March 2, 2015

Spoil Your Kids Awesome


Are you spoiling your kids rotten? If your kids are demanding, self-centred and ungrateful, yet you continue to give in to their every desire, you might be.

If you set limits and model gratitude and kindness (as often as you can, obviously—some days I'm an ungrateful hag) you’ll be rearing awesome little citizens who will take, but with genuine appreciation.

Sincere 'please and thank yous' go a long way. I tell my kids that people want to do things for them because it makes them feel good. By acknowledging somebody's generosity, you make them feel even better. And friends and family will want to spend their time and energy on them because feeling good is addictive.

It really is satisfying to do something thoughtful for another person—whether it’s making them a special card, sharing a favourite toy, or giving a compliment. It just feels nice. Humans are hard wired to constantly seek pleasure. That's just science right there.

My kids lost their minds when their grandma baked them her famous lemon loaf. They gobbled it up and doled out sincere compliments about how she is the best baker and how it was so delicious and 'thank you so much for making this for us!' She was thrilled. And guess what? She baked them another loaf the next time they came over.  Nicely done kids... lemon loaf left-overs for mummy! Sometimes sweet behavior begets sweet treats.

Before you argue that I'm teaching my kids to be annoying little goody goodies. The key is sincerity. Nobody appreciates a fakey fake face. It's be real or don’t bother.

Is it possible to spoil a kid rotten? Sure, if rotten means selfish, greedy, needy, lacking in self-confidence, etc.

I try to spoil my kids awesome instead.

I love spoiling them with little surprises like random notes in their lunches or a special piece of art for their wall, made by me just for them. (Crappy art that looks like it was painted with my feet, but they don't care.) Or this craft disaster. We show them how to collect things around the house to donate to the Salvation Army, or daddy helps the kids bake a pie to surprise me with on my birthday—it's the little every day things that teach so much.

And here’s another SUPER EASY—albeit sneaky—way to spoil your kids awesome.

Sometimes when I compliment my son he'll say, "You're just saying that because you're my mom." Praise seems easier to accept and believe when it's indirect. Just a theory.

So now and then when I’m on the phone or speaking privately with a friend or my husband, but happen to know one of the kids is within ear shot, I’ll compliment them in a sincere and natural way, but so they can “accidentally” overhear. The other night I said to my husband, “Don’t you just love Seb's sense of humour? It’s so mature. He really gets the joke. He seriously cracks me up.”

My son heard. I'm sure of it, because the next morning he cracked a joke at the breakfast table and puffed up like a proud punny peacock when I busted out laughing.

So go ahead and spoil your kids awesome.
Do it for them.
Do it for you (because it feels amazing to watch your children happily thrive and develop into awesome people).
Do it for all of us soon-to-be elderly folks who will be relying on Generation Z to look after us in our golden years.

March 1, 2015

Lego Craft Fail: Pinterest, Why Can't I Quit You?

My son has a massive collection of Lego mini-figures languishing headless and mismatched in a bin under his bed. So when I saw this clever idea on Pinterest I thought (with possibly a bit too much zeal), "I will make this and my son will be so pleased!"

Spoiler alert: He didn't give a rat's ass about this crafty addition to his bedroom decor. He was all, "Um, thanks mum and everything but you didn't have to make this..."

But I did. I HAD to make it. Pinterest made it look so appealing and easy and organized. I physically couldn't stop myself from making it.

My efforts to up-sell this project failed. "But look, you can see all your guys now! And I put them all together with the right heads on the correct bodies! Look, that guy has a little gun. Now if you want to find a certain mini person, it's right there at your fingertips!"

My son: Blink, blink. "Um, okay." 

For the love.....

It took me bleedin' hours of digging to find all those little heads rolling around in the bowels of the Lego bin. And hours more to stick on the magnets and assign each neatly appointed figure to its own magnetic Lego perch.

Seems the key to the success of this project is Krazy Glue. I skipped over that part in the instructions—I used "peel and stick" magnets, which turned out to be "peel and stick it where the sun don't shine" magnets. I tried to remedy the situation by reinforcing the magnets with white glue. Well, white glue is not Krazy enough which became audibly apparent as mini-figures plummeted to the floor all night long. Each clack onto the wooden floor resulted in gales of laughter from my son and husband who found my craft fail to be highly entertaining.

Whatever. Let them laugh. I can't hear them anyway. I'm too busy making the zucchini chip recipe I pinned last night.

lego mini figure display
Pinterest                      Mine
lego fail

February 26, 2015

This Post Is A Total Fluff Piece

People keep talking about what they're giving up for lent—even if they're not religious, they seem to dig the challenge. It's like a pious double dog dare.

I'd happily give up a number of things including exercise, doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher and/or working for a living. But that's not the point though, is it?

Lent is a solemn religious observance marked by "fasting, both from foods and festivities. Observers give up an action of theirs considered to be a vice, add something that is considered to be able to bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations." source

We're not religious, so no Lent for us. Only lint. Specifically belly button lint. How does fluff collect in a man's navel anyway? I'm both intrigued and disgusted by this topic.
My scientific navel lint theory: A man's body hair acts like cilia, snagging, then waving stray t-shirt and sweater fibres toward the belly button where it falls in and collects. 
I can't tell you how many tiny belly lint tumbleweeds have collected at my feet in our bathroom over the years. I finally snapped the other night and threatened my husband with bodily harm if he didn't pick up his belly wool from the floor and put in the trash.

"It's just fluff," he told me confused by my miffitude.

"JUST fluff?!" I responded incredulously. I implored him to pick up all future lint...or else. I believed he was following protocol until yesterday when the cat strolled out of the bathroom with a massive linty ball impaled upon a whisker. For real. He ran off and groomed himself clean before I could take a photo.

Years ago, when I first became aware of belly button lint, I joked with my husband that we should collect it in a jar. How funny/odd would that be?

belly button lint jars

Seems somebody else also thought of that and actually did it. Why? Because. Just because. Graham Barker was even inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records because of it! (Plus, of course someone else thought of it. Further evidence toward my adamant claim that EVERY idea, even the really gross ones, from now forward have already been thought of.)*

I have since warned my husband that if refuses to dispose of his errant lint balls, I will be forced to collect them myself. And in about thirty years, I will use the belly bounty to make him a naval lint sweater. And since I can't knit, I will have to hot glue the lint balls to a t-shirt which I will force him to wear every Sunday when we don't go to church.

navel lint sweater

Seems I could have been a scientist. It IS all about the belly hair. ~> the science behind belly button lint

P.S. What do you get the man who had has everything? This. 

navel lint brush

*I wonder if anyone has thought of weaving with shower drain hair balls?
Okay, I Googled it and thankfully, no. That idea is still up for grabs. I just gagged...

February 19, 2015

Security Measures For Families With Young and/or Special Needs Children

Early this morning a 3-year-old boy went missing from his home in Toronto.

Elijah was captured on his apartment building's security cameras stepping out into the bitter cold at 4:20 a.m. He appeared to be on his own, wearing only a t-shirt, diaper and boots. His family discovered he was missing when they woke three hours later.

He was found shortly after 10 a.m. only a few hundreds metres from his apartment and was taken to hospital in life threatening condition.

Poor, poor baby. Why did he wake and decide to wander? Was he sleepwalking? Some children do. I did. My son had terrible night terrors as a toddler. Whatever the reason, it's a horrible tragedy.

This story has struck a chord with parents everywhere—our collective parental hearts go out to this family. Life will never be the same for them again.

It also resonates with our family personally—as parents of a child with special needs who has a significant history of wandering off, silently, Elijah represents a legitimate fear for many special needs parents.

When our daughter gained the ability to open doors, we immediately installed door alarms that chime when any door in our house is opened. We also put a hook latch high up on our front door, a pin latch at the top of our sliding door, and child proof knobs over all the door handles.

I remember feeling embarrassed and guilty about it at the time—like I was over-reacting by locking our daughter in. I know now that it was necessary. It still is.

I am absolutely not insinuating that Elijah's family were at fault in any way. Their toddler waking and leaving his home before dawn is unthinkable. What could possibly have been going on in his little head to make him get up from his warm bed and go out into the cold, we'll never know.

There is so much heartache here. But this is also a sad, but apt opportunity for our families to re-asses the safety and security of their own homes—to hopefully prevent a similar tragedy like this from occurring in the future.

My family's thoughts are with little Elijah and his family.

*Sadly, since publishing this story earlier today, Elijah has died in hospital. 

Please Let Elijah's Parents Grieve In Peace by Heather Hamilton

I'm the Parent Of A Resourceful Wanderer by Sharon DeVellis

February 17, 2015

A Look Inside the Ontario College of Teachers—from a teacher/parent perspective

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Not because I enjoy organizing everything and everyone at all times. Okay partially because of that *sideways glance at my smirking husband* but mostly because of my grade three teacher. Mrs. MacDonald was kind and creative and funny. She loved children and she made learning so much fun. She made everything fun. I wanted to be just like her.

So after university and a bit of globe trotting, I went to teacher’s college to become a real teacher—with a real classroom, brimming with real children.

After ten terrific years in the classroom, I left my position as an elementary school teacher to stay home with our second child. She was born with special needs and one of her most special needs is well, me. I miss my classroom, but I don’t miss teaching. I teach every day, but now my class of 24 has become a class of two. My children are subjected to “Mrs. T’s Teachable Moments” on the daily. Sorry kids. It's what I do.

When my son entered grade two (four years ago), it felt strange. This was MY grade—the grade I taught for years. What if his teacher was neither funny nor kind? I admit to panicking a little and I may have used the Ontario College of Teacher’s “Find a Teacher” tool to look her up. Parents can totally do that.

To learn about the people who teach your children, go to This is the College’s public register that lists everyone who has been certified to teach in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.

These public records include:
  • teacher’s qualifications
  • date of initial certification
  • status with the College
  • and any disciplinary history (if applicable)
I looked up a friend and former colleague as an example above. Once you find who you’re looking for, click on their name to learn more about their qualifications.

Find out how teachers actually become certified HERE. out my son’s new teacher was indeed in good standing and she was/is in fact, a great teacher.

The Ontario College of Teachers was created to support both teachers and parents. Ontario takes education seriously, and as a former teacher and involved parent, I am grateful.

Parents are encouraged to sign up for The Standard—A Free Electronic Newsletter For Parents to receive updates about College services that help us learn more about teacher qualifications, see reports on trends in education, and stay in the loop about changes in education legislation.

To find out more about the free resources the Ontario College of Teachers offers parents visit

While you’re there, take a look at the digital version of Professionally Speaking magazine. It’s published for Ontario’s teachers, but there are helpful tips and important insights for parents there too.

"Learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door. Our kids succeed when parents and teachers work together."

Oh how I wish Mrs. MacDonald knew how she inspired a little girl to grow up to be a teacher, just like her. 

This post was sponsored by the Ontario College of Teachers but opinions and experiences shared here are my own.