Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Babyfood Recipes

A few months back I posted how I was going to attempt to make all of my daughter's food. She is 10 months old now and I have been successful at it.  Yay!  It's been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I thought I would share a few of my recipes and tips with you all.

Chicken and Veggies

I usually buy a rotisserie chicken when I go shopping to use in meals.  To use it with baby food, I take about a cup of meat and chop it up.  I add it to a baked squash or a few baked sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add a little bit of chicken broth and puree with a hand blender.  She loves it.

Beef Stew

1 pound stewing beef - cut into 1 inch slices
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
1 cup frozen peas
enough water to cover the food
1 tbsp beef boullion

Boil everything together until the meat and veggies are soft.  Add water as necessary.  Puree with a hand blender.

Apricots and ?

To make a good apricot puree, re-hydrate dried apricots with a enough water to cover them up.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  Puree right in the pot.  I like to make apricot plus another fruit mix.  To make apricots and bananas, I take 2 bananas, slice them and lay them out on a piece of aluminum foil.  Scoop a good portion of the apricot puree on top.  Add a little bit of vanilla (1 tsp).  Wrap the fruit up into a package and bake it at 325 for 20 minutes.  Once the fruit is all soft, empty the packet out into a mixing bowl and puree everything together with a hand blender.  I do the same with apricot and apple, just substitute a couple of peeled, cored and sliced apples for the banana.  And yes, I've done this with just the apple and banana and it works great too.  Very tasty!

How to store your baby food:

Spoon into ice cube trays.  I label the trays with a dry-erase marker so I remember what's in there.  The next day pop the cubes into freezer bags, make sure to label them and date the food, so you know what you have and when you made it.  Baby food in the freezer can be kept and used for 3-6 months.  Thawed food can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days.  The great thing with the cubes is that there is very little waste.  You get a good sense of how much your little one will eat and you just need to defrost/heat that much.  I usually microwave 2-3 cubes for about 40 seconds.  But be sure to stir and check the temperature before you serve it.  You don't want your baby to get a burnt tongue from a hot spot.  Have fun and be creative!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snack Pack, Share a Smile Blog Tour

I clearly remember the first time I saw my son smile. We had had one of 'those nights'. He was 7 weeks old and not going to sleep for anything. I was a frazzled, determined new mom. I decided that I was going to leave the house that day and take him to the Babies in the Library program anyway. I was going to have a semi-normal life, no matter how tired and frustrated I was. That morning at the library as I sang to him, it happened! He smiled for the first time. All my frustration from the night before melted away and in its place was perfect love for this tiny boy.
We've shared a lot of smiles since then, whether it be from having an impromtu dance party, or fixing a favorite meal together, life is pretty good. One thing I try to share with my kids is that they are blessed. Not everyone has the basic things in life that they do. They hear about the 'big picture' from us. The big picture is that they have a warm place to live, clothes on their back, a school to learn in, a family who loves them and food on the table. Not every child can say the same.
This is why I was happy to team up with Mom Central and Snack Pack for the Snack Pack, Share a Smile Blog Tour. Snack Pack is aiming to raise $20 000 for food banks across Canada this Christmas. Here's how it works:

Log onto Facebook, look up Snack Pack Canada, Like the page, Share a Smile and:

•A $1 donation will be made on your behalf to, Food Banks Canada. You can also opt to Share a Smile and Snack Pack will make the donation on behalf of one of your Facebook friends.

•You’ll receive a ballot into their weekly prize draw (for those who have registered for the contest)

•PLUS You’ll earn a point towards one of the fun Smile badges! Remember, the more often you smile, the more donations, ballots and badge points you’ll collect. It’s no surprise that Smiling everyday would have its perks.

It doesn't take much time out of your day to Share a Smile. Let's make sure that families across Canada don't go hungry this holiday.

*Disclosure - I am participating in the Snack Pack program by Mom Central on behalf of Conagra Foods Canada. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hopes and Dreams Giveaway! - Aquafresh Advanced Blog Tour - Winner!

Congratulations to Anna! The winner of our Aquafresh Advanced Blog Tour!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mean Little Girls

This morning I was chatting with a friend of mine who shared that she was concerned about some of the social stuff going on with her daughter at school.  I said, "She's in 3rd grade right?", "Yes" - "Let me guess, friendship fighting, best friends one day, worst enemies the next" , "Exactly".  Yep, that's 3rd grade girls alright.
How did I know?  I don't have a 3rd grade daughter yet (that's 8 years away), but I've been a teacher for a long time.  I've mostly taught in elementary schools and I've observed the change.  Some girls start a little bit earlier, but I find grade 3 is a real peek time for this kind of behavior.  Girls who were so sweet to each other at the end of second grade come back in 3rd with a whole new attitude.  It's like there is a whole new social awareness happening.  The way I see it, is that when kids were a little bit younger they accepted the attitude of everybody in my class is my friend.  Now that they have grown up a little bit they are experimenting socially.  They realize that there is a little more to friendship than just being in the same class, or going to the same ballet lessons.  They are becoming more self-aware.  They are trying out and finding out who they are.  They see that they have some say in who they socialize with.  It doesn't always come out in a great way.  In fact a lot of the time it's just plain mean.
This is the age where it's not uncommon for a girl to come up to me (a teacher) on the play yard at school and say, "Michaela won't play with me", or, "Ashley won't leave us alone".  Honestly, you can't make kids like each other.  You also can't make kids play together.  What you can do is teach them to be kind to each other.
These kinds of behaviors are normal, but need to be curbed as it becomes a type of bullying that is known as relational bullying.  When your daughter first experiences it (either as the aggressor, or, the receiver) it is an opportunity (and an important one) to teach her about bullying.  Yes, it really is bullying, it's just not the blatant physical bullying that we often associate with bullying.  It is just as destructive and hurtful.  And it is more common with girls than with boys.  It does carry on to their teenage years (well depicted in the 2004 movie Mean Girls).
Some girls are more compliant, people pleasers, longing to be liked, have a friend and fit in.  They will be more succeptable to being bossed around, being told by someone that they aren't friends with them anymore, or that they don't have the right kind of shirt/bracelet/fill in the blank to be part of a club.  These kids need to be taught how to look for a good friend.  A true friend is someone who you can trust (not who tells your secrets), will listen (not take over the conversation), who will respect you, who will be empathetic and loyal.
Then there are the more aggressive little girls.  These are the ones more likely to be in charge, or fight to be in charge.  They are more dominant and make more decisions about their free time/play time.  Many girls fight for this power position.  What these little girls need to be taught is how to look at life from someone else's perspective.  They need to be taught feeling words.  They need to have their energies guided towards leadership in a more positive role, perhaps on a sports team.  They need to have opportunities to lead, as well as learn to step back and be led.
It's not easy.  It's not easy to be that little girl.  It's not easy to parent that little girl.  It is an important time in your daughter's life.  This kind of relational bullying is something that will continue on for years in her life, but you can help her deal with it today and learn how to deal with it in the future.  To learn more about girls and relational bullying, I recommend the book, Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.  It is the book that inspired the movie Mean Girls.  It is a highly recommended read for parents of girls.  It will bring you back to your own childhood when that 6th grade sleepover turned into the nightmare you've tried to forget, opening those memories and giving you a tool to help your daughter through these years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Best Toys are Open Ended

The other day, my boys were running around playing Star Wars. This is their latest obsession. In my older son's case he is so obsessed that he claims he can't do his school work because he keeps getting Star Wars thoughts (I find it hard to argue with this kind of logic - Star Wars is more interesting than a day filled with French phonetic work sheets, but that is a whole other post). The great thing about it, though was what they were using as props.

Jedi robes? Check. Made out of the yellow capes I made them for Christmas two years ago. These capes have been superhero and villain capes, knights, kings, Narnians, pirates and now, Jedi knight capes since I made them two years ago.

Light sabers? Check. Well, the handles were made out of column blocks from the block set I bought them for Christmas three years ago. The laser part was in their imagination, which has the added bonus of not being able to actually hurt anyone (though from the number of "cut off hands" that I saw missing, you would never know it).

Open ended toys are toys that can be used in many different ways. They are, ironically, more "interactive" than toys where you push a button and the same thing happens repeatedly. The child must use their imagination and creativity to engage with the toy. These toys are not only the longest lasting, but they are the ones that really build brains, despite what toy marketers would have you think.

Here are some ideas for open-ended toys you might want to get your kids this Christmas. I've tried to list things that are suitable for all different ages:

- blocks
- animal and dinosaur figures (not branded characters, just animals)
- softies
- dolls, plus their blankets, strollers, and clothes
- balls, beanbags, beads, stackers,
- dress up clothes and accessories (doctor kits, badges, swords, hats, etc)
- art supplies (markers, crayons, scissors, scrapbooks, paints, stamps, stickers)
- open ended building sets such as lego, construx, or mega blocks
- play kitchens, food, pots and pans, dishes, tea sets, shopping carts
- playmobil or other sets of people with accessories
- cars, trucks, and trains with or without tracks to build
- cards, marbles, dominoes, high sky balls
- hockey sticks and nets, basketballs, tennis rackets and balls, and other sports equipment
- craft supplies for sewing, knitting, beading, card making, or crochet
- not to mention boxes, pipe cleaners, bits of string, recyclables, kitchen utensils and the other open ended things your kids will find for themselves around your house.

These toys will last your kids for years, get tons of play time, and help your child really build their brains and bodies. Pick some toys that are suitable for your child's interests and age and get them playing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sharing a little childhood

I've been having a proud mom moment these days.  Those who know me know I'm a voracious reader.  My dream job when I was 9 was to become a children's librarian.  (I didn't, I'm a teacher).  We all have something in our childhood past that we want to share with our kids.  For me, that's Disneyland (we haven't gone yet) and certain books. I know, books.  I have such fond memories of books.  Not picture books, but kid novels.  I've been looking forward to the day when one of my kids would share a love of these books with me, and it's happening!
My oldest child is 6.  He too loves books.  This past summer we read through our first chapter book together (James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl).  He loved it.  He wanted to read Stuart Little next as he loved that movie, but we have yet to find a copy. So I put off getting another chapter book as he settled into grade one and this year's hockey season.  Then a couple of weeks ago I went looking for books for my kids at the library with my younger son and daughter while the older one was at school.  My eyes fell onto the shelf where the Beverly Cleary books are.  Beverly Cleary!  Was it possible?  Could one of my kids be ready to share in a love of Beverly Cleary?  I picked Ribsy, the tale of Henry Huggins dog who gets lost at the shopping mall and has all sorts of adventures trying to get back home.  The verdict?  He loved it.  We would read half a chapter or a chapter a night before bed.  Finally he said to me, Mom, I just want to keep reading, so we spent a good hour on the couch as I finished reading the book to him.  And he wants more.  He was so excited when I told him that there was a whole series of Henry Huggins books.  This week we brought another one home (Henry Huggins, the first in the series).  It's funny because I didn't think about Beverly Cleary to share with my sons, I had the Ramona books in mind to share with my daughter when she got big enough.  I've discovered that the Henry Huggins books were the first written by Beverly Cleary who was a librarian at the time she wrote them.  The boys at her library were looking for books about boys like them so Henry Huggins was her response.  The first one was published in 1950 and they hold up well.
So there's my mom moment of the week.  Sharing books of my childhood with my son.  What kinds of things are you looking forward to sharing with your kids?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Night, another sleep battle

And so goes the continuing saga of sleeplessness in our house.  I apologize if this post is a bit of a blur.  Last night had all the signs of being promising for sleep.  My daughter was sleeping in her crib by quarter to 8.  It was around 9 that my husband heard her cries.  She spent the next half hour or so wide awake with me before returning to her crib asleep.  And I thought alright, I can deal with that.  I went up around 11 to go to bed myself.  About 5 minutes later she was up and awake.  I spent the next hour dealing with her cries.  I tried everything.  All the basics.  I fed her, changed her, rocked her, sang to her, gave her Tylenol...nothing.  She would drift off occassionally for about 2 -5 minutes, but then would wake up with a piercing cry.  Finally, took her downstairs to see if there was anything there I could offer her.  Something inside me thought 'frozen waffle'.  So that's what I gave her and it worked.  She immediately stopped crying and started gnawing on the waffle instead.  In minutes she transformed from Mrs. Cranky, no-sleep child to Happy Baby, complete with giggles and wanting to play.  Well, what do you do in a situation like that.  Clearly, she was having some sort of teething pain and the waffle was helping.  I let her play and called my mom (she's in a different time zone than me so she makes a great person to call when I'm up late).  About an hour later, my daughter started showing signs of fatigue and drifted off to sleep.  I had planned well, making up the play pen downstairs for her and the futon into a bed for me, so that we wouldn't keep the rest of the family up.  I'm proud to say that we both got some sleep (though not nearly enough).  She woke up at 5 to nurse and slept until 7.  I'm hoping she goes down well for her morning nap because I really need more sleep too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sleep is a precious commodity at our house

Yesterday I posted my cry for help from my early rising boys.  Today they slept in till 7, which is wonderful.  However...
my daughter did not sleep much last night.  She wanted to, just not in her crib.  She wanted to sleep in my arms, all night.  She didn't want her soother either, just nursing - but not really nursing.  At about midnight I passed her off to my husband so I could get a little sleep.  He brought her back in around 1:30.  Again, she wouldn't sleep in her crib.  So we brought her into our bed.  She did sleep, but not well.  I lost track of how many times she woke up.  Around 5, I brought her down to the couch to sleep so my husband could get some rest.  She woke up twice more before 7.  Needless to say, when she went down for her mid-morning nap, so did I.
The culprit?  We suspect separation anxiety.  It's just in this past month that we've started leaving her to play in the nursery at church during services.  I was teaching Sunday School yesterday and I could hear her crying pretty much the entire time.  Today, she cried when my husband went to school (she's never done that before).  And every time I went into the kitchen from the living room she would either crawl to find me, or just start crying from where she was. 
So I am trying to figure out what to do.  I'm pretty sure the normal routine of our week with settle her back down again, but the fact is I have to leave her in the nursery to teach Sunday School.  I used to bring her with me, but now that she is so active she is more of a distraction so I can't do that anymore.  Next week, I think I'm just going to stay in the nursery with her to get her used to it again (I'm not teaching next week).  Any other suggestions?  I can't do the sleepless night again and function well for my other kids. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Cry For Help!

I really don't know what to do about this one.  It's a new parenting challenge for me.  My older son has started getting up really early in the morning every day.  By default, my younger son is also getting up very early every day (they share a room).  This makes for 2 very tired, grumpy boys.  My younger one I can get to nap in the afternoon (he's 3), but the older one is in school so there is no nap time.  We have a house rule to not get up unless they hear me, but sometimes they are mistaking their sister's 4:30am feeding for a wake up call.  And I really don't want to shout at them to go back to bed which would only further wake the baby up.  And by the time she's back in bed, they can be wide awake.  They will go back to bed but I know they don't go back to sleep.  Tonight I'm going to put a digital clock in their room and tell my older son what time it's okay to get up at, but I don't know if it's going to work.  Any ideas?  They used to be really good at sleeping until 6:30/7am which is perfect for their schedule.  It's the 5 am that's killing me.  I'd like to blame last week's time change, but really, shouldn't they be adjusted by now? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day.  The idea of war and going to war seems so far removed for some in our society.  Though Canadian soldiers still work towards peace in our world, for most it's something that is out of sight out of mind.  We often take for granted the peace that we have.  Our children can walk to school without worry that they will be caught in sniper fire along the way.  We don't worry that the school will be bombed while they are busy inside learning.  Not every child in this world can say that.  Our grandparents and now great-grandparents lived in a very different time.  A time where war was part of their life.  It is up to us to uphold the memory of that.  Since my children were wee babes in arms I've always taken them to the local Remembrance Day service.  We wear our poppies with pride.  I've taken the time to teach them why November 11th is so important.  Here are some ideas how you can do that with your children too.

Veteran's Affairs Canada has youth and educator guides for Remembrance Week 2011 that you can find here

The Royal Canadian Legion also has resources under Poppy/Remembrance on their site here.

Canadian Musician Terry Kelly created a fantastic song and video that stresses the importance of taking the time to Remember called A Pittance of Time. You could watch the video with your children and discuss it and the accompanying story. 

Take your children to your local Remembrance Day ceremony this morning.  Talk to a Vet after the service is over.  If your child does not live in a province that recognizes Remembrance Day as a holiday, then why not go to their school for their assembly?  It will give you a jumping off point for a chat later on tonight.

Whether or not you agree with current world conflicts and Canada's involvement in them does not negate the fact that we have men and women who have and are willing to risk their lives for us.  Please take a moment today to remember and give thanks for them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homework Help

Now that we are a couple months into the school year chances are your child is facing the daily task of homework. I'm both a parent and a teacher so I've worked this angle on both sides.  Here's my take on homework and some tips for success.

Homework comes in differnt forms

1.  Daily Reading - most teachers will have some sort of reading program in place.  The benefits of daily reading practice, reading for pleasure and reading with parents are huge.  Some reading programs are simply to read books and log them.  Others have a more detailed plan, such as reading journals to fill in. 

2. Extra practice - this is where your child's teacher sends home some work that reflects what they have been learning in school, reinforcing what has been taught

3.  Work that wasn't finished in class time - this is where your child needs to compete work that should have been completed in class

4.  Projects - any sort of bigger, ongoing work related to a concept in school.  These projects usually require some research time and may or may not involve your child getting together with another child to complete work together.

5.  Family homework - these are tasks related to what your child is doing in school that gives you and your child opportunity to work together

6.  Spelling words - usually sent home on a Monday and tested on a Friday.  These words will be commonly misspelled words or words related to a topic of study.

How much homework to expect?

The general rule of thumb regarding homework is about 10 minutes a night per grade.  For example 30 minutes for a student in grade three.  This is not an exact science.  Some children will fly through certain tasks.   You know your child best.  My son will take no time at all to work through a math sheet, but balks at printing practice.  It shouldn't take him as long to do as it does and wouldn't if he didn't fuss about it so much.
If it seems like your child is getting a lot of homework for his age see if you can find out why.  If they are getting a lot of work not finished at school sent home there is usually a reason.  Is your child talking or daydreaming instead of working?  Do they understand the work set in front of them?  Talk to your child's teacher to see what is going on.  Most teachers have a homework philosophy.  Ask for an appointment and see what is going on and how to make a plan together for best success. 

Setting up a home plan

Routine and schedules are so important for your children.  What kind of routine do you have at home?  How are you supporting your child's learning?  What kind of work space do your children have?  Have you built time in your day for homework?
Here's what our routine currently looks like.  I know that on Mondays we have hockey in the evening and Wednesdays we go to a community dinner at my husband's college.  This means that afternoons before supper are the best time for homework.  We never do homework immediately after school.  I know that my son has had a long day at school already and needs a break.  We spend a good half hour to an hour at the school yard playground to play.  Once we are home, my kids have a snack.  Then it's time for homework.  My son unpacks his backpack with me there.  We read his planner together and check his homework folder.  He works at his homework at the kitchen table.  This way I'm close by (making supper) for any help he needs.  It is also a flat working space.  Practice reading (for reading journals) we do together on the couch (although reading logs we do at bedtime).   For his spelling words we have gotten into a routine of me randomly quizzing him whenever throughout the week (in the car, after supper, at bedtime, whenever).   Repeated practice works.
Home plans are also great for supporting school projects.  If you see a class project has been assigned, then help your child plan out when it will be worked on.  (The night before it is due is not the time).  Teaching them how to plan out larger tasks and breaking them down will help them later in life.  That could be for when they have large essays in college, have a work project at work, or even getting their taxes done. 

Supporting homework, not doing homework

Teachers know when parents do their child's homework.  It's pretty obvious to us.  You can guide them through it if they are stuck, but it really doesn't benefit your child if you do it for them.   They also know when parents don't take the time to help their child.   You can help your child simply by setting up a homework routine and making sure it gets done.   If getting homework done is a big production (an exasperating fuss) that's when you need to come up with a plan.  Homework isn't going to go away.  I added 'homework without a fuss' to my son's sticker reward chart.  That's what works for him.  What works for you child?  Is there a deeper issue going on?  Are they having difficulty for a reason beyond that they don't want to do it?  That would be a reason to sit down with your child's teacher to discuss.  Remember that the best meetings with your child's teacher are going to happen when you set up a time and go in with an attitude to work together to help your child. 

But my child doesn't have any homework!

There are three reasons for this:
1.  your child is not bringing it home on purpose (aka - they don't want to do it)
2.  your child is disorganized
3.  your child's teacher has a no-homework program 

If the answer is #1 - find out why they don't want to do it and help them as best you can to get it done
If the answer is #2 - then you need to look at teaching your child some organizational strategies, or, find out if there is a deeper issue in terms of organization.  Most classrooms have student planners in which they are to write down their homework or any important information that needs to be communicated at home.  Do they have the proper books that they need to get a job done?  Are they bringing everything home that they need to?  Do notices and assignments frequently get lost?  Maybe they need a folder to put every important paper into. 
If they answer is #3 - this is a new model that some schools and teachers are trying out.  The only homework assigned is class work not done and reading at home.  

Homework can be a daunting task if you aren't prepared for it.  It is even more daunting if you and your partner work full time, and/or have your children in full time extra-curricular activities.  It shouldn't be so overwhelming it can't be done.  Look at how your family spends their time.  I'm a big believer in the following things happening every day:
-outside play for at least half an hour (longer is better)
-family meal time (sitting down at the table together)
-setting routines for daily tasks (making beds, brushing teeth, making and eating meals, bath time, bed time...and homework)
-reading time
Other things are better in moderation
-extra curricular activities
-screen time (TV, Computer, Video Games)

Your child is going to have many, many teachers in their lifetime.  All of them will have their own philosophy in regards to homework.  Some will be big believers in repetition and mastery, others will be believers in the no homework philosophy.  Whichever kind of teacher (or teachers) your child has this year, you can be prepared and organized to help your child achieve success.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pregnant and no where near a big city

No, I'm not announcing a fourth pregnancy - that isn't going to happen!  Andrea, aka Mama in the City, wrote a great guide to being pregnant in Vancouver this past summer.  (You can read about it here).  That got me thinking about the differences between being pregnant in a city like Vancouver and being pregnant almost anywhere else in Canada where finding anything maternity can be few and far between.  You see I moved to the big city of Toronto when I was 7 months pregnant.  The thing that struck me the most (besides all the traffic) was all the maternity stuff!  I mean we are talking the 'regular' maternity stores like Motherhood and Thyme being commonplace and then there are all sorts of local maternity boutiques!  There were also second hand stores that carried just maternity clothing.  I couldn't believe it.  It was a little late for me (being that pregnant, and carrying my 3rd child, I wasn't into buying maternity at the time) but I was just delighted at the thought that I could.


I have been pregnant in a semi-decent sized Canadian city 3 times.  That city is not big enough to carry any sort of maternity store, just a maternity department in Wal-Mart.  (There was a Thyme at one time, but it closed down).   A friend suggested checking out the second hand stores as she always had success there, I didn't.  So what do you do to get through your pregnancy?  Here's what I did:

1) I found the closest city that had Thyme and Motherhood in it.  The drive there took over an hour so I took the time to shop.  I tried on a lot, thought through what I would need (especially for work to look neat and professional) and bought most in one shot. 

2) I was fortunate to have people that loved me that lived in a larger city send me things.  I gave birth to my second about 6 months after my sister-in-law did.  Once she delivered she sent me all her nice maternity stuff.  My mom also went shopping and mailed me some things - a great treat!

3) I discovered that while our local Old Navy did not carry the maternity line, they did have a box behind the counter of maternity things.  When people bought Old Navy Maternity from another store or online and wanted to return it, they could return it to any Old Navy Store.  That store keeps it behind the counter.  Go and ask, see if your store has a box.  I found a great sweater that way.

4) Speaking of online...the internet is full of maternity wear.  Most maternity stores have an online store.  Motherhood has the best selection I've seen.  You can also find cute maternity selections on Etsy. Make sure to check out their sizing guide to make your best guess at a good fit.  Most sizes correspond to your pre-pregnancy size.  Be prepared to buy a few things a little bit larger than that too, just in case.

5) Check out your own closet to see what may 'stretch' to help you through.  My yoga pants that I use for working out I wore all the way through my pregnancies. 

6) Some of you are fantastically talented with a needle and thread.  Have a look through some maternity wear patterns and find some great fabric to make some things that you need.  (I wish I was that talented!)

Being pregnant was one of my favorite times in my life (even though I was so sick for each and every one of my children).  It doesn't have to mean hiding away, or wearing a big canopy like our mothers and grandmothers did.  We can still be fashionable and feel great about ourselves, even when maternity clothes can be hard to find.  I'm curious to hear how other women living away from a big city got through.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finding a New Rhythm

So, since my frustrated post last week, I have been thinking over what I need to do to get us back on track. One thing we have been missing in our home these days is a Rhythm or Routine.

Before I was a teacher or a parent, I used to roll my eyes when the word routine was mentioned. Seriously, did people really need routines do be able to get things done? Couldn't they just do it when it needed to be done? Couldn't a group of children just hand out papers, without me having to find a system for them to hand them out? Couldn't thirteen year olds just "get into groups of 4" without my help? The answer, my friends, was no. Not unless I wanted a ruckus. In my early days of teaching, I discovered that the reason school classrooms have routines is because students behave better and feel more comfortable when they know what is coming next. Less time can be spent by teacher and student getting through basic, daily tasks, and more time can be spent learning. I discovered that when I established regular routines and transitions in my classroom, and explained and practiced these processes with my students, over half of my discipline problems disappeared. I learned that the word for this is "Proactive Discipline".

"Proactive Discipline" is one side of the getting kids to behave coin. It is the part where you set things up so that it is easy for them to follow the rules and routines because they are clearly laid out. When kids know what to expect, they are less anxious. If they know they will get to have a video at 4pm, for instance, you don't have to fight with them about wether you will or won't watch a video at any given moment of the day. Instead you can simply say, "We will watch our video after our rest time, like we do every day" or, with an older child, "We will watch our video at the same time we always do, at four o-clock".

The other side of discipline, of course, is "Reactive Discipline". This is the side of the coin where you react to your child's behavior. When children refuse to follow established routines and rules, then you are into reactive discipline. But if there are no rules and routines in place, then you must react to every situation seperately and each one can become a power struggle.

What we have been lacking since we moved is an established, daily routine. This is partially because our days do not yet have the order that comes from things like steady work and one regular caregiver. But we can try to keep some things the same, like a daily outing to the park, a daily time for breakfast and lunch, and a snack after school to keep everyone's blood sugar level even until supper is ready. These little details just help keep everyone feeling physically well and make it easier for us all to be calm.

Trading Toys

This is an aspect to parenting I didn't see coming.  My 6 year old son and his classmates trading toys out on the school yard.  You see, we don't let him bring toys to school.  Then one day as we were walking home I knew something was up.  It was the little secret smile he had on his face, combined with his hand in his pocket.
"What's in your pocket?" I asked.
"You know there's something in my pocket?"  He's amazed at my Supermom capabilities.
"This, J. gave it to me" and he holds up a Bakugan. 
"And I'm going to give him my Obi-Wan ship because I don't play with it that much anymore." (the Obi-Wan ship is a small McDonald's toy, not a big deal)
"Are you sure you don't want it anymore?"
"and it's okay with J's mom that he give this Bakugan to you?"
"I think so"
"well, if you are sure, then I guess it's okay"
And it was for about a week or so. Then he decided he wanted to trade back. J happily accepted the Bakugan, but can't seem to find the Obi-Wan ship. Oh well, I chalk it down to learning experience for my son. 
So where do you toe the line?  I didn't mind the ship because it was a 'free' toy.  But what about other things?  I'm really not big on this whole trading business.  Is is just a way to learn about the real world?  Or is it a way for your kids to get taken advantage of?  From teaching I know the problems trading can create.  Friendship fights, theft, distraction from their school work are just a few reasons why schools have banned popular trading items (Pokemon cards and Silly Bands are some recent examples of banned at school items).  Most schools discourage bringing toys of any kind as they are susceptible to being broken, lost or stolen.  For now, I've left it with my son that his toys are for sharing, but not trading.  He seems to agree that this is a good idea...for now,

Shopper's Drug Mart V.I.B. Blog Tour

 As part of our partnership with Mom Central I (Kris) recently received a sample package from the new Shopper's Drug Mart V.I.B. program.  V.I.B. stands for Very Important Baby.   Inside I found the following items:  a V.I.B. bib, samples of diapers (Huggies), wipes (Huggies), baby wash (Johnson and Johnson's),  body wash (Aveeno) and lotion (Aveeno baby), and a coupon booklet for extra Optimum rewards.  Their baby program also includes receiving a first birthday card on your child's first birthday.
I don't know about you, but I love getting free stuff.  When my kids arrived, I signed up for as much free baby stuff as I could because baby stuff is expensive.  This would be a great package for a new mom to receive.  You can sign up for the Shopper's V.I.B. program here.  If you sign up before December 1st, you could win one of 50, $50 Shopper's Drug Mart gift cards.  Plus as a new memeber you'll receive 2500 points the next time you purchase any Pampers diaper products.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Visit www.shoppersdrugmart.ca/babycontest for full contest details and information on how to enter without a purchase. Approximate retail value of prize is $50. Chances of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Correct answer to skill-testing question required to be declared a winner. Must be a Canadian resident and age of majority or older in province or territory of residence. Valid Shoppers Optimum Card® required to participate. Contest ends December 1st, 2010.

Disclosure - I am participating in the Shoppers Drug Mart v.i.b program by Mom Central on behalf of Shoppers Drug Mart. I received a gift card and a new baby gift pack as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hopes and Dreams Giveaway! - Aquafresh Advanced Blog Tour

One of the first things we did after having our kids and filling out all the paper work that goes along with having kids, is fill out more paperwork.  This second round of paper work was not for birth registrations, or Social Insurance Numbers, this paper work was to help save for their futures.  My husband and I both know first hand that the costs of post-secondary education is huge!  But without it, the outlook for the future is small.  We also know that with 3 kids it's quite possible that we could have all three attending at the same time.  That's a lot of money!  I think most parents want what is good for their kids.  They want to give them the best possible start for their future.  That's why we started putting money into RESP's for all 3 of them.  It's not a lot of money each month, but we figured if we didn't start now, the costs would hit us too much in the future.  Each of their certificates contains the same verse on it:  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  -Jeremiah 29:11.  We believe that to be true and we want to give our kids the best possible shot at a good future. 
Because of that belief, I'm happy to partner up once again with Mom Central to tell you about an opportunity to win up to $10 000 towards an RESP for your child.  Wouldn't that be great?  Who wouldn't want free money towards their child's education?  To enter that contest, just visit Aquafresh Advanced Futures, it's that easy.  I did.

Well you know that we like to give away stuff ourselves at Clever Mamas, so in conjunction with  Aquafresh Advanced and Mom Central, we are giving away a Philips Sonicare for Kids Toothbrush valued at $70(MSRP) and a sample of Aquafresh Advanced toothpaste!  Here's how to enter:  in our comments section, just let us know one tip for getting your kids to brush their teeth (we have a "teeth time" song in out house).  Don't forget to leave your contact info too!  Contest closes November 22. 

Disclosure - I am participating in the Aquafresh Advanced Futures program by Mom Central on behalf of GSK. I received a sample of Aquafresh Advanced and gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

And the Winner is...

Congratulations to Anna, our winner of the Cheerios Milestones giveaway!  Your book will be on its way to you!



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