Friday, September 11, 2015

Ahoy! There is Still Time to Get Swept Away by @PirateLifeTO

Everybody knows that Toronto is a huge city population-wise, but a lot of us forget just how big it is geographically too. For example, I forget all about the Toronto Islands all the time. That's unfortunate, because, for the sake of a few minutes and a cheap ferry ride, you can find yourself in another world.

There's tons of stuff to do on the Islands, and during our summer staycation we were lucky enough to be able to try a few of them. One of our favourites was the Pirate Life Adventure. Geared to kids of all ages, Pirate Life lets the whole family get in on the adventure. 

It starts with everybody getting into costume. We knew M would be all over that, but we weren't quite sure how Little Cat Z would take it. He's a better sport than we give him credit for, and by the end of his session he was asking for extra touches to his make-up to round out his gnarly pirate look.

Once on board, the young mateys swear the Pirate Oath before hitting the open sea. Errr, lake... With swashbuckling adventures and a chance to fire the cannons, a great time was had by all.

Even the littlest pirate got in on the action:

Pirate Life is still operating on the weekends for as long as the weather cooperates. They're currently running a contest for free tickets to one of the few remaining shows this year. If you're looking for a local adventure, it's a sure way to have a good time!

Disclaimer: We received tickets for the purposes of writing this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Understanding Learning Differences: Terrific Teddy by @JimForgan #BookReview

Little kids are awesome! Their views on the world around them are fascinating, and their unbridled honesty is truly a treasure. Except, of course, when it's the source of profound embarrassment for their parents! But let's face it, I think we all know a few adults who could use a little help in the tact department...

M is in school now, which means she meets kids from all walks of life. Sometimes she meets kids who have special needs and learning differences, and it can be hard to come up with ways to explain those differences in an honest, age-appropriate way. It's important to remember that just about everything will be repeated, without a care in the world about who is within earshot.

So how do we explain, tactfully, that some classmates experience learning differences that may mean changes to the way their teachers address their specific needs?

Terrific Teddy's Excessive Energy - by Dr. Jim ForganThankfully, Dr. Jim Forgan, a licensed school psychologist, has given us the Terrific Teddy series to use as a guide when talking to children about learning differences. I received copies of Terrific Teddy bd Mix-Up and Terrific Teddy's Excessive Energy for review.

Terrific Teddy and the b-d Mix-Up (Understanding Learning Differences) (Volume 1)

Terrific Teddy's Excessive Energy (Understanding Learning Differences) (Volume 2)

I read them with M and *I* thought the books were helpful and sweet. But let's face it, I'm not the intended audience! M also really enjoyed the Terrific Teddy books. She read them to her little brother. She asked to read them again and again. Several weeks later she asked a question about a classmate with a speech impediment, and we were able to relate it to what we learned in the Terrific Teddy books.

Parenting is fraught with difficult questions and potential landmines at every turn. The Terrific Teddy series helps parents answer at least some of those questions with grace. 

* Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the above noted Terrific Teddy books to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions expressed are my own. I participate in the Amazon Associates program, and if you purchase the Terrific Teddy books using the links above, I will receive a small commission. This in no way influences my opinion of the Terrific Teddy books. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Talking to my daughter about #womenslives

It's a common scene for us, walking around our neighbourhood. It's a safe place with good schools and a real sense of community. There are often people out on the main strip holding clip boards, talking to passers-by about charitable organizations. This day was nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was the first time that I had to have a conversation about the place of women in the world.

On this day, the logo on the back of the clip board was the one for "Because I am a Girl." For those not familiar with the organization, this is their mission: "Because I am a Girl is a global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty."

The thing with (almost) six-year-old children is that they ask questions about absolutely everything. Because I have a firm pledge to always answer my children honestly when they ask a question, this sometimes leaves me struggling to find an age-appropriate way to explain what is happening in the world around them.

I told her that she is lucky to live here, because in some places in the world, girls are treated very differently. And then I shut up, because I realized that even here some girls are still treated very differently. I don't know how to answer these questions about the role of women in today's society because frankly, we get the short end of the stick an awful lot of the time. I make sure to mark the anniversary of the massacre at L'Ecole Polytechnique every year. Will I tell her that? How will I explain that right here in Canada women were murdered because they were born with an X instead of a Y.

I don't know the answers, but I know that doesn't mean that we should stop asking the questions. That's why I'm pleased to take part in Across Women's Lives, a collaborative radio, web and social media coverage of gender equity around the world hosted by SheKnows Media and Public Radio International. I'll be sharing experiences about #womenslives on Twitter and Facebook. Please follow along!