If you have a Wordless Wednesday post, feel free to link it up below; I’d love to check it out!
If you have a Wordless Wednesday post, feel free to link it up below; I’d love to check it out!
Holiday Gift for Book-Loving Children
For many people, there is no better Christmas gift than a good book. My Christmas just doesn’t feel complete unless I have a great new novel among my Christmas presents, and many of my other family members feel the same way. While both of my sons are too young to read on their own just yet, they are already showing signs that they have inherited the love of reading that is such a strong characteristic in my family, and I do everything I can to encourage that love. When Christmas comes around, the encouragement always come in the form of some new children’s books under the tree. Every parent knows that great children’s books are Scholastic Canada’s specialty, and I was lucky enough to be given the chance to review some of the company’s new festive titles for myself.
The wonderful thing about choosing books from Scholastic is that the variety is simply unbeatable. I received some titles from authors I was familiar with and others by writers that were unknown to me. Some books boasted incredible illustrations while others featured engaging plotlines. But all of the books had the child-friendly, fun-loving quality that makes Scholastic books so wonderful.
I really enjoyed the seasonal books I received. A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker was a patriotic version of the twelve days of Christmas and the boys loved the humorous illustrations and lyrical text, while I was kept entertained by some of the book’s subtle humour. On the final page, for example, all of the characters from the story were scattered throughout the branches of a pine tree. When I noticed that the ten (Toronto Maple) Leafs a-leaping were all desperately grasping for the five Stanley Cups that all seemed to be just out of reach, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon was another guaranteed child pleaser. Parents and children everywhere are familiar with the insatiable David and his propensity for mischief. Any child will be able to relate to David’s frustration as he desperately tries (and fails) to behave in the days preceding Christmas. Parents will be equally entertained by David’s hapless mischievous antics.
The final seasonal title I received was One Hockey Night by David Ward. This touching tale centred on what most people consider to be Canada’s best loved sport, hockey. But the story also featured themes of loneliness, learning and adjustment that many children can relate to. The story chronicles the adventures of two young children that have moved from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia, and the kids’ sorrow at losing their friends, their school and, most of all, the frozen lake where they played hockey each winter.
Thankfully, with the help of their new neighbours, the children’s parents decide to create a surprise Christmas gift that will give the children back the game they lost, and introduce them to a host of new friends at the same time. I found this story to be so touching, and I loved the way it illustrated the way that a simple recreational activity can create friendships that last a lifetime.
In addition to the wonderful seasonal titles Scholastic offers, there are also many books that are sure to become year-round favourites. The Queen’s Secret by Frieda Wishinsky was a fun rhyming book that any girl would be sure to love. When a young girl wonders why the queen of her land would need to carry a purse, her mind creates all kinds of fanciful contents for the royal handbag. Imagine her surprise when she gets a chance to see the contents of the bag for herself and learns that she and the queen have more in common than she would have believed! Children will love the surprise ending in this adorable book.
Mad at Mommy by Komako Sakai is a beautifully written story that portrays the frustration young children often feel with their parents, and the love that binds mother and child together no matter what. I could see my son in so many of the whimsical bunny narrator’s complaints, and couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty when I read about the bunny’s frustration with always being asked to hurry up, even though Mommy never does. In the end, though, Mommy’s love for her son and her son’s love for her prove to be unbreakable, no matter how frustrating a mother may be sometimes. Parents and children alike will find themselves relating to this easy-to-read book.
This is Silly! by Gary Taxali is a fun reading book with plenty of rhymes and fun nonsense words to appeal to young children, but it is the illustrations that really make this book unique. With styles that are inspired by Dr. Seuss, E.C. Segar (the creator of Popeye) and 1930s advertising and typography, the beautiful artwork in this book is a feast for the eyes.
Finally, Too Much Stuff! by Robert Munsch explores the challenges of traveling with children in classic Munsch style. Zackary is a huge Robert Munsch fan and he loved the story of the girl that couldn’t stand to be parted from her dolls and bears on vacation. The way that the toys end up bringing happiness to other children is just heart-warming, and the reward the young girl receives for her generosity will have any child eager to share their toys with friends!
Scholastic books make a great gift for children from preschool to high school, and the quality and popularity of every book the company carries is what has made them a household name for so many years. With their incredible selection, any parent will be able to find a book that was meant for their child. Our society depends so strongly on reading that encouraging that love in your child is one of the most beneficial things you can do to ensure future success both in school and in life. Show your child how much fun reading can be and pick up a great new book from Scholastic for you and your child to enjoy together!
Buy It: To purchase any of the great picture books from Scholastic Canada, check your local bookstore or
Win It: One lucky reader will receive their own copy of It’s Christmas, David! and A Porcupine In a Pine Tree from Scholastic Canada
To Enter (mandatory): Visit Scholastic Canada and tell me about another book that you would like to have
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Giveaway ends 11:59 pm CST on January 7, 2011. Open to Canada Only
As regular readers will know, I recently conducted a review and giveaway of the Head Snuggler, a device to help children sleep comfortably while traveling. You can read the full review here. Melanie Risdon-Betcher, owner of Melrose Kids and creator of the Head Snuggler, has prepared a guest post with some great tips for traveling with children. Those of you that are planning a vacation by car this summer will definitely want to check out the information. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks for Comfortable Summer Travel by Melanie Risdon-Betcher
When it comes to family travel, most parents romanticize about what that upcoming vacation is going to be like. But the truth of the matter is that family vacations can often be full of stress, grumpy kids and sheer disappointment.
But don’t unpack those suitcases and cancel the camping spot just yet! We’ve got some great travel tips for you to not only make the trip more enjoyable, but safer as well.
BEFORE THE TRIP
1) Travel SAFE!!
The most important thing you can do in your pre-trip preparations is to make sure you have taken all the steps necessary to ensure your child is safely secured in the right seat for their height and weight and that that seat is properly installed.
Every year, many children are injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions. According to Transport Canada, a correctly used car seat will reduce the likelihood of your child being injured by 75%. In 2007, 11,737 children under 15 years of age were injured and 99 children were killed in automobile accidents.
LaVonne Ries of Keepin’ Baby Safe is a certified Children’s Restraint Safety Technician (CRST) and has inspected over 6000 children’s restraint systems. “Installing a car seat can be a challenging task,” says Ries, “and not all car seats fit all vehicles.”
Here is a list of the most common mistakes parents can make when installing their child’s seat. (Refer to your owner’s manual for references to each of these issues)
· The seat is inappropriate for a child’s height or weight
· The seat-belt or Universal Anchorage System is not properly used or is too loose
· The harness is not snug enough on the child and chest clip is not up at armpit level
· The tether strap is loose or not used at all
· The car seat is too old and has passed the expiry date that is stamped on the back or side of the seat (This is illegal and can lead to a fine)
“When in doubt,” Ries suggests, “consult with a [CRST].” Some of Ries’ safety tips when traveling with children:
· Always refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual and car seat instruction booklet before any installation
· The safest place for a child’s car seat is in the back seat
· Never place a car seat in front of an active air bag
· Refrain from using any after market products that affix to or interfere with the restraints of the car seat, or that go between the child and their restraints or the child and their car seat as Transport Canada warns against. Such products can affect the safety of the seat and can cause injury in the event of a collision
· In the winter, place blankets on top of child as opposed to using bulky clothing that compresses and can lead to slackness in the restraints
· Fill out the registration card that comes with your child’s car seat. The information for registering a car seat is on the date of manufacturing sticker affixed on your child’s car seat. This way, the manufacturer can contact you if there is a recall of your specific seat
· Check with Transport Canada at http://www.tc.gc.ca or 1-800-333-0371 to stay up-to-date on any recalls
· Vehicles manufactured before 2001 need a tether anchor point installed
2) Plan the Trip
Map your trip so you time out strategic stops for bathroom and sanity breaks. Kids have short attention spans and, according to registered psychologist Dr. Kimberly Eckert, M.Sc., the length of their attention span depends on their age. Focus can last anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes for toddlers and up to 30 to 40 minutes for a 7 year old.
“Toddlers often struggle the most with traveling,” Eckert warns, adding that they are less easily distracted than older children yet only have a capacity of 3 to 8 minutes of focused attention. She suggests having plenty of age appropriate activities on hand for your children and planning for frequent out-of-car breaks.
“Parents can expect to need to stop every hour to hour and a half,” for toddlers. She suggests you may be able to make the stops less frequently (every 2 to 3 hours) for school-aged children. GPS systems are great for checking out upcoming stops. Or map it out beforehand by marking off stops on the map that are about 200 to 250 kilometers apart.
If you plan to make most of your trek at night, be sure your kids will be comfortable and have all their favourite night time comforts like blankies, pillows, stuffies, etc. While resting, a proper head support is also important for your children not only to prevent neck strain, but also to prevent airway restriction, which leads to oxygen deprivation.
When our bodies go without enough oxygen for too long our oxygen saturation levels drop in our blood. Thankfully, our bodies are programmed to prompt us to consciousness so we don’t actually suffocate. This is a great self defense mechanism, however, it’s not the best situation when you want your child to get a good sleep. If they are slumped in their seat, their airway will be restricted so that they will not be able to get the proper rest they need.
We suggest trying our Head Snuggler. It’s a new take on a head support, providing the support from above rather than trying to address if from below. “When I started using the Head Snuggler,” says Dr. Kyla Brulotte, a chiropractor and mother of 3, “I was very excited to see my children sleeping comfortable with properly aligned spines.”
The Head Snuggler is backed by a pediatrician, chiropractor and CRST and it works to hold a child’s head in a neutral position while they rest so there is no uncomfortable neck strain and no airway restriction. “Properly supporting a child’s head in a car seat has been an issue for parents for many years.” says pediatrician Dr. Nieman FRCP (C), “I believe [the Head Snuggler] effectively addresses parents’ concerns and provides children with a more comfortable experience while resting in their car seats.” The best part is that the Head Snuggler allows your child to enjoy a deeper, longer sleep while you enjoy the peace. Check them out at melrosekids.com.
3) Stock Up for the Trip
Because of the fact that children can get quite restless cooped up in a car seat, we recommend loading up on games, books and activities so the kids have plenty to do and don’t end up distracting you every half hour with the nagging question, “are we there yet?”
If you have a DVD player in the car, bring some of your kid’s favorites, but don’t make the entire trip about staring at a screen for your children. They need breaks from the boob tube as well. Point out the scenery or play “I Spy” with them. Have them change their focus from time to time to experience their surroundings.
*Note: an organizer that affixes to the back of the driver and passenger seats is a great way to store all of your children’s travel supplies in a handy, easy to reach place.
It’s also important to have healthy snacks on hand, so kids don’t end up jumping on the “blood sugar” roller coaster ride. Nutrition Educator and Author Karla Heintz, BSc Nutrition, has some great fresh ideas for stocking the cooler:
· grape tomatoes
· edamame (green soybeans)
· baby carrots
· snap peas
· celery sticks
· red pepper slices
· air popped popcorn (pop in advance)
These next ideas are still healthy but can weigh in a bit more heavily on the calorie side, so don’t overdo it:
· trail mix
· dried fruit (unsulfered of course)
· nuts/seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios,etc.)
And for those who like the convenience of a bar, some of Karla’s healthy picks include Kashi, the Cliff Bar and Lara Bar.
Things to avoid include anything high in sugar, salt or caffeine.
DURING THE DRIVE
1) Arrange the car so that the items your children will want and need are easy to access
2) Be sure to pack the car so your children have room to move and be comfortable with any cargo safely secured in case of an accident
3) Be sure to take adequate breaks as well. If you are feeling tired or irritable, stop, pull over, have a rest if possible or just take a breather and get some fresh air
Family travel isn’t going to be that lovely picture you see in a magazine or commercial, but it doesn’t have to be awful either. With some good planning it can be a wonderful adventure for all.
Karla Heintz, BSc Nutrition – www.nutritionwithk.com
Dr. Kimberly Eckert, M.Sc. Registered Psychologist – www.eckertcentre.com
Dr. Kyla Brulotte, D.C., CACCP
Dr. Peter Nieman FRCP (C), Pediatrician – www.healthykids.ca
LaVonne Ries – Children’s restraint safety technician (CRST) – www.keepinbabysafe.com