Category Archives: Under The Influence

Who and What Is Influencing Our Children

I have an idea and I need your help

My boys are eager to explore the Internet and create their own content. I came home yesterday and found one of my sons writing his own newspaper. I figure if they are so inclined then others their age share the same mindset. My idea is to create a Let’s Explore WordPress session for children ages 8 to 10. I’d like to try to bring this idea to life for a day over the December holidays or the first professional day in Peel District School Board’s 2013 calendar. I am hoping I can find a teacher – perhaps a high school or college student who would be interested in teaching a group of children for 4 or 5 hours. (physical activity like dodgeball, etc. would also be included and led by me or another adult)

Please can you recommend a WordPress teacher or other ideas for this type of day?



Filed under Technology

All Kinds of Creative Fun

When my youngest announced that he wanted a sleepover birthday party when he turned 7, I thought “Yikes, how can I wear these boys out so they sleep?”
Then I put on my thinking cap (and had a glass of wine). With my son being a huge Phineas and Ferb fan, the theme for the party was decided which made planning the activities that much easier. If you aren’t familiar with this Disney cartoon show which makes great co-viewing, here is a quick synopsis. Phineas and Ferb are brothers likely around 10 or 11 years old who dream up some crazy activities to do each day of the summer holiday such as building a roller coaster, hosting their own game show, opening a restaurant, etc.

Here is what we decided to do for my son’s party. As the weather was warm and sunny, we blew up our mini bouncy castle and borrowed an inflatable slide which instantly turned our backyard into a mini-carnival. Once the boys had worn themselves out on these, we had an egg hunt. I had found some of those Easter eggs that you can put whatever you want inside and put some Phineas and Ferb tattoos as the treasure. As the boys uncovered their tattoos and covered themselves from head to toe with tattoos, the grill master Daddee-O, made skyhigh burgers and hotdogs.

After dinner, the boys made tie-dye t-shirts. This was probably the craziest activity I could do with 6 boys and do it inside the house! Dye was everywhere and yes, some was even walked on to the carpet. (Fortunately we found it in time and cleaned up the rogue participant at the same time.) Thanks to Michael’s the craft store, we had a great range of colours. I wasn’t sure how this activity was going to go over with boys given that it was a “craft” of sorts but everyone loved it. Their favourite part was the unveiling the next morning when we rinsed and unwrapped and untied the shirts to see what each one looked like. (They proudly worn them to school the next day!)

For dessert we kept with the creative theme and had made cupcakes ahead of time. Each child became a mini dessert chef – choosing their icing and variety of toppings to create a sweet! masterpiece. After their work was done, they indulged in their creations.

As they had expelled a great deal of energy outside and with some of the thinking activities, they were ready to watch a movie in the basement (and so was I)!
Everyone slept through the night, much to my amazement as this was the first sleepover for all but the birthday boy. Yet they were up at 5:30 the next morning.

A few words of advice if you are thinking of tie dying at a child’s birthday party (for children under the age of 12), I recommend you have 1 adult for every 2 children as the dye can get very messy. Also, wear gloves! The dye is quite strong and it took me 4 days to wash my hands back to normal.

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Filed under Creativity, Organized Fun

Show Me The Love… Not The Money

Son #2's door

For son #1

This morning I read the following facts:
Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year. The National Retail Federations (NRF) 2012 Valentine’s Day Study revealed that the average person will spend US$126.03 this year. This is the highest level in the last 10 years. The survey also revealed that consumers will spend $4.1 billion on jewelry, $1.8 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on clothing and $1.1 billion on gift cards. Oh my?!!

Call me Scrooge but I don’t need to show my family my love through the purchase of stuff! Instead I have decided to do some personalized crafts.
Someone I follow on twitter shared a pin she found on pinterest. The image showed a bedroom door which had been decorated with hearts. Each heart had a characteristic that the mom or dad loved about the child. I loved this idea! What a great way for you to recognize the talents of your children. I loved it so much that I copied it.

This morning when they woke up I received a big hug from son #2 who said “Awesome job on the Valentines, mom!” That is all I wanted – hugs and smiles from my boys on Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under Creativity, Uncategorized

Beating Boredom a Minute at a Time

Within 30 minutes of friends coming over to our house on Saturday afternoon, the taunting had started amongst the group of 9 year olds and boredom was setting in. I wanted to test a few of this year’s Amazing Race tasks for our annual party and what better way than to try them out with the future participants. Setting up the laptop computer on the kitchen table, I opened the Minute To Win It website and began asking them which game they would like to try. Immediately, the group crowded around the computer and watched the short instructional videos and said – oh I bet we can do that one. We gathered the necessary materials and tried a number of the games including Brush with Danger, Candelier and 4 Kings.

None of the games were easy to accomplish. We didn’t bother with the time restriction of a minute. We simply tried to work out how to complete the task. I love these challenges for so many reasons – the children are actively problem solving collaboratively, they are generally up off the coach, there are so many challenges you can find one that each participant is good at and finally, the cost of the materials is close to zero for most of the games as you are using household items.

Maybe now we could have another evening of Minute To Win It Challenges – perhaps a friendly game amongst the family over the holidays?!

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Filed under Creativity, Impromptu Activities

Built by Kids – A DIY Site for Kids and Parents

Today I found this article all about a website devoted to do-it-yourself projects that parents and children can do together! I am in heaven! Check it out for yourself!

For Kids, a D.I.Y. Web Site
Published: September 21, 2011
Last winter, Timothy Dahl, founder and editor of the six-year-old home improvement blog Charles & Hudson (, and his wife, Laura, a fashion designer, learned that she was pregnant. In addition to the usual prenatal preparations, they developed Built by Kids (, a Web site devoted to do-it-yourself projects that parents and children can collaborate on, like herb gardens planted in a wheelbarrow, refurbished tatami tables and handmade wagons. The tasks were tested and refined during a series of daylong workshops with friends at the couple’s Los Angeles bungalow.

Their intention is to revive some of the backyard know-how that children had before the distractions of television, video games and other off-the-shelf entertainment, Mr. Dahl said. The do-it-yourself movement is enjoying a long, fashionable run as an alternative to consumer culture, he added, but when children are involved, the results are “too often dismissed as disposable ‘crafts.’ ”

The site went live on Sept. 5, and two days later Ms. Dahl gave birth to their son, Hunter. Asked what Hunter’s first project might be, Mr. Dahl said it would most likely be something to do with gardening.

“Kids as young as 2½ like to sit and feel the dirt,” he said. “It’s so visceral.”

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Filed under Creativity, Under The Influence

Oprah Inspired, Parents Achieved – The Building Blocks Nursery School Raffle

Today was remarkable. What I dreamed came true. Thanks to Oprah’s The Big Give reality program from a few years ago, I dreamt that we, the parents of Building Blocks Nursery School, could help make a difference. Today a community of parents and local Brampton and Caledon businesses rallied together to raise over $5500 for Building Blocks Nursery School – the awesomely nurturing school which has been in the community for 25 years and has to find a new home for the 2012/2013 school year. The money we have raised will be used towards the substantial rent increase the school has been dealt for the upcoming school year.

Thank you to everyone – all family and friends who sold and bought tickets, all businesses and parents who contributed prizes, to Miranda and Nicola who helped with ticket sales, the raffle, communication to parents and the community, to my friends at work who donated their time and materials to design and print the tickets and to my family for their support (we can now eat at the dining table again).

Most importantly THANK YOU to the teachers – all of you – who have built this amazingly special school as you give so much to our children and their education. Thank you!

Today at lunch time we conducted the raffle for the 40 prizes! We have posted a list of all of the prizes and the winners on the school’s bulletin board outside the JK classroom. If you are a winner or know a winner please will you claim your prize at the school with the teachers before the end of this week. (Canada Post isn’t helping us to deliver the prizes.)

Here is the list of prizes and winners. (I apologize for any spelling mistakes.)

LG Smart TV Upgrader: ticket #1974 Charanjit Sohal (claimed)
The Core Condition – 5 Bootcamp classes: ticket #2726 Kyle Windover
The Core Condition – 5 Bootcamp classes: ticket #0712 Helena Luis
The Core Condition – 5 pilates classes: ticket #0853 Tracey Coleman
The Core Condition – 5 pilates classes: ticket #1518 Jennifer Selvaggi
Shannon Walker art class: ticket #0282 Vito Fera
Argo tickets: ticket #1868 Sheila Leger
itrain hockey intensive training: ticket #2718 Sadru Kaba
Lollipop books and Chapters gift card: ticket #0083 Cathy Lesario
Family Passes to Cineplex – ticket #0801 Susan Bartlett (claimed)
Party at More Fun with Bounce – ticket #1478 Mike Palumbo (claimed)
Passes for Tip of the Tee – ticket #1118 Enid Hallsworth (claimed)
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0897 Angie Del Degan
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0407 Kathy Bleakly
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0089 Liam & Eli Craig
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #2027 Carlyle Butchart
Tupperware prize pack – ticket #1687 Kim Chapman
Brampton Theatre School – ticket #1511 John Good
Berryview Farms – 20lbs pick your own apples – ticket #1818 Elida Rosset
Berryview Farms – Flat of strawberries – ticket #2684 Darul
8 Markus Cds – ticket #1768 Matt Brown
Yogaloft – 5 class pass – ticket #1937 Inderjit Brar
Avon Gift basket – ticket #2558 Chris Leger
$100 The Keg gift certificate – ticket #1063 John Marji
$150 Eagle Glen golf certificate – ticket #0348 Helen Clegg
$200 in services with Auto Magicians – ticket #1014 John Crawford
XM Satellite Radio – ticket #0913 Jagjit Virdee
Il Tocco Magico Salon gift certificate – ticket #0384 Kuljeet Chhineer
Dietitians of Canada cookbook – ticket #1780 Catherine Brown
$300 Auto painting with FH Collision – ticket #1390 Melanie Coschignano
$300 Auto painting with FH Collision – ticket #1180 Raj Singh
$25 Ellis Flowers gift certificate – ticket #2047 Mark O’Donnell
$25 Ellis Flowers gift certificate – ticket #1033 Rob Pelligrino
$100 The Keg gift certificate – ticket #0215 Kelly Brown
Lena’s Gifts Floral Arrangement – ticket #0721 Anthony Sciarra
Lena’s Gifts Floral Arrangement – ticket #0855 Tracey Coleman
Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush – ticket #2696 Colin Hynes (claimed)
$75 Chapters gift card – ticket #1550 Sheila Butchart
$50 Best Buy gift card – ticket #1914 Carolyn Modi
$25 Rona gift certificate – ticket #2564 Julie Burbury

The sales incentive of 2 bottles of wine – we had one winner in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Butchart family in the morning (likely many of Toronto’s finest paramedics are Building Blocks supporters). Unfortunately I don’t have the spelling for the afternoon family.

The rent increase that the school has received from Heart Lake United Church is sizable. I hope we can think of other ways to help the teachers chip away at it. Please share your ideas here – it takes a community to raise a child. I believe it also takes a community to support our valued resources.

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Filed under Under The Influence, Valuable Partners

Tomorrow Is The Raffle At Building Blocks Nursery School

Last call to bring in your tickets and money raised – tomorrow at 9am is the deadline as the raffle is at tomorrow at noon at the school. Please give them to myself or Karen Sanger.
As of June 20th, we have successfully raised $3300!

We have received tremendous support from the community – with over $3000 in prizing donations. Please find below the list of prizes. A few more prizes have been added – Argonaut tickets and an XM Satellite Radio!

Prizes include:
Toronto Argonaut tickets
XM Satellite Radio
LG Smart TV Upgrader – valued at $149
a gift certificate for $150.00 for a game for 9 holes of golf and cart for 4 at Erin Heights Golf Course courtesy of Matthew Wooder’s mom
2 gift certificates each worth $300.00 towards a paint job for a vehicle courtesy of FH Collision 15 FishermanDr. Unit 3 and Fadi Haddad.
A week at Theatre Summer Camp, Starting July 4th through August 26th (excluding the week of August 1- 5th) OR a Fall, Winter or Spring session(one of) of acting classes with The Brampton Theatre School
A flat of strawberries and and 20 lb bag of pick you own apples from Berryview Farms on Heartlake Road
A Party at More Fun with Bounce (valued at $400)
Bootcamp and pilates sessions from Susan Everett who runs The Core Condition
The Adventures of Lollipop set of books from Jennifer Cuthbert, author and a $25 Chapters gift card courtesy of Kim Traplin and family
Gift certificate for intensive itrain hockey camp from Sean Walker, itrain hockey owner,
Tupperware prize package from Kyla Young,
Gift certificate to Flapjacks Restaurant from Maria Durso, owner
8 CD set of children’s songs from Markus our favourite entertainer from Building Blocks parent holiday interactive day
5 class yoga pass to the Yogaloft from Laura Natale, owner
1 3 hour art class with Shannon Walker, adult and children’s art instructor
4 $25 gift certificates for dry cleaning services from Heart Lake Cleaners (164 Sandalwood Parkway East)
$100 gift certificate to Il Tocco Magico Salon at Heart Lake Plaza
An Avon gift basket from Farah
$100 The Keg gift certificate from Kathy Skale, Remax agent servicing Brampton and Caledon
$200 in car care services from Chris Beattie at Auto Magicians
$25 Rona gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
$25 Bon Appetit gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
2 Ellis Flowers gift certificates
Cineplex movie passes for 2 adults and 2 children courtesy of Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd.
$75 Chapters Gift Card from Ross Vignale, Sales Representative with Remax
$50 Best Buy gift card from Deborah Camacho, Spectrum Realty Services Inc.
2 $50 The Keg gift certificates courtesy of Cheltenham Water Supply
1 children’s electric toothbrush courtesy of Carmen Santos
Family of 4 mini golf or driving range courtesy of Tip of the Tee

Sales incentive: To the person who sells the most raffle tickets – two bottles of wine from a local winery courtesy of friends of the Freer Family!

Thank you so much for your support!


Filed under Under The Influence, Valuable Partners