Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It's coming around the corner at every school or perhaps your school already had it. The big Picture Day! Be sure to send your child to school with a hairbrush because alfalfa sprouts and bad combovers last forever. Wear bright colours, but not too bright. If you're short and end up in the front row, it's good to know you're wearing matching socks.
Teachers, bring your best smile. Know that you are now a part of some child's memories forever. And for that silly staff photo, the sillier the better!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I love to organize. I absolutely LOVE it. It can be my drawers, closet, desk, or shelves, whatever it is, I like having things grouped, separated, and stored. Hence, finding binders, racks, and all those storage solutions is a thrill and challenge. Before school began, I wanted to revamp my whole classroom system so of course, I headed to Staples. Although they had what I needed, it was also at a ridiculous price (for which I would never get reimbursed). I decided to check out the Pickering Markets (formerly known as the Pickering Flea Markets).

There I was able to get large blue and black 2" binders at a deal. I negotiated from $3 each (at Staples they were about $12-$16 each) to less than $2 each. Some vendors had plastic sheets to store your blackline masters, plastic crates that would be perfect for the puppet centre, and Tupperware ideal for manipulatives.

So before heading to the regular teacher stores, try your local markets. It may take longer to find the items you need, but you will save a lot of money and we know how much we spend in the classroom already.

Monday, September 28, 2009


After a long day at a TRIBES course, I didn't feel like cooking and my husband wanted to go out. Already stuffy and tired from a cold, I couldn't fight the temptation. We went to one of our faves because of its proximity to our home and endless salads and delicious bread, Eastside Mario's.

Near the end of the meal (which Hannah slept through, yay), the waitress offered us the Kids' Menu so we could get something for the baby. I explained that we brought our own food for her as she was only ten months old. I began to feed her from the Thermos, but gave her bits of bread. The waitress came back again to ask if we wanted the kid's item to go. I was confused, but clued in eat free in September so she wanted us to take advantage.

I'm all about the freebies (and surprised I didn't know about this one) so we got some chicken strips and grilled veggies for later (my husband wanted fries, but I went with the healthier choice). Great promotion especially in the month of September when school has just begun and who couldn't use a special treat? Each item off the kids' menu comes with ice cream! Hip Teacher Mamas, bring you and your family out for a delicious dinner. You still have a few days left of September to enjoy it.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Didn't manage to score TIFF tickets to Drew Barrymore's Whip It, but can't wait to see it when it comes out in regular theatres. We did manage to see Jennifer's Body, The Road, and Bad Lieutenant, two of which are chosen for Telluride's Film Festival in the fall. Seems like we made great picks as they are very selective about their films. Yay to another successful year of movie premieres and star gazing! What a great way to ring in the new school year!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Inspired by this weekend's visit to a trendy Toronto restaurant, here is an idea for a fancy meal for your baby. Foodies will be familiar with the use of purees and small dollops of food here and there, but the portion is actually perfect for your tiny tot and not just aesthetically pleasing to Mom and Dad.

Don't forget that mango is one of those foods that trigger allergies so be extremely careful. Wash the skin thoroughly or use a separate knife to remove the meat after peeling. Mangoes are high in fibre and vitamins A and C while salmon is great for calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for brain development. Sweet potatoes are great for energy, beta-carotene, and vitamin B6. This B vitamin is necessary for fighting infections and maintaining a healthy sugar level in your body.

Mango Glazed Salmon with Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1) Peel a ripe mango, simmer, and puree.
2) Spread half the pureed mango on the salmon. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish at 450C.
3) Spread the rest on the salmon about halfway through its cooking time.
4) Peel and boil the sweet potatoes. Mash.
5) Serve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Code red! Code black! Severe weather! Back in the day, I don't remember having to practice these alerts, knowing to stay away from windows, or to curl up like a ball in the hallway. It was just how to line up and exit safely in case of a fire. Wow, how times have changed . . .

Teachers, as it is the third week of school, your principals are gearing up to test you on your knowledge of emergency procedures. Brush up and get a new safety card for the room. Practice often and drill it into your students. Do it in the morning, after lunch, and before you leave. After a few days, they will be experts. There may be a time this year where you'll have to put those skills to the test and there isn't time to say, "Okay, Johnny, you actually go here right after Lisa...and sit like this boys and like this, like this...good, right, okay."

Two years ago we had a Code Red at our school. There was a robbery in the neighbourhood so our school was shut down. Since it wasn't a drill, I must admit I felt some panic. However, knowing that I had to be brave and model proper behaviour, I calmly shut the door, turned off the lights, and sat on the carpet. Minutes felt like hours. I can't remember how long we sat there, but I remember wondering what could be happening outside. So many possibilities went through my head and having a great imagination does not help. When it was all over and I found out that there was a police chase and the suspects were teens, I felt relieved. Still it could have been something more serious. However, I thought we were well prepared and I was so proud of my Grade 2's for sitting so quietly for so long.

I hope you never have to experience a "real code", but if you do, stay calm and do as you've always done. Be a great leader, keep calm, and smile. The kids feel better when you smile.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Simple concepts develop simple ideas, but lifelong learning. That’s how I feel about the Bruin Stacking Cups. Made in a variety of sizes and colours with imprints on the bottom of animals, it’s a great set to teach your child the basics. Right now, Hannah is picking them up and hitting them together, but I know soon she’ll be able to put the cups into each other according to size.

These cups help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. The bottom of the cups have different cut-out shapes too so they can be used in the tub or pool for water play.

Recommended for 9 months and above, this nesting set can be found at Toys R Us and many other toy stores for about $10.

Monday, September 21, 2009


As mentioned on Friday's post, we were going to spend the day at the Toronto Zoo on Sunday. My husband changed his mind on Saturday night (the four-hour tasting menu at Colborne Lane drained us much to the delight of our palates), but then gave in to the temptation of the gorgeous sunshine on Sunday morning. We did the zoo in record time because we both had a lot of errands to run and things to do at home. It was Hannah's first trip to the zoo so of course we each had our cameras ready.

We arrived about 20 minutes after it opened and spent only a few minutes in line. Throughout the day I received calls from friends saying how long the lines were. I figured we had beat the "sleeping in crowd" and would be leaving as people were entering. We discovered later that we were right...thank goodness!

As my husband hadn't been to the zoo since his own second-grade trip, I took the opportunity to show off my knowledge of the lay of the land. Threw in a few facts here and there and I'm sure it was like having a zoo guide right there. Having taught Grade Two for many years, I know the zoo like the back of my hand. Surprisingly the renovations and me missing last year's class excursion (I was on maternity leave) didn't throw me off track.

We took my usual Round the World tour. Some of the animals we saw included the polar bears, tigers, camels, alligators, stick insects, zebras, jellyfish, giraffes, elephants, flamingos, lions, and numerous species of monkeys. Surprisingly 90% of the animals were awake! That almost NEVER happens. We skipped the Canadiana part as we weren't really in the mood to go up and down that large hill just to see a raccoon, bison, and the grizzly bear. I think five out of six years that bear was always asleep anyway.

Hannah watched in fascination as animals fifty times her size chewed their food or slowly walked across the field. She never seemed to be afraid even though we were right next to a huge emu or in front of an alligator. Babies have no fear. So great. We tried to tell the peacock how beautiful it was so that it would spread its luck!

It was around 1:00 p.m. when we left. We'll probably be back the next time there is a Teacher's Day. Thanks to the zoo for recognizing that teachers need a break (albeit educational) too!

Friday, September 18, 2009


It's that time of year again in Toronto! Free day for teachers at the Metro Toronto Zoo on Sunday, September 20. All you need is your OCT i.d. and you can check out the wildlife along with ONE guest. See you there!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Before those sweet red berries disappear for the winter, get your little one some strawberries as a savoury snack. Packed with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, they are the simplest way to get some sweetness into your diet. Alone or sprinkled on top of plain yogurt, it's one of my favourites! Since they are a potential high allergen food, doctors recommend waiting until around 12 months of age.

Strawberry Puree
1. Wash 1 cup of strawberries and remove leaves and stems
2. Slice strawberries in half.
3. Mash or puree as needed for your baby.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It's been one full week of school so how are you holding up? Has caffeine been your best friend? Getting used to the same questions again and again?

Thought I'd share a couple of tips for keeping the room organized and yourself sane.

Number your children instead of memorizing their last names in alphabetical order. That way, you can quick put work in order or have helpers find out which kids didn't submit their assignments. It's easier to teach numerical order than alphabetical to your young student helpers.

Practice for a fire drill or code red alert. There's bound to be something in the first couple of weeks of school. Remember to assign someone to close the classroom door and prepare the kids in case they are not with the class when a fire drill happens.

Take the time to label everything in the class. Although it may be time consuming, it will save you the trouble of pointing out where the scissors, glue sticks, and recycling twenty times throughout the year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Hannah has spent lots of time crawling on our floor mats and the hardwood. Ten months old and ready to explore the world! Knowing how hard the floor must be, we slapped some cute Baby Legs on her and vroom, vroom, vroom! Off she went! Great at protecting her knees and shins, Hannah liked having her mobility without any ounce of pain. We loved having the choice of putting them on when she was just wearing a onesie or making her fashion forward when wearing a denim skirt! Excellent for those warm end of summer days, but cool nights.

Baby Legs are adorable leg warmers that are the perfect size for the littlest legs. They are great for using around the house when your little one is only in a diaper, but you'd like to keep the legs warm. They are stylish when worn with skirts or can be used to cover up legs under the hot sun. Some even choose to use them on their arms! Whatever you choose, you're surely going to receive compliments on the design. They have dots, stripes, animal prints, plaids, hearts, and even organic. You name it, they've got it.

Hannah tried on some stylish Baby Legs and we both loved it. Cute, easy to put on, and most importantly, functional (protective), we can't get enough. The plain colours are easy to match with outfits while special ones like an Easter pattern puts anyone in a festive mood. Baby Legs work just as well for the boys especially the ones who are eager to explore the world around them. They also work well on carpet to save you and your little guy the heartache of rug burn!

Check out their website for colour selection. You'll be hooked! Get those little legs into a pair today!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Sorry to my friends and readers who have asked why this post is sooooo late! I promise that this won't happen again...well, maybe...but only in September of each year. It's TIFF and I'm star-gazing, star-chasing, and just plain star-obsessed. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a picture and autograph hound and will line up for hours to get a good picture or signature. I'm proud to say that my goals were achieved this weekend.

Saw the second showing of Jennifer's Body and managed to get the director's autograph. Long story short...her name is Karyn Kusama. She signed one auto and was about to leave, but I called out, "Karyn! Karyn! (pronounced Car-in)" so she turned around, gave me an auto, and a smile before leaving. Yes, I felt special! (See the importance of names? Just like I teach the kids.)

That same day I waited three hours just to get autographs outside the theatre for Up in the Air. Managed to get George Clooney, Jason Bateman, Jason Reitman, Norman Jewison, and several other B-listers...yes, George is just as hot in person as he is on camera. I forgot to give him my friend's number...sorry E.

On Sunday, we went early for The Road, much hyped about flick chosen as one of Telluride Film Festival's selected few. We got Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee's autographs who play The Man and the Boy in this post-apocalyptic tale of survival. Robert Duvall came to the show, but left before the Q&A. Unfortunately, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce didn't come at all. I got a seat in front of Viggo's three reserved ones, but he shifted down a few seats. None the less, he was still behind me.

One more film to go and I hope to report some good success. Hopefully we can instill the love of film in Hannah. Otherwise, we'll have to take her to a 4 Square show somewhere.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Ah, TGIF...and I REALLY mean that! Never have I been so exhausted after a week of work. For seven years, I've taught the 2nd and 3rd graders so this week of teaching Grade One has been quite the experience. The marking has taken less time, but the prep and daily activities are draining. Hopefully the parents will also help out at home reminding and reinforcing skills learned at home.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


To avoid allergies, try not to give your baby any egg white before one year of age. Although the allergenicity of eggs is reduced by cooking, some babies have severe reactions. Symptoms that mean your baby is allergic to egg white protein include: hives, flushing, itching/rash around mouth (sometimes spreading to the rest of the body), facial swelling, ummy pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomitting, runny nose, wheezing, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Eggs are excellent sources of protein. The egg yolk has vitamins A, D, and E and has about 60 calories.

Omelette Recipe

1) Separate egg white and egg yolk.
2) Add 2 teaspoons of water to the egg yolk. Whisk.
3) Cook diced green pepper, mushroom, and tomato.
4) Add the egg yolk to the hot pan.
5) Sprinkle some cheddar cheese and let it melt.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So how was your child's first day at school? Jitters? Excitement? Fear? Yeah, I had those feelings too.

Teachers: There is one month until Thanksgiving weekend. The first month will fly by as you get to know the twenty to thirty personalities in the class. Take the time to chat with them. Do interest inventories and keep them on file. It's a great ice-breaker especially for those shy ones who need a little push to come out of their shell.

Students: I know school may not be #1 on your Fun List, but give it a chance. Starting a new grade means new challenges, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. This may be the year you'll try out for the basketball team and make it! You'll discover new strengths and work on any weaknesses. The year will be what you make it! Good luck and have fun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Babywearing has been practiced for decades. It's wearing or carrying your baby or child in a sling, carrier, or pouch. It helps the baby and mother bond quicker. The baby becomes more independent as well as calmer because the mother's scent, heartbeat, and movements are so close to the baby, reassuring the young child that Mom is always accessible. Wearing a baby also gives the mother her hands back which allows her to do simple tasks like carrying bags, washing dishes, or folding laundry.

I love love love my hugamonkey sling. It's easy, light, and washable. The colours are neutral so it makes it easy for mommies to hug their monkeys, but daddies are welcome to hug too! I love holding Hannah close and she clearly prefers being held rather than sitting in her stroller. She loves falling asleep in my arms while we're shopping and having the freedom to walk around with my baby and sorting through the sale racks is a dream come true!

Easy to use and starting at $24.99, the hugamonkey is a convenient and hip way to carry around your little one. I've received lots of envious looks when I'm hands-free while others are struggling with a little one and trying to answer a cell phone and steer a stroller. Get chic and buy your own baby sling today! I promise that it is the MUST HAVE for any mom who loves to cuddle with her little monkey while getting things done.

Monday, September 7, 2009


It's the last weekend before school starts and although I wanted to spend the last weekend doing nothing, it ended up being a weekend jam-packed with everything. On Friday, I spent eight hours in my classroom doing my final preparations for Tuesday. I put up my bulletin board displays, labelled books, and laminated more posters. At night, my husband, Hannah, and I went to Promenade Mall to relax. Contemplated some winter coats for those cold yard duties in the near future...TNA or Community? Opinions, please.

On Saturday, we beat the weekend rush to get groceries. Time to think of healthy lunches to pack. Gone are the days of dining out and mall-walking during lunch hours. Yes, summer is over. I spent the rest of the day doing my day plans and finishing my printing books. Now I know why Grade 1's require much more preparation than Grade 2's...just laying out the letters to trace is enough to drive anyone nuts....or to push them to teach high school!

On Sunday, we went to mass and received an intention from our priest. It was a short but poignant moment as we looked around, knowing some of those faces looking back at us would be our students or parents of students. We spent the evening with family who were visiting from the States. We celebrated my youngest aunt's 50th birthday. Everyone commented on how much Hannah had grown since they last saw her in July and it's true. Since then, she has learned a couple more words and can now stand up with minimal assistance. They think she'll walk by Christmas. Time will tell.

It hit me hard on Sunday evening that I won't be with Hannah 24-7. In the past few months, all of my friends' babies have experienced some sort of separation anxiety. I waited anxiously for Hannah's nervousness, crabbiness, or fussiness to hit. It hadn't. However, during the past few days, Hannah has become extremely clingy and searched for me often. She now grabs onto me hard and wants to be held a lot...even Dada won't do. Perhaps this is her anxiety or sixth sense in knowing that Mama is going back to work. I hope to do most of my work at school so home time is QUALITY time. I am excited about returning to work after my year long hiatus, but I also know how much I'll miss witnessing every moment of Hannah's life.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It's the last Friday before school starts so make the most of it. See your family, chill with friends, enjoy the outdoors, and pray for sunny days! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Hannah looked curious when I was having lunch the other day so I decided to make her a version of what I was having. High in fibre and calcium, this was one recipe she thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. Check out how we hit all four food groups!

Open Face Grilled Cheese Sandwich
1) Toast 1 slice of whole wheat bread.
2) Place thin slices of cheddar cheese on the toast.
3) Microwave for 10 seconds or until the cheese melts (not so grilled, but same idea).
4) On top, sprinkle some shredded broiled chicken and cooked green peppers.

You can easily substitute cheddar for mozzarella or marble cheese. Your baby may also enjoy mushrooms, tomatoes, or cucumber on the sandwich. Protein alternates include turkey, ham, salmon, or ground beef.

VOILA! You've got all four food groups in a quick and fun meal. I like to cut it into very tiny pieces so that Hannah can practice picking them up herself.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I get really annoyed when people make comments like, "Teachers have the cushiest job in the world. You just babysit all day." "It's the best job because you have two months off." My favourite is, "I want to be a teacher. It's easy, right?" I guess it can be "easy", but some of us don't just sit at home all summer and rest. Some of us plan and prep during July and August. I know some of my friends are just as hardcore as I am so they've been their rooms cleaning up, organizing, and yikes, the scariest thing of all, throwing things out! (It's true, teachers are pack rats).

Here are some things that I came across while in my new classroom and wanted to remind all teachers out there to do the same:

1) Label the books. Each student needs to take ownership in this year's learning materials.
2) Provide games and activities for indoor recess. The local dollar store has chess, checkers, snakes and ladders, and dominoes for just a buck.
3) Keep hand sanitizer nearby. Self-explanatory.
4) Post a class list by the door. Students always seem to get lost on the first day.
5) Label the hooks. The last thing you need is someone fighting for the "best hook".
6) Wear a lanyard. You'll never lock yourself out of the classroom.
7) Provide extra pencils, crayons, scissors, rulers, and glue. Your students will thank you.
8) Assign chores within the classroom. Students love to help and develops responsibility.
9) Word Walls and Personal Dictionaries are great for their self-confidence. They don't need the teacher as much.
10) Label as much as you can in the room. Students learn while saving you time in the long run.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Among my circle of friends, I'm known for having a knack for finding the best baby items in terms of quality and value so the Mother-Ease diapers and covers are no different. Since 1991, Mother-Ease has been creating cloth diapering systems in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada with for their loyal followers. Their strong belief in protecting the environment has lead them to use 100% green power since 2007. Cheers to a leak-free diapering system and a passion for taking care of our world!

This company was generous enough to allow for a testing of their Sandy's Cloth Diapers as well as the Air Flow Covers. The cotton and bamboo diapers were both very soft, comfortable, and form-fitting. No chaffing at all! The covers were very light (extremely important during these hot summer months) with a variety of buttons to adjust for size and had adorable patterns on them. Hannah loved the animal theme the best!

The diapers have an excellent absorption factor and can hold about 15 oz of liquid. As with all cloth diapers, their job is to draw moisture away from the skin. Cloth diapers tend not to absorb as much liquid as disposables so frequent changing is necessary. However, as your baby grows up, diaper changes become less frequent.

Check out the Mother-Ease site and their large range of cloth diapers. Be kind to your environment and your baby. Consider cloth diapering!