Saturday, January 24, 2015

Five Paws Up!

The three-mini me’s love and I adventure. There is rarely a weekend where we are not going on some kind of #GuthrieFamilyAdventure. This year my family and I are part of the #StreamTeam with Netflix Canada. We find out about new shows, share craft & unique food ideas and recommend our “must see TV” to our followers and friends. With Netflix we are finding our fill of adventure especially when the frightfully cold weather keeps us inside. 

This month the New Adventures of Puss in Boots hits the screen. You many remember Puss from his previous adventures with Shriek, Donkey and Fiona. Now, Puss is on his own and swashbuckling his way in out homes and hearts. Over the Christmas holidays, I read the a new version of the much loved fairy tale called “ Puss in Boots: The Adventures of the Most Enterprising Feline” by Phillip Pullman. It was interesting to see how my three made text to self and text to media connections while watching the movie. 

Edgar, dreaming of adventure. 

As a family, we decided we had more room in our hearts and adopted two new kittens that were in search of their forever families. Tigger and Edgar are an adventure all of their own. The amount of spontaneous laughter that these two felines have brought in to our home is unbelievable. Beckett has decided that when we sleep the kitten have adventures without us and that is why they sleep all day. 

Tigger is ready for adventure!

We loved the New Adventures of Puss in Boots and we cannot wait for the next new adventure. We give The New Adventure of Puss in Boots 5 paws up! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

One in Six

Each school day, for the last 15 years, I have gone to work knowing that my three children’s bellies are full. I have set them up for success by ensuring that they have had a healthy breakfast. They are more attentive, active and not clock watching until the nutrition bell rings.

As a Vice Principal, I am very happy to facilitate the same opportunity for my students with the support of the United Way and the Breakfast Programs of Canada.  Each morning, I am able to offer students from kindergarten to grade eight , fresh fruit, grains and dairy options to ensure optimum success in our learning environment. Our Breakfast Program success is truly a team effort. Leaders from our grade eight class help with the food preparation and daily tallies, the office assistant ensures that we have enough food bought and I am able to survey my students each morning and as they start their day off on a positive note. I decided the best place for our Breakfast Program was the large front foyer of our school. It is an open airy space that allows our participants to sit at tables and interact with staff, other students and school community members. Our numbers fluctuate daily but on average each morning we serve 10 to 20 students.

My first question, when issues arise on the yard, in the classroom or hallways of our school is consistently, “Did you have breakfast this morning?”. Finding out the reason or antecedent of the issue helps make the resolution a much quicker process. Besides our well stocked breakfast program, we also ensure that students who are hungry during nutrition breaks can find a healthy snack in the office. Again, fresh fruit, dairy and grains are made available to all students with a smile and no questions asked. This is the first year of a 100% volunteer driven Breakfast Program it is facilitated my by students, staff and I. As we have only been running our Breakfast Program for three  months, I cannot give specific statistics how our program has decreased the issues in our school, but we are tracking and I am looking forward to observing a downward trend over the upcoming months.

Elimination of hunger in my students has not solved every issue in my school, but it has ensured that all my students can start their day as my own children do, with a full stomach and the ability to focus on learning rather than on their empty stomachs.

You can follow along with the conversation by visiting the Grocery Foundation  site and following them on Facebook and Twitter

There is also #Toonies4Tummies Twitter party on January 27th, 2015 with the fabulous HartGalla & ShashersLife as moderators along with the fine folks from the Grocery Foundation . Join in the party and you learn how to track your toonie donation. 

Then on February 5th, the very successful #TooniesforTummies campaign kicks off in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. 

As a parent, educator and community coach, I am very proud to be part of the #TooniesforTunnies campaign. 

I am supporting this campaign via SPLASH Media engagement on behalf of the Grocery Foundation. My story & experiences are my own.

15 Days and Counting

 This year my resolution was simply to take better care of myself. I decided to give myself several smaller goals including making myself more fiscally responsible, taking better care of my health and making our mornings less stressful for the family. For ten years I have been making the commute into Ottawa. I like to drive so it has never been an issue of not wanting to drive. However, I became habitual in my driving habits, including stopping for coffee every weekday morning. 

If it was just coffee, the $2.00 per day would add up to $10.00 per week, $40.00 per month equaling $480.00 each year and that would not have been difficult to come to terms with. In my case, however it wasn’t just coffee I was buying. Most days I would have a latte with an extra espresso shot (or two), some type breakfast sandwich and muffin for a mid morning snack. I was spending between $8 to $10 a day. At $8.00 per day, $40.00 per week, $160 per month and close to $1900 per year the latte affect had finally become a reality in my life. (*insert jaw drop here*) 

I couldn’t live like this anymore. The money is one aspect that stung, how could I be that wasteful with my money? There was another side effect of my habitual behaviour, the loss of my waist line & energy. I don’t even want to begin to “guesstimate” how many grams of saturated fat, sugar, salt and basically the colossal amount of “food like” products I ingested over the past 10 years. I had come to a point where something had to give, as my all my clothes began not to fit and my muffin top turned into a baker’s dozen top. 

Mornings, can be completely bat poop crazy in our home, I know we are not alone and many families struggle to get out of the house on time. I had to be super organized, wake up at 4:30 am and pray there would be no hiccups each morning. Even when the dogs, kittens and kids were off to a positive start to the morning, there was still the unknown variable of the drive-thru. Stopping for coffee could be a two minute stop or 15 minutes depending on the number of other commuters in line that morning. 

Fifteen school days ago, things began to change, I just stopped stopping for coffee. In total I have saved approximately $120.00, I have lost 4 pounds and my mornings have become a little less stressful. No, its not perfect each morning. There are still sock issues, hair brushes to be found and lunch selection arguments to get over but things are getting better in my home as I have found more time. 

I feel this process has been successful and I have not given into the pull of the drive-thru because I see positive changes in every aspect of my smaller goals, within my larger resolution.  Is everything perfect? No, I have a very long way to go on all three smaller goals for the remaining 49 weeks of 2015, but after three weeks I am seeing change and that motivates me to keep going. 

Do you have any suggestion to help keep me motivated? Are you keeping up with your goals for 2015 and what is keeping you motivated? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Experience a World of Fantasy with Disney on Ice!

Mickey Mouse is coming back to the Ottawa! Ottawa will be hosting that fabulous mouse and his friends at the Canadian Tire Centre showcasing the Worlds of Fantasy shows running from February 25th until March 1st. We are Disney fans, we love the magic of the show and being entertained by these lovable Disney characters.

This year Mickey and Minnie take off on "Worlds of Fantasy" adventure, experiencing four different worlds in one show. The audience will be delighted seeing the characters from Cars, The Little Mermaid, Tinker Bell and Toy Story 3 come to life.

My son, Beckett is a huge Cars fan and cannot wait to see Lightening McQueen take centre ice. AndiePandie & my sister are fans of Tinker Bell and her spunky little attitude, while Katie & I are most looking forward to seeing Woody, Jessie & BullsEye during the Toy Story 3 adventure segment.

The shows all take place at the Canadian Tire Centre located in Kanata. My family and I  have attended many different events at the CTC. The parking attendants, concession staff, ushers and ticket associates have been very patient & helpful with my family and I each time we have attended an event. The staff reflects pride in their jobs and obviously enjoy working there.

I have a family four pack of tickets to give away for Opening Night - Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 at 7:00 pm. To win just tell me which Disney character you are most excited to see in the comments. I will email the winner on Monday, February 9th, 2015. Enter Daily! 

The Ottawa Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy Ottawa Schedule is as follows: 

Wednesday, Feb. 25 – 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 26 – 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 27 – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 28 – 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and a 7 p.m. French performance
Sunday, March 1 – 11 a.m. and a 3 p.m. French performance

Ticket Information:

Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy can be purchased by visiting, by phone at 613-599-FANS (3267) or 1-877-788-FANS (3267); in person at each of the 10 participating Canadian Tire stores in Ottawa as well as the store in Perth, The Sens Store at Carlingwood Mall and Place d'Orléans, any Ottawa Sports Experts location, Les Galeries de Hull, Ottawa Festivals and at the Canadian Tire Centre box office. Tickets are $72 (rinkside seats), $52, $32, $23 and $15 for all shows.

All tickets for opening night (excluding rinkside and VIP seats) are only $15. Prices include all taxes but exclude CRF and convenience charges. All persons two  years of age and older must have a ticket to enter the venue.

I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Before Beckett went into JK we had to work on several social skills that he was struggling with mastering. He has learned how to share by playing with his sisters & sharing his snacks with the dogs. Beckett in no way shape or form could be considered shy, if anything he may have adopted several of my extroverted tendencies. However, he needed help calming down after a conflict. I had used several different calming techniques including, squeezing his hands & counting to five and taking deep breaths. He tried, but in the end I usually had a red-eared, tear stained face little boy in front of me crying. 

A happier Beckett 

Beckett and I, stumbled upon Napkin Man on CBC one Saturday morning, while snuggling on the couch. I was instantly attracted, I mean enjoyed the show and the main character Mister Anthony. Yannick Bisson is the teacher and creator, in the story, of Napkin Man. 

There is Mr. Anthony ! 

Napkin Man helps children work through social issues they may encounter at school or in social situations with not only his words but a loveable character. Napkin Man episodes are available on the CBC Player and I am pleased to tell you that Napkin Man is also available in free e-book format on iTunes. 

There are three free  e-book titles available, Penguins-A-Go-Go, Treasure for All and Say Hello.  The main character in each story is having an emotional issue and just like in the TV series Mister Anthony is there to help. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Anthony is the narrator of the e-books as well, Beckett instantly commented that he recognized Mister Anthony’s voice and Napkin Man sounded the same as well. 

Beckett also loves to sing songs in French and English, so he was delighted that he was able to manipulate the e-book and play & sing with Napkin Man. As an educator, I appreciate innovative approach to the social and emotional challenges of early childhood. Beckett likes to switch between listening to Mister Anthony read and Mommy reading to him. (I don’t mind listening to Mister Anthony read either!) These e-books make is very easy enjoy a co-viewing experience. Currently, Penguins-A-Go-Go is on high rotation on our iPad as it deals with how to calm down. 

Beckett, Tigger and #napkinman

I was asked to review the three Napkin Man e-books by my fabulous friends at Mom Central Canada. The thoughts, experiences and opinions expressed are my own. #NapkinMan 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Truth & Changes

There are things in my life that I know to be true, never changing. 

I was meant to be in education and work with children. 
The best part of my life is my family. 
I see the world through rose coloured glasses. 
I believe the best of all people, they dictate if that belief last. 
I can talk to anyone about anything, but I prefer talking about sports. 
I am loyal, to a fault. 

There are things I need to change in my life to make it better. 

I need to stop being helicopter parent.
I should hold my husband's hand more. 
Taking care of my health needs to be a priority. 
I must learn to ask for help. 
Keeping my "two-cents" in my pocket is priceless. 
I need to stop the "what if"  conversation I have with myself. 

And you? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Cursive Writing Debate

Cursive writing is an art form.  Simply put, it is a tool to communicate with others. As an elementary student I hated cursive writing, as I was usually rushed and had no idea of the importance cursive writing held in my life. In University, I quickly reverted back to printing with colourful pens, highlighters and colour coded studying systems. Now, as a Vice Principal, I cursive write all of my notes, I using my cursive skills to sign newsletters, letters to parents and official documents daily.

Look at your child. Are they a pre-teen, teenager, or older student off to further their educational pursuits in 2015? Now ask yourself, can your child sign the documentation needed to apply for a loan sign rent cheques or a summer job contract?  What if your young adult is heading to Europe for a pre-Universtiy experience and needs to update their passport, are they able to create a legible signature for the application? Legal documentation still needs to have a signature, however, if your child has a printed signature is very easy to forge.

When I taught in the primary division, I found students with poor fine motor skills, benefited from practicing cursive writing skills. I also found for those "fast finishers" cursive writing lessons were  a positive and artistic activity they could complete while the rest of the class worked.

Cursive writing, is included in the Ontario Language Curriculum document and it is still part of the curriculum in some US school district. However, I have taken the time to use cursive writing programs to help my children learn how to read and write in both writing forms at home. Currently, AndiePandie can read and write, KT can write and Beckett has no cursive writing skills, but I am working on it.

One of the most comprehensive papers I have read and used when determining where to begin teaching cursive writing with my students and my own children was written by Diane Matthews & Tami Folks both of Orange County Florida. Write It Down does not give actual cursive wiring lessons, but observational cues to be aware of when determining what issues your child is having or where to begin when helping your child cursive write. There are many paid programs you can purchase, but one my favourite free program is simply called Cursive Writing Worksheets. 

Cursive writing is a life skill that my children will never regret learning. It is not high on their priority list of important life skills, but in the end I am sure they will thank me.