Looking For Something Different To Hand Out This Halloween?

Over the years I have seen a lot of candy come home with my children after an evening of Trick or Treating. Sometimes, we would get little surprises in their treat bags, when people had given out something more creative. There have been Halloween pencils, Dracula teeth or mini decks of cards pop out over the years. One year they all came home with a brand new toothbrush thanks to a dentist living in the area. I loved that one although they were not quite as excited about it. The best was when my son was about four years old and came home with a Doctor’s Kit. I was totally surprised and my son was thrilled! It meant more to him than any of the candy and he played with it long after the candy was gone.

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Turned out one of the families in the neighbourhood had collected all the small toys their children did not use any more and put them in a large bin to give out on Halloween to the children they knew. There was everything from small stuffed animals, toy cars, trucks, Barbies, small books, bouncy balls, dolls, restaurant toys and whatever else they could find stuffed into the bins for kids to choose from when they came trick or treating. The neighbourhood kids loved it and their house quickly became a must stop every Halloween Night!

I thought it was a brilliant idea, not only was it healthier for the neighbourhood children collecting treats but the house got a good clean out at the same time. I tried it the next year with the surplus toys my children were finished with. They were happy to let them go especially when they realized their toys were going to a new home and not just being tossed. We would sort through their rooms together before Halloween and they could choose what they wanted to pass on. The smiles and surprised looks their old toys brought to some of their friends coming to our door made it all worth while. We always had a little bit of candy to give out too just in case the parents didn’t want their child to have another toy!

HOMEWORK BLUES!

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

Does your child get overwhelmed when facing a pile of homework? Do they sometimes melt down and take forever to get it finished? Do you sometimes wonder if you could do it for them just to avoid the stress of them doing it? If you answered yes to any of these questions then please read on…

 

The first couple of years in intermediate classes can be tough for kids.  The work gets more challenging, teachers assign more homework and projects expecting more detail, things are harder to understand and grades really start to matter. It can be overwhelming for kids to go from having a little bit of homework in grade 3 to a lot in grade 4 depending on who their teacher is.

I remember when my kids were in grade four and five. They would get so overwhelmed with homework that sometimes I wished I could just do it for them so I could stop fighting with them and  just get it out of the way. Of course that wasn’t the answer, the answer was to help them establish a routine so the homework would get done and not feel like such a chore.

Homework Routine:

Make sure your child brings everything home:

Right when you pick them up from school, before they get to play on the playground have a quick read through their School Planner to see what homework your child is supposed to bring home that day. Then have your child check his/her backpack to make sure it is all in there.

This routine has always paid off because 9 times out of 10 my kids have had to run back into the school to get the books or homework sheet they had forgotten. Five minutes on the playground saved me countless trips back to the school after we got home to retrieve the missing pieces of homework and believe me when we forgot to check, we did have to go back.

Give your child a break:

Kids are tired when they first get home from school. They have been working hard all day so having them sit down again and do homework as soon as they get home might not produce the best results. Every child is different some children will need to have a run around break outside or some downtime maybe watching a quiet show or computer time for half an hour before they get into their homework. Other children will want to get started right away and get it done so they can do what they want later. Let your child help plan their evening so they can be the most productive with their time.

Make time for a Healthy Snack:

Making time in your child’s break for a healthy snack is so important. A healthy afterschool snack will rejuvenate your child and give them the energy needed to get started on their homework.  Sit together and have tea or hot chocolate and some healthy brain food snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, mixed nuts or my kids favourite a grilled cheese sandwich. The time together will give you the opportunity to discuss your child’s day, any homework they have and together you can come up with a plan to get it finished.

Getting down to business The Homework Zone:

It helps to set your child up for success. Have a quiet area for them to study in and preferably at this age somewhere you are close by if they have any questions. The kitchen table was and the most popular spot in our home. I could make dinner and my kids could ask questions if they didn’t understand something. Make sure they have all the papers necessary to do the work in front of them before they start.

Review the instructions with your child:

Before starting their homework review the instructions with them so they are clear on what has to be done. Kids will work much faster knowing exactly what they are supposed to be doing than if they have to continually go back to the instructions and figure it out. This is especially important when tackling math homework. If you review the examples of the questions at the beginning of the chapter in their textbook before they start their math homework everything will be fresh in your child’s mind as they work through the problems. Teach them to focus on one subject at a time with a 5 minute mini break in between subjects so that they can re-energize themselves for the next subject.

Having trouble getting your child to study their spelling words? Try putting a little dry “Jello” powder mix on a plate or tray, spread it out and let them practice writing their words with their finger. Worked for my kids every time.

Get everything ready for the next day:

Once your child is finished their homework have them place it immediately into their backpack ready to go back to school the next day. Nothing will get forgotten at home and they will have it ready to hand into their teacher.

Remember Good study skills are an excellent practice for your child to learn now and will only benefit them in the long run. When they get to High School and have to study for exams they will thank you. The more study skills you can teach them now the better prepared they will be later on in life.

Take Your Children To The Garden!

Nothing Like A Beautiful Garden To Bring Joy Into Your Day!

Nothing Like A Beautiful Garden To Bring Joy Into Your Day!

Summer gardens are so beautiful and they have amazing energy. They are alive with bug adventures and blooming flowers. Ever felt a little down and then wandered into a garden with all the flowers blooming, butterflies dancing, and a cool breeze to sweep away any sad feelings. It is hard to have any emotion other than joy when you are in a pretty garden. One time I was walking down the street and came up to a flower store with a beautiful display of fresh cut bouquets. Just standing in front of the display lifted my spirits.

When my children were little and fussing I would sometimes pick them up and take them outside. We would walk around checking out the flowers and trees in our yard and area. They would stop crying and look around calming down almost instantly. Children live so in the moment they can shift moods very quickly. They would totally forget about what was bothering them and move into enjoying the nature around them. Nature is a great mood booster.

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, townhouse or house there are gardens everywhere in every city. Take a walk around the block to enjoy the neighbour’s gardens or go visit local parks & gardens in your area as much as possible. It is always a relaxing outing and everyone will feel energized and happier afterwards.

Love The Beach, Respect The Sun!

Never Underestimate The Power Of The Sun!

Never Underestimate The Power Of The Sun!

Ever spent the day at the beach? Hot sand, cool water and a breeze that feels like it is cooler than it is. Don’t let the breeze fool you the sun is much hotter than it looks. I know sunscreen is important but I am willing to admit I don’t always use it unless I am going to be spending a lot of time in the sun. My philosophy usually involves spending most of my time in the shade. I always have a sun hat and beach umbrella with me and am under it most of the time. We have had such a wet Spring this year I have not even thought to dig out the sun screen. When my son went to his first day of summer camp he was chastised for not having any sun screen with him. My bad, I didn’t even think about sending it with him. He was joking with us afterwards on how he went almost the whole day without having to wear sunscreen at the water park and did not even get burned.

The next day I had a beach day with my daughter Anya while James and his dad went golfing. It was a lovely day, beautiful, sunny and warm while the water was cool and refreshing. It was the most relaxing day I have had in a while. I sat in the shade of my umbrella, sometimes cold in the breeze and read my book and dozed. My teenage daughter read her book and enjoyed the warmth of the sunny day on the blanket beside me. It was the perfect lazy day.

A friend joined us in the afternoon and shared her sunscreen with us as I still had not found mine. For me it was too late. By the time my son and husband got back from golfing I was burned! Even though I had been in the shade of my umbrella all day I had gotten lobster red, and I mean cooked Lobster the kind that is really well done! The reflection of the sun off the water and sand had gotten to me anyway. I took my sunglasses off and my children started laughing at me and told me that I looked like a red raccoon. Great! I get to be the lesson as to why we put on our sunscreen before we leave the house! Better me than the kids I guess. Thank goodness for Aloe Vera Gel and Calendula Oil to sooth my burning skin. I thought my whole face was going to peel but the Calendula Oil kept it moist enough it was ok.

In the end it was a good lesson for the whole family. Never underestimate the power of the Sun! Needless to say I found my sun screen very quickly and the next day before going to summer camp my son asked to have his sun screen on so he wouldn’t look like mom.

Pennies Can Help With Bee Stings and More….

Can a Penny Help With Bee & Wasp Stings?

Can a Penny Help With Bee & Wasp Stings?

Ever hear the phrase “See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck”? My children’s grandma used to say that phrase all the time when we were out walking together and she would find pennies everywhere. My children loved the game and would be looking all over for their lucky penny. Now in Canada with the discontinuation of the penny it is getting harder and harder to find those lucky copper beauties. Make sure you keep a few though because sometimes they can come in really handy.

I cleaned a few of my old pennies and put a couple in a plastic bag with some band-aids for first aid use. They work really well on Bee and Wasp stings.

Wasp And Bee Stings Can Be Very Painful!

Wasp And Bee Stings Can Be Very Painful!

Just scrape the edge of the penny across the sting to remove the stinger then place the penny on top of the sting and cover it with the band-aid. The copper in the penny counteracts the sting taking away the pain and by the next day you should barely be able to see where the sting was. If someone is allergic though they may still need to seek medical attention. I tried this method out on my son when he got stung by a wasp we were both surprised how well it worked! Now I have penny bee sting kits in all my beach bags, purses, car and kids back packs so we are always prepared.

Putting a penny and a pinch of sugar in a vase with cut flowers will also help keep them fresh longer. The penny helps keep away the algae and the sugar will help to feed the flowers. I have heard a couple drops of bleach will do the same thing as the penny but I think the penny is better for the flowers.

I have a container full of pennies that I keep for various uses. My children have used pennies as game markers and when playing card games, counters for math problems at home and at school (my son’s grade 1 teacher had each student bring in 30 pennies in a small container to keep in their desk for use when they were studying math) and art projects – as part of a collage or one of the 100 days of school projects. However, I still think the best use for a penny is on a bee or wasp sting and they are worth keeping around for that reason alone if nothing else.
Happy Penny Collecting!

The Beach…Sun, Surf, & Sand Ahhhhhhh

Who Doesn't Love The Beach!

Who Doesn’t Love The Beach!

The Beach

People Passing,
Sand in shorts.
Running, Screaming
Laughter, snorts
Digging, playing
Buried feet.
Hands a flaying
Sun Beating
Water and mud
Buckets fly up
And land with a thud
Wind is blowing
Trees are shivering
Birds are singing
Water shimmering
Volleyball
Bikinis too
Lots of muscle
One lost shoe.
Hunting looking
Picking up toys
Time for home
Lots of noise
Pack the car
Everyone here?
Wait a minute
There’s sand in my rear.
©May 2005 Karen

Take your family to the beach with this summer. As you sit relaxing or playing with your children on the beach appreciate the joy and happiness being in nature brings to you and your family. From playing in the sand, splashing in the waves, collecting sea shells and other sea life children love everything about the beach. Bringing them to the beach teaches them to appreciate that we have such beauty in this world to enjoy and they will love that you took a moment to share it with them.

What a Father Teaches…

Kids with their Father

Today We Appreciate Our Dad!

In appreciation of Father’s Day today we sat down as a family and talked about what each of us learned from our Fathers. Here is a list what transpired….

Thank You Dad For…..

My gender chromosomes’
Teaching me how to throw a ball
To play baseball
Ride a bike
Fix my bike
To kayak
To fish
Shoot a bow and arrow
Race a go-cart
How a computer works
To build furniture and wood working
How to snowboard
To use words instead of fists when I’m angry
To stick with something until I’ve mastered it
To tell the truth except when keeping a secret from mom
An appreciation for music
How to survive the mosh pit at a concert
Smoking is stinky
Why I shouldn’t smoke
How to Belch words at the dinner table
How to pee in a bush
Leave my stinky socks on the living room floor or couch
To love the outdoors
My love for chocolate
To love camping and hiking

So, as I was writing down all of the fine things that my family thought their dad had taught them, I started thinking about what moms teach and it’s not nearly as exotic. Here is the Mom’s list

Things My Mother Taught Me…

To behave
To use my manners
Right from wrong
Practice makes Progress
When enough is enough
When to be quiet so mom can nap
Thursdays is always chore day
To clean a toilets
Wash the floors
Empty the dishwasher
Set the table
Wash and dry dishes
Make my bed
Clean my room
To do my laundry
To Always tell the truth
Burping words at the table is Not polite
Peeing in a bush is only a last resort
Stinky socks in the living room is Not OK
To increase the clutter while trying to decrease it
To get organized
To be a friend
Talk on the phone
Respect my siblings and others
Patience

Hmmmmm, it is quite the list, not nearly as exciting. I wonder why the Dads get all the fun jobs and the moms get all the work? Maybe we could trade a few just to switch it up a bit? 🙂 I guess in the long run it all goes together to create a wonderful loving family and isn’t that what being a parent is all about? Happy Fathers Day to all you Awesome Dads out there! I hope your day was the best!

Teach Your Children The Game Of Gratitude….

The Game Of Gratitude...It Can Change Our Life!

The Game Of Gratitude…It Can Change Our Life!

Ever wonder why things happen over and over in our lives. Good or bad if we focus on something and think about it all the time we will bring more of it into our lives. When I was younger and had just received my driver’s license I had a minor accident in my car. The memory of the accident created fear in me and I became over cautious. I would constantly be focused on close calls when driving, watching for them, hoping they wouldn’t happen. Well guess what, I got into another minor accident and it wasn’t even my fault. After three accidents I started thinking, maybe my fearful thoughts and focus on people hitting me was the problem. I changed my focus and every time I got into my car I would say, “Thank you for seeing me safely to my destination”. Sometimes if the fearful thoughts persisted I would chant the phrase in my head until I reached my destination. Each time I said the Gratitude phrase I could feel my energy change from one of caution and fear to one of peace and safety knowing I would arrive to my destination safely. I have never been in another accident and the Game of Gratitude was born.

I tried using the Game of Gratitude in other areas of my life too like parking spots. Whenever I am driving somewhere I say to myself, “Thank you for the perfect parking spot.” It works every time! The only time I have had to look for parking is when I forget to ask and be grateful for having it.

Whether we are expecting something good or bad the universe will make it happen! When my children were little I would play the Game of Gratitude with them. At dinner time we would go around the table and each person would share something good about their day. When my kids complained about something during the day I would ask them to come up with five positive things to say about it. If they were complaining about each other then each child would have to come up with five positive things about the other and share it with them. It taught my children to stop looking for the negative in people and situations and find the positive. Even if it was difficult in the beginning they got better at it and it became easier.

If they were being picked on in school, we would discuss different strategies they could use to deal with it. Then say a Gratitude Phrase morning and night, as well as whenever they thought about being hurt, “Thank you for keeping me safe at school!” and “Thank you for my fun, respectful friends.” The problem would usually go away after a couple of days because they no longer felt like a victim and were focused on having good relationships in their life. Very seldom would we have to take the next step of going in and talking to the school about the issue.

I taught my children to play the Game of Gratitude in all areas of their life. When they went to bed we would talk about things they were grateful for in their lives and list them off. We would discuss one thing they wanted to change in their day and come up with a Gratitude Phrase they could use to help make a difference for the next day. If there was a moment in their day where they were really struggling with I would have them close their eyes and visualize how they would have wanted the moment to go and to see themselves succeeding. The Game of Gratitude gave a positive focus to the end of their day and helped them settle into their nights rest.

We all worry about little things once in a while. The Game of Gratitude helps us put our worries aside and focus only on what we want in our lives. We can change our thoughts and create a happier life for our whole family!

To help you get started here are some of the Gratitude phrases my family has used in our lives…

Kids:

Thank you for seeing me safely to school.
Thank you for the excellent mark on my Science Test.
Thank you for my wonderful respectful friends.
Thank you for helping me ride my bike.
Thank you for my wonderful parents.
Thank you for my nice teacher.
Thank you for helping me hit the ball each time I bat.
Thank you for a better relationship with my brother.
Thank you for helping me to improve my dance routine. (or any other activity)
Thank you for seeing mommy/daddy safely home from work.

Parents:

Thank you for seeing child’s name safely home.
Thank you for seeing me safely to my destination.
Thank you for the abundance in my life.
Thank you for keeping my family safe.
Thank you for my perfect job.
Thank you for the harmony in my home.
Thank you for the perfect teacher for my child.
Thank you for guiding me to whatever you are looking for.
Thank you for my perfect health.

There are many more Gratitude Phrases out there if you have some you would like to share please feel free to leave a comment. It would be great to have a list for every situation!

Looking for a great book on Gratitude? Check out The Secret by Rhonda Byrne or check out the website Moments A Day for some Simple Gratitude games you can play with your kids!

Children Are Our Energy Sponges…

Kids Are So Innocent, What We Feel They Will Feel!

Kids Are So Innocent, Emotions We Feel, They Will Feel!

Ever wonder why when you are having a bad day your child/children seem to do everything they can to make it worse! I used to wonder if my kids acted up on purpose just to make my day go down hill. Then I started to pay attention to when they were misbehaving and how I was feeling at that moment. I noticed that when I was feeling angry or impatient about something my children behaved in the same way I felt. If I woke up in a bad mood, I would usually have a bad morning with my kids. When I was relaxed and happy my children were happier and didn’t act out or fight either. Maybe it wasn’t my children making my bad day worse at all. Maybe it was my own frustrated energy rubbing off on my children and making their day awful.

People are so in tune to energy that sometimes we pick up other peoples energy and then all of a sudden we feel different ourselves. We maybe having a totally great day then walk by someone who is feeling anxious or fearful and all of a sudden our mood changes and we are not even sure where it came from. Think about it, have you ever walked into a room and knew people had been arguing before you entered. I have and I could feel the tension in the room like it was solid matter. It can go the other way too like being around someone who is infectiously happy and everyone around them is happy too? We feel their energy and share it without even knowing we are doing it.

Once I started observing my energy changes I became more aware of my children’s. Children are so in tune with their environment they are like energy sponges. They feel our feelings coming from us and because they don’t know the difference they believe it is their own feelings. Our frustration makes them feel frustrated our joy makes them feel joyful. Over time I noticed that when I was having a good day my whole family had a good day. My kids hardly fought and everyone was much happier. Then too, when I had a bad day my frustration seemed to drag everyone’s energy down and my whole family was cranky. In being aware of my energy I was able to catch myself when I was feeling irritable and do something about it. Sometimes I would go for a walk with the kids outside to the park or if we were having a really bad day we would all do some down time together and meditate or rest. Everyone always felt better after a good nap.

So next time you’re having a bad day, try being aware of where your energy is at and do something to shift it into a more peaceful, happier place. If we take note of how we are feeling when our kids are misbehaving or cranky we can try doing something to help everyone feel better. Taking some quiet time to meditate, reading funny stories or having a family nap will help. Going outside for a walk in the forest or to a park in your neighbourhood will help because we pick up the good energy from the nature around us. Even sitting down and watching a funny show together can change the energy of the day to be happier and more joyful. One person’s awareness can make all of the difference in the world to the outcome of  your day.

Is Your Child Afraid of Going To The Dentist?

How Does Your Child Feel About Going To The Dentist?

How Does Your Child Feel About Going To The Dentist?

Is your child afraid of the dentist? Ever wonder how you could help make the trip to the dentist a little easier on them and on you? Let us start with how you feel yourself about going to the dentist? What are you thinking and what emotions do you have as you drive your child to the dentist? Maybe you are nervous or anxious about dentists yourself and worried how your child will react to getting their teeth cleaned or cavity filled. A totally normal reaction by the way, as we all know the dentist’s office is hardly anyone’s favourite place to be. Our children are energy sponges though, and whatever feelings we have when we are with them they experience those same feelings themselves even though they may not know where the feelings are coming from. They hear our anxiousness in our voice and feel it in our energy and become anxious and nervous themselves without even knowing why. Most dentists will not even let the parents in the back with their child because the child is more likely to act up with the parent there than when they are not. It is also worth it to take the time and find a dentist who is really good with children because they will know how to help your child feel comfortable during the appointment.

When my children were little and had to go to the dentist I always took the three of them together to save multiple trips back and forth. I simply told them it was time to get their teeth cleaned and if they were good the dentist would let them pick out a toy and give them a goodie bag at the end. I never spoke to them about what would happen, other than the dentist was going to use her special polisher and they would come out with nice clean teeth and a goody bag. Even though I wasn’t fond of the dentist either I would focus my energy on staying calm, keep my thoughts on visualizing my children having a good experience at the dentist and seeing them being peaceful and happy to go.

The dentist loved my kids. The three of them would walk into her reception area and fight over who could go first. I think it was a refreshing experience for her, one that didn’t happen very often. Of course it helped that she was a very good dentist and excellent with children. She also had a fun selection of toys for the kids to choose from so they couldn’t wait to finish their appointment to choose one.

Even when they had a cavity they loved to go. My oldest daughter Marie was 13 years old before she realized the dentist actually used a needle to freeze her mouth before drilling on her tooth. She thought it was just a little cotton swab with the freezing on it numbing her tooth all that time. The dentist used numbing gel on a cotton swab to numb the gum where the needle would go. Then she used her “Magic Wand” to inject the freezing into Marie’s mouth. The Wand as it is officially called is a computer guided anesthesia system. A small needle, easily hidden by a dentist finger is connected to an injection system to pulse the freezing into the gum so the patient barely feels it. The needle was so tiny Marie did not even realize she was being given one. I even requested the “Magic Wand” for myself and you really do not feel it as much as the needle. If your dentist doesn’t have one I would highly recommend suggesting they get one for their patients comfort.

We would always finish a trip to the dentist with a special treat. Sometimes I would take them to the Dollar Store near by and they could pick out a small toy or they could choose their favourite treat at the Starbucks to eat later. The treat gave them something to look forward to afterwards and ended the visit with some mommy time, something every child enjoys!

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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