Category Archives: Mom

Back To School Traditions

16th August 2018

Back To School

CJ started Montessori School in Toronto when he was two. Then at four, he joined Life Project Education for a few weeks while we were digital nomading in Costa Rica. Next month he’ll be entering pre-kindergarten at his new school in the SF Bay Area.

This kid sure gets around! And I was right there with him at every first drop-off… with a big encouraging smile all the while holding back tears behind my extra large sunglasses.

We mark the end of summer (gosh is it really, already?!) with a trip to the CNE, filling our bellies with cinnamon dusted Tiny Tom donuts. Then it’s all about the photos on the first day. Bribing CJ with swedish berries for a snapshot by his locker. At the end of the school year, we ask his teachers to write messages in a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go”… which we plan to give him on his graduation.

Back to school sign

Here are a few other fun ideas to kick off your new school year…

Get a large t-shirt made with “class of _____”. How cute would it be to take a photo each year and watch them grow into their grad shirt. (It’s going to be #classof2032 for us!!)

If you have little ones, tame their jitters (and your anxiety) by reading The Kissing Hand or The Invisible String together.

Make a schuletüte – a great arts and crafts project! Based on a German tradition, it’s basically a school surprise ‘cone’ that parents fill up with supplies and treats. Check out Pinterest for inspo.

 

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Hey Moms, Don’t Be A Susan!

7th July 2018

Mom truth

Parents, please read this article This Is Why Social Media Makes Modern Parenting Hard… and don’t be a Susan! She’s a unicorn anyway.

Susan is that woman, that mom. We all know a Susan. She’s an over-achiever, but makes it all look effortless. She only needs three hours of sleep a night. She doesn’t just have a crafting table, she has an entire crafting wing in her house!

Susan has a cookie cutter for every occasion, including Arbor Day and Flag Day. She never misses a volunteer opportunity. She has a freezer full of homemade casseroles and a refrigerator full of pre-prepped nutritional and delicious meals (toddler and adult versions of course).

Susan’s children are never bored. They are always engaged in developmentally appropriate sensory play, thoughtfully running their little hands through moon sand or rainbow oats or feel frames. They don’t watch TV.

Once upon a time, I really tried to be a Susan. I was a high achiever ‘super mom’ for probably a year and half and took mega pride in juggling my career as a marketing exec, blogger, teacher and new mama who shopped all organic and strived for that polished playful Instagram feed.

Well not always… see that photo above? It was taken after I left for two minutes to go pee. That is after holding it in for the last hour to feed, dress and wipe his boo boo’s. Only to come back to every toy taken out including an opened Canada Post parcel. The little monster was supposed to be sick that day and stayed home from school. The struggle is real!

So now I’m just CJ’s mom who goes to bed — yes sometimes at 9pm! with stickers in my dry-shampooed hair, promising myself that I’ll try harder tomorrow. So mamas, even if you are not a Susan, you are still doing great!

Share your Susan moments in the comments section below and follow my less than perfect #momlife on Instagram!

 

Worldschooling: Life Project Education

20th March 2018

Life Project Education

I am so excited to share this post because I can’t speak highly enough about Life Project Education! I discovered it on a worldschooling website and was so intrigued that I emailed the owner and teacher, Alys immediately and enrolled CJ even before booking our flights! I actually never planned to go to Costa Rica haha but ended up making a whole ‘workcation’ out of it.

When it comes to education, I’m a really proactive mom who sits on the PTA and does extensive online research on all the different options so I really respect Alys for operating such a top notch teaching environment and recommend checking out this school yourself. Plus it’s in Costa Rica… beats your kid reading about sloths and macaws in textbooks when they can actually see them IRL!

Worldschool

Life Project is located in the beach town of Manuel Antonio and considers itself a world school.  So they accept international students ages 4-12 for a day, a week, a month or annually! Their teaching concept is holistic – inspired by neuroscience, child development and human ethics.

The class sizes are small and mixed age, however CJ received dedicated attention and a custom academic program designed for his level. He came home on day 3 to show me his pencil grip, then I overheard something about quantum physics in the 2nd week and during his 3rd week, his teacher commented that he spent 45 mins looking at a human anatomy book. ‘My child?!?!’ I asked proudly haha!

 

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My Son Is An Only Child… For These 7 Reasons

15th March 2018

CJ

Now that my son is four I’m constantly being asked if I plan on having more kids. So I’ve come up with a humorous (and very honest) answer… no more, because CJ is like having THREE boys already!

Truth is I wish I could have more. This photo was taken on my birthday a few years ago. Hubby planned a surprise spa day for me at Hockley Valley and CJ was a year and half. Every time I see this my heart strings get tugged because I know it’ll just be him (and his pet rock) forever.

See I’ve always had this ‘two kids or nothing’ rule. But now that I’ve had my first, there are seven very valid reasons why I decided to stop at one…

Private school

1) Private school is $24,000 a year. That will jump to $30,000 when we move to California and he enters kindergarten (age 5 in the US). YIKES! We decided to be open to public school options after hearing so many success stories of great schools in the Bay Area. HOWEVER, this (spared) tuition money isn’t going to be automatically plopped into our savings (or raising another child) because it’ll go straight into the over-inflated rent/mortgage we will have to dole out to snag a Peninsula or East Bay address. FML you can never win right?! Simply put, we can do it and have an ‘average’ life as a family of 4 but heck, we work hard so why settle for mediocre?! We love traveling and already have a wonderful and comfortable lifestyle but it’s only meant for 3 people. Now if we won the lottery…

Tired dad

2) We are exhausted AF! CJ has always been a very active boy. In utero he would have dance parties in my tummy! As a baby his feet would always be up in the air kicking away. Every time we had a play date in the park, I was THAT mom wildly chasing after her toddler while the other moms and babes were able to chill and enjoy a picnic. He just cannot stay still (alright he’s a boy) but truth be told… I’m bloody tired and some nights I crash at 9pm in the middle of reading him a bedtime story. Sure we can throw the dice and maybe the next child will be ‘less spirited’ but who knows and at this point, we likely will never find out. (This also ties into #5.)

 

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What Should A 4 Year Old Know?

25th February 2018

Westside Montessori Toronto

A friend posted this great article on Facebook “What Should A 4 Year Old Know?” and I’m sharing it here because as parents we always wonder if we are doing ‘enough’.

I was touring a school in the San Francisco Bay Area recently and walked into a very academic looking classroom. At first I thought I mistakenly went to the grade school wing but a teacher confirmed that this indeed was the KINDERGARTEN class!

She then showed me some sample books the kids were reading (they looked like grade 1 level) and over on the bulletin, I saw pages of work — impressive that these 4-5 year olds were writing in full sentences already!

I left feeling a bit discouraged and questioned my own parenting abilities because I long ditched the flash cards and CJ is ‘drawing coconuts’ (a circle with a stick on top haha)… a proud momma moment when he showed me and I thought it was a BIG DEAL! Yet now I felt like he was soooo behind… despite attending a wonderful Montessori School in Toronto (that’s a photo of him in his Casa classroom up on top), I wondered if this was a Silicon Valley ‘norm’ and were we in for a rude awakening? 

 

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Indoor Places For City Kids In The Winter

12th January 2018

ROMkids

Baby it’s cold outside! And when you can’t hibernate in your McMansion and your pre-school kids are climbing all over the condo walls, city moms on mat leave have to get creative.

Luckily in downtown t.dot there are plenty of hot spots to hunker down during the frosty season…

Ripley’s Aquarium, AGO and ROM

Annual memberships saved my freezing butt so make the investment or asks grandparents to give these as birthday or x’mas presents. Experience over things!

Regular admission is also free on Wednesday nights at AGO.

Pursuit OCR

Let kids be kids at this obstacle course! Now here’s a mindful play space to develop creativity and concentration, and let them hide, run, climb and crawl. 90 min sessions can be pre-booked for $10 every Sunday.

The Rec Room

Think a cooler version of Chuck-E-Cheese for kids and grow-up kids! There are lots of redemption and video games for various ages. Grab lunch/dinner or a drink at the bar and make it into a day of family fun. Next door is the aquarium and Steam Whistle train park.

Jumblies Theatre

Conveniently located in CityPlace right by the library is a drop-in place for both parents and kids to do arts & crafts and dance. There is a wooden train set to keep babies entertained. Check their schedule because they are only open at certain times.

 

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STEM Toys + Activities For Preschoolers

10th October 2017

Ontario Science Centre

In anticipation of our jam packed traveling schedule next year, I started dabbling into homeschooling. Once or twice a week, CJ would skip school and we would take the classroom outside. It’s been so easy with this fabulous extended summer but now that fall has rolled around, I’m in panic mode on how I’m going to spark curiosity while keep this super active boy entertained indoors.

It’s been a lot of trial and error and I’ve had to hack a few of these to make it age appropriate for a preschooler but here are some cool STEM toys and activities that gets CJ excited about learning…

EduScience Lab

Have you seen the Operation Smile commercial on TV? It happened to be airing in the background when CJ (at 1.5 years old) pointed and made a bunch of inquisitive sounds. He watched with fascination as I explained that ‘doctors heal people including sick kids’, and since then he’s been saying he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. (Mom can definitely get on board with that haha!) So even though this Human Body Kit is rated for ages 8+, I bought it anyway and he loves it! One time he even sat for 25 mins as I read him the lab guide!

Skeleton Anatomy Kit

It includes 12 bones that fit together like a puzzle in a clear skeleton shell and 9 squishy organs that feel like gummies. It’s actually a really cool toy that I enjoy playing with as well. Of course, I’m trying to get him to clean up after each ‘operation’ he performs as the pieces are quite small and it’ll really suck to lose an organ! $30

Blokus

A math teacher introduced me to Blokus. There is just one rule to this game — each piece you play must touch at least one other piece of the same colour, but only at the corners! . CJ is still too young to understand the concept so we created our own rules. He’s big into mazes so we try to make one on the board. Another way to hack it is to see if you can place all 84 piece on the board. The pieces are small so it’s great for fine tuning those fine motor skills and getting little hands to turn the shapes until they fit. $25

 

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How We Dined Out For 34 Consecutive Meals With A Toddler

26th July 2017

Dining out with kids

We are a family that dines out. A lot. At a week old, we took CJ out to his first restaurant. He’s now three and one would imagine he’s had plenty of practice honing his dining etiquette but let me tell you, the struggle is STILL real!

Sidenote: if you live or are visiting Toronto, check out my restaurant guide for families.

In our most recent vacation to Spain, we didn’t bother cooking in the tiny European kitchens so for 17 days, we ate at restaurants. That is 34 meals with a super rambunctious toddler. Yikes!

So how did we pull it off with just a few stained shirts?!?!

Well it definitely took more than a dozen trinkets to keep him entertained. And we obviously couldn’t keep offering his favourite foods — corn on the cob and chocolate cake!

Eating out with kids

Early in the trip CJ kept asking us why the waiter didn’t bring his ‘sert’ (that’s what he calls dessert). After several attempts of explaining that the ‘sert’ is the last course, and a round of endless ‘whys’ (yes, we are in that phase)… we took the opportunity to gamify the situation.

Each time the waiter walked by, we would say something like ‘oh he’s coming this way to see if your plate is cleared’… this prompted him to quickly eat his salad but then the veggie burger came and he got distracted with playing with the bun.

 

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A Letter To My Sonshine About Love, Life & Poop

12th May 2017

Mothers Day 2017

You were so happy bouncing around in my tummy for nine months that it took 40 hours and a team of 3 midwives, 2 nurses and 1 surgeon to bring you into this world that crisp autumn night.

We named you ‘Caden’ – spirit of the fighter. The perfect name for a little boy who shines with relentless determination. I love how you recently started questioning everything and I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. I hope your spirit stays indomitable. Always.

Right now your favourite things are singing, reading, strawberries, trains (with wooden tracks only), your friends Max + Issac, elevators (not surprising for a city kid growing up in a condo), the jungle gym (aka dada’s chest) and everything chocolate.

It took only 4 days to toilet train you… number one. And 10 gruelling months to nail down number two. Rejoice! Yes, we knew you could do it all along but you fought us. It was a control thing. You wanted to do it on your own terms and to show us who’s boss. But at the end you realized it really was a battle between Caden vs. himself.

And this is our first lesson, my son… in life YOU often are the barrier to greater things. Not other people. Not situations or circumstances. So don’t hold back that poop and never hold back on pursuing the things you are passionate about!

 

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Prenatal Depression Is A Real Thing

19th April 2017

Prenatal Depression

I met Sharon at a birthday party. The host had thoughtfully seated us together because we were the only moms at the table. She was cheerful and funny and we clicked right away — sharing ‘mom drama’ of course.

We both boasted about our amazing pregnancies but that is where our stories take a turn… I bonded immediately with CJ and my pregnancy high kept me smiling through all the poopy diapers and 3am feedings. Meanwhile, Sharon experienced prenatal depression. A term I never even heard of. Here’s this tough momma’s life changing journey…

W: How did you envision life to be as a new mom?

S: The happiest time of my life. My first pregnancy was so easy, I was actually walking on clouds with a rosy glow. My son, J came out in 40 minutes! I didn’t even know I was in labour until the student-doctor insisted that he saw a tiny head pop out and I had to push pronto!

Growing up, it was never a question of whether I wanted to be a mother. It was a matter of when. Before my son, I never even held a baby! I was raised in a traditional Chinese home. Often there was no rhyme or reason but you just do things… graduating university and getting a job is expected. There is no such thing in Asian culture as taking a gap year to travel or figure stuff out. I got married at 26 and in two months, I was pregnant.

There wasn’t much talk about the challenges of being a mom and definitely topics around mental health were ‘swept under the rug’. So I thought everything would fall into place and I’ll just naturally morph into a super mom right after my delivery.

W: Sounds like you had this pretty picture painted in your head about motherhood but what was it really like?

Life with my first son was actually quite easy. I had time to recover and relax because there were so many extra hands and eager grandparents helping out. When I had my second son, I experienced bouts of ‘baby blues’. I mainly brushed it away thinking it was probably due to stress from the demands of my job. I chalked it up to be one of those cliche phases in life that would pass.

My husband and I flip flopped on having a third. Being an only child, I always dreamed of a big family. Three felt complete. I had an extremely tough pregnancy with C. Every nasty symptom listed in those pregnancy books, I got!

At my first trimester doctor’s appointment, I simply fell apart. She recommended I see a psychiatrist and that’s when I found out I had prenatal depression. I knew about postpartum depression but never even thought you could feel this way before the baby was born.

I cried daily for 4-5 hrs. My husband stood on the sidelines feeling helpless. My boys had no clue because I would put on a mask when they were around. It’s true when they say that depressed people make the best actors. I was clouded with the darkest thoughts. Even prayed for a miscarriage. This may sound ridiculous now but back then, seeing squirrels playing outside made me jealous and cry — because they had the freedom to prance around and enjoy life.

 

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