Saturday, December 31, 2016

A toast to 2016!

What a remarkable year. It's been a roller coaster -- starting with the lowest of lows with relationships to the passing of too many loved ones... child mental health issues, diving into new hobbies and the launch of this blog.

This blog has become and outlet and a personal special project. It is one item that has always been on my bucket list and, albeit full of random content and no consistency to posting, it's out there. A few of read and comment --- thank you!!! and even one as "followed". Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You don't always know the story behind the author or behind an individual but can hear how a small gesture can changes someone's day... these small gestures provide empowerment. I am truly grateful for those to take a few seconds out of the their day to click a link to end up on these pages...


This journey all started with my children. My son who BEGGED to start a You Tube channel. The craziness of that is still unreal --- You Tube was of course not around when I was growing up. The internet was not around. Heck, we didn't have cable tv. Within seconds of my son's first video, we realized there was a little bit of magic within this whole new world. I talk about it in this video but - my son has delayed speech and language development. It was quite significant for a long period of time - until You Tube. He is connecting with an audience and that makes all of the difference in his self-reflection...

This then lead us to the community that is You Tube. I had no idea that such a community existed. Community is everything - in so many ways. As humans we cannot exist without it and to discover this whole new community is such a blessing. There are so many people out there, keen - and committed to cheering you on; they don't just do so with words but with action. With that, I encourage anyone who has stumbled onto this page, to click each of the videos below to show support to these truly remarkable people by supporting their channels. If you are engaged in You Tube, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to them, hit that LIKE button and leave a friendly comment.

I am sure I will come back to this post and add to it as I have time to reflect on this last year but will leave you for now with links to these tremendous people... here's to respect, gratitude and much appreciation --- toasting to a wonderful 2016 and continued growth in 2017! Until next time... have a  wonderful day! xo

Kids Wild Ride

Miss Trendy Treats

Sagan and Loki

Toy Trio TV



Fun with the Bugs

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Letters from Santa

Each year, our children receive a letter from Santa on Christmas morning. We read each letter as a family prior to them opening the gifts. The structure of the letter is as such:
  • Recognizing some of the big accomplishments over that last year
  • Acknowledging a strength in their personality 
  • Describing an area for growth with Santa sharing a relatable experience
  • Concluding with another strength and best wishes for the year ahead
Below are our 2016 letters. Please scroll down to read and enjoy a little piece of this special tradition. 

Our oldest son also wrote a letter to Santa in the mail, the post office provided a letter back! Watch his eyes as as read the letter to him in the video below.... this excitement is even more so with these Christmas morning letters. We will try to share a video of that as well.

With that, may your Christmas be filled with plenty of smiles and the year ahead be filled with remarkable blessings. With love, gratitude and respect...

Happy Holidays -- from our family to yours. xo




Dear Isaiah (age 6),

What a special year! You finished grade 1 and have started grade 2. You are walking to school, playing soccer, learning to ice skate, improving with swimming… you are working so hard in many things and I am very proud of you. Do you know what I am most proud of though? --- how loving and caring you are – and how hard you work to learn new things. This is what makes you truly special, Isaiah.

Your strong heart help you share with and care for other people. Your heart also helps you stay focused on tasks and keep practicing things so you can improve and do them with confidence. Your determination is something to be very, very proud of. I meet a lot of children and you really stand out with this, Isaiah. I feel honoured to be coming to your house tonight to bring you something special because of this. This is what makes you such a very good boy. I know it’s one of the things that make your Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma and Grandpa so proud of you, too!

I know you are working so very hard at controlling your body and that that is a very difficult thing to do. Keep taking your big breaths --- that is what really helps me. Did you know that sometimes even Santa gets overwhelmed? There are a lot of things I need to do to prepare for my trip around the world and all of those deliveries; there are so many decisions to make and I don’t always know if I am making the right one.  Sometimes I just want to scream or shake my body but I remember that my energy is better spent on solving the problem or that I need to be okay with the decision I make.  To help me with that, I fill my belly full of air and blow out. I once blew so hard I blew over one of my Elves! Fortunately, he was okay and the Elf even laughed - A LOT - which made me feel better. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, Isaiah – can you do me a favour and try to fill your belly full of air like Santa and blow it out? Write to me next year to tell if that is helping you when you have to make decisions or are feeling overwhelmed.

Oh! Speaking of your letter… What wonderful writing!!  I had to write you a second letter because I was so impressed. Your letters are so clear and I can very much appreciated writing that page out may have taken some hard work and a lot of time. Please know how much I appreciated all of your effort.

With that, I need to write another letter but please enjoy the special gifts I brought you this year. You Mom and Dad asked me to not fill their stockings or bring them anything so they could really enjoy their time with you and seeing you smile.

Have a wonderful Christmas, Isaiah --- and Happy Birthday for tomorrow!! 

Love,
Santa
__________________________________________________

Dear Kayden (age 4),

Thank you for all of the laughs last year Kayden! You sure know how to make me giggle and that is very special. It’s been a big year for you with your final year and Montessori and all of the learning you are doing there. By the time I write to you next year, you will have started Kindergarten. I look forward to hearing all about it.

I know there are so many things to get excited about and some times with all of that excitement it can be hard to calm down and focus on tasks but that is something I really need you to do. You know that it is your responsibility to put your toys away after you play with them. It is important that you do not bring out more and more things until the toys you have been playing with are put away… Please use your energy to getting that task done; there is no need to pout or cry or complain you are tired. I know you can do it.

Do you know what is so cool about cleaning up your toys? You have more room to play and move or practice your Yoga which you are so good at. It’s really helpful too because then you know where to find things the next time you want to play with them. Do you know how I know? One day we didn’t put away the tools in the Workshop because the Elves and me where too excited to eat some of Mrs. Claus’ freshly baked cookies and then go and play in the snow to build a HUGE snowman… well, because we had not put everything away, when we went back to work on the toys for all of the children – including yours – we couldn’t find ANYTHING. It was a near disaster. We spent so much time and energy trying to find things because we didn’t take the few minutes to complete the job in the first place. I learned my lesson, Kayden so I hope you can learn from me so you don’t need to go through that.

Speaking of things you can do, wow!!---- Swimming: you are becoming a fish, Kayden!!  And, you are running so fast when you play soccer. I am so proud of you. Your skills are improving with both activities but most importantly, you are having fun!!

Your writing and letters are improving so much as well. Keep concentrating on your letters; I would love to receive some words in your letter next year, Kayden. That would make your letter to me extra special.  Can you keep practicing your letters and spelling for me? But know – you are not just practicing for me, you will be so proud of yourself; learning new things is a special gift you have the ability to give yourself every day!

I must continue writing letters and preparing for the big day but please have a wonderful Christmas, Kayden! Can you be sure to give your brother a birthday hug from me as well?

Love,
Santa

Sunday, December 18, 2016

6 Questions to Ask Your Child Every Day

I asked my 4 year old for a list of his favourite things. His responses were surprising. The simplicity and authentic responses are inspiring:
  1. Making friends
  2. Fighting monsters
  3. Eating Popcorn
  4. Making apple juice 
  5. Cuddling with Mommy - EVERY DAY
  6. Watching my brother's iPad
  7. The bear story: Baby Baby, Baby Bear, What do you see?
... had he not seen his brother's iPad in the background, I am not sure this would have made the list. That said, he is now distracted by a matching game and cheering himself on as he randomly pairs Pokemon cards. "Mom, the game told me I am AWESOME!" Yes, buddy --- you are awesome. Very awesome.

This got me reflecting on the questions we ask our children; the perceived responses we might have and; other questions and responses - the dialogue - with my children I thrive on experiencing each and every day.


We have a routine at the dinner table:
1. How was your day?
2. What did you do today?

By asking this question in routine, the responses have become overwhelming but exciting. We receive the ultimate play-by-play, i..e
"I woke up. I came downstairs. I ate cereal for breakfast. I walked to school. I got to school. I put my backpack down. I walked around at school. The bell rang. 'Ring! Ring!' I went in my class. I put my backpack down. I put my indoor shoes on. Wait. I took off my boots and then I put my indoor shoes on..."

3. How did that make you feel? 
Whether a situation they are describing it something that make them happy, sad, frustrated, angry. We have them connect these emotions with the situation. You see, my oldest has anxiety (read more here -- I also talk about parenting the self-punishing child here) and any opportunity to discuss his emotions and learn during moments of pauses versus in the heat of the moment, it something we welcome.

4. What was your favourite part of your day?

5. What did you learn today?

And, of course:

6. Do you want to dance? 


Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Review: American Housewife

"The wealthy town of Westport, Conn., is full of cookie-cutter mommies and their seemingly perfect offspring, but the members of the Otto family can't be counted among them. Confident housewife Katie Otto shares a home with her husband, Jeff, and their three children Taylor, Harrison and Anna-Kat, and while she loves them all dearly, she recognizes they probably aren't going to land themselves in a magazine spread anytime soon. The matriarch knows her family is beautifully flawed, and she's far from sorry." (Wilkipedia, December 15, 2016)

In short, all moms should watch. You'll find yourself nodding and laughing with the presentation of real-life circumstances. The writers maintain consistent humour while casually touching on some more serious subject matters. Sure, some of the humour may be offensive to some but - sadly - it is the presentation of reality. The constant stereotyping and hypocrisy of the Katie does not get lost and for that reason (combined with intermittent stronger language), I would suggest this is not appropriate as a family show; rather, one to watch with your girlfriends. Provided you don't take this show seriously, you can sit back, relax and enjoy. 


________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe on You Tube:
Connected to You Tube after our (then) 5 year old continuously expressed interest in making his own videos. We stumbled onto some remarkable benefits -  most significantly - supporting our child's speech development. Creating the videos allows him to listen back and see if he thinks others are understanding him. The support through him seeing comments and "thumbs up" reminds him of the importance of clarity and annunciation...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

20+ Simple but AWESOME Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids!

When it comes to the stocking, we are keen on small traditions and fostering some activities to help calm the excitement of the day. When it comes to affordable, and useful stocking stuffers, pick 10 for this list and you are set! Let just get right to it.. I have included links to products from Amazon so you could actually complete for stocking holiday shopping right now!

>>> The nice thing about online shopping, apart from avoiding the crowds, you can set a firm budget and it seems to be easier to stick to! From the list below, you can fill a fun stocking for $20... or more depending on the specific products.

Amazing Stocking Stuffers for Children - you'll both love!!
  1. Card Game/Playing Cards
  2. Dice - standard or learning dice
  3. Travel Style Board Game
  4. Book
  5. Bookmark - or pick up a bookmark craft set from the Dollar Store
  6. Colouring Book/Activity Book
  7. Crayons/Markers
  8. Shopkins or Pokemon Cards - these items can be individually wrapped to have some extra fun on Christmas morning!
  9. Water Bottle
  10. Puzzle
  11. Toothbrush
  12. Bubble Bath/Shampoo
  13. Stickers/Temporary Tattoos
  14. Hot chocolate mix
  15. Cookies/chocolate/candy
  16. Socks
  17. Lego Minifigurines
  18. Sport Ball  
  19. Christmas Ornament - a craft kit from an arts/craft store like Michael's or a personalized ornament are great options! 
  20. Orange --- if our family the stocking always included a Christmas orange (or three for a healthy morning snack!)
See the excitement of our kids opening their stocking last year in these quick videos - each are less than a minute:
 


Thanks for stopping by! From our family to yours, happy holidays! Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo

Thursday, November 24, 2016

50 lunch options as good as ice cream!

Scrambling for lunch ideas and faced with some adversity, i.e.:
  • your kid does not eat sandwiches
  • you're in a peanut-free environment
  • heating foods up or refrigerating foods during the day is not an option
  • you need something simple -- minimal (if any) prep involved
Here are over 50 kid-tested AND APPROVED snacks to have on hand for kids and lunches for just that circumstance!


A little prep on Sunday, dividing items into Ziploc bags, small Tupperware containers or a bento-style plastic container... pick - or let your child pick - 4 items from this list (perhaps 2 fruit/veggies, 1 protein, 1 carb) and you're set!

Fruit/Veggies
  1. Carrot sticks
  2. Cucumber slices
  3. Sliced red peppers
  4. Green beans
  5. Sliced or diced melon
  6. Grapes
  7. Apples
  8. Oranges
  9. Pear
  10. Banana
  11. Nectarine
  12. Broccoli (& dip)
  13. Sliced or diced mango 
  14. Peach
  15. Pineapple (I divide up a can into small tupperware containers for the week)
  16. Strawberries
  17. Blueberries
  18. Blackberries 
  19. Raspberries
  20. Dried cherries --- or fresh, pitted, cherries if you're up for it
  21. Seaweed --- you might be surprised!... nearly all children in my son's class ages 3-6 eat and LOVE seaweed
  22. Salad kit - lettuce, dressing, croutons & my 4 year old preps at school
  23. Corn (I divide up a can of corn kernels and my 4 year old loves them cold) 
  24. Sunrype dried fruit bar
  25. Raisins
  26. Dried pineapple
  27. Dried mango
  28. Craisins
Protein
  1. Yogurt -- freeze yogurt tubes and they are thawed by lunch
  2. Cheese
  3. Hard boiled egg
  4. Sliced or diced ham 
  5. Sliced turkey
  6. Sliced chicken breast
  7. Chicken nuggets/popcorn chicken in a thermos 
Carbs
  1. Fish crackers
  2. Ritz cheese sandwich crackers
  3. Any other variety of cracker
  4. Bread slices or bread with butter
  5. Macaroni in a thermos
  6. Spaghetti noodles with Parmesan in a thermos 
  7. Snack pretzels
  8. Cold pancakes
  9. Muffin
  10. Cinnamon roll 
  11. Crescent roll
  12. Pita bread
  13. Naan bread
  14. Tortilla roll 
  15. Cold pizza
  16. Fresh German-style pretzel
  17. Dry cereal
  18. Granola bar
Do you have items to add? Comment below!

Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Message for Mommas: Be Proud

There's a lot we can learn from our children: pride in the simple things - for one!!  My son built a single-block tower with Duplos nearly the size of himself and check out that smile!  Have you taken a moment today to be proud of a simple accomplishment?


Mommas, take this quick note as a reminder to pause, breathe and learn from your children. Be proud of the simple things: your children are safe and happy. That --- is enough. 

 ________________________________________

As much as we hear this message, I find -  as moms - we still don't take a minute to pause and give ourselves some credit. Not just give ourselves a break but give ourselves some credit. Rather then keep trying to check off the 562 boxes from the unwritten list that we have set out for the day --- you know that list that often seems oblivious to those around us?! --- take a minute to reflect on a small, simple thing you have done.

My husband and I had this discussion recently. I am seemingly the eternal optimist and he has been more of a pessimist. But, we have reached a crossroads where the influence of positivity is having a notable impact on our marriage. The ability to shift perspective to focus on the successes and achievements is transforming our marriage: the recognition from simple awareness and that moment of pause to --- taking the moment to be proud yields a meaningful impact - and that is empowering.

This photo of my son and the discussion with my husband also helped me reflect on the need, as a mom, to not simply pause as a strategy in self-care but to take a minute to be proud. I encourage you to take even 15 seconds to stop what you are doing during the day and just breathe. Then, reflect on one thing - no matter how seemingly small - and give yourselves some credit.

Look at that smile in my son's face... I hope he got your smiling, too! Accomplishments are not something to be swept under the rug. Put down the broom. Breathe. Be proud of the simple things: your children are safe and happy. That --- is enough.

Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo