March 16, 2017

Q&A With Aunti Marissa

Today, Ilana and I had breakfast as we do every Thursday (or sometimes Tuesdays or Wednesdays depending on our schedules) with a special guest joining us:  Aunti Marissa.

Aunti Marissa is my Aunt now Great Aunt to my boys who she shares a very special bond with. She lives in Toronto and is Head of the Guidance department in a secondary public high school. She has been a teacher for her entire career and this year won Teacher of the Year in her board. Pretty huge and so deserving.

She’s a person I trust deeply when it comes to advice about my children and today I opened up the Q&A to her instead of Ilana and I. There was an overwhelming response from you all on Snapchat. We were going to each answer 3 questions however we ran way short on time.

Because Aunti Marissa has such great advice to share we decided to answer the third question chosen plus a few additional questions asked on the blog today. Hope you find Aunti Marissa’s answers helpful! I think you will…

How can I get my 5 year old to want to clean up? Pick up toys and such…

Prior to the situation occurring, parents must sit down and have a discussion with the child about household responsibilities. You need to create a chart defining everyone’s duties one of which will include “tidying up after playing”. It is important that children realize what the parent’s expectations are beforehand. If you try to address it in the moment, there will be tension and resistance. Now, with expectations come consequences if the expectation is not met. These consequences need to be decided beforehand as well with the involvement of the child so that they are clear. If and when the situation arises again there are no arguments. If the child does what they agreed to do by cleaning up their play area, great if not consequence number one is put into action. The child knows that you mean business. There is no loud voice on the part of the parent. Calm and cool. Just remind your child of the agreement. Have the chart in plain view so that you can refer to it. In time, the child will take control of their own duties and only the odd reminder may be needed. NOTE: The consequences must be acted upon or this plan will be for naught.

What techniques do you have for getting really smart kids to listen and behave in class when they already “get” the lesson?

This is a very difficult situation to be sure. You will have to have some strategies that you can work through with your child while you are at home first. They need to learn to take control of their own behavior. Your child needs to have “tools” in his/her toolbox that they can draw upon when the situation in school arises. Secondly, you need to set up a meeting with the teacher to discuss some options for classroom behavior management. What plan is the teacher willing to facilitate? For example, when your child is finished their work ahead of time, will the teacher be willing to allow your child time to research an extension to the topic? Would you be able and would the teacher allow you to provide some materials that could enhance your child’s learning? As an example, would your child’s teacher be willing to allow your child to create an easy experiment such as the one I have copied and pasted below. This would be an engaging extension and give your child something to look forward to. They could make predictions and then chart the progress and then explain it to the class. Sometimes teachers will give “extra” worksheets to children who are finished quickly but it is not always received by the student as a positive solution. Maybe there can be a “maker space” created in the classroom that could be used by all students but would be a positive addition for your child to be sure. This space gives children the opportunity to understand the concept being taught by using physical manipulatives or technology to enhance their learning. Maybe all parents could donate materials to build up this space.

I’m a mom with disabilities. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and MS. It’s hard to keep up with a 10 & 2 year old. How can I make sure they feel like they have my attention? I’m in chronic pain and feel like I miss a lot of their life. I want them to know how much they mean to me.

First of all, I cannot profess to understand or identify with your situation. It is a very difficult one to be sure. Here are some ideas:

I am not sure how much your older son understands and if he comprehends your limitations. You need to have a discussion with him to discuss what you can and cannot manage. He needs to be able to be allowed to help plan ideas around what works for you. Secondly, he needs to be invested in his younger sibling. By that I mean he can become not just a brother but a mentor to your younger son. He can be the one to teach him how to do certain things and maybe read to him so that they develop a special bond and your little man looks up to his older brother. Now as far as your older son’s needs go, you must give him the opportunity to participate in his normal activities as much as possible. This may mean that someone else takes him or if you can manage it you take the little one with you. If you are able to go too, maybe there is another adult who could watch your younger son to give you some special one on one time.

I suggest that you have a family meeting to discuss your needs and create a duty roster, which accounts for everyone’s personal and emotional needs, household duties and chores, (which should include your little one) and activities and school responsibilities. This needs to be a working document that changes weekly. It should include quiet bonding time with mom. The activity could be a craft that is geared to your older son such as putting together a birdhouse (just an example). For your younger son, you can get a pre-made version at one of the dollar stores or a craft store and your little one paints it and puts on embellishments. Same outcome different difficulty level.

Your duty roster must include every part of your day in order to “find time” to make sure that your children feel your presence and include you in their daily ritual without anger or frustration.

I hope that I have provided you an idea that you can use and I wish you all the best!

Any travel tips for a first flight with my 8 month old?   First time momma here!

First of all, I would recommend the bulkhead if at all possible so that you will have extra space in front of you. I was able to put my daughter down on a blanket to play with them. Secondly, I would recommend an arsenal of favorite toys or a book and snacks. Thirdly, I found that nursing (if you are nursing) or giving them a bottle upon take off and landing helps to stabilize the pressure in their ears. Happy flying!

xx, Seri
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  1. Jessica Mischna

    Thanks Aunti Marissa this is great!

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March 13, 2017

Heaven on Jumby Bay

Every year my husband and I carve out 5 days to OURSELVES. We plan a trip somewhere fabulous, for just the two of us. I think this is one of the keys to a successful marriage when you have kids: alone time.  It’s also important for your own sense of well-being. To spend time away from the office and stresses of life is KEY.

People always ask me how I leave the kids at home to travel.  The answer is I have a few of the most amazing babysitters.  Girls who have been in my boys’ lives for years now whom I trust fully with my babies. I also rely on family. Whether it’s my in-laws or family members from Toronto, it’s a time where the boys get to spend quality time with people who they don’t get to see all that often.

This year, we went to the Rosewood Hotel at Jumby Bay. It’s our fourth year in a row vacationing on this Island. It’s over the top and totally a luxury resort but we are addicted and it’s an annual treat. The beauty, the beach, the service, the food, the weather…it’s all top notch.

The rooms at this resort are like small villas. They are not like hotel rooms. Each room has an outdoor shower and either a hammock or small plunge pool on the deck. There are no room keys as the island is so safe you just leave all your belongings in the villa and come and go as you please knowing that all will be safe. Each room also comes with bikes to get around the island.

The resort is all inclusive so all your drinks, meals and activities are included in the price. The food is so delicious and you never bring a wallet as the service is included so there is never any awkward feelings about tipping.

The staff there is so sweet, kind and attentive. They know everyone’s name and want nothing but to keep the guests happy.

We spend most of the days on the beach relaxing, reading and searching for interesting sea life like the beautiful starfish that are in the water and on the beach. They offer different activities daily and we pick and choose…my favorite is the cooking class while Adam loves to snorkel.

There are four restaurants that we rotate eating at. The main spot is where they serve a beautiful buffet breakfast with an egg station, fresh fruit, pastries and cereal. Lunch is either at the pool grill or the shack on the beach where they serve the most fantastic chicken curry roti.  Then there is the Estate House. Fancier of all the places to eat and only open for dinner. The bartender is a doll and makes the most fabulous cocktails and the food is divine.

Last but not least is the spa. My favorite part of the resort. So tranquil and relaxing. I always get a massage when we’re at the resort. The therapists are amazing and know exactly how to work my sore, stressed out body.

I couldn’t be a bigger fan of this place. We’re hoping to bring our kids there one day soon as they would love the beach, riding the bikes around and trying out all of the water activities.

xx, Seri
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November 3, 2016

LMP Travels to St. Barth’s AKA Paradise

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Last week, a dream that I never even dreamt, came true. One of our clients, who I have a wonderful relationship with, invited me to St. Barth’s to help her throw the most fabulous 50th birthday party to date.

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It was a weekend full of events with 36 of her closest friends. We’ll go into more detail on the events in another post but for now…let me tell you a little bit about where we stayed and what we did while we were over there on the most gorgeous island that exists.

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Maggie joined me to help with all the work and we were put up in Hotel Cheval Blanc. When we walked into our room we were floored by the beauty. It was so bright, clean and tastefully designed. We noticed French doors…we quickly opened them and landed ourselves onto a huge deck with a table, chairs and loungers…all that overlooked the lush, green mountains. Pretty fabulous to say the least.

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When we arrived it was in the early evening on a Wednesday. Maggie and I wanted to grab a bite so we took showers and got dolled up for a relaxing night out. We asked the concierge where to go. We wanted a low key spot on the beach. She sent us to a great spot on the beach called Sand Bar. We quickly realized, there’s no such thing as “low key” in St. Barth’s seeing as this was a Jean-Georges restaurant! We stuck to simple items on the menu like pizza and watermelon sangria and enjoyed every second of that dinner.

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Now let’s talk about all the food we ate back at the hotel. Oh Em Gee. Breakfast was a daily dream. We enjoyed the buffet that was full of cheeses, croissants, fresh fruit, tons of baguettes and chocolate muffins. After loading up at the buffet we would order coffee and eggs. Sometimes bacon on the side. Wasn’t a bad way to start our morning…

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Our days were the perfect mix of business + pleasure. And when it came time for lunch…we would sit on the beach with a bottle of water, glass of rose and every single day, we ordered the Croque Monsieur with black truffle. WOW.  That’s all I have to say. Wow. Totally addicted. Wish I could have one right now…

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The beach and property at this hotel were so picturesque and beautiful. It was hard not to shoot everything we own. Like Maggie’s gorgeous Ramblerose Jewelry, our cocktails, walks back to our room after the tropical showers that sometimes came through. It was pure beauty everywhere you trend.

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Favorite part of the trip? Toting around Little Miss Party in a Box ALL OVER THE PLACE! We made our mark in St. Barth’s. That’s for sure! Hoping we can go back one day soon…

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All photos by Maggie Antalek.

xx, Seri
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June 15, 2016

Mandy Loves Minted!

Hi again! It’s me, Mandy from Mandy’s Meals and More. I’ve been in hiding for a couple months but I’ve emerged.

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Not sure if you are aware but in Canada we are lucky enough to have a year of maternity leave. Sadly that time is coming to an end for me.

Dylan my daughter is headed to day care in August so when I got the email informing me that Minted is now doing gorgeous name labels for clothes, lunch boxes, etc.. I was beyond stoked!

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As with all categories on minted, there are millions of options, sizes, colors and shapes. And the quality is unreal.

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I am seriously planning on sticking these things on everything!

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As sad as I am for this amazing year to ‎come to a close, I am so grateful to spend each day watching Dylan grow into the amazing tiny human she has become.

xx, Mandy
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March 28, 2016

I miss my Pirate room in Legoland

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A few months ago Adam says “Let’s take a trip for Easter”. I said, GREAT! Where should we go? “How about Legoland!” says Adam.

Hmmmmmm. That’s not what I was thinking.

You see, I’m not really a theme park person. Correction. I detest theme parks and everything about them.

BUT….

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I schlep my kids all over the place. And our trips are never really geared towards them. I am always trying to get in beach time or go to places to visit my friends!

SO…

I thought, Ok. Let’s do this. Let’s do it for the little guys!

WELL….

Guys….

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I really enjoyed it.  I mean really. Don’t get me wrong there were some dark moments with the kids and their sometimes lack of gratitude (I know it’s not their fault but it still blows), some touchy moments where I saw some inappropriate behavior by other parents and some very poor eating habits that Michelle Obama would not have approved.

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We booked a room in the Legoland hotel which was 100% lego themed. Talk about a genius design. Whoever thought of this place, Bravo. The level of detail was uncanny. Almost everything was made out of lego. AND…it’s a pretty new hotel…so it was VERY new and clean. Just how I like it.

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We reserved a pirate room. Each floor is themed with pirates, princesses, knights. You choose upon booking.

When the boys walked in, they didn’t know which way to turn first. Honestly? Neither did I. And with every new sight, there was a squeal. It was so cute it was heart wrenching!

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When it came to the food, it was garbage. And I mean garbage. Fried potatoes, fried chicken, ice cream and juice. But obviously you’re not going to this place for the food. Though I wish I was. And it’s a shame. They need a famous chef in there and then BOOM you’d have heaven on earth.

At any rate, you get past the crap food pretty quickly and just embrace it because your kids are having a blast which means they are out of your hair.

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So now comes the park. Oh, the park.

This is where the specials come out to play. And I don’t mean the kids…I mean those special parents out there…

Let’s not get into it.

Let’s just say….the kids were AH-mazing at the park. Walked all day, minimal whining, tons of fun. Gavin went on 10+ roller coaster rides, Luke made friends with every human who looked at him and Adam and I got to watch them smile all day long. I have to say, it was pretty satisfying.

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Now let me highlight a few of the details that really impressed me about this place…

1.) Everywhere you ate, there were Legos to play with but designed in a way that was strategically educational without the kids knowing. For example the restaurants in the main hotel (there were two of them, one was a buffet, the other had a bar) were separated by a giant plastic lego castle that the kids could play in. And there were pits of legos everywhere. So the adults could sit back and have cocktails while they just watch the kids play.

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2.) In the park all of the benches were made with recycled jugs. I thought this was the coolest thing ever as did the kids. They pointed it out at almost every bench we walked by.

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3.) There were safety and recycling signs EVERYWHERE. Always sending the message.

4.) The most amazing things were made out of Lego. EVERYWHERE. Truly in the most brilliant ways you could think of. Like…um…this car….!!

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5.) The Lego themed rides were incredible.

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6.) The Water Park was awesome and full of activities for ALL ages. Oh…and they serve WINE at the Water Park BAR!

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7.) There is an incredible water ski pirate show that runs 3 times a day AND a 4D movie that runs every hour.

8.) Every evening there was entertainment for the children. PJ Parties, dancing and building contests. I sat back and sipped on wine. Again.

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9.) They offer Master Builder classes for the kids were are VERY SERIOUS.  Great discipline for the kids.

10.) My absolute absolute favorite part of this hotel was the elevators. They play typical elevator music when you walk in and when the doors close it transforms into a disco with strobe lights and beats. Un.Real.

Overall, I highly recommend Legoland as a family getaway. And this is coming from a gal who is very judge-y, snobby when traveling and who had to run out to buy a $17 pair of flats because I just didn’t feel cool enough in running shoes.

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So am I theme park enthusiast now? Absolutely not. I still have no interest in going to Disney but Legoland was certainly the right choice for our family and worth the trip.

For more on Legoland in Orlando, Florida you can click here.

This post was not sponsored. All photos are my own.

xx, Seri
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  1. Marissa

    What an awesome trip!!!

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