Sunday, July 5

"Cold Drinks!" (All About My Entrepreneurial Daughters)

As much as they adore school, my girls have been talking about summer for months now, and one of the most exciting things for them has been the prospect of setting up a cold drinks booth for people driving by.

Right from the beginning, they knew they wanted to donate some proceeds to charity, but they weren't sure which charity or how much to donate.

One wanted to share with a children's hospital, one with the local hospital ("since we were born there and Grandpa died there") and then my brilliant grandmother suggested a compromise: they could give the money to the children's floor at the local hospital. Decision made.

The breakdown of profits was a different discussion. Should we allow them to keep some of the money they made? They didn't even care, but I actually thought it was important. Now let me be clear: we are not hard up for cash, and as parents we're not touching any of the girls' earnings ourselves. However, I really do think that from an early age it's beneficial for kids to learn to work for their money, and let's be honest: it's a motivating factor for adults as well. The fact that charity was foremost on their minds tells me that we've done something right, and we decided it would be fair if they kept half (really 25% each) and donated the other half of the profits. (They're not advertising any affiliation with the hospital, since not all of the money is going to them, and we didn't get any sort of official permission.)

On the weekend, we added the girls' drink selections (Coke, Diet Coke, ginger ale and water, to start), to the grocery list at a grand total of $15, which they promised to repay as soon as possible. Grandpa was enlisted to build them a couple of plywood signs they could place at the side of the road to attract traffic, and card tables were borrowed.

This afternoon they were finally ready to open shop...and it went very well for them!

Their strategy: wave and smile at every approaching vehicle ("Who can resist this cuteness?" one of them joked). In two and a half hours, they made more than enough to repay their investment (sales were good, but the generous "tips" they received certainly helped), and they still have enough product left to go back out tomorrow (they kept a tally chart to keep track of the merchandise sold). I actually had to drag them in to have supper, they were having so much fun! They're considering adding a table of "yard sale" type items for sale (books, toys, etc.) but I'm not sure that the clientele will be interested. We shall see!

The teacher in me is loving the math lessons offered by their new business (e.g., they learned that water has the highest profit margin, so it's great that it sold the most), and as an added bonus, if they keep this up on a regular basis, my yard and gardens will look better than ever, since I stay outside and close enough to keep an eye on the transactions and assist in case of a problem while they're at the table.

Have your kids tried any money-making ventures? I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, July 1

Kate's Favourite Things - July 2015

Here's a list of my current favourite things - with a heavy focus on entertainment this month!


The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza: especially if you're interested in the writing/magazine world, and the young-protegee-tries-to-step-over-the-boss theme

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford: a psychological thriller - did Dana murder her friend during a blackout?

A Better Man by Leah MacLaren: this one's original - in order to negotiate a better divorce settlement, Nick Wakefield plays the role of the perfect husband...but then realizes he wants to keep his family. Is he too late?

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion: a sequel to the bestselling The Rose Project, I found this one almost as enjoyable

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley: this one is a classic, recommended by a friend. I found the start pretty slow, but I was glad I stuck with it because it got much better. A favourite passage:

"Had I faced all the facts? It seemed like I had, but actually, you never know, just by remembering, how many facts there were to have faced. Your own endurance might be a pleasant fiction allowed you by others who've really faced the facts."

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan: it's light, but I loved it. Polly leaves the big city after her relationship and business fail, and ends up in a small seaside village. She distracts herself from loneliness by baking bread...can you see where this is going? The author has written many books with titles that include "Cupcake Cafe", "Chocolate Shop" and "Sweetshop" be prepared to have your mouth water.


Aloha: I love Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper, so they really couldn't go wrong here. Some of the satellite-into-space plot lost me, but I was definitely pulled into the relationships. You also can't beat Hawaii for a setting. (I don't even forward through the opening credits of Hawaii 5-0 because I love to see the shots of the scenery. Okay, and maybe Alex O'Laughlin, too. But now I'm just getting off topic).

Selma: While I would like to see more about the final years of Martin Luther King, Jr., this movie, as the title indicates, focuses on the time period of the march from Selma to Montgomery. Very entertaining, while at the same time a learning experience. Decide for yourself how unjust the Oscar snub was.

McFarland: While I didn't watch this film (a true story with Kevin Costner playing a high school Cross Country coach) with my kids, I'd definitely consider it a family movie to watch with tweens and teens. (I'm not sure all of the subject matter would have held my nine-year-old's attention). 

Spy: We saw this one in theatres, and I can see why it topped the box office. Melissa McCarthy has a great comedic role, and surprisingly so does typical action hero Jason Statham. 


The Yell Jar: A few weeks ago we instituted a "Yell Jar" (actually a mug that one of the girls painted), and established a fine of 25 cents for every infraction. I'm telling you - it works! The first week a few quarters went in, but there has been a huge improvement in our home in terms of raised voices. Sometimes it was girls fighting, sometimes it was just one of us (including me) using volume instead of going directly to speak to someone, but either way we've all made a concentrated effort and I'm pleased with the results! As I said on Facebook, I don't want to be "that mom" - the one who's always yelling at her kids (especially since they're pretty darn good kids to begin with). This has really helped, not because the quarters mean that much to me, but the cause certainly does!


With my birthday tomorrow and some Chapters shopping planned soon (thanks to some generous gift cards from students), I hope to have lots to share with you in the August edition of Kate's Favourite Things!

Tuesday, June 30

July 1 - BOGO at Limeapple Girls' Apparel!

I'm always on the lookout for companies with great kids' products, so I was excited when I was contacted by Limeapple. They're sending some fashions (dresses and a swimsuit) for my girls, which we'll review soon, but I didn't want you to miss out on the huge sale they're having.

On July 1, for one day only, it's buy one, get one free on ALL summer boutique and swim items. I find the regular prices reasonable (most summer dresses and swimwear are around the $50 mark), so you're getting a great deal when it's two-for-one. Plus, they offer free shipping to US and Canada on orders over $25, which is fantastic.

Limeapple is described as "the premier lifestyle brand for young girls and preteens". Their clothing comes in sizes 12 months to 14, and I can tell you my 7 and 9-year-olds were in love with the styles on the website. Making selections was quite a process for them! The Limeapple brand is all about colour (lots of trendy colourblocking) and their lines include active wear (lots of dance pieces), swimwear, casual clothing and even fancier looks for special events. 

Limeapple wants to empower girls to lead positive lifestyles...which is certainly a philosophy I can get on board with! I'll be back with all the details after my girls try out their own looks, but for now, head over to Limeapple yourself and take advantage of their summer BOGO sale!

Disclosure: We are being provided with Limeapple items for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, our own.

Monday, June 22

My Interview with Sarah Allen from Global TV's Remedy

A few months ago I had the chance to interview Canadian actress Sarah Allen, from the Global TV medical drama Remedy. When we chatted (for Parents Canada magazine), she was still weeks away from giving birth, and we talked all about maternity wear, pregnancy rules and her flexible birth plan. While some stars are hesitant to get personal, Sarah had no problem elaborating on her responses to all of my questions.

Sarah has since given birth to a baby girl. Daughter Rae was born at home on May 12, 2015 weighing 4 lbs 10 oz. After a few days in the hospital to "fatten up", she returned home and began "eating like a machine", according to her proud mama.

We've recently learned that Remedy will sadly not be returning for another season, so we'll have to look forward to seeing Sarah elsewhere on the small (or big screen) in the future!

You can find highlights from the interview here on the Parents Canada website, and follow Sarah Allen on Twitter.

Friday, June 19

Parents: 5 Tips For Fostering a Growth Mindset in Your Kids

I've written about (and gone on TV to talk about) growth mindset before, and I recently had the chance to write an article all about it for Oxford Learning.

In the article, I'm sharing what it means to have a growth mindset and why it's so important for your kids (and you!) as well as five tips for parents.

Check it out here: 5 Tips For Helping Foster a Growth Mindset

Wednesday, June 17

School Year Wrap-Up Ideas For Parents (TV segment)

In case you haven't noticed, the school year is quickly winding down! Last night on CHEX Daily, I chatted with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson about some things to keep in mind as your child's school year draws to a close, such as:

  • the number one question to ask your child's teacher before the year ends 
  • if you should be making requests for next year's class/teacher
  • an idea for what you can do with all that artwork that comes home
  • the best way to thank the teacher (with a idea; my free printable can be found here)
  • some last-day-of-school traditions

I'm at the 28:05 mark, and you can also find the video here.

I really went wild with my look for the last CHEX Daily appearance of the 2014/2015 school year, as I noted on Instagram (seen below):

By the way, here's how my 9-year-old's thank you letter turned out - please don't tell her teacher!

So, enjoy these last few days! It's barely a week until my last-day tradition, when I will read Thank You, Mr. Falker and cry in front of my class. Good times.

Tuesday, June 16

Grad Gifts For the Class of 2015 (From Hallmark)

Every year I have my Grade 3 students write their predictions for their Grade 8 year. Who will the teacher and principal be? What activities will they participate in? Where will they go for their year-end trip? And of course, they think about all the grad details, including the super important question: what will they wear?

Today I went into the Grade 8 classroom and shared the predictions they had written five years ago, when they were my students. Four kids had moved away, and fortunately I had enough information to send their work to them, but the rest were present and eager to try to guess whose piece of writing was whose.

No game is complete without prizes, and thanks to Hallmark, I had some awesome Class of 2015 swag to give away to the students who were the best guessers! (Top score, by the way, was 12 out of 19).

Here are the goodies:

Autograph Graduation Bear 
($16.95 or $12.95 with any purchase; there's also an Autograph Photo Poster)

Dated Mug with Designed Handle ($12.95)

Graduation Frame with Sentiment ($12.95, this is nice for parents of the grad)

Invites and Thank You Cards ($5.99/package)

As always, Hallmark has you covered for gift-giving! Congratulations to the class of 2015, which includes my beautiful and talented niece, off to high school, and two of my cousins (one who's also my godson) and our treasured babysitter who are heading to university. I can't believe how the time flies!

Saturday, June 13

Teacher Gift Ideas (With Printable and Charitable Suggestion)

Let me be clear: teacher gifts are never expected or required, but this time of year I know there are some parents looking for ideas.

I wrote a magazine article a while back about Gifts For Teachers, and most of those ideas still apply - though it was Christmas-themed, and the ornament might be a bit out of place in June!

As I always say, the nicest thing to receive is a sincere compliment, whether from the child or the parents. ran a great post recently with tips to help your child write a thank you note to the teacher, and I loved it so much that I turned the prompts into a simple fill-in-the-blanks template that my primary grade daughters have used to write to their teachers. They printed their answers by hand (much cuter than typed responses) and then decorated the sheets. (I'm sharing it here; feel free to use it!)

For those who are looking to spend a little bit of money to show appreciation, charitable gifts are a great idea, and can be any dollar value.

What about a SickKids Get Better gift for your child's teacher? Here's what SickKids suggests:

School is wrapping up for another year and summer is around the corner. What better way to thank your child’s teacher and caregiver, who help and support your child throughout the year, than with something from the SickKids Get Better Gifts program.

These meaningful gifts provide an alternative to traditional gift-giving and recognize many of the special ways these teachers and friends help children learn and grow, similar to the way the staff at SickKids seek to motivate, inspire and teach the patients in their care.

When you give a Get Better Gift, you are not only showing your appreciation, but also helping to brighten the lives of sick children and their families.

Gift ideas include:

·         Arts and Craft Supplies: This gift provides therapeutic opportunities for special arts and crafts programs that can help children cope with hospital stays and make sure they get to do some of the school activities they’re missing.
·         Books for the Children’s Library at the Family Centre: Story-time and book delivery service, where books are delivered right to the children in their hospital bed, are just a couple of the children’s favourite services you can help support.
·         An Opportunity to Clown Around: Happiness and laughter are important for the mind and body. At SickKids, specially-trained therapeutic clowns help to ease tension and offer relief by using spontaneous humour and gentle play to minimize stress during treatments and hospital stays.

I can tell you for sure I would love to have any of these gifts made in my name...though if your child absolutely positively wants to give me a material item all wrapped up, you'll never go wrong with a Kit Kat.