Monday, September 28, 2015

Transformations: Behavioural Challenges and Positive Outcomes

Tantrums. Defiance. Talking back. And lashing out. At what point does it stop being "normal"?  When is it too much?  When children act out excessively, parents can experience feelings of loneliness, anger, guilt and despair.  Some parents will hold these feelings in and hide it from other friends and family members. I know this turmoil all too well. After seeing a very positive transformation in my home, I am eager to share my family’s journey and the remarkable changes that transpired. I am so thankful for the gentle and caring guidance from people like the lovely Julie Romanowski of Miss Behaviour - Parenting Coach and Consultant Services.

For several months, my spouse and I dealt with our daughter’s tantrums, aggression, lying, and a very strong desire to battle for power! Sometimes we had a really good week with one tantrum. Then there would be exhaustive weeks with Ava. Tears were shed. Anger expressed. And lies told. Our home became a negative environment for everyone.

Not knowing where to turn, I reached out to Parenting Coach Julie Romanowski and we connected over email arranging a time to have an initial consultation.  The entire getting-started process was easy and painless leaving me with a positive feeling that our family was now moving in the right direction.

During our scheduled hour long phone call, Julie and I discussed the issues along with our observations, feelings and the subsequent outcomes. Immediately I felt no shame or embarrassment divulging to Julie that sometimes when our daughter’s behaviour was so terrible, I didn’t want to be with Ava. I confided that, at times, I didn’t want to make an effort.

She asked numerous questions and before meeting in person, I felt immediately connected to her. It was refreshing knowing someone understood what I was going through.  I did not feel pressured. With her gentle guidance, she let me take the lead in providing her with the information needed to begin the healing process and restoring general peace in our home.

After our initial phone call ended, I immediately saved her contact information in my smartphone under "Julie My Saviour". I had a friend who understood me. I could say," I don't like my child today!" She didn't judge or think less of me. She didn't laugh at me.  Instead, she encouraged me to let it out, and move on. 

We arranged a time for her to come into our home and meet Ava to review the situation. I counted down the days until she was coming. I felt renewed, optimistic and ready to approach this new beginning.

Julie arrived at our home and started interacting with Ava, It was clear that our daughter trusted her and was enjoying her company.  Julie had Ava participate in a few visual activities, which seemed to have a really positive outcome.  We discussed routines and creating visuals so our daughter could see our "rules or expectations”. We then created tools specifically for Ava.

Julie spoke with her and created a unique bond. I was amazed at how two people could connect so quickly.  We then excused Ava from our conversation to discuss Julie’s observations and recommendations.  She explained how to address her tantrums in order to get the results we hoped for.  Julie left us well-prepared with a ton of knowledge and feeling really positive.

Each day we made small improvements and had some successes. As parents, it's very easy to want perfect results right away. Julie’s encouraging, kind and genuine approach helped to ground me. As a result, I felt determined to look internally to develop skills within and acknowledge areas that needed improvement. 

We had a Friday night phone call that left me with an immense feeling of self-realization and intense awareness, she helped me realize things that I needed to do as a mother and how Ava would learn from me. I realized I had to take the proper steps to show Ava the way.

We saw continuous improvements using Julie's suggestions on a daily basis.  For any parent who feels left behind, lonely, angry and in dire need of reassurance, Julie offers very encouraging guidance.

Her methods are simple, positive and productive.  She works with each family to customize a plan of action and her services are reasonable especially when you consider all that you gain. I encourage parents to check out her website at and follow her on social media for small tips and tricks. 

Julie’s work is truly amazing. It is incredible how she can make you feel about your relationships with your partner – your child – and most importantly, as a caring family-unit!

Janette Shearer is a Mommy Blogger for Vancity Mommy D, wife and mother of six-year old Ava and 8-month old Zoe.  Images Courtesy of Julie Romanowski Miss Behavior- Parent Coach and Consulting Services

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CD Review: Forest Friends Nature Club by Ginalina

Whenever my children are out of sorts, needing a change of scenery, or just not feeling the rhythm of the day, I do one of two things:

I take them outside OR I put on some music and we have a dance party.

We have some family favourites, including Jack Johnson, anything vintage Disney, and any Silly Songs compilation. Well, all of those have now been replaced with a lovely, lively and local CD called Forest Friends Nature Club by Ginalina. Vancouver based mom of four Ginalina sings “family inspired folk music” and her topics range from eating pancakes in bed, to the shapes and colors in nature, to French and English versions of songs about love, life and play. Every song on the CD is SERIOUSLY catchy (I’m humming “Pancakes for Breakfast” as I write this), and the best part is that a portion of proceeds from every CD purchase supports The Roche Forest Project.

Ginalina’s Forest Friends' Nature Club Album has had the honor of winning several awards, including Mom's Choice, National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA), Parent's Choice, and Canadian Children's Book Centre.  She was also nominated for Best Children's Album of the Year in the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Although my daughters love bopping along to the whole album, their favorite song by far is “Pancakes for Breakfast”, as it has an infectious, upbeat melody – and one of our favorite pastimes to do on weekends is – you guessed it – to make and eat pancakes in bed.

Be sure to pick up this album at or on today.

Ginalina ( is family and children's folk musician and singer-songwriter. Parent's Choice Children Media and Toy Reviews writes: "Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Ginalina takes a modern, gentle folk approach to her songs that inspire imaginative play and creativity in children." 

Forest Friends' Nature Club Album is one big adventure in Vancouver's great outdoors and will enrich, entertain, and inspire children, students, and adults alike! This second album feature over 40 minutes of music and 17 original songs incorporating both English and French.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One-on-One Time: Attending the Whitecaps FC Game Together

We as parents are busy; I am the first to admit it. I rush home from work, grab the kids from daycare, throw some food at them for dinner (figuratively, not literally), clean up, get the kids in the bath, listen to every excuse on why they are not yet ready for bed: hungry, thirsty, have to pee (insert your child’s best excuse here) and then finally get them to sleep, and all I want to do is go to sleep myself.

This is my Monday to Friday life; the rat-race. But more and more I am trying to break from its monotony, and spend some quality time with my kids during the week. It could be something simple like some play in sand box after dinner, a trip to the pool to swim, or getting out the train tracks and playing trains. This week my husband and I were lucky enough to take Mattias (our four year old) to see his first Whitecaps FC match at BC Place.

I know it is difficult to get a babysitter sometimes. We are quite lucky that Grannie (my mum) lives close by, and always wants to spend some time with her grandkids. She agreed to come over and put Markus (our two year old) to bed, so Raimo and I could take Mattias out by himself. This is a REAL treat! It’s relatively easy to get one parent and one kid out doing stuff together, but for one on one time with BOTH parents, that’s special.

As we arrived at the stadium we saw the Southsiders waving flags and marching towards the stadium. They are the loud, and boisterous, Whitecap’s supporters that you see, and hear, chanting and dancing throughout the match! We had hoped to make it in time to march alongside them, but traffic from the East side of the Port Mann into downtown, took us a bit longer than anticipated!

Mattias’ one request at the game was popcorn! So something to eat was out first stop! With a giant bag of popcorn in hand we headed to our seats, “this was such a good idea!” he exclaimed between mouthfuls! Raimo and I looked at each other and smiled. Mattias marvelled at the flying flags in the endzone, he stood up to dance and cheer like his dad and thoroughly had a great time! There is so much to see when you see the inside of the stadium for the first time!

What I did not expect, was when the Whitecaps scored and both Raimo and I jumped up to cheer, Mattias burst into tears! He claimed that it was too noisy, but I think the sudden, unexpected eruption also scared him a bit. After a few minutes he was ok and was enjoying the game again!

I highly suggest that you get out of the house and show your children a new experience, especially if you can do it one-on-one or even better, with both parents. Mattias has seen us watch the Whitecaps on TV, but has never seen the inside of a stadium or a soccer game (ok he has seen me play on Sunday mornings with the “Lush Puppies,” but I will admit that we are all around that 30 year old mark and not even ghosts of our former soccer-playingselves).

Mattias got the whole experience, his own ticket, his own seat, popcorn and pop (what is it with kids and pop?? I’m not a pop fan so maybe I just don’t get it). He got to come in the car with mom and dad and didn’t need to have his little brother tagging along! We all thoroughly enjoyed our evening out and hope we get another chance soon!  

A few tips for kid’s first time at a sporting event:
  • Try and get an aisle seat if possible to make quick exits if a sudden bathroom break is required. 
  • The bathrooms often have long lineups at half time, its better to go during the match if required. There are also family bathroom’s at BC Place and there was one right outside our section, but it was occupied both times we tried to use it. 
  • It can get loud in the stadium, so prep your kids for noise and take kid sized headphones for little ones.
  • The game can be long, so leave your expectations at the door and if an early exit is required, you should probably take it. 
  • Sitting in the back of a section isn’t bad, your kids (and you) can stand up and move around without bothering others behind you!
Checkout the upcoming Vancouver Whitecaps FC schedule here. For more information
Lindsay is a wife, a mom to two little boys, a soccer player, a lifetime traveler and a lover of learning. Lindsay resides in Langley and is currently searching out new ways to enjoy every minute she can with her family, while balancing the pressures of living in our fast-paced society. Check out Lindsay’s blog at

Thursday, September 10, 2015

UBT: Packing an Emergency Kit

With the largest power outage in BC Hydro’s history last week, many were left without power for 48 hours or longer. I heard stories of dead cell phones, spoiled food in the fridge and freezer and many people traveling to places with power to eat or hang out. People were going to local gas stations to get gas for their generators, only to find the gas stations were also without power and unable to pump fuel.

If a devastating event such as a large earthquake was to hit the South Coast, and car travel was not possible, nor was tap water or creek water drinkable, how many of us would find our families and ourselves in trouble?

Here is a list of basic necessities for any emergency kit

  • Water for 72 hours (2 liters per person per day is recommended)
  • Food for 72 hours (we like dehydrated food. It is light and only requires boiling water to cook it)
  • Can opener if you have canned food
  •  Toilet paper, tampons/pads
  • First aid kit
  • Money (we have $50 in $5 bills. With technology unavailable, cash will be the only option. Change for pay phones is also recommended)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery operated radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Candles and matches

Some not-so common items for families and extra supplies

  • Pot and stove to cook
  • Plates and utensils
  • Spare house key
  • Baby food and a spoon
  • A Tin of Formula
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Spare clothing for all members of the family
  • A baby carrier
  • Paper and pencil
  • A deck of cards / puzzle
  • Blankets / coats / sleeping bags
  • Dog / cat food
  • Rope / leash / harness / carrier
  • Bowl for water
  • Duct tape
  • Basic tools such as hammer, pliers
  • Rope
  • Whistle
  • Garbage bags
  • Prescription medication

Where put your emergency kit? There are lots of opinions about this, so I can only share my own. My emergency kit sits in the top of the closet in two bins. The closet is closest to the front door and the garage. There is also a backpack in there. Should we need to leave the house we could put the supplies into the backpack or into the trunk of the car.

I think that it is likely that in a disaster, we will be able to stay in our homes. But if there is a gas leak, or a flood, fire, or other damage to any of our homes, we need to be prepared to exit. With lots of time to prepare, we could empty our pantry and pack our bags, but sometimes that is not going to be an option. An emergency kit should be easy to grab and carry. A good suggestion is to put it into an old suitcase.

While everyone has their own level of comfort for what to pack and what supplies are essential and what are optional, this list should give you something to think about when preparing your own kit. If you are feeling overwhelmed, start with a case of water. Throw it in the closet. You have done something! Something is better than nothing!

Lindsay is a wife, a mom to two little boys, a soccer player, a lifetime traveler and a lover of learning. Lindsay resides in Langley and is currently searching out new ways to enjoy every minute she can with her family, while balancing the pressures of living in our fast-paced society. Check out Lindsay’s blog at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: What You Need to Know

Hand, foot and mouth Disease – it sounds scary, and is often confused with “foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is a disease restricted to cattle, sheep, and pigs. But not to worry, as your child is not going to catch a sketchy sounding condition from the local petting zoo. In fact, hand foot and mouth disease is not a disease, but a virus – and a very common one at that – and the one we’re talking about here only occurs in humans.

Caused by the Coxsackie virus, hand foot and mouth disease is a super common, usually mild, and extremely contagious virus that usually affects infants and children under the age of 5 years old. To put into perspective how contagious it really is, picture this: a friend of mine brought her child to a birthday party, unknowing that one of the guests had the early symptoms of the hand-foot and mouth virus. 3 days later, all 10 kids that attended the party had the virus. It’s that contagious.

Usually occurring in summer and fall, hand foot and mouth can also sometimes occur in adults, with varying symptoms. In children, the most common symptoms include flu-like symptoms, fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, a skin rash, and small blisters on the fingers and feet.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease usually starts out like a common cold or flu. Your child will likely complain of a sore throat, may have a fever, and a poor appetite. After a few days, the sores may appear on the chin, mouth, hands and feet. The blisters vary in severity – some cause no irritation at all, while others may feel sore and prevent your child from comfortably eating or drinking.  Sometimes there are no blisters at all. The virus is most contagious during the first week of illness, and spreads through contact with an infected person’s saliva or stool. Essentially, the germs can get on a person’s hands or other objects and then spread into someone’s mouth, causing infection.

When both of my children contracted this virus, they were each only a year old and I was still nursing them. As a result, they only got a mild fever and a few blisters on their hands and feet – I am almost certain that my breast milk prevented the blisters from forming in their mouths. However, if your child does get blisters in his or her mouth, and you’re not breastfeeding, don’t panic! Lots of water will keep your child nicely hydrated, and won’t sting the blisters like juice or milk might.

My husband and I both ended up with the virus as well (as I mentioned above, it is extremely contagious). We had moderate flu-like symptoms that were gone in a day. Another friend of mine caught it from her child, and ended up with a high fever and a very sore throat. Overall, it can manifest in many ways, but the most important factor to remember is that it is a generally mild virus that is as common in childhood as chicken pox once was.

As with many other flu and cold viruses that are kicking around out there, vigorous hand washing is the only real preventative measure. Since viruses don’t require antibiotics, use OTC medications such as Advil or Tylenol (on the advice of your doctor) to help ease any discomfort that your child may be experiencing. And be sure to give all toys, doorknobs and other household surfaces a wash-down to eliminate any germs that are kicking around. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

UBT Picks: Back- to-School Books

The anticipation of returning to school after a long lazy summer can be an exciting time for your little one. Whether it’s the first year in preschool or a return to grade school, it’s a highly anticipated time of year. Sometimes, the excitement also comes with nervousness or butterflies, especially if it’s the first time your child is away from you or they’re feeling anxious about school.

Luckily, I’ve put together a list of three of my fave books that you can read to your child approaching the first day of school. These books are perfect to ease those nerves, get your child excited about school, and bring joy and fun to the topic.

The first book is one of my personal favorites. It’s called The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Get ready to break out the tissues, as I’m certain that you will find this to be just the cutest book you and your child will ever read. It tells a story of a small raccoon that is nervous to attend school. His mother responds by kissing his paw, and tells him that whenever he feels lonely, to press his paw to his face and know that his mommy loves him. Hence, the kissing hand. When you send your little one off to school, don’t forget to kiss their hand and press it to their face, and they’ll have their very own Kissing Hand! This book is great for any preschool or elementary aged child, and is sure to become a favorite in your child’s book collection.

The second book, called Kindergarten Rocks! It’s a fun tale about Dexter, who is excited but nervous about going to Kindergarten. With help from his sister Jessie, his stuffed dog Rufus, and his new teacher Ms. Sugarman, Dexter learns about how much fun he’s going to have learning new things in kindergarten. This is a perfect book for your child who is getting ready to attend his or her first year of elementary school, and it’s a fun and easy read for everyone. 

The final book was chosen by my four-year old, who is very into dinosaurs right now. Appropriately, it’s called How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolan and Mark Teague. This is a great book for toddlers and preschoolers because of its bright illustrations and it’s full of interactive questions. It asks if the dinosaurs “race up the stairs right ahead of the bell?” and “does he growl during chalk talks and roar out of turn?” It made my kids giggle incessantly. It’s also great to teach your child all about the different types of dinosaurs, as they are listed at the front of the book, and it also describes all the fun stuff one might do during a day at school. 

What a fun way to spend an afternoon with my little girls – catching up on some reading and getting excited about back to school. Visit your local library to find more books that will help your child get enthusiastic about learning and school!

Melissa Collins is a coffee-loving, lip gloss collecting mother of two little ladies. When she’s not cleaning up cheerios and blogging about the humour in parenting, you can find her curled up in her hammock with a good book. Check her out at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Toy Review: Thomas the Train Turbo Flip

I brought the new Thomas toy into the house and my boys noticed it right away. I explained to my four-year and two-year old that after dinner we could take a look at it. They were definitely very eager to see it. My overly-anxious older son, Mattias told me, “I just want to see how it works!” Meanwhile, two-year old Markus shouted with excitement, “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas!”

After dinner, we took Thomas out of the package to the delight of the boys. Mattias quickly grabbed the remote only to realize it needed batteries. Thomas came with batteries (4 AA) which was a nice surprise, but we needed 2 AAA batteries for the remote. Thankfully, we have a stockpile available for other toys!

While I put the batteries in the remote, the boys were happy to press the gold “1” on the side of Thomas. The train would race around in a circle; go forwards and then flip over backwards. Both of my boys were then squealing with laughter.

The remote was a big hit and really made the toy that much better. I don’t know what it is about remotes, but every child is happy to play with them! On the packaging, it states that the toy is for children ages three and up. It was easy for both boys to operate Thomas by pressing the button on the side of the train. When it came to the remote, Mattias mastered the four simple buttons in a few minutes: Forward, Backwards (which makes Thomas not only go backwards, but backwards in a circle; Wheels up, and Flip over. Mattias soon realized that he could hold the buttons down for different effects.

For my two-year old Markus, the buttons were easy to press but he would press too many, too fast then jump, dance and run all over the place. We discovered the train would not work when the remote was more than about 10 feet away or if obstacles obstructed the signal. After we slowed Markus down and encouraged him to hold just one button, he was able to work the remote just fine! Thomas even asked for help when he didn’t end up on his wheels.

The one thing that I didn’t like was how clunky the toy is. We all know that childrens’ toys are loud. I get that. But the train’s back flips resulted in four clunky thuds on the wooden floor as he rolled over. I found that part much more annoying than the actual sounds the new Thomas toy makes.

I would recommend this to any Thomas lovers out there and think it will suit a wide age range of kids! Mattias took it to CEFA with him the day after we got it and all of his classmates were excited to watch it and try it out!

The remote definitely has a wow factor with older children like Mattias because they get some control over the moves, rather than just pressing the button on the train. If for some reason the remote is misplaced (we all know how toy bins can be), children can still play with Thomas by pressing the button on the side.

Enter win a Thomas the Train Flip Toy at Contest closes September 12th, 2015
Good Luck!

Lindsay is a wife, a mom to two little boys, a soccer player, a lifetime traveler and a lover of learning. Lindsay resides in Langley and is currently searching out new ways to enjoy every minute she can with her family, while balancing the pressures of living in our fast-paced society. Check out Lindsay’s blog at