Thursday, November 7, 2013

1 Year Blogiversary and Big News!

Today is my 1 year blogiversary!

I had originally planned to throw a giveaway today, but I am in the process of transferring my blog and have decided it would make more sense to wait until it's completed. 

Since this gives me a little bit more time to figure out what a great giveaway prize would be, I would appreciate any suggestions you may have!

What would you be interested in?


P.S. - Winner of the $25 Target GiftCard has been drawn. Congratulations to Lisa Brown!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

15 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Learn at Home

Sidney brought home her first Report Card for the year.

I've always been really hard on myself when it comes to school. Anything below a 90% is a disappointment in my eyes. So it's kind of difficult to not beat myself up over Sidney's Progress Report Card (which is different than a regular Provincial Report Card).

Not that I have much to be disappointed about. A lot of G's for good and an E for excellent. 

But I can't help but wonder if I had spent more time with Sidney on her school work if she could have done better? Isn't it my responsibility as a parent to help her succeed to the best of her abilities?

Luckily the point of the Progress Report Card is to show her progress for the beginning of the school year and point out what Sidney is doing good on and what we could work on.

Since Sidney got average marks, I suppose we could do a little bit of work on everything. So I started to think of different ways I can help Sid learn at home and this is what I came up with.

15 Activities to Encourage Learning


1. Weekly library visits! We are more likely to read every night when we have new books to read. Even with Sidney's growing book collection, it gets dull and not nearly as exciting.

2. Get to bed earlier! Some nights when we're pressed for time and are simply too tired to read, we will skip it altogether.

3. Select books for her age. If a book is too difficult, Sid gets frustrated. If it's too easy, she's not learning anything. I find it's a good idea for her to test a page or two at the library or book store before taking the book home.


1. Don't rush! Sidney often rushes through things and when it comes to writing, she gets sloppy. It's important to get her to slow down and put more effort into the neatness, and the proper spelling.

2. Activity books! These are awesome. They cost a dollar, they have Disney princesses on them and she has fun working out of them.

3. Journals and notebooks! I've been journalling all my life, and just this year Sidney started, too. I tried to make it a nightly ritual, but I found it too difficult to make her to do it every night and it took the fun out of it. Instead, I encourage her to write in it when she has something really awesome to say about her day and it helps her with her writing


1. Again, activity books! Cheap, fun and you can select which level to buy. Sidney gets the grade 1 level which has simple addition and subtraction that she can almost do by herself with a little bit of help.

2. Computer games! There are a ton of free games online that help with adding, subtracting, graphs and everything else. Plus, it helps Sidney learn how to use a computer which is super important in today's society.

3. Add it into every day activities! Math is one of those subjects that many people don't really enjoy, but when your children are still young and doing simple math equations (that you can still understand) it's easy to incorporate it into every day activities. For example, you can count toys as you tidy up. You can add your food, "I have three carrots and five apple slices. That equals 8!" Sidney actually enjoys that one. 

Visual Arts:

1. Don't just doodle! Doodling is fun, but it's not challenging. I find that when I give Sidney a task, or a specific thing to draw like a giraffe, or a portrait of me, she concentrates more and does a better job.

2. Get creative! Being creative is a huge part of visual arts and children are still naturally very creative (or at least the ones I've been around are). Get out your craft supplies; pipe cleaners, googly eyes, buttons, stickers, construction paper, glue, scissors, recycled toilet paper rolls, dry beans, whatever you have around, and go crazy! Create macaroni sculptures, make a birdhouse out of Popsicle sticks, or use things from nature to create a landscape picture by gluing things like leaves, grass and twigs onto cardboard. Help your child think out of the box!

3.  Take your time! Sidney seems to rush through things, so I've really had to help her slow down, enjoy the process and to put effort into her artwork.This way she can think of how she wants to do things, and we can discuss why she chose to do it that way to help her understand her own art better.

Other Things:

1. Kitchen science expirements are a lot of fun for kids. Something as simple as cornstarch, water and food dye is a great way to explain solids and liquids while having fun.

2. Getting outside to play really helps with physical activity, balance, coordination, health, etc. Go to the park, bring a Frisbee or a soccer ball, get on the jungle gym, play tag, or whatever else you like to do. Sidney's favourite activity at the park is going on the swings.

3. A few other things we need to work on as a family is to keep things neat and tidy at home. To help her organize her desk and toys, to teach her to clean up after herself and to enjoy it.

I need to encourage her curiosity, help her explore the world around her, to try new things, to look for new opportunities and experiences. Children are really amazing. It blows my mind how much she wants to learn, and by tweaking little things here and there throughout the day it can really help her grow.

What are some things you do at home to help your children learn?


Monday, November 4, 2013

Accepting Your Parenting Style

Everyone is different. We all have our special talents, our likes and dislikes, personalities and behaviours. Nobody was raised the same way. Not even my sisters and I. We all have different backgrounds and histories. We all have different DNA. Our minds, our thoughts, the way we think, are different too.

Sometimes I have a difficult time remembering this. I judge myself too harshly. I criticize myself more than I should. I want to be a better person and a better parent becuase I see how other people raise their children and I assume I must be doing something wrong.

But the truth is, there isn't just one way to parent your children. There really is no one right way. 

I don't necessarily enjoy sitting down to play dolls. I get irritated whenever I let Sidney help me in the kitchen. I hate messy crafts.

It's true that there are many things I don't like to do and I used to think that it made me a bad parent. That a good parent would just suck it up and do it anyway. 

But there are other things that I do enjoy! I enjoy watching movies with her, particularly nature documentaries. I like going for long walks outside. Visiting the market, the library, vintage shopping. I don't care for messy crafts, but I like to sit and draw with her.

And I noticed that when we do activities we both enjoy, it's a lot more fun than when I force myself to do activities I don't. And that Sidney has other people in her life who do enjoy doing those things.

Other times I feel like I let her eat too much junk food, stay up too late on weekends, I don't discipline her enough when she starts misbehaving. 

I'm guilty of all of these things, but I try my best to offer her a variety of healthy foods. Throughout the week she has a strict bedtime that we stick to. And maybe I am fairly lenient when it comes to discipline, but Sidney doesn't act up too much anyway. Or at least in my opinion, I'm sure my sisters and mom might say otherwise.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'm not perfect. I'm going to make mistakes. But more importantly, I'm learning that I'm actually doing okay. I might not be the best mom, but I'm a pretty good one (even if I do have to put myself on time-outs now and then).

Do you criticize and judge yourself on certain things?


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Life Makeover - November

I feel like I set myself achievable goals for the month of October, and yet I don't necessarily feel like I've done a very good job at achieving them. I suppose I could blame it on my heavy school load this month, but that doesn't really feel right either. I think I just didn't pay enough attention to my goals.

What I feel good about:

I like to think I did more fun activities with Sidney this month. Our evening routine is still going well, and adding fun activities to our schedule has made our days more enjoyable. We like to do a lot of drawing, we play board games and watch Halloween movies. We got outdoors a few times, we went shopping a couple of times and Sidney got to spend a lot of time with other family members.

And Sid's party was a success! It was exhausting but a lot of fun.

I spent time with my family a bit more this month than in September. Sidney loves going over to play with her cousins, and I get to relax and hangout with my sisters and mom. It's relaxing at their house and I'm not sure why I didn't make time to go over there before.

Big Fail:

I haven't been eating breakfast every day. It's a hit or miss really.

And I didn't get any filing done.

I'm Okay With It:

Other than splurging on Sidney's birthday party, I really didn't spend any money on myself. I did have to pay a big chunk of money on my car which was quite unfortunate and took a big dent out of my bank account, but what can you do?

I managed to apply for a few awards and bursaries. There are still some others I can apply for this month. My assignments are all getting handed in on time, I haven't been missing any classes but I am still procrastinating a lot of my assignments.

November Goals:

1. Health: I need to start eating a healthy breakfast in the mornings! But this month I also want to start eating healthier in general. I need to spend more time on planning healthy meals and snacks and to cook more from scratch. I hate cooking and lately I've been making a lot of processed foods. Not very good, I know!

2. Parenthood: Our evenings are going smoother than before. We're making an effort to go out and have more fun. What I could really work on this month is to sit down with Sidney and help her with homework more often. She doesn't get very much homework, and we always get it handed in on time, but I buy activity books for Sidney to help her with spelling and math equations that I would like to spend more time on. And we should be reading more, too.

3. Relationships: This month I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for the Self-Love Book Club and there were a lot of really great ideas in there. For example, Remember Birthdays! This month I would love to email everyone I know to get their contact information and birthdays so that I can send out Christmas cards and wish my friends and family a happy birthday every year. I think it's such a great idea because I know how much I love receiving Christmas cards and birthday wishes.

4 Home: Since my filing goal last month was a huge fail I need to work on that this month. Problem is, I never learned how to properly do it. So, I'm going to have to do some research or even ask my mom for help and get it done! I think having a proper filing system in place will keep me much more organized and I can pay my bills on time.

5. Money: Continue to look for work. Find ways to make money. I need to replenish my bank account after that car incident which ate up so much money. Also, I need to call the bank and figure out my car payments because the place where I had my car loan was sold to another bank and I still haven't got that taken care of.

6. School: School is going well. Some classes more so than others. One thing I could work on top of my goal to stop procrastinating, is to pay more attention in class and take better notes. Every classroom has a giant Mac computer on every desk and I often find myself on Facebook and Twitter.

Overall, October was a fantastic month! Some things didn't get accomplished, but the ones that did were worth the tiny bit of extra effort. Now that it is November, and Christmas is coming up, there is going to be a lot of things to juggle. But in the end, it's all worth it!

How did the month go for you? Did you manage to accomplish any goals this October?

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