chain.

If there are actual donations, (I’m calling Urban Myth on this one) I’d LOVE to know how much has been raised. Because if my little circle of friends/acquantainces is any indication, the cure for Cancer should be ready by Friday of next week.

Now, before people give me grief that they have done this excercise in good faith, please know I’m not here to judge. You can continue to post these photos and comment to your heart’s content.

Just don’t expect my face in your newsfeed.

 

Of Boys and Men

What a bunch...

What a bunch…

I am surrounded by Testosterone. Even the dogs are both male.

As one of two daughters, it was extremely enlightening for me to become a mother of two sons. Once the initial shock wore off, I vowed to be the most enlightened and supportive mother I could be. But the male/female dynamic continues to intrigue me.

Take, for example, the roles The Big Guy and I have. We aren’t exactly “traditional” in all aspects of our relationship. He has been very supportive of me showing our sons the range of abilities woman have and how there is no difference when it comes how to treat people, what to expect from people and what people can expect of themselves. Not “men” vs “women”.

However, I have noticed a bit of a disturbing trend. Studies (I don’t have to link them – Google has MILLIONS of links – see you in 50 years) that bring to light a change in the roles we play and why. Women (girls) have been encouraged to go out and be “more”, do “more”, have “more”. That there is no limit to what they can do, and thanks to the Women’s Movement, we have the ability to do everything a man can do.

Hallelujah!

But what about our boys? What support have we given them in the evolving world of relationships and dynamics?

<PAUSE>

Now some of what I’m going to say is going to SOUND like I’m anti-female. For the record, I’m not, and since I kinda am  A GIRL, I think I get to say this without any judgement, but perhaps with a little perspective. Follow through before freaking out, ok?

<PLAY>

Today, girls are having, on average, 75 sexual partners throughout their highschool careers. Consequently, this means the boys are in the same camp – but follow along. This is a huge increase from 10 years ago, and unheard of a generation ago. The difference today is that girls feel more in control of their sexuality, and while we could debate the reasoning behind WHY a young person is so sexually active at such a young age, I really don’t have time for a Thesis today – got laundry to do.

The trend is not that males are necessarily pursuing females, it’s that females are initiating these encounters on an increasing scale. Traditionally males were the pursuers, now females are the ones reaching out.

This is at the same time where females are entering post secondary education and subsequently the workforce in larger numbers than ever (although we still have to figure out how to make as much as man for the same work, right ladies??) and some would point to selective hiring for minorities as to why that is happening. I like to think it’s because the job is going to the most qualified person – after all, isn’t that what our mothers/grandmothers fought for? Equality? Women are becoming more successful in their careers and pushing of relationships, marriage and family longer and longer.

What are our guys doing?

There are TV franchises built around the premise of the son come back home to nest when he should be soaring because he’s not out making it in the world – because it’s become common within our society.

Women are being challenged to be all they can be. Conquer the World!

Men are the punchline on Wednesday nights.

Think I’m looking too Big Picture?

There was a phone call at our house the other day.

“Is Second Born Son there?” asked the young female voice.

“No, I’m sorry, may I take a message?” I asked.

(flurry of giggles from multiple mouths) “Nope.”

Dead air and the click of phone disconnecting.

I advised SBS that he had a message from an unknown source. He wasn’t impressed. If you remember, this has happened to him before, albeit a little more aggressively.

We returned from a week-long vacation to be greeted by another young girl (we’re talking Grade 4 here people) first asking SBS to call her, then demanding that he call her, and finally berating him for NOT calling her, over the course of four or five messages. BTW – she never left her number.

This time, as in the time previous, SBS was HORRIFIED. A girl had CALLED HIM!? What’s up with THAT? (Remember here that as a household with less than traditional roles, we have not stipulated that ONLY BOYS CALL GIRLS.) He immediately sourced out the “offending” caller at school and reported to me the following day. We talked at length about why it bothered him that she (and apparently an entire room full of friends on a sleep over) decided to ring him up.

What I learned was that he felt he should be the one calling the girl. Now, society has that stereotype out there, but I could also see how this was ingrained in him. It bothered him, beyond what other people thought. This is a kid who was not overly concerned about being popular, and more about being true to himself.

He didn’t know how to be himself if someone else was taking on a role he thought was his.

And that, my friends, is when the light bulb went on for me.

If we are going to empower girls to go higher, faster, farther, then we better be prepared to equally support our boys to understand how to navigate these changes and empower them as well. SBS and I talked about how he may not be comfortable with a girl calling him, but maybe she has the confidence to pick up the phone first. After all, I would think most men would agree, calling a woman for the first time can be an unnerving experience. Less feeling threatened, more feeling flattered. When he’s old enough, we can work through how he can feel better about his role in a relationship, but DEAR GAWD, HE’S ONLY IN GRADE 8!! Maybe next week?

Overall, men aren’t understanding the new dynamic in male/female relationships (let’s be honest – I don’t think they had the “old” dynamic figured out either…) and this was impacting feelings of inadequacy which in turn leaves women feeling like men are not “bringing it” to relationships.

The biggest complaint of dating women who are in the 20s-30s is that Chilvary is dead. Romance is gone from dating. BUT, how many times can a guy hear that his date is more than capable of paying her own way THANKYOUVERYMUCH, or that some “loser” held the door open for her, or heaven forbid – he brought FLOWERS , before he stops making these gestures that he thought made her feel special. You can’t bemoan the Death of Romance while you hold the smoking gun.

If I don’t need you for an income and I don’t need a relationship for sex, and I’m only considered successful if I conquer the world on my own, then really what do I need you for again? Not. Good. For either side.  As women are discovering their own worth, we need to remember the value men bring, before we have a generation of guys who don’t know how to date, never mind be romantic, supportive and empowering of their partner. It’s about give and take. Balance. Equality.

To me, Feminism isn’t the ability to trod upon a man’s sense of self-worth, it’s the ability to enjoy and explore my own. Women can be free to express, experience, succeed and fail.

And so can Men. It shouldn’t be a stigma for a male to be successful, or want to take charge, or want to take care of someone or be the one to pick up the phone first. We need to show our boys that while we are celebrating our daughters, our sons are not over looked.