Oh Boy…

I’ve been pretty absent lately and it’s not because nothing is happening.  Perhaps, in fact, it is because too namy things have been happening.

I am absolutely jammed at work.  My days are so busy that they fly by (which is a good thing!).  The best part is that my students are progressing in English!  Yes!!!  You see I teach a group of 13-15 year old students who have learning difficulties.  Specifically, most of my students are at about the level of 4th graders.  They have trouble with their mother tongue (French) so English is waaaaay far on their priority list.  BUT, so far, things are going smoothly and not only are they progressing beyond what I had though, but they are actually enjoying themselves.

Then, there’s the home front.  Amélie is now confidently walking (and climbing, and hiding inside cupboards and trying to do everything her big brother does).  She is seriously all over the place.  And she talks!  This surprised me because (even if I know I shouldn’t be comparing my children), Charles was only saying “water” and “mom” by 18 months whereas she has quite a few words in her vocabulary (“eat” being the most prominent one…).  She also recently started to cut her canines…all four of them…at the same time…at 13 (well, 14 now) months.  Sheesh!  She’s such a sassy little miss though and lights up any room she’s in.  Oh and she has rendered my plug protectors obsolete as she has figured out how to take them out of the plugs.


You guys have now been relegated to the state of “useless”.

Charles is doing really well too.  He is now able to dress himself (when he wants to…).  It’s always very apparent when he does so because his shirt, boxers and pants (and usually shoes/boots) are facing the wrong way, but boy oh boy is he proud when he surprises his father or I by getting out of his room all dressed.  He is also talking non stop and loves to sing.  “Row, row, row your boat” anyone?  He still has his tantrum up and downs, but they seem to be getting (if not less intense) further apart and shorter in duration.  Perhaps it’s just a placebo effect to my knowledge that he is going to be three (!) soon though.  We’ve been keeping up his swimming lessons and have really seen an improvement in the last few weeks.  He’s now able to float on his back unassisted and he’s able to put his whole head under water (which is wonderful because we used to get huge meltdowns when we got his face wet even a little).

By the way, for those of you who use the Allerject epinephrine injector in Canada, I received an e-mail yesterday stating that the company was issuing a voluntary recall of their devices because:

“The products have been found to potentially have inaccurate dosage delivery,” (source)

We’re not using an epinephrine injector anymore (thank goodness that Charles doesn’t need one anymore), but for those of you who are using Allerject, it might be worthwhile to look into with your pharmacist.

‘Till next time!

The Mathematics Behind Housekeeping As A Parent

My partner brought both kids with him this morning for grocery shopping.  This means that I got almost an hour and a half alone in the house to get some cleaning/washing done.  I was amazed at all that I was able to accomplish and realized that there was a very simple way to represent how children affect the amount of time it take to clean a house.

Mathematics behind housekeepingWhat do you think?  Does this sound about right to you?  Happy Saturday!

Write for me Wednesday: Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

First day of school

Your child’s early years are extremely critical in his/her development because it lays the foundation for being ready at life. And this is backed up by science. Recently, researchers have learned that the human brain develops expansively, and is most receptive to learning, between 0-3 years of age. This is why early education plays a big role.

This connection, this link between rapid brain development and peak learning receptivity has spawned many early childhood programs that incorporate books, videos, and activities to maximize this window. What’s great about this is you can now start preparing your children at home to make them successful later on, specifically for school. As a parent, there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see your child able to overcome challenges in his/her life.

Here are some practical ways to prepare yourself and your young ones to attend school for the first time.

Enrol your child to a day care or playgroup.

The closest thing to a structured and formal setting of a school is a day care or a playgroup. In that environment, your child will be able to learn new things and interact with different kinds of people—which he/she will be doing plentifully and more regularly at school.

When choosing a school, tag your child along.

A lot of uneasiness in a child stems from his/her inability to cope up with the sudden change in environment. That’s why it makes sense to let your child see which school he/she might go into before the “first day” starts. This will help your child get familiar with the place and the routine.

Share your own “first day” memories.

If your child already has a concept of “going to school” because you enrolled him or her in a day care, just keep reminding him/her what it was like. But if your child doesn’t have this frame of reference to keep him/her in check, then perhaps the best way to go at it is to share your own “first day” experiences. The very least that this could do is to help your child at setting expectations and that what he/she feels is completely normal. Dr. Diane Levin of Wheelock College said: “Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your child make a mental movie of what to expect. Kids form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school.”

Talk about “going to school” with your child more often.

Opening up the topic of “going to school” with your child more often can ease up the tension brought about by introducing a big shift in his/her life. Engage in conversation by question-and-answer will help your child imagine what school will be like, and this will also reveal what your child’s innermost thoughts about school are.

Start going to bed earlier.

One or two weeks before school begins, start practicing a stricter bedtime schedule with your child. This will help him/her cope up with the time demands of schooling. Begin by waking your child up 15 minutes earlier every day and going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.

Learn about the drop-off policy.

Most schools have a drop-off policy. Find out if they allow parents to walk their children into the classroom and how long they can stay. If you think your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher or administrator before the school starts. But I suggest that you stick to their policy if it won’t cause too much trouble.

Transform their nervousness to excitement.

It’s completely normal to feel the nerves when you’re presented with something entirely new to you. The best thing you can do about this is to divert that energy to a more positive one. For example, let your child pick out what bag or lunchbox he wants. When shopping for school supplies, let your child find the items in the store and check them off on your list.

Prep yourself too.

Most first days can be emotionally charged for both mother and child. If you can’t hold it together, how much more can your child hold up on his own? Plan and play all the possible scenarios that can happen on the first day. Think about what your child needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful — a quick goodbye, or five minutes of cuddle time with you?

You can also read books about starting school. Some good ones include “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, “Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner” by Amy Schwartz, “First Day Jitters” by Julie Dannenberg, “I Am Absolutely Too Small for School” by Lauren Child, and “Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown” by Paula Danzinger.

About the Author

Joanna is an entrepreneur mum blessed with 3 lovely children. She lives in Dubai with her family, and loves to travel and cook healthy meals for her kids. Joanna regularly shares her parenting tips and experiences with Afterschool.ae, an online platform listing all UAE kid’s activities accessible by parents thru web and mobile.

Just Peachy

I was yapping with my partner, father-in-law and brother after lunch today when my son announced that his sister was eating a peach.  I turn around and sure enough she was stealthily eating devouring one of the (very juicy) Ontario peaches that was in the fruit basket that I’d placed on the floor prior to sitting down for lunch.  She ate the whole darned thing (well, minus the pit) in a matter of (dare I say it?) seconds.  She was, of course very proud of herself.  Note to self: next time, place the fruit basket on the counter…

Notice the peach behind her?  That is the one she sampled first.  I gave it to her brother.

Notice the peach behind her? That is the one she sampled first. I gave it to her brother.

Woot Woot!

You know how there are some days where you can’t seem to get anything done and there are others where everything seems to go your way?  Well today was one of those days.  Today, I felt like a superstar.

It all started at 6:30 with a run.  I ran for 30 minutes consecutively for the first time!  It was sooooo awesome.  I managed to get just over 4km in that time.  I’m really happy (in case you haven’t already noticed) because I had set the goal to run 30 consecutive minutes or run 5k by the end of July and I did it (with 13 days to spare!).

First 30 min run

When I got back, the kiddos were finishing up their breakfast with their dad and I sat down with them.  We played downstairs while I took care of some laundry until it was time for Amélie’s nap.  Once she was down, Charles helped me wash the windows in his room (he was quite proud and started washing everything else in sight in his room as I finished up).  Amélie woke up, we had a little snack and then we left for the grocery store to buy a few things that we were missing for lunch.

Waiting at the red light for our turn to cross.

Waiting at the red light for our turn to cross.

I realized that though these little wagons are super practical, they are also quite hard to pull with 50lbs of kids inside.  Oh well, second workout of the day LOL!.

When we got back, we got lunch going, they took their nap and then, we went to the water park.  It wasn’t super duper hot, but it was hot enough for a bit of water to be refreshing.  And since I can’t go in our pool with two kids at the same time, it was a great alternative.  Charles got wet…and then he got dirty.

He didn’t really care though and his sister was having a blast looking at her brother playing in the sand while she was in the swing.

Notice the feet inside the swing.  This is her preferred method.

Notice the feet inside the swing. This is her preferred method.

It was really great because I saw Charles interact with kids his own age.  This isn’t something that I’m accustomed to seeing because he is usually really shy.  I think that having something in common with his friend helped break the ice though.


Can anyone spot the common theme?

Both kids were all smiles on our way home…

image…and ready to keep playing once we reached our destination.  Charles kept himself busy with a branch he found (seriously, what *is* it with boys and branches?).

And Amélie was her cute and silly self (when she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to grab my phone from me, she tried to remove her hat, but missed and pinched her cheek instead).

Charles decided to help me finish up my laundry by gathering all of our remaining clothespins in the same spot…


The Magical Tent

IMG_0077We all know that we should limit screen time for our kids.  But with the amounts of screens that can be found in the typical North American house and the hectic lives that many of us have, it can sometimes be difficult.  We’ve fallen into the trap quite a few times of allowing Charles more time with the iPad than we should.  Each time, we’ve had to wean him off the screen using various methods.

This time ’round, I’m trying to get him to do other things than play with my iPad in the morning.  You see, I rather like to sleep a little later than 6:00 am whereas he is wide awake by that time.  Because he was tired of being sent back to his room when he would come wake us up in the morning (he has a Gro Clock and should stay in his room until 6:15) he figured that if he got up quietly and sat in the living room with my iPad without waking anyone up, he could get up when he wanted (such a smart little man!).

However, since I want to encourage him to do other things when he wakes up, I have decided to set up a “magical” tent.  Basically, when he goes to bed at night, I take 5-10 minutes to set up some of his toys in the tent: a big robot made out of Duplo blocks, his road carpet with some cars…when he wakes up, he just needs to open the tent to see what’s hiding inside.

Getting ready to set up his toys.

Getting ready to set up his toys.

We’ve been doing this for two mornings now and it has been great.  Both times, when I woke up, he was happily playing in his tent instead of sitting on the couch with the iPad.  He wakes up excited to see what will have turned up in his tent.  I’m hoping that in the long run, this will create new habits for him.  Whatever happens, though, I’m having fun with the idea of the magical tent right now and he is too.


This is what he will be waking up to tomorrow morning.

How do you control screen time with your kids?