Monday, October 21, 2019

Raising a reader

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I love to read. It's something I remember as one of the best parts of my childhood. One of my favourite childhood memories was the first chapter book my dad gave me. A thick book by Enid Blyton filled with all these words and no pictures. I was intrigued, overwhelmed, confused and overjoyed. It brought me such happiness and so have so many books after that. We got books for Christmas and our birthdays and would read and reread them.

I wanted my girls to develop that love for reading that I've always had. Once you have a book, there is always entertainment available. Here are my tried and true tips for raising strong readers.

1- Start early. A huge part of our bed time routine when they were babies were books. Always, always books right before bed. Sometimes favourites again and again. Sometimes new books.They loved it. Read to them with expression and enjoyment. 

2- When you think they are ready, start them then. I started both kids at four with this most wonderful book. I've spoken about it so many times in so many different posts and recommended/bought it for so many people! It focuses on phonetics and tells you exactly what to say as a parent teaching your kid to read. 

3- Don't just rely on teachers. Work with them on it at home. That way, they get lots of one on one attention and practice.

4- Visit the library often and encourage them to borrow books. My older one knows how to place holds on books now to collect them when we go :-). When they are ready, get them their very own card.

5- Buy books as presents. I encourage my family to buy books for them as they read and reread them lots. And then one kid can pass it along to another. My kids always get books for occasions!

6- Do what works for your kid. I have one kid who loves to read and reread for pleasure. The other one enjoyed electronic reading for   'prizes' and I've really seen results with both. 

7- Be a role model with reading for your kids. We all huddle together at times in the family room and enjoy reading time together. Your interest and excitement will be very apparent to them.

8- Let them enjoy a variety of books. Chapter books aren't always the answer for each kid. Graphic novels were huge in our house for a while. So was Greek mythology. Look for interests or options that excite your child.

Any other tips to share? How do you encourage reading in your household?

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Cross Border Shopping at Trader Joe's- Fall Haul

Hi, I'm Sarita and I'm a huge Trader Joe's fan. So much so, that probably every single time I head south of the border, I visit a store. I love all the unique products, some junky and some healthy. Their employees are so friendly and their environmental policies are also awesome. Here are some of the great (non perishable) products that I brought from my last trip to the US.

These harvest collection chocolates are  different types of praline in these cute shapes. Perfect for teacher and little hostess gifts.

These crispy potato snacks are going to be great in the lunches- a few at a time.

I like to buy different sorts of treats for the girls' classes for school. Not found in Canada, I thought these would be cute and unique.

No gelatin or corn syrup for the win. 

This is my very favourite new stuffing and it just came back out this week. I have one to split for Christmas/American Thanksgiving.

I'm a huge fan of these sparkling waters. There flavour mixes are subtle, distinct and perfectly paired.

My family loves cheddar puffs and these were lower calorie and delicious! This giant bag finished in a few days!

Sometimes my kids need a grab and go back for snacks or after school activities. Another purchase that's already in our bellies!!

Yep, apple bars eaten already too--- by D!! Apparently, these were amazing. 

Like most moms, I love seasonal snacks for my kiddos. Aren't these cute!!!?

So many wonderful selections of nuts. I limited myself to three types this time.

A loves pickles and she gives two thumbs up to this brand.

Look at the pasta pumpkin shapes! SO cute.

And finally, the star of the show... this beautiful apple cider jam. Absolutely delicious... and I'm not a huge apple fan or anything. Friends, if you get to a Trader Joe's anytime soon, buy this. My only regret: not buying more than one. Great on toast or a fall cheese board!

Honourable mention but I was trying to be good - their speculoos cookie butter. We can eat this by the spoonful!!

What are your favourite Trader Joe's purchases?


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Gobble, Gobble-- Thanksgiving Awesomeness 2019

Happy Tuesday! What a wonderful weekend was had by all in our circle! My parents  came to visit and we had the most glorious low key weekend filled with fun, family, friendship and you guessed it... food. Here are just a 'few pics' of our weekend.

We celebrated my dad's birthday at a low key hakka restaurant with the most yummy food! Prior to this, my parents picked up my kids and took them for an after school treat, to their extra curricular and to the park. They usually do this and it feels like a mini- vacay!

Saturday was low key in the am with my dad and I organising the backyard and outdoor furniture for the colder months and D, C and my mom making a pumpkin pie... Spoiler alert, C put double to amount of nutmeg and at least four times the amount of cloves...

My parents then took the kiddos apple picking, to a fall fare and to the mall.

One of my kids is clearly liking herself

Meanwhile, D and I headed to our friends' house for Friendsgiving.

Port and chocolate tasting- we sliced each chocolate in four pieces to eat a sliver of each. Made from Trinidadian cocoa and found in Harrods', England.

The next day, it was all about the big meal. The star of the show did not disappoint. Hello, dry brining and butter basting.

Just a little snack before. This apple cider jam was excellent!!

I was thrilled my dad came to continue his 70th birthday celebrations with us!!

Table topics, snacks, chess and family time!

The kids decorated the tables this year.

Someone wasn't feeling 100% but perked up and decided to join us halfway thru dinner.

So many greens! So much deliciousness!

An autumn walk followed by a little dessert. 

Monday was spent very low key as well. I squeezed a workout in, did laundry and my parents made home made doubles....a trini curried chick peas sandwich with lots of chutneys. It was so, so good and we finished it all.

Leftovers, dessert, more family times and Dancing with the Stars ended our night.

Have a terrific Tuesday, friends!

Friday, October 11, 2019

A thankful heart is a happy heart

It's Thanksgiving this weekend for Canadians!! One of my very favourite holidays of the year. To me, it signals the end of summer and the beginning of beautiful fall and all the holidays we have ahead. This Thankgiving, we are so blessed and thankful to also have my parents visiting and spending the weekend with us.

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We try to cultivate grateful hearts around here. Thankfulness has been proven to increase physiological and physical health, self esteem and empathy. When going through tough times, as hard as it is, that's when I make it my mission to be even more thankful than ever. Put those good vibes out there to attract that positive energy, right?

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One of my neighbours, one of the most grounded people I know shared two gratititude practices she practises every day. When she gets up, she writes down ten things she's grateful for from the night before. Then when she is on her way to work, she also thinks of ten things she is happy for in general. I've also started to do my version of this.

The night before I go to sleep, or the first thing in the am before I get out of bed, I think of ten things from the day (before) that I'm grateful for. It's a mix of big and small things. Sometimes, it might be bigger things like an outstanding report for a kid but it's also smaller things like the softness of the sheets or my facewash. I don't wrtie it down. Too much pressure for me. Then after, I drop the kids off, in my mind, I rattle off ten things I'm thankful for in general.  It doesn't always pertain to me, just stuff around us that we should be thankful for. Basically, less than five minutes of my day with the two exercises combined and such long lasting effects.

Honestly, since I've started these practices, I feel a definite difference. I'm happier, more selfless and more positive in my everyday activities. I'm also trying to get my family to do it as well.
 Instead of thinking of all the things that are due to us, what about focusing on all the things we do have?
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What are you most grateful for? Any gratitude practices to share with me?

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone and Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians!!

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