Happy Thanksgiving Canada

The Hands On This Turkey Remind Us To Be Thankful For More Than Just The Food That We Eat...

The Hands On This Turkey Remind Us To Be Thankful For More Than Just The Food That We Eat…

Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey and stuffing. It is truly a time to appreciate everything we have in our lives. Gratitude is something we can never show enough of. So, take a moment this Thanksgiving with your family let everyone reflect on all they have to be grateful for in their life. While you are sitting down for dinner or after dinner by the fire have everyone share some of the things they love about their life. It will always create a precious memory and everyone will feel great afterwards.

Some of the things I am Grateful For….

Fresh Cranberries From The Field For Our Cranberry Jelly

Fresh Cranberries From The Field For Our Cranberry Jelly

  • I am thankful for my family who has taught me so much about life.
  • My wise husband who helps me see the humorous side of life.
  • My children for teaching me so much about love, patience and empathy
  • My perfect job that gives me the flexibility I need to juggle home, family, and work.
  • My friends for their love support and shoulder to cry on when needed.
  • My parents who taught me from a young age the power of thinking positive and how what I envision in my life I will create.
  • My brother for his love and patience with me even when I didn’t deserve it.
  • My kid’s elementary school which through the years has taught me to speak out, organize events, and given me a sense of community unlike any other school I have been too.
  • Karma for what we put out in this world really does come back to us tenfold. Keep it good.
  • My home and neighbourhood so full of fun and friendships.

There is so much to be grateful for in our lives if we just stop and appreciate it once and a while we will feel so much better about ourselves and our lives.

Family Game Nights

Great Idea For A Cold Winter's  Night...

Great Idea For A Cold Winter’s Night…

With the sun setting earlier and evenings getting colder Winter is fast approaching and family activities are starting to move indoors. I don’t know about you but if my family had their way they would be watching shows, video gaming, painting or reading all winter long. All great activities but sometimes a change is good. Last year we started a new activity to mix things up a bit.

Once a month we would host a Family Games Night at our house. The kids would invite their friends over and some of our neighbours would drop by with their kids. Everyone would bring a snack to share to keep it simple and we would have a massive Family Games Night. There would be Wii Just Dance livening up the basement, Dominos, Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Aggravation, Apples to Apples, Charades and any other game you can think of to play. Games nights quickly became a family and friend favourite. Everyone had such a great time and all ages could participate. It was the perfect “What to do” on a Winter Night solution.

Family games nights became so popular we started hosting them more frequently throughout the winter months. If you have never tried one I would highly recommend it. They are a fun way to brighten up the greyness of winter and bring some fun and laughter into your home.

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.

Sibling Babysitting “Star System”

Sibling Babysitters... How Can You Keep The Peace When You Are Not AtHome?

Sibling Babysitters… How Can You Keep The Peace When You Are Not AtHome?

The Sibling Babysitting “Star System” works by giving the oldest child an opportunity to receive monetary compensation for being a responsible babysitter and taking respectful care of their siblings while offering incentives to the younger siblings to behave and listen to their older sibling babysitter.

Most children are not ready to take on the responsibility of babysitting until they are close to 11 years old. Once they are comfortable staying home alone you can start to prepare them to babysit their siblings? Before I let my children babysit I felt it was important for them to have taken the Babysitting Course offered by the Canadian Red Cross . The program teaches everything they need to know about safety and caring for children from babies to preteen so that they can be prepared for almost any situation that could come up during their time of babysitting.

Once your child has taken the Babysitting Course you can start giving them short trial runs with their siblings. When my oldest daughter Marie first started babysitting I would have her look after Anya and James while I was home doing something else or working in the garden. They all had a chance to experience the responsibility of staying on their own without being completely alone. This helped Marie become more comfortable with her roll of being the responsible babysitter and Anya & James to get used to treating their sister as a care giver instead of a sibling.

Babysitting Star System:

Before leaving the oldest completely in charge of their siblings do your best to set them up for success by sitting everyone down and reviewing the house rules…

Younger Siblings:

  • Would have the opportunity to earn between 0 and 3 Stars each time they were babysat. If they were really good and listen to their Sibling babysitter they could earn 3 Stars. If they misbehaved, didn’t listen or started a fight they would receive less Stars.
  • Their older sibling will let you know how they behaved and listened  while you were out then tell you how many stars he/she felt they deserved when you got home. Once they reached 15 Stars they would earn $15 towards a new toy or maybe an activity they would like to do. (go bowling or see a movie with mom or dad etc). If they wanted to save the stars up for something bigger that was ok too.
  • Explain to them that while you are out their older brother or sister is in charge and responsible for them not just their sibling. It is important they listen and respect him/her when asked to do something as it is his/her job to keep them safe.
  • Absolutely no Fighting- they need to work hard to keep the peace. If they feel themselves getting angry it is ok to go hang out in their room for a bit till they cool down or they can call you to help fix the issue.
  • If they do choose to get into a fight and can’t work it out themselves they would lose 1-2 Stars depending on how bad the fight was. If I ever had to be called home to deal with the fight they would automatically lose all their stars for that day and have to do a service for me once they had calmed down to make up the difference between the time I should have come home and the time I had to come home. (ie. if I was out for an hour and had to come home after only ½ an hour they would each have to do a ½ hour of laundry folding or some other chore with me to make it up to me) They would also have to do a service for each other (even if it was folding each other’s laundry) to make up for being disrespectful with one another. This one worked really well as an incentive to get along with each other and keep the peace.

Older Sibling Babysitter:

  • Explain to them it is important to treat their sibling(s) with respect just like they would someone else’s child while you are out. It is not okay to be bossy or mean with them. He/She is in charge and need to show you they can be responsible enough to handle it.
  • He/She would have the opportunity to earn a “Family” rate of hourly pay for taking respectful care of their younger siblings. I usually set the “Family” rate a few dollars less than the going babysitting rates. After all they were still learning the job and the service they were providing for me was also a way for them to contribute to the household. I was still paying for their food, shelter, clothing etc.
  • For example, their rate of pay could be set from a range of say $0-$5 dollars per hour depending on how they did as a babysitter. When you get home their siblings will report to you how they were treated and if he/she was respectful with them and nice when asking them to do things they would receive full pay. If he/she had been mean, started a fight or picked on their siblings their rate of pay would go down accordingly. If one of his/her siblings had to call you home because their older sibling had started a fight depending on what happened they may get paid nothing. If this ever happened in our home Marie would also have to do a service for me and her siblings to make up for it. Good incentive for keeping the peace and being respectful with her younger siblings.
  • If there were any fights he/she should call you immediately and the two fighting would have to deal with the consequences when you got home and sorted everything out.
  • Make sure he/she knows where the list of all emergency phone numbers including your cell number and a trusted neighbour’s numbers are. The best place to keep this list is on a bulletin board in the kitchen or near the phone for easy access. I would always make sure a close neighbour they knew would be home when I went out so if there was an emergency Marie could call me or run next door for help.

It helps to set up a quiet activity before leaving so you know the children will be occupied while you are out. When my kids were little, they didn’t watch a lot of TV during the daytime. On the days I was going out I would save their TV time and let them watch a movie while I was out. Before I left I would set them up well away from each other in separate chairs. I would give them each their own drink and snacks and turn on the show just as I was leaving. Then I knew I would have at least an hour to an hour and a half to shop or run errands while they were enjoying their show. In all the times Marie babysat Anya and James for me I was only called home once to deal with a fight that had gotten out of control. The Sibling Babysitting “Star System” works! It gives everyone incentive to choose to be cooperative and respectful with each other so they all come out Winners!

Sibling Babysitting: Step One – Preparing Your Child To Be Left Home Alone…

When Is My Child Ready To Stay Home Alone?

When Is My Child Ready To Stay Home Alone?

Welcome back everyone! I have missed blogging but a holiday is always a good thing bringing us back rested and ready to go. Hope you all had a fabulous summer!
So, let’s get started!

Have any of you wondered when you could finally leave your child home alone safely? How long you would have to wait before your oldest was ready to babysit his/her siblings or being the way they fight while you are home if they will ever be ready to be left at home alone together?

Having young children can make it really challenging to get out and do anything without taking your children with you wherever you go. A task as simple as grocery shopping can be a challenge. I remember trying to grocery shop with my three children when they were younger. My cart was always twice as full because they would add their preferences when I wasn’t looking. There was always an argument over who could push the cart, ride on the cart or help mommy shop and sometimes we didn’t even make it into the store because one or the other was having a meltdown in the car. I couldn’t wait until my oldest child was finally old enough to babysit. What a relief! I could run errands by myself!

Then came different concerns… What if my other children didn’t listen to her? What if she wasn’t respectful with them? What if there was an emergency? All kinds of things could go wrong while I was out and I wanted to make sure she was prepared.

Well over the next couple of weeks I will share some of the tips that worked for me when my children were younger and I finally felt they were ready to take on more responsibility and be on their own.

Staying Home Alone:

The first step to prepare your child for babysitting is to teach them how to be home alone safely by themselves and feel comfortable staying alone. You can do this on your own by going over all the rules, teaching your child what to say on the phone, how to answer the door or not to answer the door etc. Hopefully your child will listen attentively to you. However, if they are anything like my children their mind will be on something completely different like their next Mindcraft move or art project. Everything I say will go in one ear and out the other.

I have noticed over the years that if important information comes from an outside source be it a teacher, coach or mentor my kids will listen. So, when my oldest daughter Marie was 10 years old I enrolled her into the Home Alone Program available through the Canada Safety Council.  The program is now also available online  allowing you to go through the program with your child at home if you choose. The course taught her everything she needed to know about being home alone safely. What to do in emergencies, basic first aid, how to answer the door, what to say when answering the phone and how to enter and leave the house safely. It covered everything I had been teaching her and more and she listened because it didn’t come from mom or dad.

At first I would leave her by herself for short periods of time until she was comfortable being home by herself. It didn’t take her long. Being the oldest she was ready before I was and loved having her independence. It was really nice to go shopping with only two children instead of three and it gave Marie a chance to get used to being home on her own for short periods of time. I always made sure she had my cell number handy and a close by trusted neighbour was home so she could contact someone in an emergency. Once your oldest child is comfortable staying home alone you are ready to start preparing them for babysitting their siblings.

Next week I will share the Babysitting “Star System” that worked for me when my eldest started babysitting her brother and sister. The Star System helped to keep the peace amongst my children while I was away and ensure that everyone was respectful with each other and house rules were followed. Have a great week!

Summer Fun!

Loving Those Summer Cherries!

Loving Those Summer Cherries!

Cherry Season

Picking
Chilling
Cleaning
Eating
Boxing
Stemming
Eating
Pitting
Drying
Eating
Pies
Jam
Jelly
Eating
Purple
Everywhere

                               ©Karen 2014

Just Watch Out For Those Pits.

Just Watch Out For Those Pits.

Ok, so Summer has been a little busy. It is good to take a break from everything. Took all the kids out cherry picking and came back with 80 pounds of cherries. I think my fingers are permanently purple. Decided to take the next couple of weeks off to relax. Thank you for checking out my blog and don’t worry I’ll be back. I will catch up with you all again in September when we explore the possibilities of Sibling Babysitters and ways to keep the peace at home when while Mom and Dad finally get out for a Date night!

Have a wonderful Summer!

Cheers Karen

Family Road Trips…

Nothing Like A Hot Summer And A Family Road Trip!

Nothing Like A Hot Summer And A Family Road Trip!

Summer is always a great time for family road trips. Whether it is to go camping, see family or just a favourite destination, a family road trip is always an adventure. An adventure filled with conversations like” Are we there yet?” “I have to go pee.” “I am hungry.” “Can we stop now?” “How much longer till we get there?” and the dreaded “I feel sick mommy”, two seconds before they puke all down the front of themselves, their seats, the seat in front of them and the floor of the car.

One time when I was little my dad who was driving the freeway and couldn’t pull over in time told me to stick my head out the window when I got carsick. You can imagine what the side of our white car looked like after I was finished. It took dad 20 minutes in the car wash to clean it off. Needless to say we carried an ice cream bucket and lid in the car from then on.

Once I had my own family every summer we would pack up our kids into the family vehicle and tackle the 9-10 hour road trip to see my parents. When the kids were little it would take us 12-13 hours with feeding and rest stops. Now they are older and seasoned road trippers we can do it in 8½ to 9 hours. We have always found the earlier we leave the better, before they are conscious enough to start asking the endless list of travel questions. Being older helps too as they can follow the map on their own instead of asking us. Here is a list of some of the things we have tried to help our road trips go a little smoother…

Family Road Trip Tips

• When traveling with babies leave right after the first feeding of the day.
When Marie was a baby my husband and I used to leave right after the 4:30 AM feeding. Everything was dark for a while so she would sleep 4 to 5 hours with the motion of the car. Providing we kept the music on low, and didn’t stop. It was like a race to see how far we could get before the next feeding.
• Fill the gas tank the night before and pack the car ready to go.
Then in the morning you can just quickly throw in the kids and any last minute things and you are off before they have a chance to fully wake up.
• Always pack activities for the kids to do! Bored kids become whinny kids!

Each child should have their own back pack so they don’t have to share toys. We would always pack books for those that could read without getting motion sickness, games, small toys like Lego or magnets they could build with in their seats, toy cars or Barbies (you would be amazed how long they will play, before they know it you will be there) and as a last resort the Ipad or portable DVD player with a bunch of kid friendly shows. Even better is to purchase a new movie for them they haven’t seen before so they can watch it for the first time on the road.
• Keep ‘em separated as much as possible and as far away from each other as you can in a confined vehicle.
If you have two kids in the back seats put the pillows in the middle. The best Solution we had was a Mini Van where they could each have their own row of seats. The two that got along the best got to share the back row.
• Always be prepared for motion sickness. The one time you are not prepared it will happen.
We tried everything from giving my son ginger ale, acidophilus, or candied ginger to help settle his motion sickness. He usually did pretty good until we hit the twisty mountain roads then he would reach for his bucket. The only thing that worked was giving him Children’s Gravol.
• Always, always pack a bucket with a lid on it and keep it close by.
Ice cream buckets even a yogurt tub would do. One time we forgot and my son had to throw up in his pillow to prevent a big mess in the car. If you don’t need the bucket for someone being sick you can always use it as a garbage bucket later in the trip.
• Bring along a package of baby wipes no matter how old your kids are.
My kids are teenagers and we still pack the baby wipes on our car trips. They are handy for wiping dirty hands and cleaning up small messes.
• Never rush a road trip with kids.
Accept the fact that you will never be there on time and allow an extra couple of hours to get to your destination. Relax, take lots of breaks in areas where there is a playground so the kids can run and burn off some of their excess energy.

I wonder if there is there such a thing as a perfect road trip? If you have experienced one I would love to hear about it. You could also share some of your worst road trip stories too. I bet there are some good tales out there. Please feel free to leave a comment and share yours. Remember wherever your destination this summer just relax and enjoy the ride. The whole family will arrive much happier and more peaceful than if you try and rush the trip. Drive safe everyone!

Time

Time...Is There Ever Enough?

Time…Is There Ever Enough?

  Time

Like a jet, it speeds
Rushing, running, nothing more
Blink a new day dawns

Wow! Summer is almost half over and I am still waiting for it to start! It’s time to stop doing and make time to just be. To quit running around and stop to enjoy the gardens and nature around me before they are finished blooming. To meditate more and live in the moment instead of on a rollercoaster; To still time and be present with me… Ahhhh can you feel it time just slowed down. Breathe….in 2,3,4 out 2,3,4 and again. I think I have just come back to my present moment. Of course this can only be accomplished late at night after all the kids have gone to bed or first thing in the morning before they get up. Find your present moment this summer and pause to enjoy it! Good luck everyone.

Do’s and Don’ts Of Raising Children

As Parents We Are Learning All The Time. There Is No Right Or Wrong Only Different Ways To Try Something.

As Parents We Are Learning All The Time. There Is No Right Or Wrong Only Different Ways To Try Something.

My children are growing up so fast. I was reflecting today on some of the moments we have shared and lessons I have learned over the years. Some are total common sense others are moments where I probably should have been paying a bit more attention and somethings one can only learn through experience……

Don’t assume a fussy baby is always hungry. They may just have a tummy ache and you can make it worse by overfeeding them. Then they will cry all night long.

Don’t be afraid to admit to your child when you are wrong. It is good for children to see and hear their parents are not perfect.

Don’t think you can go on long car rides with a young child susceptible to carsickness without “Gravol” or a bucket. You will be cleaning up Puke Messes every time.

Don’t treat or speak to your child in any way you would not want to be treated or spoken to yourself. Just because they are Little does not mean they deserve less respect.

Don’t let your 18 month old child go to the top of the highest slide in the park without someone standing behind her. She may fall all the way down to the bottom of the ladder because she all of a sudden changed her mind as you were waiting at the bottom to catch her.

Don’t let your baby eat the sand on the beach. They will survive but sand is dirty and they will have a gritty bottom for days afterwards.

Don’t let your teenage child play with tin cans full of sand at the beach. They will probably get a sliced finger and need medical attention.

Don’t tie two boats together with you and your young children and go floating down a river. Even though the children have lifejackets on, rivers have many sweepers and can be unpredictable. You never know what might happen.

Don’t take your children with you in the car to pick up large furniture. You may have nowhere for them to sit on the way home and be stranded at the store.

Don’t think you can discipline two children in the same way. Nothing is that simple they have different personalities.

Don’t make promises to your child you can not keep. They will lose faith in you and feel it is ok for them to break their promises to you.

Don’t be afraid to do a service for your child if you have been too harsh with them or said something to make them feel bad unintentionally. It teaches them we all make mistakes and we can all do something to make it better.

Do…

Give services as consequence when your child has misbehaved or hurt someone. It allows them to make up for a wrong doing and feel better about themselves.

Take your child to the see a show or a play in the Theatre once in a while. It teaches them to appreciate culture other than TV and video games.

Make sure your children get to spend time with their grandparents. They are important people with a world of knowledge and love to share.

Tuck your child in every night when they are young and lay with them for a few minutes. It is amazing what is shared with you about their day in the quiet moments before sleep.

Make up bedtime stories to share with your child. They will love listening to them and you can add lessons into the story to help your child learn more about life.

Have your child help out around the house. It teaches them skills they will need later in life, builds confidence and helps them to feel they are a useful member of the family.

Take your child camping and out in nature. It teaches them to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around them.

Pick up any garbage you see in nature. Your child will learn to take care of their environment through watching you.

Make time to have tea parties after school with your children once in a while. They will love the treat and it gives you a moment to connect with them on their day.

Always make the effort to eat dinner as a family. It is a time to connect with each other and is great family bonding time.

Stick up for your young child and others and help them work out their fights. A child cannot learn how to work through or avoid an argument unless they are shown the skills to do so.

Take naps with your babies and young children. They are some of the best cuddle moments you will ever have with them.

Get involved with your child’s school even if it is in small ways. It’s not only shows you care but you will know much more about what goes on in their day from the people you meet at the school.

Take time to play and be goofy with your child. They will treasure those moments the most.

Tell your children you love them every day. They need to hear it from you many times to believe it.

Forgive your child for what they do or say when they are angry. They don’t mean it. Anger is a very difficult emotion to control and it is good to remember they are still learning as are we.

Be gentle with yourself and your child. Remember every moment is a teachable moment. You may both learn from each experience and do things differently the next time. We are all doing the best we can with what we know in this moment, next time we will know a little more.

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.

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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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