Posts Tagged ‘stages kids go through’

Boy Clubs are for Boys

When our first child was born, a girl, we tried to raise her without falling into gender stereotypes. I would buy clothing based on something I liked versus shopping in just the girls section. My daughter wore a lot of outfits with monsters and aliens on them, mixed with a few dresses. I never put one of those baby headbands on her or barettes to show people passing by she was a girl. It didn’t matter if they knew or not. Even her toys were mixed with trucks and dolls sometimes playing together.

When our second child was born, a boy this time, we tried to follow the same philosophy though I did find this harder to do. I may have been open to my son wearing more feminine colours but I wasn’t planning on putting him in a dress just to make a statement. As my kids got a little order and their personalities developed I could definitely see a difference between my son and daughter. I think as a parent we can influence the type of people they will become but I believe that part of who they are is engrained in them before they are born.

My son is very much a boy. He’s super active and always moving; he has a hard time sitting still for a long period of time. He loves to create as long as it involves Lego or blocks or items from the recycling bin. He enjoys stories that are about super heros and pirates and underpants. Some things about his boyness I struggle to understand, I mean how funny can a joke about a bird pooping on your head really  be, but I’m coming to terms with it.

At school and in the playground and at T-ball, boys are required to listen and behave and show restraint. They’re mixed with girls and have to tone down their behaviour. I don’t disagree with this, I have two girls also and I wouldn’t want them knocked over by over zealous boys at recess. But boys need their own space to be boys, the loud, rambunctious, hyper boys. That’s one reason why I signed my son up for Beavers (a part of the Scouts program). It was his night to go out and do boy things. They run and play tag, they hunt for bugs, they practice wolf calls (the louder the better). My son loves it.

Now this freedom is being threatened, well in my opinion anyway. Now girls want to and can join the Scout groups. I think this is wrong. Now before you jump down my throat about how I’m perpetuating stereotypes and that girls should be allowed to do the same things as boys, this isn’t an argument against girls. I’m all for girls being given the same opportunities as boys. I think if girls want to dig in the dirt and built forts and dance under a full moon they should be allowed to. I just think they need to do it in their own group.

Boys and girls are different. I think it’s great that they’re integrated in school and clubs and as friends and other activities, but I also think it’s important that they have their own groups. Once you add girls into the mix, now boys need to be restrained from yelling as loud and running as fast and being as rough and that’s not fair.

I think my two girls are very fortunate to have access to so many opportunities through school and after school and going forward, and I have those parents and children who pushed for equal opportunities to thank and I am thankful. But as girls gain ground, boys are loosing theirs. Instead they are guilted into wanting to bond with boys, to do boy things, to play without girls. I try to raise my son to be respectful of everyone but he should also be proud that he’s a boy. Now if only the parents of his Beaver troop believed that too.

Getting Old versus Growing Old

I know I’ll grow old and I’m fine with that, sort of. What I want to avoid is getting old. Confused? There is a difference. Growing old is all part of your life-cycle; it’s inevitable. You body doesn’t have the same shape or react the same way but you have more free time, even if it’s just spent napping.

Getting old on the other hand has nothing to do your physical abilities. It can sometimes have nothing to do with your age, though many older people fall into the getting old trap.

People who are getting old are those who have quickly forgotten what it’s like to be young, to be a kid. I tend to notice these people more when I’m out with my kids, like at church today. Father was talking and yes you are supposed to be a good Catholic and listen quietly and attentively, but try telling that to a three-year-old. My daughter was pretending her fingers were people talking. It wasn’t loud but loud enough to disturb the ‘old’ woman sitting in front of us. How quietly would you sit while someone gave a speech on how calculus evolved. Not what father was talking about but the point is it’s hard for anyone to sit still and be interested when the topic isn’t of interest to you.

Old people seem to forget what it was like when they were young. Perhaps that part of their memory has eroded away. Along with the part that sensors the crazy things they say ‘I feel sorry for your son. If you don’t cut his hair he’s going to grow-up thinking he’s a girl.‘ Yes, we’ve had to deal with the ignorant side of those getting old too. And the part that stimulates logical thinking; why else would a person with a cane and the inability to move faster than a sloth decide to cross a busy street without using a cross walk.

I have to be careful though, I think I’ve noticed hints of growing old in myself. It usually comes out as impatience. My three-year-old wants to get herself dressed and her socks have to be perfect (seams lined up and everything). My son HAS to build the extra dungeon in his Lego fortress before coming down to dinner. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what it was like learning and practicing new skills or loving what you’re doing so much you just can’t stop. Or maybe it’s not that I’ve forgotten but rather I don’t think the skills my kids are learning (and I’ve mastered) or the activities that interest them (and not me) deserve the same consideration as my own new skills and interest. It’s hard enough getting through childhood without having people, including your mom, discourage or short-change what kids are doing. I think I need to work a little more on avoiding getting old. Hopefully my kids are patient enough with me while I learn.

Flip for the Holidays

In our house Christmas is for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I enjoy the holidays but I think we enjoy it so much more since having our own kids. There’s something about the excitement and surprise and wonderment that kids exude around the  holidays. And because they grow and change and mature, quickly, I want to capture as much of each stage as I can.

Pictures are great, they certainly show the changes kids go through and if caught at the right moment, they can show excitement and surprise and wonder. But somethings are best captured on video. There’s a whole other feeling and dimension to video.

The Flip Mino HD

In enters the Flip Mino HD. This compact, light-weight video camera weights 3.3 oz which is lighter and more compact than most cell phones. You can record up to 60 minutes of video at a resolution of 1280×720. The Flip Mino HD starts up quickly enabling you to capture impromptu video; you can start recording 3-seconds after the camera turns on. The Flip Mino HD has a built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery that can charged with the pop-out USB connection or a power adaptor (sold separately). The USB is tucked into the camera itself and only pops-out when you want to connect to your computer. This ensures the USB doesn’t get damaged as it’s tucked out of the way.

And after you’ve recorded your video, you can edit it and share it with others using the pre-loaded software on the Flip Mino HD. You can also view your video on your TV with the supplied AV cables. The simple control buttons are on the backside of the camera; all that’s required is a light touch over them (they’re flat on the camera versus buttons that stick out which adds to the slim look of the Flip Mino HD). The buttons are also backlit in case you happen to be shooting in a dark environment.

Win a Flip Mino HD

Who wouldn’t want a video camera to record those holiday memories, special moments and just everyday events, especially a camera that’s small and light enough to fit into your pocket. Well Flip ( @flipvideocanada) and Mom Central Canada ( @mc_canada) want to give you, one of you at least, your own Flip Mino HD video camera. To enter all you need to do is tell me who on your Christmas list you would give a Flip Mino HD to and why.  But be sure to tell me before December 31, 2009 because that’s when this contest closes (open to Canadian residents 18 years or older).

Bonus Entry: tweet the following and come back and post a comment letting me know you did (only counts as one bonus entry)

I’d flip to win a Flip from @mc_canada and @flipvideocanada http://bit.ly/6Wb3v3 #flip4holiday

Flip Fridays

I just received my Flip Mino HD and at first sight it seem great, certainly based on everything Flip says it can do. Now the real fun begins. Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting my Flip Mino HD video camera to the test and with the holidays and three kids I’ll have plenty of material to work with. I’ll be posting my thoughts and a clip or two on Flip Friday (December 18 and December 25) so be sure to come back and read my posts.

Another Bonus Entry

If reading about my thoughts on the Flip Mino HD isn’t enough incentive, you’ll have a chance for another bonus entry, on each Flip Friday post. Tomorrow is the first Flip Friday too. That’s four (4) possible entries for your own fabulous Flip Mino HD.

Good Luck. Let the flipping begin!

Update: Random.org picked Rebecca. Congratulations. Thanks for everyone who entered.

Have you been bad or good?

It’s funny the affect one person can have on kids, at least on my kids. I’m talking Santa. And don’t I use it for all it’s worth:

  • You better clean your room. Santa doesn’t like messy rooms
  • If you three don’t stop fighting and learn to share, Santa might have to skip this house

You get the idea. Now that the Christmas season is upon us (any time after the Santa Clause parade is the Christmas season in my book) one of the first things my kids do is write letters to Santa.

Now with my kids, a standard pen to paper type letter just won’t do. There has to be crayons, markers, scissors, glue, stickers and glitter. And let’s not forget the images cut out of magazines and flyers illustrating the exact toy each child wants (my kids are so considerate of Santa’s senility).

So with Christmas music playing through the iPod and hot chocolate from our Tassimo beverage system, the Christmas letter mayhem started:

Making a snow scene on the back of his letter

My 5yo making a snow scene on the back of his letter to Santa

My 2yo writing her letter to Santa (big sister helped)

My 7yo creating a picture for Rudolph

My 7yo making a picture for Rudolph

Everyone working together

Everyone working together

The letters Santa and crew will be receiving from our house this year.

The letters Santa and crew will be receiving from our house this year.

Have you sent your letters in yet?

Review: Tickle Tap Apps, preschool fun for the iPhone

I must admit, after I set-up my iPhone, one of the first things I did was tap my way over to the Apple App Store to check out all the cool (and in some cases bizarre) apps I could now get on my phone. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Of course my kids were interested too, even my youngest at just two. When I heard about Tickle Tap Apps, iPhone fun designed for kids 3 to 5 specifically, I had to check them out.

There are currently three completed apps available: Sort Slider, Count Caddy, and Sound Shaker but there are plans for seven more.

Sort Slider ($1.99) is a shape matching game. The screen consists of two fun shapes, like say a flower pot and a tree branch, and a silhouette of one of the shapes. Your child needs to match the silhouette to the correct shape by either tilting the iPhone to slide the silhouette shape or touching and dragging the silhouette shape.  As your child completes matches successfully, Harvey the dog barks enthusiastically and does tricks to encourage them.

My daughter loved playing this; she especially loved when Harvey did tricks after so many correct matches. The movement, either sliding or touching, was easy for her to master. And there’s no negative feedback which is great; if a child slides a silhouette over the incorrect shape nothing happens. The game continues until the slide the shape correctly. The number of shapes is limited but the variety of combinations and placements always makes this game feel new, never repetitive.

Count Caddy ($1.99) helps children learn and practice counting. Jinja the cat encourages kids to drag the balls of yarn into a circle. They start with one, then two and so on up to eight. After accomplishing counting by ones, Robin the bird has them count feathers by twos and Harvey the dog has the kids count bones by threes (and the number count goes higher, to almost twenty). Along with the repetitive audio, the numbers are reinforced visually with the balls of yarn (or features or bones) and the actual number. There are three levels overall and once they are all completed they can be played over again.

My daughter had a little bit of difficulty with the touch and drag, but she quickly figured it out with assistance. She loved the different animals, though she’s only made it half-way through counting by twos. As my daughter played, she became familiar with the numbers and would recite them along with the game.

Sound Shaker ($1.99) is a fun, interactive music making app. Kids can choose from six different sound categories, like chimes, drums or even barn animals. Once they have their sound chosen, they can add it to the screen. A simple tap and a sound ball appears. The longer they hold their finger on the screen a bigger sound ball appears with a different tone of the sound they choose. But that’s not the best part. Once your child has added all the sounds they want, tilt the phone to hear a new musical masterpiece as all the sound balls roll around the screen.

I think this was my daughter’s favourite app out of the three (mine too actually). I love how creative this is. My daughter especially loved the surprise of the bird when she held her finger on screen for a long time. On the streetcar ride home my daughter would play and passengers all around were craning their necks to watch her. The sound is wonderful too, not tinny and annoying to your ears (which is good because your kids will be playing this for a long time).

All three apps, Sort Slider, Count Caddy and Sound Shaker have fun colourful graphics. The layout is very clean, no cluttered background images, which makes it easy for young kids to concentrate on the task at hand, having fun.

I can’t wait to see what’s instore for the next seven Tickle Tap Apps. If they’re anything like these three, I’ll have to own them, ALL.

I have to thank Limelite PR and zinc Roe Design for giving me access to these three apps for my review.

And in this corner…

School’s in full swing, the weather is colder and the flu bug seems to be creeping around every corner, time for the flu fighting gloves to come off.

Before I had kids I never got sick, okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I certainly didn’t get sick as much as when I had kids. There’s something about kids and bugs. And with this new flu strain, the H1N1 virus, you can’t help but worry about your child’s health and well being.

We haven’t changed our routines any when it comes to staving off the flu and colds and so far this season we’ve been lucky (knock on wood). Some of the things we’ve been doing to keep us bug free are:

  • Drinking plenty of water to flush the system and a good nights sleep so the body can re-energize (sadly that doesn’t seem to include me lately).
  • Keeping the fingers out of noses (which is much harder than it sounds) and ensuring finger nails are always clean and trimmed short (it’s amazing what can hide in my oldest daughter’s nails if not cut).
  • Blowing the nose to get ‘stuff’ out instead of sniffling and keeping it in.
  • Increasing the body’s immunity system. Checkout my review of Nayla Natural‘s Anti-Monster Spray immunity system booster
  • Regular and proper hand washing. This is a big one. To ensure my kids spend enough time scrubbing with the soap they now have to sing a song. A chorus of Happy Birthday and We Wish you a Merry Christmas seem just long enough. Only after the chorus can they rinse. Here are my two youngest to demonstrate (though my shy two-year old seems to have lost her voice, especially when she realized the camera was on her):

But sometimes even with the best intentions and practices kids get sick. If your child does get sick here are a few simply measures you can follow from The Ontario Ministry of Health:

  • Treat your child’s fever. Take off heavy clothing/blankets. Dress your child in lightweight clothing and keep the room temperature at 20C (68F). Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and muscle pain in the dose recommended on the package (unless your doctor says other wise).
  • Treat your child’s other flu symptoms. Encourage your child to get plenty of rest. Use salt-water nose drops to treat a stuffy nose. (See my review of the non-medicated Breathe Right nasal strips for kids we tried.) As your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines for cough.
  • Protect others from the flu. Keep you child at home until his/her fever has been absent for at least 24 hours and he or she is feeling well enough to resume normal activities. It’s important for your child to stay home if there’s a fever so that the virus doesn’t spread to other children. Your child can return to school 24 hours after the fever has resolved and he/she is feeling well enough to get back to normal activities.

If you’re concerned that your child has more than just a simple cold or flu, you can take The Ontario Ministry of Health‘s online Influenza assessment tool. The Ontario Ministry of Health has also set-up a pretty comprehensive flu section on their site. There you’ll be able to find details on the open flu vaccination clinics, tips on staying healthy, information on the H1N1 vaccine and more.

Here’s to winning the fight against the flu.

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Review: Jumpstart Escape from Adventure Island Wii Game

PhotobucketNot that long ago our family had a chance to review JumpStart’s 3D World, an online learning environment, as well as JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii game.

We’re big fans of JumpStart so the kids were tickled pink when given the chance to review Knowledge Adventure‘s newest Wii game: Escape from Adventure Island.

PhotobucketGame Synopsis

During an emergency landing on Adventure Island the blimp you and Frankie were traveling in gets damaged. Now you’re on a mission to collect sand dollars, which you’ll trade in for helium tanks to fix your blimp. Complete challenges to earn either white or gold sand dollars.

Story and Practice Modes

The game is played in Story Mode, where you help Frankie complete various challenges, like letter recognition, math problems or just following instructions, and earn a sand dollar. There are various levels to each challenge making it easily adaptable to your child’s skill level now and as they improve. You can practice some of the skills you will need to complete the challenges with educational games in Practice Mode.

On Land or in Water

JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island has two main areas: the Island Hub, where kids play and learn above the water or the Scuba Hub where your jumpee is dressed in scuba gear and you can explore and play under water. Both of my kids loved the Scuba Hub in this game; this environment wasn’t something offered in the JumpStart Pet Rescue game. My son spent most of his time underwater. My son wanted to get right into the game; he didn’t even adjust or customize the default jumpee character.

My daughter missed the fact that there weren’t worlds to explore (in JumpStart Pet Rescue there were more locations to jump to). She also missed the pet adoption aspect. But I think it’s great that the two games are different; you would play them for a different experience.

Improved Use of the Wii-mote

I remember one of my disappointments with the JumpStart’s Pet Rescue game was the lack of intuitive use with the Wii-mote. Well that isn’t an issue with JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island. Watching the kids play, they turn and twist and point the Wii-mote; they seem more involved in the game.

But What do the Kids Think

Rated E for Everyone

The JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island game for the Wii has been rated Everyone (E) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which means ‘it has content suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.‘ The game play seemed pretty similar to the JumpStart Pet Rescue which received an Early Childhood (EC) rating.

In Stores

JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island for the Wii (recommended for ages 5 to 9) will be available in major retailers starting November 17, 2009 for $29.99US

Time to Escape and WIN

Knowledge Adventure, the creatures of the JumpStart games is running an amazing contest. Visit their blog and tell them how your family uses imagination to escape the everyday and turn life into and adventure. Your story could win one (1) of fifty (50) copies of JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island or maybe even one (1) of the three (3) Grand Prize Family Escape Packs (valued at over $1000). Contest closes November 16 so be quick.

* a review copy of JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island was provided by Knowledge Adventure

Practicing for Winter

You may remember the video of my son and younger daughter doing their crazy slide tricks. I thought that was bad enough until I turned around and caught my two older kids doing this:

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my son came up with the ‘bright’ idea. I mean, he’s the one with the creative way to solve those pesky slide puzzles.

And when asked what made him do it: Winter’s coming and we want to tobogganing but we don’t have snow yet. It’s almost like tobogganing down the big hill.

Hopefully the snow will arrive before a trip to the emergency room.

A Deal fit for a Princess (or Prince)

Princesses are a popular theme in our house, especially with my youngest daughter. Our last trip to Disney World, my daughter was all about Cinderella. With Christmas around the corner and the big Santa Claus parade this weekend, all my kids are thinking about their wish lists. You know what’s on my youngest daughter’s list: anything princesses.

If you have a little princess in your house, I know just the thing and right in time for the holidays.

Disney on Ice, Princess Classics

An amazing journey to the magical lands of Disney classics fairy tales. Travel to a kingdom under the sea, an enchanted French castle, an Arabian palace and more! With special guest Tinker Bell, enter the worlds of your favourite Disney princesses Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan and Snow White and see their dreams come true as this royal skating extravaganza brings magic to your hometown. (from Disney on Ice website)

And if you’re in or near Toronto, you can take your little princesses and princes to see the Disney on Ice, Princess Classics from December 18 until December 27, 2009 at the Rogers Center. That’s not the best part. Mom Central Canada is offering you a chance to purchase tickets for only $11 each when you buy four or more tickets (Monday to Friday, excluding Friday evenings) or $4 off all weekend shows. *

To take advantage of this deal, visit TicketMaster.ca and enter the promotional code MCC.

* Not valid for rink side or VIP seating. Cannot be combined with other offers. Service charge and handling fees will apply.

We believe in Santa Claus

santalooking

Discovering Santa 2008

There’s great excitement in our house this week. We’ve just discovered that the cities big Santa Claus parade is this Sunday. Yes, it is only mid November, but that means we can jump right into the Christmas season that much sooner. The walk to school consisted of the kids talking about what they were going to ask Santa Claus for (we’re writing letters this week to give to Santa at the parade).

I love seeing my kids so excited; they’ve already started being extra nice to each other. Flyers now have big holes in them from the kids cutting out pictures to include in their letters. I know one day their belief in the jolly fat man will wain so I’m enjoying the moment while it lasts. I can’t imagine what Christmas will be like without Santa Claus. Sure we’ll still have baking and songs and cards and gifts, but something magical will be missing.

I know there are many people who don’t believe in Santa Claus. My sister’s family celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. We do as well and my kids understand the real purpose of Christmas (for us), but I love having the fun part of Santa too. 

Some people don’t believe in any of those fantasy characters, like the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny or leprechaun.

Since these characters aren’t real, why fool your kids telling them they are. One day they’ll discover the truth and be devastated.

Yes, that might be true. There will probably be some tears on the day my kids realize the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus aren’t real; tears from them and myself. But the years of enjoyment we get from these beliefs far outweighs the disappointment to come (I say now, though I haven’t yet hit that disappointment stage yet). Am I really doing such a disservice to my kids by letting them believe? Isn’t childhood all about imagination and fantasy and all the stuff we lose when we move into adulthood. Somehow having my kids believe in these characters makes me believe, just a little. And believing in a fairy who rewards children as they move from babyhood into childhood or a jolly man who encourages being nice and taking care of others seems to fill my heart with love and understanding and everyone can benefit from that right?