Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- First Day of School LINKY

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both of these pictures were taken this morning by my husband

and just for fun here are a few more fun pictures my husband took of the kids yesterday when they went on a walk together...

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Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School Anxiety

Pin It Tomorrow is the first day of school.

I vividly remember the feeling of panicky excitement I had the night before the first day of school every year. It would take me forever to fall asleep and I would wake up a zillion times in the night and far too early in the morning. I also remember the nauseous ill feeling I had.

And I loved school.

I mean I REALLY loved school. Always. I was THAT kid. You know the one- the one who loved getting new school supplies and never wanted to miss a day. It was fun. Even when it was hard I still loved it. I didn't always love the social drama aspects of school... we moved a lot and I was always starting at a new school and making friends was scary.

My son Owen- my middle child- is a lot like me. I mean REALLY a lot like me. He seems to have inherited all of my marvellous super crappy anxiety issues.

I really hate that he has inherited that from me.

Actually all three of my kids have inherited my anxiety somewhat but Owen ... poor sweet Owen... he got it in full measure.

So tonight my sweet boy is excited and terrified all at once... and it took him ages to go to sleep because of the tummy ache and anxiety. It kills me to watch that.

I wish we could CHOOSE what we pass on to our kids... yes to the green eyes, no to the anxiety... but sadly we can't.

Oh the joys of the first day of school!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Winter is Coming...

Pin It Guest Post by Lindsay Dianne

Has the search for winter boots left you feeling like you’re out in the cold? If you’re a Canadian, you know how important it is to find a comfortable and reliable pair of winter boots before the harshest season starts to kick in. As we start to focus our attention on going back-to-school, we quickly start to think forward to those dark, early mornings scraping the snow off of our cars. Looking for quality winter footwear can be something that takes a great amount of time and energy, and plenty of times you get your boots out in the snow only to find out that they just don’t measure up to the cold weather Canadians can encounter. I found out that this is not the case when it comes to purchasing a pair of winter boots by Cougar footwear.

Cougar takes the risk out of buying winter boots.

A family-owned business, Cougar Boots has been bringing you reliable footwear designed for Canadian winters since 1948. That’s over sixty years of experience in boot-making! Cougar boots are meant to be warm and water resistant options for men, women and children. Each Cougar boot is made differently, and with a different weather type in mind. They’re specifically designed and each one is lab-tested to be sure they’re keeping the heat around your feet. Cougar is so confident that your boots won’t leak within the first 6 months of use, they’re actually guaranteed not to leak. I feel that Cougar’s own website says it best when they say, “It’s hard to feel fashionable when you can’t feel your toes”. Cougar truly works hard for their reputation as a wonderfully Canadian boot-making company.

The Return of the Pillow Boot

You may already be familiar with the style of boot known as the Pillow Boot. Created in 1976, the Pillow Boot is an innovative signature of Cougar that took Canada by storm. Now redesigned for a modern twist, the Pillow Boot is back. At first glance, all I could think right off the bat was how comfortable and warm these look! Whether you’re wanting to create a fashion statement in the snow or looking to puddle jump through the mist and rain, you’ll love these amazingly functional boots from Cougar. I love the different colours and styles available from Cougar, but I especially love the ones created through the Pillow Boot line. You can tell just by looking at these amazing boots that they’re going to be warm and dry by the end of your long day. I am also always looking for a pair of winterized boots that are nearly knee length. The Pillow Boot line offers this, but also a mid-calf and an ankle length version. Indeed, the Pillow Boot has a style for anyone and everyone who is currently in the market for a great pair of boots.

 Cougar is a company that cares about the environment.

With environmental concerns linked to the use of PVC, Cougar is currently working to eliminate PVC products from their boots, and already offer some amazing PVC-free options. With so many reasons to purchase Cougar, how can any Canadian resist checking out the wonderful options available for men, women and children? If you’ve been longing for a new pair of boots or you’re tired of your feet being left cold in the snow, maybe it’s time that you and your family considered joining the Cougar family.

Thanks so much Lindsay Dianne for Guest posting!! 

Based off of the West Coast of British Columbia, Lindsay Dianne is the owner and operator of the Urban Momtographer; An All-Purpose Life Blog with a focus on healthy eating, parenting and shedding the processed life in the Canadian rain forest. 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Special Needs and the Elementary School System in Ontario

Pin It This summer I have been joining in on some really interesting conversations at the ETFO Community Portal. ETFO stands for Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

We've been discussing everything from our vision for elementary schools in Ontario to bullying to class blogs and walking school buses! I have found it truly fascinating. I honestly had no idea how different things could be from one school to the next, even in the same province.

There has also been some discussion of IEP's... Individual Education Plans and the role of EA's (Educational Assistants) in the classroom. As the mother of a special needs kid those two things are very near and dear to my heart.

Aiden has an IEP and a full-time EA with him at all times because he has Autism. The IEP helps us all (teacher, EA, special education director, principal & parents) stay on the same page. Aiden's IEP means that his curriculum is modified from the neurotypical kids in his class and his EA works with him every step of the way.

Tonight Aiden and I were talking. We made a deal this summer that if he brushed his hair regularly he could keep it long. I reminded him daily of our deal but he simply refused to brush his hair. So today we were discussing when to cut his hair.  Not surprisingly he is NOT happy about the impending hair cut.

During the course of his freak-out Aiden said something that I found enlightening...

Aiden: I don't want my hair cut because I will look ugly and everyone has long hair! I want to be the same as everyone else. I already am different because I have Autism I don't want to look different too.

That was heartbreaking for me to hear. My poor sweet little boy is all too aware of his differences and it breaks my heart that he so badly wants to be just like everyone else.

We are working on helping him be happy with who he is, helping him understand his Autism and how it makes him unique and that is ok! Clearly he is not at the "ok with it" point yet but we want him to know that WE are ok with him just the way he is.

I took out Aiden's school pictures and pointed out that only 1 boy had longish hair so really, short hair would not look unusual. I also pointed out that he was not the only child in his class that had something inside to deal with- I pointed out the little boy with FAS and the 2 boys with ADHD and the little girl with major anxiety and the kid who is allergic to almost everything.

I said "Aiden, everyone is different in some way. We all have things we have to deal with inside of ourselves. For mommy it is depression and anxiety, for daddy it is ADD and being allergic to trees and grass, for you it is Autism, for Owen it is ADHD, for Olivia it is how scared she is of leaving mommy and that she gets pneumonia every winter, and every single kid in your school has SOMETHING they have to deal with. You are NOT the only one."

After we finished our conversation I was looking at his class picture and thinking how truly incredible his teacher was for being able to handle all those kids with all those different needs.  Aiden's EA was nothing short of brilliant in the way she handled my son. Really.

In my opinion we sometimes ask far too much of our Elementary school teachers and EA's. We ask them to handle a lot - children with everything from Autism and mental illness to severe allergies and physical disabilities.  I honestly believe they should have access to more specialized PAID training and support for dealing with all these special needs. A little extra training can make all the difference- for the teacher, EA and child!!

If you have kids in school in Ontario check out the ETFO community portal and join the conversation. You can also follow the #ETFO and #KidsMatter hashtags on twitter.

* this post is a little bit sponsored but mostly just something I am passionate about *

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Air Ballet? LINKY

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Play Kitchen or Baby Nursery?

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Olivia made beds for a few of her favourite stuffies ... in her play kitchen of course. All the easier to feed the pretend babies with the pretend food from the pretend kitchen! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Bikini Dilemma

Pin It First of all let me just say that my husband and I are not huge fans of the bikini... and especially not on our daughter.

But in our defense when she got this bikini a couple years ago it was a tankini and more like shorts and a tank-top... but the child just keeps getting taller and taller and taller and now there is like a mile of tummy showing in between the top and bottom.

I tried to get rid of the bikini.

In fact I thought I HAD gotten rid of it when we moved.

But alas... apparently I did not.

Because the other day Olivia came out of her room thrilled that she had found her beloved bikini in one of her boxes.

In her defense it is hot and we have no air conditioning in our house.

Plus, how can you argue with fashion sense like this...
(I did NOT ask her to pose like this... she does that all on her own... I shudder to think of the teen years)

I mean seriously- faded too small tankini (it used to be crazy bright pink) paired with a purple headband and fuzzy pink princess winter boots.

Outfits just don't get any better than that my friends.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Gruffalo

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Based on the best-selling children’s book, The Gruffalo is a magical tale of a mouse who takes a stroll through the woods.  Encountering three predators who all wish to eat him, the adorable and confident mouse has to use his wits to survive.  He tells his predators that he is meeting a monster, which scares each of them, but what will mouse do when comes face to face with the terrible product of his imagination?

The Gruffalo will be available at your local retailer or at www.NCircleEntertainment.com!



The Gruffalo is a wonderful book and it makes a fabulous movie. As a family we have watched The Gruffalo at least 5 times since the DVD arrived at our house. The kids have watched it even more. Actually, the kids have watched it so many times that they walk around quoting lines from the film regularly.

I asked the kids what they thought of the movie and this is what they said...

Aiden: I like it. I like the part where where snake said "goodbye little mouse". I like the little mouse the best. 
Owen: It's weird but it is funny because the mouse tricks them all. It isn't long enough though. 
Olivia: I like the part where the fox says come and have lunch in my underground house. I like the little mouse and the fox and the gruffalo best. 

The Gruffalo is a great little movie and we all highly recommend it!

*I was sent a free DVD to review*

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Therapy Meals At Home: Food Therapy Session #1

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I mentioned last week that we are starting feeding therapy in our house- mostly for my son Aiden who has Autism but also for Owen who has some sensory issues all his own.

Several people asked me to talk about the therapy in more detail so I thought I would give you all a play by play from our session today.

A therapy meal has 4 stages:
(taken from the handout we were given, credit to Kay A. Toomey, PH.D)

1. Sensory Preparation- children participate in sensory "calming" or sensory "jazzing"

For this stage our lovely Occupational Therapist Kendra brought a bunch of her sensory "toys" for the boys to set up an obstacle course. She let the boys decide where to put everything and how they would carry out the course.

She has the coolest therapy toys.

Aiden especially loved the "wooden bouncy thing" ... not sure what it is actually called lol!

Kendra the Occupational Therapist is the pretty lady in the blue shirt. Owen is in the green shirt and Aiden is in the black shirt and pyjama bottoms (of course).

Kendra had the boys go through the course a few times each and they seriously could have kept going they had so much fun.

Owen was a huge fan of the roller board thing...

They even had fun cleaning up...

This is a video I took of Aiden doing the whole course that they set up...

2. Starting Routine- each child sits in their assigned chair and blow bubbles
- every child in turn washes and dries hands
- each child is passed a plate and a napkin
- each child helps serve themselves

I actually forget what the point of the blowing bubbles was... but I am sure there was a good reason for it! The kids loved it of course.

3. Feeding-  move through sequence of steps to accepting foods
- children are positively reinforced for ALL levels of food interaction (imitation, touch, praise, comments, clap, cheer)
- do not force the child to eat

The foods we used in today's session were (in order):

  • apples - cut up/peeled
  • peasr - cut up/peeled (similar to apple shape)
  • vanilla yogourt 
  • orange cheese circles - cut orange cheese into round slices
  • carrots - cut into circles
  • sweet potato chips
  • round rice crackers
  • banana - cut into circle slices
  • banana chips
  • dried apricots
  • high cal fruit drinks 

Basically the kids were encouraged to touch, smell, taste and generally "explore" each food item. Kendra would ask the questions and help them compare the foods- for example how a pear slice feels different from an apple slice.

She gave Aiden a visual schedule to put up on the wall beside him so he would know exactly what was going on.

And you know what? It worked amazingly well.

Owen actually tried EVERY SINGLE FOOD that was offered!! He even ate a dried apricot!!

I was so impressed. Seriously.

And Aiden actually touched and smelled ALL the foods and tasted most of them!!! That is pretty incredible. He ATE YOGURT willingly for the first time ever. He took a bite of a pear slice for the first time ever. He ate sweet potato chips! I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down with excitement. (no. I am not exaggerating.)

It was a great experience. I think the meal part took about an hour... and Aiden got a little restless at the end but Kendra managed to engage him pretty quickly. One of the goals was to get him comfortable just having different foods on the table. At one point he got a bit overwhelmed with all the different types of food but he still stayed. Amazing.

4. Clean Up Routine- signal "all done", "snack is over", "time to clean up"
- each child helps throw away their paper items and left over food
- each child helps to wash table
- each child in turn washes and dries hands

Most children with Autism have eating "issues". Many of them have a very restricted diet of what they will and will not eat. Aiden fits into that category and we are really excited to be doing feeding therapy!!

I am seriously so thankful for a wonderful paediatric Occupational Therapist and the Canadian government for providing her services to us for free!

Our assignment is to do the exact same meal once on our own this week and Kendra will return for Therapy Session #2 next week! I'll keep you updated :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Too Cool LINKY

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Mars Needs Moms

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We were sent the new Mars Needs Moms movie to review. We didn't get the chance to see it in the theatre so we were all pretty excited to get the DVD!

Film Synopsis:Take out the trash, eat your broccoli — who needs moms anyway? Nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green) finds out how much he needs his mom (Joan Cusack) when she's nabbed by Martians who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. In a race against time and oxygen, his quest to save her knows no bounds. And with some unexpected help, Milo just might find his way back to her — in more ways than one.

My kids all love Mars Needs Moms. The first time they watched it my sons were so caught up in the story that they even cried a bit. I also really enjoyed it- I got a bit choked up at one point and laughed out loud a few times. The animation is fabulous and I thought the story was all around entertaining.

 here is the trailer...


I asked the kids what they thought of Mars Needs Moms and this is what they said:

Aiden (age 9): I think it is kinda scary and good and crazy and weird. I like the guard martians because they are really cool and they have really cool armour. 
Olivia (age 4): I like Ki the girl martian because she is pretty. I like Milo too and I like his mom. I like Gribble too. I don't get it how they make martians though. I don't like the part where they steal Gribble.  
Owen (age 7): I think it is pretty cool and kinda weird. I like watching it. 

If you are looking for a movie to watch with the whole family than give Mars Needs Moms a try!

* I was sent a copy of this movie to review*

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