Stopping to Smell the Flowers - literally.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today the kids and I spent more than an hour in the grocery store. That's LONG for us.  Usually, we grab a Croissant, get what we need, and head out.  Not today.  We were just about done when 'Baby A' decided he wanted to smell the flowers.  Literally.

Now, this is a huge Supermarket (though I love it so much because they sell tons of local produce) and they have an in-store Flower Market.  It's beautiful.  So, naturally, my heart warmed when I saw my two-year-old son bent over a bucket of Spring Tulips - bum out, nose sniffing. He was so stinkin' cute I could have just melted into a puddle of sticky, Supermarket-floor mush.

Luckily, I happened to have my camera with me (we were planning a trip to the park after-wards and I was hoping to snap some pics).  So, I was able to capture the moment(s).

I wasn't planning to buy flowers today, but, in the spur of the moment, I encouraged the kids to 'pick some good ones' for our kitchen table.  They were ecstatic.  And again, I'm reminded - it's the small things.  We even went into the 'cold room' for the Roses and exotic flowers.  We explored; naming and smelling as many flowers as we could while the sales clerk looked on - I think she was worried they'd break the flowers.  I think adults too quickly assume that children are destructive when most aren't.  Especially when they are completely intrigued by the delicate beauty of nature.

What a joyful morning of spontaneity and simple pleasures.  Praise God for the wonder of this earth and that our children are so often the ones who inspire us to pause, reflect, and cherish the 'flowers' of life.

The final choice... pink and white Daisies.  

Media Stats that Shocked Me...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some Recent Media Stats that made me wide-eyed...
  • The average Canadian watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year).
  • In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
  • Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
  • Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
  • Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
  • Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
  • Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
  • Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
  • Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
  • In 2009, over 11 million people played World of Warcraft, an online, subscription fee-based multiplayer game.
  • According to one study, nearly 1 in 10 young gamers displayed behavior patterns similar to addiction.1
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-year-olds are exposed to an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes of media each day.

(Compiled by TV-Free America 1322 18th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036)

Tips for Choosing the Right Books for your Baby...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Originally published on Mums'n'

One of my greatest passions as a Mom is having the privilege of being an instrumental part of my kids’ reading journey. It warms my heart to see our little ones happily curled up together, lost in a great book.

How do we grow children who are passionate about reading and place value in books? It’s a journey, but I believe there are two fundamentals: 1. START YOUNG. It is incredibly important that books be an enjoyable and undeniable part of every day life from a very tender age. 2. Choose the right books. The act of reading will only reach it’s full potential when babies are given titles that engage, excite, and enlighten.

For Babies still in your belly (yes, read to your pregnant tummy!) and infants (under 3 months):
  • Poetry, nursery rhymes, song books. Rhythmic poems, rhyming stories, and calming songs all help your baby feel safe, secure, entertained, and loved. Reading becomes associated with enjoyment – something we do because it makes us feel good. All of these forms of literature are fantastic for developing phonemic awareness as children grow, so they will also have a long and happy life on your family book shelves.
  • Soothing, meaningful stories and night-time books. There’s nothing like a good tear-filled read of “I love you forever” or “I love you through and through”. Reading to our babies should be enjoyable, memorable, and impactful for us too. Splurge on as many feel-good story books as you can. Although infants may not understand the words in a literal sense, I believe messages of unconditional, pure love, transcend all barriers and go straight for the heart. Those tender moments are a gift both to you AND your baby – so grab hold.

For Older Babies and Toddlers:

  • Continue reading the above mentioned books!
  • Cot (cloth) books. Cloth books are fabulous for helping babies develop a love for touching the books they read. (As adults, we are extremely drawn to books that ‘feel’ good to us, as it’s a big part of our reading experience). They are great first readers and help introduce the basics of books (ie: they have a front/back, pages, and are read from left to right by turning pages) to young babies. These books are also great for tummy time and as easy take-along books for hanging up in the car, etc. Choosing ones with bright, bold patterns in black, white, and red will also be engaging for baby’s developing eyes.
  • Bath books. Bath books are the cushioned, plastic (non-toxic) covered books. They can be chewed up, drooled on, made dirty with food, and thrown at the cat with no damage done. Just toss it in some soapy water and it’s like new. We didn’t use ours in the bath – we introduced them at meal times and when our little ones were teething, drooling, and just plain messy. This is such a great way to infuse books into everyday life (ie: keeping a baby busy in their highchair at dinner).
  • Rhythmic tactile books. Touchy-feely books help develop sensory awareness and give lots of opportunity for talking about what you’re reading (“Oh, see how soft the bear is, feel the bear’s ears…”). Also, young babies are incredibly drawn to and learn primarily through touch, so combining words with tactile stimulus is a fantastic way to mix enjoyment with brain development.
    Encouraging a baby Alex to point to certain pictures by using words he knows.

  • Look and Say Books. Books that show illustrations/photos of different objects with their given name printed below or beside are very simple but highly effective for developing vocabulary and a better understanding of the world around us. Particularly fun are books that list words with illustrations on one side of the page and then hide (easily) those same illustrations and words on the other side within a larger illustration. This allows the adult to say things like, “Oh! Look at the pretty rainbow over there. Can you find the rainbow in the picture of the park? ….. YES! Great job, that’s it!”. This style of book is also a good tool if you are introducing sign language to your baby as it is easy to pin-point each given word and it’s corresponding image.
Reading to our babies is a privilege and joy, so above all else, have fun delving into all kinds of great books with your littles ones. Snuggle up under a blanket, hold them in your arms and enjoy establishing reading time as a pleasurable, happy, and magical part of your young child’s life.

Don't be Afraid to Introduce your Young Child to Big Kid Books

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My son is two and he generally does not gravitate towards board books or 'baby' books of any kind.  Nope, he's on to 'big kid' books.  Real pages, and a lot of the time, non-fiction.  He absolutely loves reading, and allowing him to explore the books HE chooses is a key factor in encouraging his already rooted enjoyment in books.

Alex (3) enjoys a great Train book (geared at much older kids)

I think one of the biggest  mistakes parents can make when it comes to their kids and reading is to 'lock in' and obsess over age guidelines for books.  Working with Usborne for the past 2 years has given me plenty of experience, both in families and within the school setting.  Over and over, I've encouraged families to branch out and allow their children to choose the books they are interested in.  But, inevitably, a 5-year- old girl wants an Atlas meant for 8-year-olds and the parent can't get past the idea that the publisher chose to type a little "8+" beside the book description.

Our kids check out a fantastic book about Spiders.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes, when a book publisher says a book is for 8-year-olds, it's because the illustrations and/or photos aren't appropriate for younger kids.  But, when mixed with parental discretion (ie: you check the book out before giving it to your child), introducing books meant for kids of all ages, to very young children, can be extremely beneficial and rewarding.

Children love real pictures.  Especially boys.  They want to look at real people, doing real things.  They are curious about real plants, animals, space, the earth, locomotives, cars, trucks, different communities and countries - and why not introduce it to them?  Why not show them detailed, incredibly relevant,  highly engaging images?  It will do wonders to spark their interest and draw them in to the wonderful world of reading for information and pleasure.

I highly recommend the Information for Young Readers/Beginners series, by Usborne, by the way!  It is our favourite and we're building up quite the library.

Videos from NBC - My Kid Would Never Bully - Very clever and revealing

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank you to NBC for the videos. Think Media Project does not endorse any of the products advertised within the video embedding.

"Mean Girls" - how would your daughter react?

Strong Girls make the Difference:

Powerful and Revealing - the real struggle of the Victims.

The Boys' Turn - the power is in the bystanders.

What happens when adults side with the Bully?

Media Awareness/Bullying Videos Parents Should See

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


"I Like Chatting to my Friends" PSA - let's get Media OUT of the bedrooms.

Powerful Anti-Cyber Bullying PSA by ChildNet International

Inspiring Anti-Bullying Video from Family:

"Internet Safety for Preteens"

Starting to Wear you Baby - investing in your bond with your child

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wearing our babies has been such an incredible blessing to us and our little ones.  It has been an instrumental part of our (my husband and I) parenting experience, as well as a huge part of our lives, as I ran a successful babywearing business and spent countless hours doing workshops and one-on-one Babywearing tutorials with new parents. 

I thought I'd share this article I wrote, hopefully it might help some new Babywearers!

Babywearing is the act of holding your baby close to your body with the use of a piece of cloth or modern carrier.  It is one of the oldest and most global traditions in parenting.  On a whole, North Americans, hold their babies less than parents in any other part of the world, but traditions are slowly changing and more of us are adopting this ancient and meaningful art.

There are so many benefits to Babywearing – less crying, easier breast feeding, better digestion, better sleep patterns, closer bonding and a healthier development of security and self-esteem as baby grows.  Parents who wear their babies are more connected to their childre, more peaceful, and able to cope with the transition of adding a new baby to the family far easier than non-wearing parents.

Babywearing also helps develop your infant’s brain, vocabulary, and social skills as they grow and spend more time actively involved in face-to-face communication while carried at the parent’s eye level.  Despite the skepticism, babies who are carried more often also develop better balance and agility and walk sooner than other babies.
In the past few years of working with Moms and Dads wishing to wear their babies, I’ve learned it really is best to start wearing your baby when he or she is only a few days (or hours!) old.  This way, they are introduced to Babywearing right from the start and accept and enjoy it as a part of everyday life.

Tips for newborn Babywearing:
  • Get help.  If you know someone who wears or has worn their baby, ask them to help you.  If there is a local Babywearing group, join it (most are free).  If there is a local Natural Parenting or Babywearing shop – visit them and request a tutorial.  Hands-on assistance is the BEST way to start.  Most Babywearing parents are passionate about what they do and are thrilled to help a newcomer, so don’t worry about looking silly if you have little or no experience.
  • Don’t stress.  When you first start Babywearing, there will be a learning curve.  Take it easy and don’t get frustrated if it’s not perfect the first time.  The more upset or flustered you get, the worse it will be for baby.  Babywearing is supposed to be calming and enjoyable – start wearing your baby at a time when they are calm and sleepy, this will help give you time to practice while they are content.
  • Find the right carrier.  Everyone has their own preferences.  I personally love wraps (a long piece of fabric used to tie baby to your body in a native and very natural way).  They are great for versatility, as you achieve any position.  Other popular styles include, ring slings, mei tais, simple pouches, and soft structured carriers.  If you can borrow from a friend, do so.  As a Babywearing advocate, I have at least one style of every type of carrier in my home for the purpose of lending out.  I know many Moms like this (I said we were passionate!).   Figuring out how your baby likes to be held (in a cradle position or in an upright tummy-to-tummy hold) will also help you decide what type of carrier is best, based upon how you wish to hold your little one.  Their preference may evolve, so choosing a versatile carrier is key, unless you don’t mind having more than one!
  • Be aware of safety.  Stay away from carriers sold in mass at ‘big stores’.  The most common carriers used by new parents are the type that dangle baby by the crotch with straight legs.  Brands like Baby Bjorn and Snuggli (popular front-pack carriers) are widely available, but are not safe for your baby.  Because they have a small strip of fabric that only supports baby’s crotch, there is a very dangerous amount of pressure put on the base of the infant’s spine. The posture of the baby is too erect, not natural, and can place undue strain on his/her neck, back, and tail bone.  This can have effects that last for many years, including spinal misalignments, hip problems, and muscular stress.  Also, avoid any kind of bag sling, such as the “Slingrider”, which are incredibly dangerous due to their poor design.  It is almost impossible to achieve safe positioning for breathing and circulation in a store-bought bag-sling that crunches baby up in a ball.  Babywearing, when done properly, is very safe – but it is our responsibility as parents to be informed about potential hazards.
  • Mamas - nurse in your carrier.  When you nurse while wearing your baby, it releases the perfect endorphins to help you relax and enjoy the moment.  Also, because nursing is such a peaceful, comforting activity for babies – they will quickly conclude (if they didn’t already) that babywearing is a calming, enjoyable event.  It also comes in very handy to be able to nurse in public.  I used to breastfeed our children in the middle of huge summer festivals while doing babywearing demonstrations to a crowd and no one ever knew I was feeding them.  It’s the ultimate freedom for a nursing Mom.
  • Encourage your hubby/partner to wear your baby.  There is so much strain on us as new Moms, especially if baby's not sleeping, nursing is challenging, we've had a difficult birth, etc.  When Mama is the only person who can ever calm the baby it can be extremely trying and exhausting.  After a good feed, allow Daddy to hold the baby in a wrap or carrier.  Babies are often soothed in the same way they are by Mom when worn by another caring adult.  It is also reassuring for Daddy to be able to truly help calm and comfort the new baby and can reinforce bonding at a time where most together time is between baby and Mother.
  • Enjoy every moment!  Babywearing can be so blissful it sometimes seems spiritual.  There is nothing more beautiful then holding a newborn close, curled up on your chest in the same way they were cradled in the womb.  It truly is the best transition from Mother’s tummy to the world and it is a beautiful gift we can give our children and ourselves.
Babies grow so quickly and these precious moments are fleeting.  Hold them close when they are young, nurture their body, mind, and soul with the gift of wearing them next to your heart.  The effects will last through toddlerhood, childhood, and beyond.

A favourite pic of mine:
Wearing Audrey (at age 3) on my back.

Wrapping on your back takes some practice but it's so helpful to free up your hands and still carry a baby or toddler who needs snuggles.

Hope this is helpful.  If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me.  I still do in-person tutorials (for free) if you are wanting hands-on help.  :)

Visit: for a fantastic online forum/community dedicated to Babywearing education and celebration! 

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