Category Archives: Education

Happy Mother’s Day! 10 Things I Learned From My Mother


As I make my way through the adventure of parenting, I am often reminded that it is not meant to be figured out all on one’s own. There are several key players who will influence the way in which we parent. And since it’s Mother’s Day today, I want to take a moment to reflect on my mum. All the things I know as a mother, a wife, a friend, a colleague, are reflections of what my mother has taught me…by example, by persistence, and sometimes even by mistake. While we have very different personalities in many ways, we both share a love for helping others, a commitment to our family, and a desire for social justice. What I love most about my mother is her passion for lifting others into a higher vision of themselves.

While the following advice from my mom (aka “nana” to my girls), may or may not agree with you, here are the ones that come to the forefront in my mind and many of which have slowly niggled their way into my life and become some of my own beliefs.

Mama Nana’s 10 Rules for Success in Life:

On Being A Friend

There are good friends and bad ones. Take the time to get to know your good friends. Trust your instincts. If you don’t trust them, ask your mother. (She’ll tell you what she thinks. Over and over and over again.)

On Being A Partner

Your husband deserves your love and attention. Don’t take the love you share for granted. Go out once a week. The kids can stay overnight at nana’s. They can even stay for a week. Just go out!!!

On Caring for Yourself

Take care of yourself: drink lots of water, rest, eat well, make yourself feel pretty, get outside for 2-3 hours each day, and change the filters in your house and car to ensure you get clean, fresh air at all times. Treat yourself like a Rolls Royce and the rest will follow. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to drink lots of water. And did you open the windows in your home? Change those air filters!!

On Health

There are only three essentials aside from water, berries, vegetables, fish, rice porridge and lentil soup: apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic. Do you have garlic? That will solve everything. Honey for your throat. Heart condition? Where’s your apple cider vinegar? Are you sick? Again? Belladonna will do the trick! Just had a baby? Boost your iron! Tired from work? You need Ginseng!! And take your Chinese herbal medicine and multivitamins to boost your energy!! Poor memory? Lecithin!!! Poor vision? You need lutein from your egg yolks!

Sad? Depressed? Eat chocolate!! Eat ice cream. Then stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get outside. Help others. Sit in the sun. Walk the dogs. And eat chocolate.

On Parenting

Your children are your most prized possession. Teach them, joke with them, sing to them, hug them, and always be there for them. The time you put in now when they are young will serve you and your children well for the future.

If you want to know what you should do, become a child again and remember what children do and like.

Children are born geniuses, don’t insult their intelligence. Go put that kid on the potty from birth just like the previous generations in China did with their kids. And use the organic cotton cloth diapers that I used to use that soak right through. I’m German but I like listening to old Chinese ladies’ advice. Rash anywhere on face or bum? Penaten!!

And remember: We are blessed with the children we are given. We do not own them, but are entrusted with their care.

On Education

You are your children’s best education. Nature provides the learning resources. Go outside, explore, observe, experience nature and learn. When they are ready for more formal education, and if homeschooling is not feasible, a Waldorf school presents a good, solid foundation from which to grow and learn how to appreciate one’s own abilities and work in harmony with one’s community and environment.

Don’t feel stuck to your studies. You are not a slave to previous decisions. Drop out of college if you need to. Drop out!! Start fresh. Know what really makes you passionate and do that instead. Go out and find what really makes you happy.

On Work

Being self-employed awards you opportunities that you may not otherwise have come across. Don’t follow the masses or become a victim of someone else. Be willing to take a leap of faith and take a chance. Work hard, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn from these mistakes and also become much stronger in the end. Be your own success story.

On Investing

Don’t feel the pressure to buy a home. Don’t invest in banks. Invest in your kids. Invest in property you can enjoy. Cash good, Visa bad. Don’t trust the banks. Hide your money. Spend your money. Just don’t put it all in the bank.

On Keeping House

Clean when the kids are asleep. Or awake. Or never. You decide. The main thing is that you need to have a plan everyday for how to keep the house tidy and clean. But how much is it costing you for the cleaning lady? No more than $10 right? What? $100 you say? Are you insane! That’s far too much to spend on cleaning!

(On a sidenote, if you need some direction on cleaning and sorting schedules, I am a big fan of the Fly Lady http://www.flylady.net and also A Bowl Full of Lemons http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net)

Less is more. When possible, stick to the most natural cleaning products, and buy used and practical items.

On Faith

We are put on this earth for a reason. The most important thing is love. Religion in its healthiest state can provide a solid grounding from which one can go forth and meet life’s challenges. It doesn’t matter what religion you do or don’t subscribe to. Find the good in it and learn from those who have walked before you, and those that walk with you. If you are lost, find your faith. You are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day! What are some of your favourite quotes from your mom?

Kids’ Summertime Fun with Inukshuks and Rock Art


Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect day to spend doing an indoor activity with the girls. The rain finally came down in thick sheets after weeks of a heat wave and dry spell.

With our bag full of rocks which we recently collected at our local ‘Cherry Beach’, we decided to create our very own miniature Inukshuks (also known as Inuksuk and Inuksuit (pl.) by the Nunavut and Government of Canada through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).  To be culturally respectful, I will refer to them as Inuksuk (singular) and Inuksuit (plural) from here on in.

According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk, an inukshuk, for those who are not already familiar is a:

‘..stone landmark or cairn built by humans… used by the Inuit…. and other people fo the Artic regions of North America for [the purposes] of navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache… The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”. ‘

For more intorductory info on the Inuit usage of Inukshuks/Inuksuit, you can check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk as well as http://www.inukshukgallery.com/inukshuk.html.

J’s kindergarten teacher introduced her class to the ‘Inukshuk’ and other rock art in the last few days of school, after they had gone to the beach for some fun in the sun and sand. Here is a piece of J’s personal rock art that she created with some of the collected rocks.

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Unfortunately, we missed the original ‘Inukshuk’ building activity as we were returning from a camping trip in Killbear (more on this later!) with the family around that time. However, we did happen to see a lot of examples of ‘Inukshuks’ along the driving route, and were eager to make our own when we returned.

Here are some examples of Inunnguat (pl.) or Inunnguag (sing.), which is essentially a rock sculpture depicting a human figure and that is commonly mistaken as an ‘Inukshuk’:

Inukshuk, 95. Photo credit: www.cbantlerart.com

 

Inukshuk - Kuujjuaraapik January, Inuksuk in the vicinity of Kuujjuarapik, Canada. Photo credit: Nicolas M. Perrault

Before we started creating our own ‘Inukshuks’, I was not aware of all the potential types of rock sculptures that are often misrepresented as Inuksuit (e.g. the Inunnguat pictured above). For a more complete appreciation of Inuit rock creations that the Inuit of North America have created and used as markers for thousands of years and what the Inukshuks are, you can watch this short clip by Peter Irniq, an Inuit cultural activist, which explains the meaning of an Inukshuk in What is an Inukshuk here: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKQ97rOwBH0&feature=related 

 

Here are some photos of the miniature Inuksuit we created:

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If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to build your own Inuksuit , I also found this clip 2010 – How to build an Inukshuk (@hofstadlyceum.nl) quite enjoyable to watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf25KoI6CnY&feature=related

Happy Inuksuk building!

- “You are on the right path.” (Traditional meaning of Inuksuk.)

 

 

Magical Fairy Dust to Brighten Your Days: A Fairy Garden, Part 2


We have been experiencing quite the heat wave here the last few weeks! School has finally let out and the girls are eager to start our summer vacation in the city.

For the most part, we’ve been keeping the schedule simple: a good breakfast, some water colour painting for J and R while I prepare the lunch we will bring with us on our outing, and then a visit to one of our local parks and wading pool/ splash pad. We go home early afternoon, run some errands and then have some down time to sleep, or do quiet activities or chores around the house. Late afternoon is usually reserved for gardening or sprinkler fun for the girls, then a bit of free play (these days it’s dress up and/ pretend grocery shopping) while I prepare dinner.

Speaking of gardening, we have finally set up our fairy garden. I mentioned in an earlier post back in February (when the weather fooled us into believing spring had begun and was there to stay!) that we had grand plans for a garden that the girls could call their very own, complete with their own garden fairies.

How to make a fairy garden:

Materials:
- nice dark topsoil or potting soil
- medium to large sized whiskey barrel/ planter/ container
- 2-3 small budded annuals/ perennials
- Scottish or Irish moss
- small vessel for water/pond
- some pebbles/ small rocks
- miniature figurines or DIY felt fairies/ gnomes etc.
- miniature furniture

Directions:
- together with your kids, sketch a plan of how you would like your fairy garden to look like. Include type and colour of flowers/plants, fairy house, pond, pathway, furniture, figurines, etc.
- choose a suitable location for the fairy garden where it will get enough sunlight and shade if necessary, as well as be easy for the children to play and for all of you to access with a watering can or hose.
- Make sure there is a hole at the bottom before you fill the barrel for proper drainage. For better water drainage and soil aeration you can also put a layer of gravel or small rocks on the bottom of planter as well.
- fill barrel/ planter up to 2/3 level with soil.
- plant chosen flowers/ plants/ moss according to your sketch.
- include the figurines and any other accessories.
- water and prune accordingly, play daily!

For more info please visit Donni Weber’s the Magic Onions blog:

http://themagiconions.blogspot.ca/

Donni has some great tips and even a fairy garden contest you can enter to win some great prizes!

We are also really quite taken with this amazing natural parenting and toystore that is run by a local mompreneur and friend: http://www.avasappletree.ca/

Ava’s Appletree has some really great products and was where we purchased our fairy house and fairy kit. You can easily create two beautiful felted fairies with the kit.  

Here are a few pictures of our little fairy garden so you can get an idea of how to make your own. Our fairy garden is of course still a work in progress but we are quite pleased with it so far!

Note: We now have a little house and a pond and pathway (will add photos of this in future) but alas I waited too long to take a picture of the completed project so the plants have overgrown somewhat and hidden the pathway and fairy house so some pruning needs to be done first!

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A beautiful symphony of flowers at Allan Gardens


During March break, the kids and I took a trip to our local conservatory, Allan Gardens. Children love learning about the different types of plants and flowers, and where, how and why they grow where they do. The conservatory is a walking symphony of spring blooms that are separated into different rooms with incredible plant species from all over the world. Here are some of the highlights of the visit.

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Magical Fairy Dust to Brighten Your Days: A Fairy Garden


As the snowdrops and crocuses peak their bright little heads out, I can’t help but feel an urge to garden and create.

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Yesterday, my girls and I set out to prepare the front garden. We raked the remainder of the fallen leaves of autumn, and tilled the soil in preparation for the spring flowers we wish to give tribute to in our beautiful celadon green planter: tulips! As this is the first spring in our wonderful new home, we are unfamiliar with the vegetation that also calls our home, their home, and are looking forward to discovering what new growth appears in the coming months. We are hoping for a colourful symphony! In the meantime, my girls and I will be creating a fairy garden. This is an idea I came across last summer but alas, do to our move we were in no position to plant anything and were instead living the life of nomads

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as we awaited the last six weeks of our closing date on our house, and travelled through the more northerly reaches of the St. Lawrence River off of Quebec, Canada in the Charlevoix (http://www.tourisme-charlevoix.com/en/), Tadoussac and the Haute-Côte-Nord (http://www.tadoussac.com/en/culture-tourism) regions. More pics and info on this later!

So, now here we are with a new spring…and a fresh desire to plant and garden. As Miss J’s birthday is coming up, we thought that starting her very own fairy garden would be a wonderful way to celebrate the season for her. And since I now have two girls, the younger one will have to have her very own as well. For more info on how to make your own fairy garden, please visit this fantastic and creative blogger, Donni here on her site the Magic Onions: http://themagiconions.blogspot.com/2010/08/make-fairy-garden.html

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Day Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother


If you are new to this series of posts by Carrie of the Parenting Passageway (http://theparentingpassageway.com), please refer to my note on my previous post under Education, which links to Day One, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother http://faymeling.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/day-one-part-two-twenty-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/ . Thanks! -Fay Meling

Day Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother.

Day One, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother


I just came across this lovely blog on parenting by Carrie of the Parenting Passageway. Carrie is “a certified neonatal and pediatric physical therapist, lay breastfeeding counselor, board-certified lactation consultant and positive parenting and homeschool consultant, Carrie has observed, worked with and counseled thousands of families.”

( http://theparentingpassageway.com/about/)

Carrie has written a series of entries that are meant to inspire us to become more mindful in our parenting. She is a wonderful and thoughtful writer, and I will post her insights for these next 20 days so that you too may follow along or link to her. I hope you enjoy reading these and some of her other posts as much as I have. (Please note: I love the Waldorf philosophy, and am intrigued by homeschooling. Our current situation has our older daughter attending a great public school with french immersion, but I do love the ideas that many homeschoolers present.  As a parent, I am not bound to any one system of education or any other beliefs that one author/person may espouse. I simply take the information as is and digest what makes sense for me and my family. Please feel free to do the same). -Fay Meling

Day One, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother.

The Gift of Welcome


My daughter started a new class yesterday. What a strange adventure the last few weeks have been! While the challenges of kindergarten may seem trivial to some from the outside, those who have children or have experience dealing with ‘little people’ know how truly devastating an on-going, non-positive experience in a child’s first year of school can be. It can be made even worse if a child is not given the proper support right away to address such a situation. Thankfully, my husband and I finally took the bull by its horns and pushed through (with a mama bear perseverence that truly shone this time), until we saw some clear and constructive action.

While it would’ve been nice for everything to get sorted out and have my daughter carry on in the same class for the last four months of the school year, it seems that getting to this point and then having her switch into a new class was truly a blessing in disguise.

On  her first day, the new teacher handed me a note which I opened up at home. Boy, did she ever get the showers going! I was so pleasantly surprised by her kind words of welcome and also of her sense of understanding about what emotions we were experiencing, that I could not stop crying. Her words and actions have truly made such a difference. If only such actions were truly contagious…I think the world would become a much better place, much faster.  I am truly very thankful to this lovely person who has entered our lives.

May this story send you the positive vibrations that my family and I are experiencing right now.