Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Linden Christian School Information Evenings

Still time to attend Linden Christian School's Information Evenings for Middle Years (Grade 5-8) and Senior Years (Grade 9-12). See below for details on how you can attend.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How To Make Your Own Chef’s Hat

In January, momstown Winnipeg introduced the Junior Chefs program. Kids learned how to read directions, measure, mix, bake, and the fun part.... decorate! Each child got a personalized Chef’s hat to wear and take home.


Supplies (for one hat):
1 – 14L Kitchen Bag, white
1 – 3” strip of poster board
Markers / Stickers for decorating

Steps to making your own chefs hat:
    1. Decorate poster board strip as you wish.  For our group, I put each child’s name in stickers on the hats. 

    2. Measure the child’s head using the strip.  Don’t make it too snug, then the child won’t wear it.  Staple the ends.

    3. Open the kitchen bag.  Using the open end of the bag begin stapling it to the poster board strip (as shown).  Remember to staple from the inside, so the rough staple edges are pointing out, not poking the child’s head.

    4. Once stapled all around, shake the hat to get air into the bag to help it stand up straight.

    Enjoy your new Chef’s hat! 

    This article was written by Lisa B, one of our newest blog contributors. When she's not chasing her 2 boys outdoors, she's up to her elbows with glue and glitter!

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Celebrate Chinese New Years with the Kids!

    I am a firm believer of teaching your children your heritage and to also explore other cultures. Canada is such a diverse country and we should celebrate this. My children are a quarter Chinese from my husbands’ side so I wanted to teach them all about Chinese New Years.  Unfortunately their Great Grandma Chin past away last year and my Mother-In-Law was out of town. How was I to teach them this important Chinese celebration without the help of the pros?!?! In comes Google. I searched, and searched, and searched for some history, facts, ideas, and the superstitions. If you know anything about the Chinese culture, it is that they have superstitions and ‘what not to do’ lists! I didn’t want to screw this up! I even went to a Chinese market all alone! I was nervous. I’m not really sure why. Maybe they’d wonder what I’m doing in there. Do I bring my child in with me so they clearly get the Chinese connection! If you see my daughter the eyes are a dead giveaway.  So I immediately found the lai see, red envelopes used to give money.  I also purchased some oranges and fortune cookies. When I went to pay they lady smiled at me and said ‘Happy Chinese New Years’. She totally knew why I was in there!

    I found some great craft ideas and downloaded Chinese music from itunes. What’s a party without dancing? My Latin background is in my blood. You can’t take the love of dancing out of me. Instead of the usually salsa I do with my daughter I was planning a dragon dance. After all, it’s the year of the dragon! I also got some ornaments from my Mother-In-Law’s and used the ornaments for decorations.  And I informed our guests to wear red. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find red for my daughter. But she has a few beautiful Chinese dresses, so I put one on her. I broke a rule!!! She wore pink! All well. Next year I’ll be more prepared.

    So the day of the party came. Some momstown mama’s came over with their kids. We had circle time and talked about Chinese New Years. Here are some facts I gathered, courtesy of mindful mum and A China Family Adventure.

    Chinese New Year is the most significant holiday in the Chinese calendar, where it is known as the ‘spring festival’. People celebrate the beginning of the new season as it symbolizes new life and marks an end to winter.

    The most common way to wish someone a Happy New Year is Gung Xi Fa Cai in Mandarin or Gung Hey Fat Choy in Cantonese.  The meaning:
    Gung Xi – are good wishes or congratulations
    Fa Cai or Fat Choy – to become rich, acquire wealth

    How is Chinese New Year celebrated?
    Celebrations start in the first day of the lunar cycle, and end on the fifteenth day, when the moon is at its brightest. For 2012 it starts on January 23.

    Before celebrations for New Year begin, however, it is considered prosperous to completely clean one’s house; this symbolizes sweeping away any bad luck that the previous year may have brought. After the house has been cleaned, brushes, dustpans and brooms are all put away, as cleaning at any time after this might sweep away the good luck that comes with the new year.

    It is traditional for families to hang red lanterns outside their houses and to wear new red clothing, as it is believed that doing so will ward off any evil spirits. Fireworks are also set off for this reason. On New Year’s Eve, families will reunite and enjoy a large traditional meal together.

    After our circle time we did crafts. The kids made red lanterns and dragons. Click here to see how to make a lantern. For the dragon, I found a great dragon craft on Kaboose. Print out a dragon head, have the kids decorate it and add a piece of streamer for the body. The kids used this during their dragon dance.

    For a snack we ate oranges and fortune cookies. Then we used our dragon craft and danced to some Chinese music. The kids had a blast! They danced in a circle and also danced around the entire house chasing one another with their dragons.

    After a half an hour of dancing it was time for home time. My daughter helped me hand out the lai see and we practiced saying Gung Hey Fat Choy as our guest left. I’m sure I didn’t quite follow the entire traditions of Chinese New Years but I think Great-Granny Chin would be proud that we celebrated and honored this very important holiday!

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Disney On Ice 100 Years of Magic!

    Last night was the opening night in Winnipeg for Disney On Ice 100 Years of Magic! The show was amazing! My 3 year old and her cousin had a fabulous time. The look on their faces when Mickey Mouse came out onto the ice was priceless. Now that my daughter is a bit older I found she knew a lot more characters this year so she enjoyed the whole show.

    Getting ready for the show to start!
    My daughter is really into Pinocchio right now, so her favourite part of the night was Jiminy Cricket. Who knew! I thought the Disney Princesses would be the highlight of her night.  And when The Lion King came out I don't know who was more excited. I think I was cheering the loudest in our section.

    Disney is celebrating 100 Years of Magic and they sure know how to put on a party! My daughter keeps asking to go back. I think a trip to Disney World is in order soon!

    They have more shows going on all through the weekend. So you too can join the celebration as 65 of Disney's unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You and your family will get to see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many of the Disney Princesses! Characters from The Lion King, Mulan, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story will also be there too!

    Check out more information about the show at http://disney.go.com/disneyonice/

    You can purchase your tickets on ticket master.

    Want to save on tickets to see Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic? Save $4 off per ticket when you use the coupon code NEMO at ticketmaster.ca for select shows.

    • $4 off (Valid on Thursday 7pm, Saturday 7pm and Sunday 12pm)
    • Code: NEMO
    • Buy tickets by: Internet / Phone / Box Office
    • Restrictions: EXCLUDES Front Row, VIP,  and Rinkside tickets / no double discounts

    Enjoy the show! And come back here to tell us what you thought!  

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    If it Takes a Village, Does That Make Me the Idiot?

    My very first contributing blog entry for momstown. I feel like I’m walking up to meet a blind date for the very first time and am experiencing all the classic symptoms. Dry mouth (admittedly, potentially from the bottle of red I am funneling at light speed), sweaty palms, heart racing and all of the typical, neurotic pre-first date thoughts are swirling through my head. Will you like me? Will I come across as witty and cute, or will your great aunt’s, drycleaner’s, brother in-law call with an “emergency” in the middle of you reading this? A familiar panic is setting in…

    Now that I’ve introduced myself as Woody Allen, let me explain that I’m not (quite) the manic flake I’m making myself out to be. The truth is, this usually very cool and composed girl has very good reason to feel like a fish out of water here. Confession time. I’m not a Mom. Are you still here? You are probably asking yourself what I can possibly contribute to a Moms’ group. Believe me when I say this; ever since Ester asked me to write for momstown, I have been asking myself the same thing. At first, I saw this assignment as a way to come through for my best friend as she works tirelessly to build a successful business, while raising two small children and overseeing construction on a new home. As I am currently living in Boston, I’m not around to do all the things I would be doing if I were in Winnipeg (namely babysitting my precious Bella and Benji). If writing is what Ester wants from me, then words she shall have! What the hell am I going to write for a blog about being a Mom? Foiled! I found the fatal flaw in my good deed for the year.

    Courtney with her adorably, quirky husband, Jamit, and their free spirited Wheaten Terrier, Lumi. Doing one of the things they love best, hiking!

    After months (in addition to the neuroses, I am also a procrastinator of the first order) of social observation, searching the Internet, conducting my own (and might I add, very insightful) surveys, and numerous hours of harassing a girlfriend who holds a Masters degree in Early Child Development from Harvard, I have finally found my voice! What started off as a favor to a dear friend has turned into an endeavor I am truly excited to share with all of you.

    I may not be a Mom yet, but please know that I see what an incredibly, impossible job it is and I am truly in awe. I am at that stage in life where many of my best friends have kids, so I don’t quite feel like an outsider. I’m certainly in no position to be giving parenting advice, but the thing is I believe it takes more than just parents to love and advocate for a child. The job is simply too big and kids deserve more than that. On that note and for what it’s worth, here’s my contribution, however small! While I won’t be doling out any advice per se, I hope to connect you to some insightful, humorous, often frivolous, yet fun and sometimes controversial, resources. I LOVE a juicy debate and parenting is an area that deserves to be constantly studied and discussed in a forum that is free of judgment and ridicule (oh yes ladies, I know all about the “Judgy Mom” epidemic).

    Thank you so much for indulging me and I am very excited to be a part of something so special. I have heard so many wonderful things about all of you momstown Mommies and if all the stories are true, I think this might be the beginning of something very interesting…

    This article was written by Courtney Dhaliwal, one of our newest blog contributors. While she's not a mom yet, she is by far the best Aunty one can ask for (and a pretty darn good BFF).

    Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic! Save with this coupon code!

    Disney on Ice is coming to Winnipeg January 26 - 29, 2012!

    Join the celebration as 65 of Disney's unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You and your family will get to see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinoccio and many of the Disney Princesses! Characters from The Lion King, Mulan, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story will also be there too!

    Check out more information about the show at http://disney.go.com/disneyonice/

    You can purchase your tickets on ticket master.

    Want to save on tickets to see Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic? Save $4 off per ticket when you use the coupon code NEMO at ticketmaster.ca for select shows.

    • $4 off (Valid on Thursday 7pmSaturday 7pm and Sunday 12pm)
    • Code: NEMO
    • Buy tickets by: Internet / Phone / Box Office
    • Restrictions: EXCLUDES Front Row, VIP,  and Rinkside tickets / no double discounts

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    The Dreaded Playdate

    Every so often I see a mom sign up for a membership never to be seen or heard. They may lurk the board from time to time but never actually come out to any events. I encourage moms to come out to events and for various reasons it doesn't always work with their schedule. This I understand. We're all busy, and it's impossible to have events scheduled at times that will accommodate everyone.

    What I do wonder is how many of these moms don't come out to an event because they are shy and nervous? Nervous of what you may ask? Well, of fitting in. Of acceptance. Of the unknown. See, I understand because I was a new member too at one time. 

    My daughter when we just moved to Burlington. I spent a lot of time taking pictures of her to pass the time.

    I'll take you back 2 years ago. We moved to Burlington, Ontario. Me, my husband and my 6 month old daughter. I didn't know anyone there. I was scared of being lonely but excited for our next adventure. I knew in order to survive I would have to join classes with my daughter. And lots! So I Googled mom and baby activities around the Burlington / Halton area. I was prepared to drive anywhere so I could get out of the house and keep busy. I joined swimming. I wasn't too nervous about this. It's swimming. We listen to the instructor but don't have to really worry if we aren't talking to other moms. We're there to to swim, not socialize. But when I arrived I felt the urge to talk to the other moms. I was so lonely I just needed to talk, to anyone! So I'd strike up a conversation and they'd talk back to me. We'd smile, say "I'll see you next week," and go on our day. After the last class I never saw those moms again. How do you pick up another mommy friend? It's not that easy. "Do you want to be my friend?"

    So I Googled more activities. I stumbled upon momstown. It sounded like an interesting concept. So I signed up. $45! What do I have to lose. I signed up for a few events. I think I canceled the first few. I chickened out. Go to a playdate where I don't know anyone?!?! So I built up courage and I signed up for another. I clicked on each mom's profile who was signed up. I studied it like I was preparing for an exam. I didn't want to forget anyone's name or their kid's name. My first event was at Sharkey's. The Goldfish Playdate. It was a public place, so not as awkward as going into a strange mom's home. This I can handle. I chatted with the other moms. My daughter looked around and smiled at the other moms and babies. I went home and looked at their profiles again. I liked them. I think I may have found some friends. And I don't have to ask them to be my friend! I can see the next playdate they are signed up for and go. It will just come naturally.

    Next up, a playdate at someone's home. I remember going to our first playdate at a mom's home. Ringing the doorbell and introducing myself. "Hi, I'm Ester. I'm here for your playdate." Again, another new and awkward situation. But I overcame it. Was I nervous? Yes! But each and every mom at that playdate had been new at one point too. They went through those same feelings I went through. You won't make friends unless you put yourself out there. It's like dating.  Mr. Right won't come along while you're sitting at home. 

    A group of moms that I became friends with. All our kids turned 1 around the same time so we celebrated together.

    I realized that it wasn't so bad to go to a playdate and not know anyone. I was nervous but I also wanted to teach my baby not to fear the unknown. To be sociable. I'm a pretty shy person but as I get out there, forcing myself to meet other moms, I am overcoming my shy nature. You probably won't hear me stop talking now. I also think reading the message board helped too. You start to feel like you know these moms before you even meet. It was nice to find a message board that was with local moms, not moms across the country.

    Going to a playgroup is so much more valuable then we realize. It provides moms and their babies with activities that get them out of the house. You can make new friends and enjoy adult conversation. It helps moms from feeling isolated, which is essential in fighting postpartum depression. Socializing is important in order to be happy, healthy moms. Your baby is socializing too. Even if you think he or she is just lying there. They are watching other babies. Processing what is going on. These babies do get older. Eventually they'll be crawling and walking! Playing with the other babies that they have essentially grown up with. Making friends too!

    So you shy moms, get out there! Come to a playdate. If you are lucky to have a mom group in your community like momstown, join! And come out to an event. Those heart racing, sweating palms will eventually go away. The dreaded playdate isn't as bad as you think it will be. And it sure beats trying to pick up a mom at the playground.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    29 Activities To Keep The Kids Busy Indoors This February

    As I write this letter I hear the wind howling through the house.  What a week it has been - fleece jackets and park outings to parkas and indoor activities.  I hope everyone is staying warm and safe.  I wasn't prepared to be stuck inside today, so I put together a list of inside activities.  The list includes one activity for each day in February.  Let's hope we will not need all of these!

    1.  Spend the day in pajamas
    2.  Exercise with the television or tape
    3.  Do a craft
    4.  Build a model
    5.  Put together a jigsaw puzzle
    6.  Organize photos
    7.  Create an album or scrapbook
    8.  Look through old photos
    9.  Play a board game
    10. Play cards
    11. Play 20 questions
    12. Play I Spy
    13. Watch a movie
    14. Read books
    15. Set up the tent inside
    16. Skype with distant family members or friends
    17. Dance
    18. Bake cookies
    19. Clean
    20. Organize a closet
    21. Sort through clutter and find some things to give away or throw out
    22. Indoor Scavenger Hunt
    23. Make ice cream
    24. Put on a concert or talent show
    25. Make sock puppets
    26. Build a fort
    27. Video record your kids
    28. Perform science experiments
    29. Bring to Beach to Us with an indoor beach party! (It's a leap year)

    If our mild winter weather does return, I hope to see you at the park!

    Lisa B.

    This article was written by Lisa B, one of our newest blog contributors. When she's not chasing her 2 boys outdoors, she's up to her elbows with glue and glitter!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Life of a Stay At Home Mom

    Life has brought me to this wonderful (most of time) chapter and I’d like to share a little bit with you about what it is like to be a SAHM.  One of the reasons I like staying home is because it’s a quiet and drama free life (I mean, quiet and drama free in a different way than what is thrown at you with a toddler running around.) 

    Before becoming a SAHM, I didn’t really focus on anything for too long.  I still easily get bored when I’m not challenged, and at times I am eager to see what else is out there.  I am a free spirit so I think that it’s just embedded in me.  I accept it and embrace who I am.  My life resume is far more interesting than the work and education listed on my resume.  I like to think that I’ve lived a pretty exciting life and I pride myself on being well balanced.  Since becoming a SAHM, I’ve found a focus like never before.  It’s a focus that makes me feel fantastic, like what I’m doing is so much bigger than what it appears to be.  In the grand scheme of things, I belong here.

    At times, it’s been difficult accepting my role and I sometimes catch myself dreaming about doing something else.  Part of the difficulty in taking on this role is that I had been on my own for ten years prior to meeting my husband.  Independence is not something that can easily be given up, at least not for me.  It was quite an adjustment from paying for everything myself to relying 100% on someone else.  It was an adjustment for my husband as well, from having household expenses divided up to solely supporting a family.  Just like others in our position, the adjustment period takes time and eventually it all gets smoothed out.

    In the SAHM job description, something that often is not talked about is how isolating and lonely it can feel at times.  Similar to Postpartum Depression, people are still not very comfortable talking about certain things.  Family and community dynamics have changed drastically over the years.  Growing up, I was surrounded by other kids at the playground and during the summer, I had countless cousins to play with.  Today, the parks are practically empty due to a handful of reasons including technology and family living further away from one another.

    As for technology, it has decreased face to face socialization but it’s also increased socialization.  I’m able to stay in touch with people easier then before.  It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I often frequent Facebook throughout the day.  I personally thrive on communication and I need it on a daily basis.  Facebook gives me a connection that I need to the outside world.  On the momstown message board, I jokingly said, “Boredom and loneliness are classified together as one of the seven enemies of survival and I think they would kill me first before hunger did.”  I’m only half joking.

    I am a firm believer in getting out of the house and socializing face to face on a regular basis.  I feel that socializing by yourself is just as important as socializing with your kids (SAHM or working mom, it doesn’t matter).  There are layers to us as individuals - we are wives (girlfriends, partners, lovers, significant others) and we are mothers but we also have an inner core when we strip away everything else.  All of our layers deserve and need attention.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, eventually and down the road, there is a good chance that we are going to burn out.  It all boils down to balancing the layers that make us who we are.  The balancing act is forever changing and different layers need more attention at times than others.

    “Me time” is so important.  I cannot stress it enough that we need to take care of ourselves.  “Me time” can be as simple as an uninterrupted bubble bath or a weekend away at a yoga retreat. “Me time” can be signing up for classes, going out for a cup of coffee by yourself or having dinner with a friend.  Take one look at the momstown calendar and you will find countless opportunities to get out of the house for a little “me time”.

    One of the most important things about being a SAHM, I learned from my mom.  She had earned a diploma in the 1970’s and in the 80’s and early 90’s, she decided to stay at home and raise a family.  When my Dad passed away in 1993, she returned to work.  Her education and office skills were outdated and she went to work at Tim Hortons.  A few years later when my brothers and I were older, she returned to school and upgraded her computer and office skills and was able to find work that better suited her.

    I want to encourage every SAHM reading this to get their foot in the door somewhere.  It can be a part time job, volunteering (great way to maintain references) or going to school part time.  I keep my foot in the door and my resume active by volunteering, and in the spring I will start working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communications on a part time basis.

    Being a SAHM is a wonderful chapter in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I love being here when my daughter wakes up in the morning and through all of our daily adventures.  I want to be at home with her during her first five years of life and I feel truly blessed that I am able to.  After this chapter, I will be ready to move on to something else and in small ways; I am slowly preparing myself for it. 

    This article was written by Christina H, one of our newest blog contributors. She is currently a Stay at Home Mom to an adorable 18 month old.

    Goldfish Playdates at Purely Baby

    Our first Goldfish playdate at the new Purely Baby started last week. This playdate is for moms and their babies 0 to 12 months old. It's a great way for moms to get out of the house, socialize and enjoy good company. And nobody has to worry about cleaning their house for friends to come over. Well, except Becky, the owner of Purely Baby!

    We were some of the first in Winnipeg to see the brand new facility that offers prenatal and postnatal programs and resources for Winnipeg moms. It is a fabulous space. We loved the soft floors and bouncy balls. We pretty much stayed until we had to leave. What do you mean there's a yoga class after us?! :)

    We are there once a week. If you are interested in joining this playgroup, you can register at momstown Winnipeg. Playgroups are included in your momstown membership!

    Japanese Painting Workshop

    One of the benefits of having an artist as a member is using her talent to teach the rest of us! Cathy, our very own in-house art teacher got together will a group of moms to teach them pseudo-rice paper Japanese style painting. 

    It is super easy for anyone, even those with no background in art!

    Keep an eye on the calendar! She's got more workshops in the works. 

    Thanks again Cathy for hosting a fabulous workshop!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Clothing Swap

    Have a lot of clothes that you want to giveaway but also need to update your own wardrobe? Host a clothing swap with your friends. The other week a bunch of momstown moms got together to swap clothes.

    Initially we planned to use decks of cards to keep track of how many items we each brought, and we could 'buy' the same amount back. But after quickly realizing the excessive amounts of clothes we had (we love to shop!), we just decided to go at it. Everyone was of different shapes and sizes but there was still something for everyone. That's the benefit of having a swap with moms. We've all been different sizes at some point in the last few years. We also had accessories there.

    To have a successful clothing swap have somewhere to hang some clothes and have some mirrors around the room. You may also wish to have private rooms or bathrooms for fitting rooms.

    And what's a girls get together without food!

    After we went through the piles of clothes we packed up the rest and donated the bags of clothes to Ka Ni Kanichihk which is an organization supporting Aboriginal women.  They were looking for clothing donations for their "My Sister's Closet" event on Jan 19th. They have an office administrative training program for women and in February the participants begin work placements and job interviews. We thought it was the perfect place to donate the clothing and accessories. We had quite a few business attire that would be much appreciated at Ka Ni Kanichihk. The clothing donations will be a big help for women prepare for the professional work environment.