Thursday, December 18

My Dream Christmas List - Just For Fun!

Of course I want the obvious, altruistic things for Christmas:

1. World peace
2. End to cancer (and all disease, while we're at it)
3. Every child well-fed and well-read (I was going to say no child hungry or illiterate, but the rhyming is much more catchy).

Today, though, I'm sharing my selfish, silly, materialistic dream list, just for your amusement.

1. Clarisonic Mia

The Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Cleansing System was recommended to me by my esthetician at Euphoria Wellness Spa, and I'm a sucker for anything that might improve my skin. I know Olay and Clinque make similar products - I wonder if the results are the same? (This is your prompt to let me know if you've tried any of them!)

Note: Since I first drafted this post, I learned that I'm going to have a chance to work with a very well-respected beauty company to review some skin care products in the new year. I can't wait to share my experience with you!

2. A classic Smythe Jacket

I fell in love with Smythe jackets several years ago when I discovered designer Sarah Richardson, who was wearing them on almost every episode of her TV shows. (You can read my interview with Sarah here.) Her sidekick Tommy Smythe's sister Christie Smythe (with Andrea Lenczner) founded the Canadian label, worn by celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock and even Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge! Alas, they are not in my price range.

3. Christian Louboutin Black Pumps

It's a DREAM list, remember? I wouldn't really want to spend two months of my family's grocery budget on one pair of shoes. Though actually, I'm being practical here choosing something really wearable, as opposed to some of the more colourful (and skyscraper-height) designs out there. Having these shoes would mean that when I'm on TV, I can cross my legs and the trademark red bottoms will catch everyone's eye. Because of course that sort of thing really matters to the viewers of CHEX Daily, right?

Some runner-up gifts (which I may actually see under my tree):

  • A Fitbit. My mom has been using one, and what I love best is how it can track your sleep - so much more important to me than my exercise!
  • "All My Puny Sorrows" by Miriam Toews. I keep seeing this book recommended on Twitter (by people who have the same taste in books as I do).
  • "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I'll admit it, I'm much more interested now that Reese Witherspoon portrays the author in the feature film.

What would be on your fantasy Christmas list? I'm sure you've been busy shopping for all of your loved ones...why not take a minute to dream about what you would like to receive?

Wednesday, December 17

Inspire Your Kids To Read!

In my latest CHEX Daily segment, I'm chatting with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson about how to motivate and inspire your child to read over the holidays (or anytime!) I'm also showing some great recommendations, whether your child is just starting to read words, or is older and having trouble finding material that interests him. Plus, I'm showing off some totally awesome festive nails...more about that in another post!

I'm at the 30:23 mark if it doesn't cue properly for you, and if you can't see the embedded video you can find it here:

One reco:

Monday, December 15

My Favourite Holiday Books - Video

Today I'm sharing a video where I chat about my favourite holiday books (from an extensive collection!) My class looked on as I recorded the video and one student even got to play videographer (so my apologies for any shaking, but it was worth it for his experience!)

What's your favourite holiday book? I'd love some new ideas!

Tuesday, December 9

The Virgin Mary's Diary: Kids Write the Cutest Things

I gave my kids a writing assignment: after listening to the Gospel account of when Mary learned she would be giving birth to Jesus, students were asked to complete a diary entry from Mary's point of view. Here's one particularly astute entry, shared (as always) with parental permission. Love it!

Sunday, December 7

Should Schools Enforce Dress Codes? My CBC Radio "The 180" Interview

Last week, I was interviewed by Jim Brown at the CBC Radio show "The 180" about dress codes in schools. Regular readers already know my thoughts, as I've written about them before here (which is how the show found me):

When looking at events taking place at other schools (currently being covered in the media) my overall analysis is that the dress codes aren't the problem. How they are being explained is an issue (because no, dress codes do not exist so that boys can focus/control themselves or because there's anything wrong with the female body) as well as how they're enforced. I would be upset too if girls were always being taken to task while the boys' infractions were ignored, if indeed that is the case.

The show presented both sides of the argument, and I'd love to know what you think - whether you agree or (respectfully) disagree!

(Click "Listen" to hear the interviews)

Friday, December 5

The Possible Police: Cute Children's Title

In "The Possible Police" (written by Wylde Scott and illustrated by Hannah K. Shuping) a child's dreams are called into question by the eponymous authorities:

"You simply can't, it's just not done..."
"Give up your hope and face the facts!"

However, the child knows better, with reponses like:

"You have not seen, you do not know, what I can do, where I can go..."
"No one can stop me."

The soft, hazy artwork is pleasing, though my my grownup, writer's brain was fixated on the rhyming pattern that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. The kids, however, loved the whole thing!

In fact, the book led to some great carpet discussion about what lessons we learned, with feedback (from seven and eight year olds) like:

"I learned that I can do anything I want to do."

"I learned that dreams can come true."

And, most interestingly:

"I learned that the grownups aren't always right."


Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the book for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, December 3

Christmas Gift Ideas For Teachers

In my latest CHEX Daily segment, I sit down with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson to chat about Christmas gifts for teachers:

Are they necessary?
What do teachers really appreciate? (It might not be what you think!)
What if you're on a budget?
How can you acknowledge support staff?
And (since Mike asks!) what my least favourite gift is...though please be assured I really do appreciate the thought, no matter what! (Mike, husband of a teacher, also shares a great gift his wife received!)

I'm at the 31:52 mark if it's not cueing properly for you, and if you can't see the embedded video you can find it at the link here:

By the way, when I sent out a tweet asking for others to share their Christmas gift ideas for teachers, David Smolyn from The Body Shop in Peterborough (@TBS_Ptbo) was quick to tweet back to suggest their "Glazed Apple gift, packaged in a fun and reusable apple inspired tin. Only $20!" Because it can be hard to get people to take the time to reply to tweets, I thought I'd give him a shout-out here!

Usually after my segments I come home and type out any of the points from my notes that I missed, but we managed to pack a lot of ideas into four minutes!

One popular suggestion we didn't discuss was ornaments. Anything with the year and/or the child's name makes it a real keepsake (sometimes there are kiosks at the mall for personalization), and it can also be neat to select one that is meaningful to the teacher in some way: a guitar for the music teacher, a Montreal Canadiens ornament for the (discerning) hockey fan, etc.

My personal favourites: I start my segment by sharing my very favourite gift - which doesn't cost a penny! However, if you're going to spend money, charitable donations are fabulous (anything that provides food, books or healthcare to kids tops my list), I love gift cards (I don't find them impersonal; I promise - Chapters, Tim's, restaurants, spa, they're all good!) and chocolate never goes to waste at my house. Who am I kidding, it doesn't get past my desk! Quite honestly, I am honoured when families take the time to acknowledge me in any way at Christmas. You can't go wrong!

Sunday, November 23

Hallmark's New Northpole Collection - with GIVEAWAY!

I'm always excited to find a box from Hallmark on my front steps, and the latest delivery did not disappoint. Inside I found a selection of Northpole goodies, all the way from the enchanted city!

My favourites: all of these fun supplies for North Pole-inspired baking! Shown below are Bake Like an Elf Kit with recipe cards, Cookie Wonder Wheel Rolling Cookie Cutter, Northpole Sprinkle Bell, Northpole Cookie Flipper and Spatula and Northpole Big Elf Apron for Adults (it reads "Cookie Maker"; there's also a children's version available reading "Cookie Taster"). Isn't baking even more fun with Christmas-themed supplies?

I had a lot of questions about this Northpole Communicator ($29.95) designed to help you stay connected to Santa and his Northpole friends from December 1st through Christmas, but the special envelope in the box "for big people only" makes it clear(er). My girls are SO excited to get started with it.

Northpole Dance Like an Elf ($19.95) has already been used for some festive Daily Physical Activity in my classroom, as instructions are called out like "Stir the hot chocolate!", "Build a snowman!" and "Ski down the mountain!" It's a fun way to get kids moving when you're indoors.

Shown below: a little polar bear friend with snowglobe, Find Me Santa! Snowflake Christmas Decoration with Light ($9.95, cute for any child, but particularly meaningful for children who may be travelling at Christmas and worried about being found) and Northpole Cozy Nesting Bowls ($9.95, a perfect hostess gift)

Rooftop Drop Game ($9.95, set up this cardboard rooftop and take turns tossing the beanbag- shaped gifts down the chimney, just like Santa might! A cute game for kids, but I could also see it being used "with a twist" for grownup gatherings. I was going to offer it as a prize in my class, but perhaps I should save it for our staff parties!)

As always, Hallmark has you covered, and they're even giving away one "Northpole - Dance Like an Elf" (my students LOVE it!) to a lucky Canadian This Mom Loves reader! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below letting me know what your favourite Christmas song is (and make sure there's a way for me to contact you). For extra entries, you can also leave additional comments to let me know you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or (NEW!) Instagram or receive my emails (please leave your username for verification).

This giveaway will be open until Monday December 1st at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with the above items for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.