October 26th, 2016

9 Tips for Getting Chore-Challenged Kids to Pick Up the Slack

Full disclosure: my kids, up until now, have rarely done chores. It always seems so much easier to pick everything up myself at the end of the day. Especially when making them put away their own toys requires so much argument, negotiation, cajoling and “helping” that bedtime gets pushed back.

kids learning to do chores

But here’s what I’ve recently learned: Housework is as essential to your child’s well-being as a seatbelt or a toothbrush. Kids who do housework have higher self-esteem, more competent life-skills as adults and don’t look like dorks in front of their peers when they’re the only ones who don’t know how to button their own coats, make a sandwich or brew Mommy a coffee. By not forcing your children to do housework, you threaten your child’s future attractiveness as a roommate, romantic partner or colleague.

Here are 10 ways to train your child into being a confident, responsible, in-demand adult.


August 15th, 2016

4 Tips to Get Your House Ready for the Back to School Season

With summer ending, it’s now time to get your home ready for the autumn’s great return exodus. As days shorten, people move back indoors – and, pssst, it’s been been six months since spring cleaning. Ease the stress of back to school and work by keeping in mind four simple tricks to beautifully prepare your abode for fall. Remember: back to busy doesn’t need to mean back to messy.

yard end of summer back to school

Pack up the Patio

It’s always hard to accept the end of patio season, but there comes a time to embrace the chilly evenings. Wash and dry cushions or fabrics before you store them and put covers over furniture you can’t bring indoors. Drain kiddie pools and clean them thoroughly before storing them for the winter. Properly cleaning and storing your summer essentials will make room for raking the leaves when they inevitably arrive.

Get Set for Sweater Weather

Cleaning out closets and drawers to make room for the heavier togs of autumn. Clearly labeled boxes are a boon: Help the kids decide what to store for winter, what to keep in the closet year-round, and what to donate to charity. Give the summer clothes one last wash before packing it away! Need even more space? Shallow Rubbermaid boxes stay out of out of the way keep cargo protected from dust and sunlight.

Minimize Bathroom Clutter

If you’ve got teenagers, then there’s no greater struggle than accurately judging primping time. A well-organized bathroom can keep the lineup running smoothly by making everything from eyelash curlers to pimple cream easy to find. Purge seasonal makeup and toss cosmetics that have passed their expiration date. Most makeup is only good for three months to a year, and eye makeup in particular should be replaced regularly to avoid infection. 

Freshen up the Fridge

The end of popsicle season is a great time to de-gunk your refrigerator. Remove all food and turf anything past its expiry date. Then, remove the shelves,  soak, scrub, and air dry. Wiping them down with baking soda and water will eliminate any remnant odours. Put everything back in a logical, organized way and assess what’s needed for on-the-go breakfasts, brown-bag lunches, and quick weeknight dinners.

February 23rd, 2016

9 Amazing GoPro Videos That Will Make You Say…

You don’t have to look at many GoPro videos to find ones that send a shiver down your spine. These 9 remarkable clips, however, are more about virtue than vertigo. Enjoy! (Love the outdoors? Consider picking up a GoPro of your own before the next big adventure.)

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This is as close as you’ll ever want to get to a hungry young grizzly. Amazingly, there was no damage to the camera!


December 8th, 2015

The All Time Best Holiday Movies All Families Love

For parents, the list of holiday preparations is brutally long—from shopping and baking to tree-trimming and hall-decking. Phew! By the time we’re done, not a few of us are longing to don the PJs and curl up with the kids in the TV’s warm glow—to laugh, or even shed a sentimental tear. Here’s a list of cinema classics, old and new, that never fail to bring the jolly. Sit back and pass the popcorn!

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Elf (2003)


A modern classic, Elf is pure, goofy fun. It features six-foot-three comic weapon Will Ferrell donning yellow tights and a pointy chapeau to play Buddy the elf. Buddy, as a wee babe, escapes from his orphanage crib, crawling into Santa’s sack—only to find himself at the North Pole, where he grows up believing himself (despite his size) to be an elf.

Farrell’s brilliant physical comedy is squared off against straight man James Caan, who plays his long-lost dad. Elf is warm-hearted, laugh-out-loud funny for kids and adults alike. By film’s end, we bet you catch yourself humming along to a carol or two.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

What list could be complete without the Grinch? We will forever recommend the original version, and not only for the song by Thurl Ravenscroft (listen at left). The 2000 remake, starring Jim Carrey in the title role, is good, but not quite as kid-friendly as the original.

The animated version—based on the 1956 book by Dr. Seuss and narrated by the legendary Boris Karloff—takes just 26 minutes to tell the story of a very grumpy green man who learns to love instead of hate.

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A Christmas Carol (1951)

christmas carolSome will disagree, but for us, only the Alistair Sim version of this classic will do. Sim plays miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, whose heart—like the Grinch’s—is several sizes too small.

Proof: He overworks and underpays his clerk, Bob Cratchett, paying no mind to the spiraling health of Cratchett’s son, Tiny Tim. The film’s moral lesson arrives with some supernatural help. Scrooge is visited, on Christmas Eve, by a series of ghosts who scare him silly and give him one last chance to change his life—and he takes it. God bless us, every one.

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town

HolidayMovies_OriginalChristmasClassics_P_newThis is a fantastic collection for grounding kids in traditional Christmas lore while allowing grownups a nostalgic backward glance. It includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, Frosty the Snowman, and Frosty Returns. The story of Frosty, of course, is the one that brings a friendly snowman to life with that old silk hat. It’s a delight, too, to hear Jimmy Durante’s distinctive 1969 narration.

Rudolph, with Burl Ives as the narrator/snowman, is a holiday staple, showing that with a bit of luck and the help of friends—like Hermey the aspiring dentist, rip-roaring Yukon Cornelius, and of course, Bumble—outsiders can find their way.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a kind of Christmas 101 for kids, explaining where Santa got his name, why he lives at the North Pole, and the finer points of gift-giving and reindeer flight—all while reminding us that Santa will never give up on us, no matter what. We need these reminders occasionally.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The_nightmare_before_christmas_posterThis Tim Burton-directed film may not (yet) make the list of Christmas classics, but it’s a worthy picture with charm to spare. Burton’s peculiar style is likely to delight kids who appreciate the unusual—those, say, who prefer Halloween spookiness to Christmas sweetness.

Join Pumpkin King Jack Skellington as he tries to ‘share the joy of Christmas’—infused with perhaps a dollop too much oddity. The Nightmare Before Christmas may look scary, but it’s not. It’s suspenseful, imaginative, visually sumptuous, and warm-hearted.

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A Christmas Story (1983)

HolidayMovies_AChristmasStory_P_newWhile too sophisticated for toddlers, A Christmas Story will appeal to younger and older kids—with plenty of amusing moments for Mom and Dad. It’s Christmas in the 1940s, and nine-year-old Ralphie is pining for an official Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas. (That’s right, the one with the compass in the stock.)

But Ralphie’s mother dashes his dreams: the rifle is a no-go. “You’ll shoot your eye out” becomes a family refrain, leaving Ralphie despondent and struggling to make sense of Christmas, his more than slightly askew family, and life in general.

Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley (who appears briefly in Elf), carries the film with cheer, persistence and vivid imagination, giving us a window onto what Roger Ebert called the “small but perfect moments” of a child’s life.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

its a wonderful lifeThis classic is forever listed as a holiday favourite, owing chiefly to the likable and heartfelt performance of Jimmy Stewart. He plays George Bailey, an ambitious young man who defers his dream of leaving Bedford Falls in favour of doing the right thing—again and again.

When Bailey doubts himself, he receives encouragement from an angel in training, a good turn he later reciprocates. It’s a Wonderful Life is sweet, never saccharine, and argues strongly that, ultimately, kindness and goodness matter most.

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