One Thing All Parents Should Stop Doing

I was strolling through the grocery store today when I passed a dad who was pushing his young daughter down the aisle in a shopping cart. When he passed me and our eyes met, he glanced down at his daughter and did something that I realized many of us parents do – he talked through his child. “Look how messy your hair is today,” he said to her while side-glancing my way, “how did it get so messy huh?”

He said this in a playful, high-pitched voice, as if to be joking with his little girl, but I knew his intention. I knew, because at that moment, I realized that this was something I had done too – often.

Now, I could very well be wrong, but I believe that this man was using his child as a conduit to pass along a message to listening adult ears – perhaps to justify the dishevelled appearance of his little girl (who by the way was totally adorable). I’ve done this often too – I’ve suddenly noticed that I’ve forgotten to brush my child’s hair, and when another adult looks in our direction, my parenting insecurities set in and I say something similar to my child.  “Oh honey, how did your hair get so messy? I guess we forgot to tie it up today, hey?” I’d say, hoping that by verbalizing it, my insecurities would disappear.

I’ve talked through my children in other ways too – and to be honest, I’m not sure why I do it. “What do you think your brother and sister are doing right now?” I’ll say to my eldest if we’re out alone and I feel as though adult ears are listening in. As if verbalizing aloud that I have 2 other children at home will automatically excuse my lack of makeup, sloppy attire and tired eyes. “Now, I’ll buy these Eggo waffles for you just this once honey, as a special treat.” I’ll say to my middle child at the grocery store. As if saying “just this once” out loud excuses my purchasing of an unhealthy, processed breakfast food.

And the worst way that I do this – talking through my children – is when I’m frustrated with my husband. I often do it as a way to passive aggressively express my disdain for something that he has done (or hasn’t done). “Ok honey,” (I’ll say in an elevated tone of voice) “mommy will help you with that in a moment, she just has to finish cleaning up the dishes in the kitchen, and grab the laundry from the dryer, and tidy up daddy’s mess on the table.” (cue stink eye in my husband’s direction as he slowly flips through the newspaper on the couch). And this passive aggression doesn’t go unnoticed. My husband isn’t an idiot – he knows what I’m doing, and let’s just say he’s not a fan.

So why do I do it? Because I don’t like to nag. I feel insecure sometimes as a parent. And I’m writing about this because I know that I’m not alone – I’ve seen lots of other parents do this too.

So my advice to myself and those of you who are also guilty of talking through your children is this: just stop. Passive aggression is unattractive. And onlookers probably don’t care that your kids have messy hair or that you’re wearing torn sweats. And if they do, so what? Be you. Be confident.  Be happy in the skin that you’re in.

Are you guilty of talking through your children?


– Mark Twain

Do You Suffer From ‘Text Neck’?

On average your head weighs about 10-12 lbs. With your head at a 60 degree angle – a common hunched-over texting position – your head can weigh up to 60 lbs. That’s like walking around with my Dalmatian AND my little Cloey wrapped around your neck all day. With that much pressure on your neck and shoulders, it’s no wonder a new health condition, deemed Text Neck, is rapidly gaining recognition with health practitioners around the world.

At first I laughed when I heard the term “text neck” and references to this new condition being seen as a “global epidemic”. I mean come on, I know we spend too much time with our faces buried in our handheld devices, but a global epidemic? But after doing a little research, I’m finding that over time, our obsession with smartphones is doing more damage than just making us socially-awkward human beings. There are actually  long-term, legit health risks tied to our hunchy texting postures. Here are just some of the health concerns that have been found to be associated with Text Neck:

If left untreated, Text Neck can result in serious permanent damage including*:

                    Flattening of the Spinal Curve          Onset of Early Arthritis

                    Spinal Degeneration                        Spinal Misalignment

                    Disc Herniation                               Disc Compression

                    Muscle Damage                              Nerve Damage

                    Loss of Lung Volume Capacity          Gastrointestinal Problems


Growing up, people used to compliment me on my “perfect posture”. My years of ballet training had taught me to walk with my head held high, my neck long, and my shoulders back.

Nowadays I often have headaches and suffer from constant neck and shoulder pain, but I’ve always just shrugged it off as being as a result of having 3 kids, a busy schedule, and not enough sleep. I do tend to hunch over my laptop when I work, and when I nurse my baby, I look like Gollum, hunched over my baby like she’s “the precious” as I feed her. But neither of those habits take up as much of my time as my iPhone does. When I think about it, I’m hunched over that thing all. day. long. After reading a few studies and learning more about this latest health concern, I’m left to wonder : Do I suffer from Text Neck?

Text Neck

Well don’t fret my technology-loving friends. If you do suffer from Text Neck, there are ways to “practice safe text”. This recent news clip shows you some handy exercises that you can do to avoid the longterm effects of this newly-spawned health epidemic. Check it out, and happy texting!

Ask Mama Dina: Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Helpless?

I can’t count the number of times my children have asked for my help with something, and instead of showing them how to do it for themselves, I’ve just quickly done it for them. Putting toothpaste on their toothbrushes, tying their shoes, and even wiping their bums – it all just seems easier to do it quickly and properly, and I confess, I’m a bit of a control freak. I like things done in a certain way. So when they ask to help with folding laundry or making dinner, I frequently reply with a “sorry honey, not this time”, sprinkled with some excuse as to why mommy needs to do it by herself.

Awhile ago I came across an article that asked the question: Are We Doing Too Much For Our Kids?, and it made me think about my actions and the effects that they have on my children. Today’s society is so focused on convenience – making things easier, more accessible, and faster for us. We’ve become a bit lazy, and I can’t help but wonder: Is our tendency to help ourselves hindering our children’s ability to reach their developmental milestones?

Parenting Tips

When I hear stories about my parents and the responsibilities that they had when they were growing up, I feel a little embarrassed about how much I do for my children. My mom and her four sisters were expected to work from a very young age. When she was only 7 (the same age as my daughter) she would come home from school, change into her “work clothes”, and begin her chores (housecleaning and cooking). When she was 10, she was expected to get a job. She would go around knocking on neighbours doors to see if they needed a babysitter, or help with their lawn mowing, and would work hard so that she could earn money to buy her own clothes. My children on the other hand, have almost everything done for them by yours truly.

In thinking about this, I asked my mom: “Do you think we do too much for our kids nowadays? Are we teaching them to be helpless for our own convenience?” Here’s what she had to say:

She started by agreeing that parents nowadays do tend to do too much for their children (including me). But she quickly followed up with the fact that we are all busy, and when trying to juggle the kids, work, ringing phones, errands, etc. it makes sense to do what’s easiest for us. She said we shouldn’t punish ourselves for it, we’re human and we do what we need to do get through the day. She reminded me that each day is a brand new day, and that it’s never too late to change our ways.

Here are some key tips that she gave me on helping my children to mature and do things on their own:

Ask yourself if you think they are capable of doing it themselves. As often as possible, it’s beneficial for your children to try to do things for themselves. It teaches them independence, and boosts their self esteem when they learn new skills. If they can’t tie their own shoes, respond with “let me show you how” instead of just doing it for them.  If they ask you a question, show them how to look up the answer instead of quickly responding.

I asked her what to do if you’re not sure if they’re capable of the task or not, and her response? “You won’t know for sure until you let them try!”

Praise, don’t punish. Praise them for trying, even if they don’t succeed at doing the task right away. If they can’t tie their shoes after the first few tries, don’t get mad or frustrated (I know, easier said than done), but instead encourage them with praise – “you’re doing a really good job at trying to tie your shoes. Keep practicing and I’m sure you’ll get it!”

**Side Note: Be sure to be specific with your praise. My mom says that always saying “good job” doesn’t teach them as well as being very specific about what they’ve done well. Saying something like, “You cleaned your room without my asking, that shows me that you’re learning to be responsible and that makes me very proud of you!”, helps them to understand what they’ve done right, and helps in the development of their independence and maturity.

Teach them what they need, not what they want. As you teach your children important life skills, be sure to distinguish the difference between the things that they need (healthy eating habits, choosing the right clothes for the season), versus the things that they want (iPhone 6, video game consoles). This will help to develop their decision-making skills.

I then asked her if there were certain milestones that children should reach by certain ages – for example, should my 7-year-old know how to tie her own shoes by now?

She responded that all children mature differently so there really aren’t any predetermined ages for reaching different milestones of independence.

So there you have it! I’m going to try my best to help my children to learn how to do things for themselves. A daunting task to say the least, but worth a try.


Mama Dina is a consummate mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother and grandmother. For over 30 years, she worked as an early childhood educator, and is fully trained and experienced in the Montessori educational approach. She has over 15 years of experience as a foster parent to children from all walks of life, many of whom have special needs. She provides emergency respite care for the foster care system, and acts as a ‘baby whisperer’ for preemie twins on a part-time basis. Her educational background includes training in child psychology, ECE, infant-toddler development, and various areas of special needs (ARBD, FASD, ADHD). Mama Dina’s lifelong passion has been children. She understands typical and atypical child development and behaviour, and combines her magic formula of unconditional love and consistency to enhance each child’s potential. She is also my beloved mama, and I am so blessed that she chose me to be her daughter.

Dear Mastitis: Don’t.


When you’re pregnant for the first time, no one tells you about it. Perhaps on purpose. It could be because women who have had it before are so haunted by the experience that even uttering the word “mastitis” brings on dark and disturbing flashbacks. Because even the thought of it elicits feelings of fear, anxiety, and toe-curling pain.

Full-fledged mastitis is no laughing matter. It can be worse than a bad flu, and in severe cases like actress Jaime Pressly’s experience, it can even lead to a 7.5 hour surgery to remove abscesses and breast tissue that have formed as a result of an extreme case of untreated mastitis.


What is it? Mastitis is what happens when milk builds up in your breast (often referred to as a “blocked duct”, but isn’t actually a physical blockage) causing inflammation, and even infection. It amazes me that something that sounds so simple, could be so physically torturous.

Side Note: do NOT Google “mastitis images”. You can’t unsee some of the images that come up. I’m serious, JUST. DON’T.

It is said that one in ten breastfeeding moms experience mastitis. Based on those odds, you probably think you’re safe, right? Not necessarily. I’ve had it three times – once with each child (so far), and not just the mild version.

A few weeks ago, we went on a little out-of-town jaunt to visit family. On our first night away, while I was nursing, I noticed a little tender spot on my breast. I knew immediately what was coming, and I lost sleep over it that night.

The thing about mastitis is that it starts slowly, and then progresses at the speed of light. You flirt with a little tenderness, and then it slaps you in the face. All of a sudden it hurts to have your t-shirt graze the agonizingly painful spot. You feel light-headed, and start to shiver uncontrollably. A fever comes on, and nausea creeps up your throat. This may not always be the case, but this is how it has always been for me.

Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of the torturous infection. And while mastitis is worse than any of the other things I hate about nursing, it too shall pass.




Swimming Lessons: Overcoming Failure

Swimming lessons are not optional for my kids. With a rushing river steps from our door, and regular family outings on our boat, learning the life skill is mandatory for the kids in our household. Unfortunately, what I thought would be a quick and easy accomplishment for my firstborn, has become a seven year battle.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…or take a break and try again in a few years?

In the beginning, swimming lessons were fun for my oldest. When she was 6 months old, a group of my mommy group friends and I signed up for Mommy and Me swimming classes. Each class, my girl splashed and giggled with enthusiasm, her sparkling eyes begging for me to dunk her head under the water again and again. Unfortunately when she was 1, I returned to my full-time job and found it difficult to keep up with the lessons, so I put them on hold.

We did our best to take her swimming regularly, but our visits to the pool were few and far between. When she was 3, I decided it was time to start up the lessons once more. Unfortunately, her love for water had dissolved, and the lessons were everything but enjoyable for her. She failed Tiny Tots 1 – the entry-level swimming stage. I enrolled her again, and again she failed. After 6 failed sessions, I decided to give her another break. Why beat a dead horse? She’ll come around eventually.


With the arrival of our second child and two busy careers, swimming lessons were on our minds but fell by the wayside. Again, we did our best to take our kids swimming, and while they loved to splash and play in the shallow end of the pool, both children refused to submerge their faces in the water.

This past Fall, I registered both kids in Tiny Tots 1 together, hoping that my oldest would find motivation in helping her little brother. And with determination and a lot of assistance from her instructor, she passed. She was proud of herself, and I felt a huge sense of relief. My big girl was finally learning how to swim.

Drive, determination…and heartbreak.

With the pending arrival of baby #3, I again chose to give my girl a break from lessons.

With the approach of Summer, her friends began inviting her to pool parties, and it didn’t take long for her to realize that she was more than behind in her swimming skills. Her classmates were all doing cannon balls in the pool, practicing hand stands and wooshing down waterslides on their bellies, while my girl watched enviously from the sidelines in her swim vest. “I want to learn to swim like them mommy, I feel so embarrassed that I’ve only passed Tiny Tots 1 and have to wear a vest” she said to me one day, and I knew it was time to re-enroll her in lessons.

Now 7, my girl is too old to continue with the Tiny Tots sessions, so I enrolled her in Stage 1 lessons – the first level for school-aged children. I promised that she would catch up quickly, as the class was 5 days a week. She was excited to get started, and showed up for her first lesson grinning from ear to ear.

She jumped into the pool with her fellow swimmers, and awaited the first command from her instructor. “Ok kids, front crawl to the end of the pool and then dolphin swim on the way back. And GO!” Immediately, the kids dove in facedown, and splashed across the pool like a school of fish. My girl, who had just finally dunked her head in the water for the first time in her last class (nose plugged with her fingers), looked at the instructor in awe. “C’mon, let’s go!” the instructor persisted.

My girl began splashing and flailing her arms around as she waded across the pool. She tried to put her face in like the other kids, but each dunk resulted in a nose full of chlorinated water. She hadn’t yet learned how to breath underwater without plugging her nose.

Gasping and choking, she just kept trying. My heart sunk and my eyes began to well up as I watched my little girl try and try again.

And then it got worse…

As she approached the pool’s edge, a boy kicked off and his foot hit her square in the face. Already humiliated, my girl pursed her lips and tried her hardest to hold back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She glanced over at me, and her face fell as sobs forced their way through her tiny pout. But she still didn’t give up.

It took everything I had to resist the urge to scoop her up out of the pool into my arms, but I wanted to let her decide when she was done – she was just so determined. So I watched wide eyed, my heart racing and my throat choked up with empathy for my baby girl.

From failing to winning, and what finally worked.

When class was over she rushed into my arms and sobbed uncontrollably. I hugged her tightly and told her how proud I was of her for trying so hard and doing her best. I promised that she wouldn’t have to return to that class, and that I would find a more suitable option for her. After a lengthy discussion with the head lifeguard (who explained that although it was indeed the beginner level for school-aged children, my daughter had happened to land in a class where all the children had completed all 4 levels of the Tiny Tots sessions and they just happened to be a more advanced group), I made the decision to pay the additional fees for private lessons.

Although the cost was almost triple that of the regular swimming lessons, private lessons seemed to be our only option. But costs aside, it has been totally worth it.

swim 2

After one session, my girl was bobbing under water without plugging her nose. Now five sessions in, she’s swimming on her back unassisted, dunking for rings without hesitation, and approaching the ability to do a proper front crawl. She’s actually learning how to swim, and more importantly, she’s loving every minute of it.

Signing her up for private swimming lessons was the best decision for my girl, and I’m so happy that I did it. Fingers crossed that my next two little ones will love the water from the beginning, but I’m also going to make more of an effort to enroll them in lessons earlier, and to keep it up regardless of the obstacles that might be in my way.

Pregnancy: Is It A Boy Or A Girl?

Are you trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or thinking about having another baby, and secretly wishing for a certain gender?

Pregnancy Boy Girl

When newly pregnant, we all say the same thing: “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, I just want my baby to be healthy.” And while this is mostly true, for many of us there is an inner desire, a nagging whisper at the back of our minds – a secret hope that just maybe it’ll be a boy or a girl. We may not say it out loud, but for many of us, that wish is there.

There are countless myths out there on how to “get” the gender you hope for, or how to figure out what you’re having while pregnant. I’ve been pregnant FOUR times now, and there are two things that have worked for me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Here are some things that worked and didn’t work for me.

 What DID NOT work for me:

1) Chinese Calendar Gender Predictor

The Thought: By combining your estimated due date with the birth date of the mother, the calculation will result in predicting the gender of your baby.

My Stats: This worked 1/4 times.

2) Belly Shape: Round or Oblong?

The Thought: Some people are adamant that if your belly appears to be wider, you’re having a girl, and if you’re carrying high with a round or narrow belly shape, a boy is in your future.

My Stats: I carried the same way for all of my pregnancies and have have had both a boy and a girl, with another girl on the way.

3) Pregnancy Cravings: Sweet or Savory?

The Thought: If you’re craving sweet treats, it’s a girl, and if it’s savoury snacks that satisfy your cravings, a  boy is coming your way.

May Stats: With all of my pregnancies, my meat tooth has won over my sweet tooth (pass the bacon please!) – regardless of which gender I was carrying. 

What DID work for me?

1) Timing: Date of Conception.

The Thought: Calculate your ovulation dates based on your cycle, and “try” at certain times during your ovulation cycle to make a boy or a girl.  I used this site to help with the calculations for all of my pregnancies: (Note: be sure to check the box beside “Show me the best days to have sex in order to increase my chances of having a baby of a certain sex.”)

My Stats: This worked for me 4/4 times (and has worked for half a dozen of my friends as well).

2) Heart Rate.

The Thought: If the baby’s heart rate is over 140, you’re having a girl, and if your heart rate is 140 or  less, you’re having a boy.

My Stats: This worked for me 4/4 times (and has been correct for several of my friends as well).

So there you have it! While none of these methods are 100% guaranteed, I’ve had some pretty consistent results. I love my kids, and I feel so blessed to have beautiful, healthy children.  I know that ultimately “you get what you get”, but I figure there’s no harm in trying if you have a preference. Just remember that your chances are always 50/50, and that you have to be prepared to love your baby unconditionally, regardless of gender.

Did any of the pregnancy gender prediction myths work for you?

Ask Mama Dina: Pretty Little Liar

1011949_10151746889176955_897263972_nWhen she was a toddler, she was so honest with me, almost to a fault. It was as though she was simply incapable of lying. But with her newfound confidence as a six-year-old, she has discovered that she can withhold the truth, and even lie to avoid facing the consequences that might come with the truth.

I recently caught her in a lie, and as she spouted out a descriptive re-enactment of what had happened, my heart sank. She spoke with emotion, emphasized details, and even shed a few tears as she told me her story. I would have believed her story – if I hadn’t come to the conversation equipped with facts to back up the truth. She’s a good little actress – a skill which I’m not sure yet is an asset or a liability.

I didn’t want to call my little girl a liar, even though I knew she was in fact lying to my face.

So I did what I always do: I asked my mama for advice. My mom is an expert, and has always been my go-to for parenting advice. She advises her friends, fellow foster parents, my siblings, acquaintances, and even some of my friends who need answers to tough parenting questions.

Here’s a summary of what she said to me:

1) DON’T call your child out for lying. The truth is, we lie to them all the time. Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. We have to be very careful about how we broach the subject of lying because they will one day discover the lies that we’ve told them.

2) Emphasize the importance of telling the truth. Tell them “the truth will set you free”. Remind your child that being dishonest will lead you into a web of lies, and will result in consequences.

3) This is an opportunity to establish a close relationship with your child. Reassure her that if she is honest with you about something, no matter what it may be, she will not get in trouble. If she is not honest, there will be consequences.

4) DON’T overreact when she does tell the truth. Showing your child that you can remain calm, provide advice and guidance, and keep your cool, will keep the channels of communication open as she grows and experiences new things. If she feels as though she can trust you, she will come to you as a confidante, knowing that you won’t punish her for her curiosity.

5) If she confesses to lying, and then tells the truth, don’t get mad. Focus on the positive. Tell her how proud you are of her decision to tell the truth, and remind her that you will never get mad if she is completely honest with you. Don’t focus on the fact that she had lied at first because you are still establishing trust.

I followed my mama’s advice. Instead of calling her out for lying, I said, “Sweetheart, that sounds like a very interesting story, but I can tell by the look in your eye that you’re not being completely honest with me. I feel as though there is more to the story. I just want you to know that I love you, and that you will never get in trouble if you tell me the truth or ask questions that you think might get you in trouble. You can always come to me and I will never get mad at you for being honest. But if I find out that you’ve been dishonest with me, there will be consequences for lying. I’m going to trust that you will do the right thing, and am here for you when you’re ready to talk.”

And you know what? She came to me, and confessed. All on her own accord. We had a long heart-to-heart, and I feel like we’ve established a new level of mother-daughter trust.

And so begins the slow ascent to the dreaded teen years. I’m just so thankful that I have my mom as backup for the parenting growing pains! And how you can benefit from her advice too.


Mama Dina is a consummate mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother and grandmother. For over 30 years, she worked as an early childhood educator, and is fully trained and experienced in the Montessori educational approach. She has over 15 years of experience as a foster parent to children from all walks of life, many of whom have special needs. She provides emergency respite care for the foster care system, and acts as a ‘baby whisperer’ for preemie twins on a part-time basis. Her educational background includes training in child psychology, ECE, infant-toddler development, and various areas of special needs (ARBD, FASD, ADHD). Mama Dina’s lifelong passion has been children. She understands typical and atypical child development and behaviour, and combines her magic formula of unconditional love and consistency to enhance each child’s potential. She is also my beloved mama, and I am so blessed that she chose me to be her daughter.

Has your child ever been caught in a lie? How did you react?


5 Things Our Tooth Fairy Will NOT Be Doing

I have a feeling I’m going to despise the Tooth Fairy when my six year-old’s first tooth wiggles free from its roots. I’ve been dreading the day, and have already suffered the wrath of the over-achieving parents whose children brag of their wads of cash and delicately-sewn tooth pillows, and coloured water changed by the visit from rainbow-coloured dental nymphs.

You know what will happen next? Those Elf on the Shelf creators will come up with a Tooth Fairy version of the money-sucking (patience-sucking) phenomenon. Suddenly everyone will have untouchable fairies perched on their mantles, watching their Kindergarteners, year-round! Or has this already been invented?

I’ve been fortunate so far. My girl is the very last six-year-old in her world who hasn’t lost a tooth. While she wiggles her pearly whites daily, and begs to eat whole apples in hopes of them advancing the natural tooth loss process, I wince at the thought of one of those suckers breaking loose, opening up a new can of who’s-the-best-and-most-creative-mom-in-the-world worms. An unspoken competition that, frankly, I don’t care to participate in.

Whatever happened to: tooth falls out. Tooth goes under pillow (naked, unwashed). Child wakes to find a quarter under pillow. The end.

In honour of my disdain for the Tooth Fairy and all that she represents for busy, non cash-carrying, non-DIY moms like myself, here are five things our Tooth Fairy will NOT be doing in our house:

1) Look at this adorable Tooth Fairy package – including hand-folded dollar bills, sparkles, coins, and a nice long mini letter from the fairy herself. The post even includes a link to a Youtube video where you can learn to fold bills into cute little baskets as shown below!


Sweet! But here’s why this won’t be happening in my house: 1) Bills? No. My children will be getting coins. (Note: here in Canada, we don’t have bills smaller than $5). 2) Folding that requires a Youtube lesson. I don’t do DIYs, I’m out. 3) Hand-written note. I do like to think of myself as a bit of a wordsmith, but what could the Tooth Fairy possibly have to say? Did you see how long the letter in the post was? What more is there to say than “Got your tooth, here’s some cash.”

2) A Tooth Fairy Mouse. How adorable. Except a) it costs over $20, and b) what does a mouse have to do with a fairy or a tooth? Not seeing the connect peeps.


3) Please, for the love of mom, tell me you don’t actually go to the extent of dressing up as the Tooth Fairy. Just. Don’t.


4) Hey, look guys! An easy DIY – Tooth Fairy money. Um, what?


I actually think this is kind of cute to be honest. But think about it, you have to spray the (again, bills!?), let them dry, tuck them under the pillow (hello unnecessary load of laundry – and have you ever tried to wash glitter out of fabric?). Then if the cash somehow landed in my husband’s wallet and he pulled out a glittery bill? Well let’s just say he’d be less than impressed.

5) And this one is definitely a will-never-do in my house. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know about my hate-on for lunch making. Check out these adorable little Tooth Fairy bento lunches:


Do these moms realize that kids have approximately 20 teeth to lose? That’s a whole lotta folded bill baskets, mousy pouches, costume wears, sparkly bills, and bento lunches, don’t you think?

What does your Tooth Fairy do, and how much does she pay?

Outing My Inner Innie, And How I Fake It

People who know me well would refer to me as a chatterbox, a loud mouth, and even a social butterfly. But the truth is, I’m actually quite shy.
According to a recent post on Huffington Post Lifestyle, being an introvert is about more than just being a shy person, it’s about whether or not the person loses or gains energy from being around others. When I read through the 23 signs listed in the article, I found myself nodding yes to all but four of the listed symptoms, and it became very clear to me that I am in fact a typical introvert. The signs that hit really close to home for me included:
1) “You go to parties, but not to meet people” – I get very nervous when I go to parties, especially when I’m not escorted by a friend. Instead of stepping into conversations, introducing myself, and joining in on the chatter, I scan the room for a familiar face and tend to spend the duration of the party by the side of someone I know.
2) “You screen your calls, even from your friends” – I hate to admit this one, but it is so very true. When my phone rings, I very rarely answer. I prefer to listen to the message, and have even been guilty of responding to a friend’s call with a text. I’m also very shy about initiating phone calls, and even get nervous when placing a call to order pizza. I know, strange right?3) “You’re a writer” – I definitely feel the most creative when I’m alone with my thoughts, and have been much more open with my feelings and experiences through the art of writing. Nothing has been more comforting for me than expressing my emotions through my blog, sharing private moments with readers without having to say the words in person.
But in response to the post, I thought I would also share with you some tips on how I’ve managed to hide my insecurities and introverted ways.1) I face my fears. While nothing makes me more nervous than public speaking, I’ve always taken jobs where public speaking has been one of my responsibilities. I’ve worked as a teacher where I was forced to speak in front of classrooms full of teenage and adult students. I’ve had to address large crowds in theatres and auditoriums through various marketing roles, and I’ve had to conduct presentations in front of senior executives for large companies. While I lose sleep, and my heart races each time I do it, I face my fears, I fake it, and I succeed.

Maid of honour speech at my best friend’s wedding
– also known as the scariest moment of my life.

2) I make eye contact and continuously smile. While I secretly lack self confidence on the inside, I try not to let it show on the outside. Because nothing repels new friends like an insecure persona. So I lift my chin, look people in the eye, and flash a teethy smile.

3) I take a deep breath and dive in. In a workshop I once did through a previous job, I was forced to do a speech in front of a group of my peers, and to watch myself on video afterwards while my mannerisms were critiqued. And while it sounds like a daunting task, it forced me to realize that while my heart was thumping in my ears, and my palms were sweating, by maintaining a slow and steady tone and keeping eye contact with my listeners, I actually appeared to be a confident speaker!

4) I try to say “thank you” when receiving a compliment. This is one that I am still working on. When I’m paid a compliment, especially on my looks, my initial instinct is to respond with a correction – “oh well I’m wearing a lot of make up” or “oh well it’s the clothes, you don’t want to see what’s actually underneath”. But I’ve realized that there is nothing more unattractive or uncomfortable than a person who puts themselves down. I now try my best to inhale, and simply say, “thank you”.

So there you have it, ways that I hide my inner shy.

Are you secretly an introvert living in the shell of an extrovert? Check out these 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert (via Huffington Post Lifestyle).

The Lowdown On Literacy – Teaching Your Child How To Read

Reading Quote

When my girl entered Kindergarten, I knew that part of the curriculum would include learning to read. But what I didn’t realize, was that her progress would be heavily reliant on the participation of her parents – that it would be our job to guide her through the tedious process of learning the life skill that is reading.

At first the thought of my little girl learning to read on her own was exhilarating. My daydreams were filled with visions of her sitting cross-legged on a patch of grass under an old elm tree, holding a classic storybook daintily in her hands. Spending hours lost in her own world of imagination – swirling down the tunnels of Alice in Wonderland, chasing the little white rabbit and celebrating unbirthdays. Lost in the stories of Anne of Green Gables, quoting and re-enacting the verses of The Lady of Shallot like Anne Shirley.

>But so far, I have to confess, teaching my girl to read has been…less than exotic.

When we sat down to tackle our first read, she came well-equipped with the sound that each letter makes, and how some letters make different sounds when read together. But the challenge with our oh-so-complicated language, is that we have so many silent letters, inexplicable rules, and seemingly nonsensical spellings, that it’s next to impossible to explain it all to a 6-year-old’s inquisitive mind.

I thought that this would be the one time that my Degree in English Literature, and years of experience as an ESL teacher would come in handy, but there is no skill that can prepare you for this milestone.

In the beginning I was patient. “Sound it out” I would coax in a motherly tone. “Good try honey, very close, try again” I would say between gritted teeth. Not only is our language a tricky one to master, but navigating through the rough waters of a frustrated 6-year-old’s temper is even tougher. “Tuh-oh-uh-guh-huh-eh-er?” – “No honey, -ou makes the sound -ow, and -gh sounds like -fff, and -er together is -ur.” What the eff, right?

And once Summer hits, us parents are on our own. No more skipping the odd nighttime reading, knowing that the content will be covered in class the next morning. No my friends, we are left to fend for ourselves.

Thankfully, the BC Library Association and our local public library have developed a Summer Reading Club – one that encourages early readers to read one book a day, and gives them milestones to reach, weekly gifts, games and resources, and a prize (they can choose between a trophy and a new book) for reading every night for the duration of the Summer. Motivation for the kids, and ammo for us parents.

My girl has now completed 5 weeks of the Summer Reading Club, and only has 2 weeks to go. She has become a more confident and skilled reader, and I have become a more patient parent!

Check out the great Tips For Parents page on the Summer Reading Club website, and don’t give up frustrated mamas and papas, I promise it gets easier!

Have you been having a hard time teaching your little ones how to read? Do you have any other tips for making it easier for us parents?