Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chores and the Fine art of bribery.

I hate matching socks. Always have. Now with kids the chore has been particularly taxing with so many little socks too keep up with. Because of this we have a sockbag. Usually starts as a grocery bag of unmatched socks and can morph into an ikea bag full by summer when it is ignored in favor of sandals and the like before it is properly sorted in the fall.

My kids are getting bigger - as are their socks. They help out OK enough when I ask them to help but this year hubs tried a wee bit of bribery. A treat. A twizzler or 2.

The socks are almost all sorted. In record time I might add.

I'm thinking the 'incentive' was worth it. Do you offer rewards for jobs done?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Good Split

We have split classes in our school and I know a lot of parents are concerned about their kids being in a split class past kindergarten.

Mostly the concern I hear is about ensuring they are learning at the level they should be. Will the upper class make kids in the lower class feel like they are behind? Will the upper class kids end up behind single grade classes because they are exposed to the lower grades lessons? For some it was more social - would the wide age range isolate them socially?

 In my school experience I spent a few years in split classes when I was in British and Spanish schools, for me it was a good experience so when my daughter was put in a split 1/2 class last year for 1st grade in her new school I was not terribly phased. She was pretty nervous - but it was about being in a new school with no friends, not about the class, probably in part because I wasn't.

While she made friends on day one and settled in no problem I'm not going to tell you that that year didn't have it's bumps in the road, that would be a lie. For my daughter the challenge of a split class manifested itself with reading. Half way into the year 'everyone' could read better according to her and we had many a teary night sobbing that she had not advanced to the next level of reading books just like her friends. Yes, some of those friends were in grade 1 like my daughter but most of those friends were in grade 2. I understood that they would naturally read better but she had trouble understanding that she wasn't behind. And yes, I a bit worried too, but before we knew it she found her reading groove and was off to the races.

When it came to maths and science being in a split class meant that we all came to realize she was pretty good at those subjects and was happy explore 2nd grade work as much as she enjoyed doing her 1st grade lessons.

Writing on the other hand was more challenging for her, although it wasn't something that upset her like reading did, it was something that her teacher was concerned about. As we came into spring she was not writing at the level she should be and her teach brought it to my attention. Together we figured it out, my daughter had a while elephant - she had so much to say that she couldn't decide what was the best thing to write down (sounds like her mother!) and by the time she decided time was up.  From then on her teacher spent time teaching her skills to help her focus her thoughts and not focus on the spelling so much.

When her teacher later approached me to know what my preferences for my daughters next year would be I didn't hesitate, "I'd like her to stay with you", I said. for me it was a no brainer - here was a teacher my daughter adored who understood not only where my daughter felt challenged but also already knew how to help her and knew her strengths. No time would be wasted in grade 2 with a new teacher who would have to get to know her and her issue with writing and I knew that being in the upper grade of her split class the next year would give her comfort and confidence. Her teacher was happy I felt that way - she wanted to keep my kid too.

Today is her 1st day of grade 2. My daughter has spent most of the summer looking forward to seeing her teacher again, so much so she wanted to dress in her teachers favorite colour today. She was a little sad that her grade 2 friends moved on to grade 3 in another class and really sad that her buddy was moving to a non-split grade 2 class, but last night a friend messaged me that her daughter, starting grade 1 in my daughters class was a bit nervous, would my daughter help her feel more comfortable? I asked my daughter and she squealed with joy happy to buddy up.

This morning my daughter was beyond thrilled to start school. She couldn't wait to hug her teacher and help her friend and it's infectious. Her younger brother is now a Senior in his kindergarten class,

'Are you looking forward to starting school?' I asked him this morning.

'Yes", he said. "And I can't wait to help the little juniors this year."

I think it is going to be a good year.

And as much as I'm enjoying my 2 and a half hours to myself this morning I can't wait to pick them up and hear how the day has been.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Footprints Top Eco Friendly Cottage Toys

There's nothing my family likes more every summer than finding a sweet cottage and hanging out by the lake. We can spend hours playing in nature but we also like to bring a small selection of cottage play favorites with us when we go.

Here's our Little Footprints family favorites, 5 things you can be sure will be in our cottage toy box this summer...

We love blowing bubbles at the cottage. New to us this year is this Artterro Bubble Wand kit and with it we plan to have an even better time! Made in the States by a company big on sustainable fun just like us and filled with enough for a pair of wands, complete with how-to's, fun shaped patterns and even a recipe for home made bubble solution - all in one wee recycled content box. Ages 8 and up.

For years now this is my little guys 'go to' take along toy - ask him to pick something to bring and it will be this - a  Zoom to the Moon play set perfect for the kid who loves imaginary play and as a mom I love that when the fun is done every thing stores in the spaceship. Ideal to keep track of everything when your away from home. Made from renewable rubber wood and child safe paints. I can honestly say after years of play I'm impressed with how well the paints hold up.  Ages 3 and up

Shut The Box is a true favorite in our house. Sometimes played alone but best against each other - we've even make it a tournament - we race to turn our tiles down before the other can. One of those games that gets you to enjoy doing maths even without realizing it. I discovered it at a family friends when I was little and am now thrilled to have this sustainably produced one available. Perfect sitting by the dock or on a chilly rainy day. Ages 5 and up
My son playing with the families Shut the Box.

We started family quizzes by playing 20 questions and now that my kid is starting to read she loves to play them. Betting on Nature, an animal card game, is the perfect go anywhere challenge for us all. Skills, laughs and learning, what more can you ask from fun you can fit in your pocket? Perfect for ages 7 to 107

Paints at a cottage are a must have. No matter if it's painted rocks, pictures, fairy houses or found art - it all benefits from a splash of paint! And the cottage benefits when its all natural. Nothings better for that than Clementine Art's natural paints. The colours are fabulous and they're perfect for the artistry of any age.

These are our faves for this year. We love to hear if you have others you think are great. In the mean time thanks for stopping by and I hope your enjoying your Spring day!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun While it Rains.

While one of my kids might actually be getting sick and tired of rain the other is beginning to muse aloud that it might be nice it it *always* rained. Course she does see the problem that presents to dream #1: to live somewhere where she can swim outside all year round.

So while the sun struggles to make an appearance today we look back at the past 11 out of 18 days where it rained and find lots and lots of opportunities for fun indoors.

You can only get so soggy after all.

Here to help with some indoor inspiration is Little Footprints Top 10 Rainy Day Things for Fun.

Get your Boom Boom on! This ultimate deck of Family trading cards inspires to do good in meaningful and achievable ways and calls on you to pass on the goodness online. From planting flowers for others to enjoy, to telling old stories to younger generations these cards make random acts of kindness fun for the whole family.

Brand new to the shop this 51 piece Tyrannosaurus 3D Dino puzzle can strike about 20 different poses keeping Dinosaur Aficionados busy for hours! Made sustainable and responsibly by French eco fun maker Bioviva, a company committed to the environment since they started making fun in the mid-90's.
Ages 6 & up

Create masterpieces on a rainy afternoon with is Paint With Wool kit. A box full of wool canvases, lots of brightly coloured roving and even 3 felter's needles! Everything you need to make 4 amazing works of art, you just bring a suitable surface to work on. Once your done turn the box into a frame. Full instructions and inspiration included.
Ages 8 & up

More a sculptor than a painter? Clementine Art's Modeling Dough is just the ticket to bring cheery colour to a drab overcast day. They look lovely, smell lovely and feel lovely - what more to you need to sculpt the next masterpiece?

Get active indoors and no batteries required with this Balance Board. Made in the USA from sustainably forested materials, this formaldehyde free plywood board has a challenging maze to keep you coordinated and on your toes. Try the rolling the balls inward for a beginners challenge but if Daddies think rolling the balls out is just as easy they just might loose the family bet! Available in 2 sizes. Perfect for 3 to 93

A bit of drizzle can make examining nature even more fun. Grab a pair of galoshes and head out with this Naturebag full of ways to look at nature around you and record what you find. There's even a blindfold for a all natural guessing game. Canadian made this eco friendly award winner is full of wonderful stuff. Ages 3 - 12

Outside in the puddles or inside in the bath this tug boat is totally fun. Made from recycled milk jugs by Green Toys it's a fantastic water toy, available in 3 colours and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Ages: 6m & up

Stuck inside with the wee one? Enjoy a game of eye spy wildlife right outside your window with this set of Backyard Buddy Blocks. Perfect size for little hands. Learn basic colours and animals with this set made from responsibly harvested rubber wood and child safe paints.

At under $10 this game leaves you change to get something yummy at your own Farmers Market. A game about looking out for each other and problem solving to make the market a success. A wonderful game made in Perth Ontario perfect for ages 6 to 12 with two sets of rules for basic and more complex play.

I always think the funnest things to keep you busy on a rainy day are things with more than one thing going for it which is why I love these puzzles you get colour yourself. Made from plantation rubber wood they are available as a Sea Turtle, Butterfly or Train paint them up then try to put them back together again!
Ages 3 and up.

Course it's easy to beat the rainy day blues so long as your having fun so I hope you get a chance to have some fun today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mid Week at My Place: Earth Week

Earth Week and Easter in one week makes for one very busy gal indeed. Course I'm right on top of it hopelessly behind in my to-do's now that they are both right behind us. Well they are not really, not for me anyway - we are still celebrating both at Little Footprints till the end of the month with a great sale that's keeping me busy - but I digress!!!!

The thing about busy is we always are busy. When Earth Week comes around I'm reminded to slow down a bit, admire this lovely planet we are on and try to do something, no matter how small, to at least keep it this nice  if not make it a little nicer.

This year I might have been reminded but things have felt very busy of late and sadly it feels kinda tough to take on even one new little task. There seems to be so many other tasks lined up already waiting for their turn.  But I have a plan and it's as simple as deck of cards.

 We have these Boom Boom cards, ours at home is the Family Edition. It's this great deck of cards full of easily achievable things to do that bring some good and once you've done it you then get to share the card and tell your story to inspire others. We've loved trying them out, having had fun planting flowers for others to enjoy which you can read about over at our profile at Boom Boom but we could use them more. In fact their one of those things standing in line waiting to be done so I've made a promise to myself we will do one card a month and pass it on till next Earth Day. Since their full of easy to do acts of altruism I'm pretty sure we'll have left a happier vibe on this lovely planet of ours and done some good for it along the way if we do. And hey, if we document it back on the Boom Boom site where we can share the great things we've done we can track our progress and share it with others.

If you would like to join me in my quest to do a wee bit o' good once a month we just happen to have the Boom Boom Cards Green Deck on sale for 20% off at that great little sale I mentioned at the shop. That makes them under $10! How's that for a green deal? There totally full of great little ideas and totally fun to do. :)

If you've made your own promise to your self to do a bit more good this Earth Week I'd love to hear about it!

In the meantime,

BHappy and have fun

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fridays I'm In Love: With These Chicks

Easter is right around the corner. Tomorrow the neighborhood festivities kick off around here with Easter Egg Hunts, visits with family and a parade on Sunday.

There's lots of chocolates and treats to be had and hid but when did it become all about chocolate? Don't get me wrong I love the stuff, more than I should, but does that mean I need to hop my kids full of it for the sake of a bunny and a basket? So since I know that the neighborhood and family will provide tonnes of energy amping sweets we are going to hide crafts and toys instead and if the item is too big we will put a ticket in an egg for them to trade.

What won't need a ticket when we hide them is this set of 3 puzzle Chicks. Each of the 6 pieces will fit nicely in an egg to be hid and once found the kids can trade with each other till they each get a complete chick. Since I know they are also made sustainably with rubber-wood and child safe paints I also can feel good knowing their fun is also planet friendly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mid-Week at My Place: Tie Dye Eggs

We've been in the Easter spirit this week over here. The kids decorated the house and I've been trying too remember to blow out the eggs rather than crack them each time we use eggs to collect a few for dying. Truth is, I don't remember very often and I'm not the kind of mum who turns round and bakes a cake or something when she finds herself in need of a bowl full of eggshells. And while I love getting crafty I'm a lazy mum I try to gear the craft to the abilities of my young kids so we don't all get frustrated.

So last year I found a few people talking about how to dye eggs with old silk ties and I began to experiment with it. I was hooked. The kids too. And the bonus, no one is getting their fingers covered in dyes that last for days. We love this craft so much the kids both asked me to make kits to share with their friends and since that was easy enough I happily obliged.

This year we have done a bunch already and we plan to more still and since I did remember to blow a few eggs out we might even try a few more traditionally dyed eggs.

If you want to know how to tie dye your own eggs here is a little how to. It's real easy and you gotta just love how they turn out.

Tie Dye Easter Eggs

Cut apart old silk ties and cut out squares big enough to cover an average egg.  
 Wrap a raw egg with a piece of the patterned silk, making sure the printed side of the material is facing the egg. Silk can still be used if it doesn't fit perfectly around egg and you can wrap the egg with 2 swatches of silk too if you like. 
Place the silk-wrapped egg in the piece of white sheet and secure tightly with a twist-tie. Make sure it is good and snug.
Place the egg(s) in an enamel or glass pot.* Fill pot with water to cover eggs completely. Then, add three tablespoons of white vinegar. Do not overcrowd the eggs. 
*do not use a metal pot, it may react with the vinegar.
 Bring water to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes.Remove eggs from water with tongs or spoon and let cool.Remove silk from cooled egg.

 Additional Ideas:
  • For shiny eggs, wipe with vegetable oil
  • Silk squares can be reused.
  • Any silk goods such as ties, blouses, and boxers can be used to make more squares but the heaviest silk and brighter/more intense patterns tend to have more ink and that seems to work better.
  • The white squares are sheets and tablecloths. 
  • Make gift sets to share with friends. Tie the bundles together with a strip of the white fabric. 

BHappy and have fun!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wear Pink So Others Can Too!

Tomorrow is Pink Day.

In 2007 two Nova Scotia students marshaled their friends and others via email to wear pink in support of a younger student who had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. Now we have Pink Day on April 13th to show tolerance and support anti-bullying efforts.

In this house we're already planning.

My daughters plans are laughable. She plans to wear pink. She decided this 3 days ago. Course, I don't know how she was going to get around it if she didn't want to participate - it's not like she has anything to wear that *isn't* pink.

My son's plans are sadly fraught with more concern. He wants to wear pink. Asked me what we have that he could wear - I suggested we raid his sisters closet or maybe wear pink polish.

'Polish!' he cried delight.

To date my son has been well chuffed to sport blue, yellow or green polish. He has an older sister, he does what she does. He likes how it looks. Recently, mostly now that he has started kindergarten, he has been increasingly concerned about what his friends will think when they see his fingers or toes all done up.

He think about it for a second longer and says somewhat worriedly some friends will laugh.

I asked him what he was going to do.

He said 'maybe I will hide my fingers every-time I'm talking to him'. I said for sure he could do that.

Then he said 'No, I think I'll just ignore him instead'

Wise words from a young dude.

Tomorrow please wear pink so everyone can wear what they want to wear when they want to wear it no matter who they are, what they are, what they like and all that stuff.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mid-Week at My Place: Colourful Hang-Outs

We had lots of fun painting bird houses for our local feathered friends this week.

Using yummy smelling all natural paints from Clementine Art and some funky pre-made wood bird houses we picked up recently we got stuck into an afternoons fun of pattern making and serious paint splodging.

 The paints are great. Hand down - of course - it is fabulous that Clementine Art makes these paints with all natural ingredients, they're completely free of chemical dyes and petrochemicals - just the kind of stuff I like my kids playing with. It also means I don't mind being lazy and using a kitchen plate and egg spoons as artists equipment. But the Interior Designer in me also loves how the set is comprised of a balanced palate, made with Mayan mineral earth pigments, the colours are beautiful and work so great with each other.

Today one of us was a master blender of colour,

While another was working much more meticulously on her pattern making.

No matter how we came to our finished creations we were really proud of our results and just couldn't wait to hang them up outside.

Hope the birdies enjoy them as much as we've enjoyed their Spring songs!

And hope your having a great day too!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sowing for Spring

Sun's shining outside and I'm transferring my wee little seedlings to bigger digs. We've sowed 6 different kinds of veggies and hope that something will grow into yummy eats but for now it's a fun family project.

The tools are my sons gardening set, perfect size for the task.

It's a bit of what I'm up to this weekend.Hope your enjoying a sunny Spring like day yourself!

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Little Green Wagon

My hubby busted me this week. We at Shopper's Drug Mart cashing in points on the bonus point weekend (I've saved hundreds with this points program btw) and I went to grab a bunch of  bottles of my favorite conventional shampoo and conditioner when he asked me why I was getting it. Strange question in my humble. For my hair I say.

But 'Why?' he asks again, "Why do we insist that we wash our children hair in all natural, chemical free shampoos and conditioners but you do not insist the same for your self? Do you not deserve it as much as they do?"

My 1st thought 'Because people compliment my glowing shiny hair and I'm pretty sure that's the shampoo, it does, after all, say so on the bottle, on the opposite side to where the long list of icky chemicals is found'.

My next thought, because the 'good stuff' is expensive and I'll spend extra on my kids before on myself...

Followed by '...besides I've got years of chems already in me....'

Then finally 'Yes, wait! He has a point!!!' and I put the shampoo back.

It's very easy for me to make better choices for my kids. Natural and organic foods, natural cleaners, quality toys and games - I'll happily go out of my way, or go with less, to ensure they get the 'good stuff' but I don't always make sure I'm on my own little green wagon even when I should.

Today we need to pick up more shampoo and conditioner for my kids, I'm getting extra for myself and my husband. This might be the end of compliments my hairs glimmeringness but it's for the best. Do you have things you do for your kids you should really do for you too?

BHappy, Have Fun and thanks for stopping by!