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i-parent The mission of I-Parent Magazine is to be the most valuable source of parenting information and a local resource for families. We are committed to enhancing the lives of families by maintaining excellence in editorial content and encouraging community awareness. I-Parent Magazine 5-150 Hollidge Blvd Suite 184 Aurora, Ontario www.i-parent.ca Publisher & Editor Donna de Levante Raphael Contributing Writers Alesha Almata Dahlia S. Webb Monica Santangelo Patricia Garner Joan Gallata Dr. Renaldo Mortimer Ira Schwartz

Volume 1, Issue 3– I-Parent Monthly

Features

 Holiday Celebrations 101  Appreciating Diversity During The Holidays

Departments Baby Basics

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Toddler to Preschool

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Graphic Designer

Hany Barsoum

Education

7

Advertising Sales

905-481-1240

PreTeen & Teen

8

Marketing Manager 905-481-1240

Family Health

10

Circulation Donna de Levante Raphael info@i-parent.ca

Together Time

13

Family Finances

20

The Hip Mom

23

The Daddy Life

24

Single Parent World

25

Copyright 2011 by I-Parent Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is forbidden.

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Editor’s Note

‘Tis the season for family times Dear Moms, Dads, Guardians, Can you believe the holidays are upon us again? Thanksgiving, Halloween and Remembrance Day were still just days away when the shelves at my favorite retailer were stocked with tinsel, candy canes, shimmering blue and silver wrapping paper and strings of twinkling lights. As I navigated down the aisle crowded with boxes of stuffed Santas and electric Menorahs waiting to be unpacked, all I could think is “It’s too early!” I know I’m not the only one. No matter what holiday you celebrate, it’s usually just too hectic with too much to do. How can you, as a parent create the holiday you want to have, and the one you want to give your family, while keeping your sanity? Take a deep breath and think back to your best holiday memories. Ask your kids about their own. I’ll bet that their answers (and yours) will have nothing to do with the toys or the candy. My daughter says that her favorite memories are the times spent cooking together, baking cookies, reading together and watching movies and making homemade gifts. My favorite memories would be attempting to make the legendary family Jamaican fruit cake (without the chunks of fruit) and never getting it just right. And of course, following our yearly family traditions. When you strip it all away, great holidays and festivals have to do with time spent with family, not with finding the hottest toy or hitting every holiday sale or holiday party in town. This year, give yourself a break. Be realistic about your limits. Give yourself permission to burn the latkes or the sweet potato casserole or even skip baking it all together. Pare down the shopping list and make more time for your family. Instead of one more day fighting the crowds at the mall, shop online, then spend the afternoon volunteering with your family at a soup kitchen. Help the kids clean out the closets and get rid of all the old toys taking up space, then donate – with their permission, of course! – The best ones to charity. This year has flown by and if we’re not careful, the holidays will as well. Before you panic, think back to last year. Somehow, everything will get crossed off the shopping list. Somehow, all the meals were prepared. This year will be no different. And, perhaps if you are realistic about your limits, you may even enjoy it all. This holiday is about celebrating all that is good in life, especially family and friends. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From: Donna and the I-Parent staff


Baby Basics

Try, Try Again

SMART SNACKING

By: Alesha Almata You need an extra 300 calories a day when you’re pregnant, but that doesn’t mean eating junk food. The best way to meet your increased energy and nutrient needs: Add calcium-rich dairy food (a glass of skim milk, a container of low-fat yogurt, an ounce of cheese and one or two healthy 100-150-calorie snacks:         

1 baked apple with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar: 110 calories 1 serving tomato-rice soup:141 calories 1 Chocolate Honey Graham Pria bar from PowerBar (fortified with folic acid and calcium): 110 calories 2 fig bars: 140 calories 1 baked potato with broccoli: 115 calories 1 soy burger on a slice of whole wheat: 145 calories 1 cup fruit (bananas, melon, grapes): 110 calories 1 package flavoured instant oatmeal: 150 calories 1 scrambled egg on half an English muffin: 150 calories

Just like labour and delivery, breastfeeding is easier the second time around. Researchers at the Royal Hospital for Children in Bristol, England studied the nursing patterns of 22 women and found that with their second child, the women produced an average of 31 percent more breast milk the first week and spent about 20 percent less time breastfeeding the first month. Those who had the most difficulty nursing the first time experience the greatest gains; some women had an increase in breast milk of nearly 150 percent, says Jennifer Ingram, PhD, lead author of the study. “Moms who produced insufficient milk for their first baby should still try breastfeeding the second time,” she says. “They may be surprised by how much easier it is.”

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4Your Baby,

The Holidays and Treats The holidays are just around the corner, there will be sweet treats readily available. Anticipate that you very little one will want to try them. Is it okay for your little one to have sweets? An occasional taste of a soft sweet is fine, but it’s important not to let treat spoil baby’s appetite for the healthy food she needs during this important time of growth and development. So go ahead and share some pumpkin pie or a piece of moist cake or cookie with your baby after she’s eaten her regular food. But keep in mind that many holiday treats a are small and hard and can cause a baby or toddler to choke. Foods to avoid include nuts, hard candy, chocolate Kisses, and popcorn.

OH, WHAT A PAIN! By: Alesha Almata

Ear infections are the most common reason children are brought to the doctor’s

office and they are a frequent source of questions from parents: How do I know if my child has an ear infection? What causes them? And especially, how can I prevent them? Here’s a primer on preventing and treating this notorious ailment.

Prevention Pointers

The main reason children get ear infections is the differences in their anatomy. But until they outgrow them, there are a few things you can do to decrease their risk. 1. Stop smoking. Having a smoking parent increases a child’s chance of getting an ear infection by 50 percent. The particles of tobacco can cause chronic congestion, which makes it harder for the eustachian tube to drain fluid from the middle ear and sets the infant up for an ear infection. Some parents don’t smoke in the same room as the baby, or smoke outside, but this doesn’t help because the baby can still breathe in smoke from your hair and clothes. It’s difficult to quit, but use your infant’s health as your motivation. 2. Breastfeed your baby. The longer the better, and the less formula you use to supplement the better. Several studies have shown that breastfed infants are less likely to get illnesses such as diarrhea, colds, and ear infections. 3. Limit baby’s exposure to germs. Studies have found strong association between time spent in day care and ear infections, because these kids are more likely to be exposed to cold viruses. When possible, choose smaller settings with fewer children (e.g., home care instead of day care). 4. Get your child vaccinated. Vaccines work to keep children healthy. 5. Limit bottles and pacifiers when your child is lying down. Constant sucking and swallowing while reclining opens the eustachian tube, making it easier for fluids and germs in the throat to get flushed into the middle ear.

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Preschool & Toddler

Teach Your Kids To Give Back This Holiday Season (NC)—Everyone knows the holidays are a time for giving to family and friends; however, it's important to teach children about the multiple benefits of charitable giving as well. Habitat for Humanity Canada offers three charitable giving tips to help teach your children the importance of giving back this holiday season: 1 Make giving a family affair—Should you decide to donate to a charity, involve your children in the decision-making process, so that they too can see that there is a thoughtful and clear manner in which you make contributions to charities. Volunteering as a family is another great idea and a way for you to spend more time together. 2 Give a gift to your community—A great way to show your children how to give is by making a donation to a charity that positively impacts your community. One way to do this is by supporting Habitat for Humanity Canada's 360 Built Smart Partnership—a program designed to support local Habitat for Humanity offices to help them build sustainable communities. 3 Give time and money—Almost every charity will appreciate a donation of time instead of, or in addition to, a monetary donation. More information on how you and your family can make a contribution this holiday season can be found at www.habitat.ca.

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Education

This Year’s Achievement Race is Over Is Your Child Keeping Up? By: Joan Gallata

For most families, December brings a respite from

homework and testing pressures and a chance for festive, leisurely activities. But just because school seems “out of sight” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t stay at the top of your mind. In fact, if your child has stumbled academically during the first or second quarter. December – the midpoint of the school year – may actually be the “make or break” opportunity to get back on track.

Take stock of progress so far

So how do you know if your child is truly prepared for the school term ahead? Obviously, report cards are one of the best indicators. Good grades that are consistent with your child’s abilities and past performance tend to be a good predictor of future performance if students continue putting forth enough effort. Poor grades – and grades that dropped noticeably from the first quarter to the second - are a certain sign that your son o daughter is heading toward trouble, particularly since future assignments will build on the knowledge and skills your

child is supposed to have gained this far. Test scores are another good indicator. Most schools and school systems today begin the year with diagnostic tests to gauge every students’ reading levels, mathematics , reasoning and critical thinking skills. While it’s natural for parents to simply look at the score for the assurance that students are “measuring up,” it can usually be helpful to look more closely at the areas in which your child excelled or faltered. If your child has scored at the top percentile in reading or mathematics, this should encourage you – and your child’s teachers – to consider advance placement or merit courses that will make the most of these skills. Poor scores obviously call for extra attention to ensure that your child catches up before the work gets much more difficult.

Assess the impact of attitude and study habits

You should also pay attention to the other factors that impact learning and achievement. One of the most important is your child’s attitude. Sometimes, bright students get bad grades for behavior related activities. Does your child hand in his or her homework? Is it correct and on time? Is your child bored with schoolwork, and not paying enough attention? These are not excuses; they are symptoms of different problems. You must identify these issues before you can remedy the problems. Another important factor is your child’s study habits – and the studying environment in your home. Many parents kick off the school year by talking with teachers about how much homework they expect to assign and then set up firm schedules for “homework time” after school and in the evenings. But by mid-year, many of these schedules become a bit more flexible. If your child tends to be self motivated and is showing strong progress, flexibility can be a good thing. If he or she is faltering, it’s time to put that schedule back in place, and stick to it.

Broaden the lines of communication

The mid-point of the school year is also a good time for a verbal check up with your child, and his or her teachers. If your son or daughter received poor grades, have a frank discussion about why. Does he or she take the situation seriously? How do they plan to improve? It’s important that your child knows that you take the situation seriously. Let your child know you’re supportive – and that you believe in their abilities. Con’t. p.15

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PreTeen & Teen

The Red Carpet Fever By: Dahlia S. Webb Does your daughter gossip about Emma, Blake, Selena and Vanessa, as if they went to her school? Is she determined to but all the designer-label clothes and accessories she saw at the latest red carpet? When it comes to that upcoming Bat Mitzvah, quince or birthday bash, is her vision over the top? If so, your tween could be part of the latest epidemic: red carpet fever. The symptoms of red carpet fever are an obsession with fame, celebrities, shopping and buying into shallow values, all celebrated on that seemingly eternal red carpet. Once upon a time, star watching equated to an occasional guilty pleasure. Now there is one, two or even three award shows or movie premieres on TV every week. The stars and their outfits and melodramas screech 24/7 from entertainment TV, magazines and tabloids. Our kids are overdosing on the rich and famous lifestyles of the likes of Olsen Twins, J-Lo, Britney, and Selena. Marketers cram the party dresses, perfumes, and shoes, as well as a party mentality, into kids’ consciousness until they are virtually brain -washed. The consequences merit a parent’s attention because red carpet fever leads to unbalanced materialism and a preoccupation with vapid pursuits. The end result can range from overspending and credit card dept to skewed body images and risky behaviours. What’s a parent to do? How can you compete with aggressive marketing mavens and a paparazzi-driven celebrity culture? It’s time for you to launch a counteroffensive and fight back. Here are a few strategies. The Fame Game Fame has become a career aspiration in itself. Many red carpet regulars become household name without actually doing anything to merit the accolades, except partying and being born into a family of means. Remember Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie who served as poster girls for the mindless and meaningless fame. At the same time, the old-fashioned rationale for notoriety-outstanding accomplishment-has evaporated. How can you compete with aggressive marketing mavens and a paparazzi-driven celebrity culture? Don’t forget that the tween-age equivalent of fame is popularity. Nearly all young adolescents crave acceptance and admiration by their peers. At this point in their development, tweens need to put fame into perspective: It should be earned and deserved. While you are dishing about whether Paris or Vanessa deserve their spotlight, segue into the popularity of your child’s classmates. Ask her: What makes a girl popular? What about a boy? Sports often drives a boy’s status; appearances (looks and clothes) drive a girl’s. Quiz your daughter about why certain kids attract acclaim. Debate whether or not it is deserved. Be sure to include the concepts of integrity, kindness and achievement, to name a few.

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Clothes: Make the Woman and Break the Bank Versace dresses, Kate spade handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes exceed the allowance of most girls, but it doesn’t stop them from wanting what they see and racking up credit card debt to get expensive items. And what about the blinding “bling” in music videos? Few real kids can afford the gold jewelry and diamonds in the teeth grills of rap artists and their entourages. Few young adolescents realize that celebrities get all those clothes and jewelry for free. The red carpet is like a giant product placement commercial. Stars like Beyonce and Jessica Simpson become walking advertisements for their clothing lines or the fashion products of other designers. The purpose of all this is to convince young people to buy their designs. Marketers know that today’s kids are flush with cash. In 2011, the retail spending of Canadian tweens to teens (12 to 19 years old) is projected to be around $9.1 billion. All it takes is one overindulgent parent to hit the upscale mall and then all the other girls pester their parents to do likewise. Be sure your tween understand that stars play dress-up without paying the price tags. Aside from imparting that tidbit, how can you cultivate sensible shopping decisions? Give your child a clothing allowance. This tactic affords her freedom of choice. She can spend her entire allowance on a pricey item or not. Aside from flexing her decision-making muscles, letting her be the shopping control queen lets her feel the consequences and learn the value of money and how it needs to be stretched.

Main Street is Not Hollywood Boulevard If your daughter watches MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen, you’ve seen how these girls behave at their over- the- top parties. Vamping and primping, posing and posturing become the mainstay of the evening. The goal is often to inspire as much envy as possible. How shallow is that? Talk with your child about the purpose of a party to acknowledge a 15 th or 16th birthday or a landmark such as a Bat Mitzvah or graduation. Ask her: What would you like your social event to deliver to your guests? Fun, entertaining music, sharing good times with friends and fine intentions; deliberately flaunting good fortune in order to make others feel jealous is not an acceptable motive. When it comes to photos, emphasize that photographs are meant to capture an event, and not to fuel an ego extravaganza. After all, most of us are not going to make the cover of People magazine or the red carpet on the way to grab our Oscar. That’s good news, in a way. There will be no embarrassing tabloid pictures, no paparazzi cutting us off on the highway, and no eating disorder clinics. An in the end, curing red carpet fever is easier that curing what ails many a celebrity.

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Family Health

The Duration of

The Flu In Children By: Dr. Renaldo Mortimer Childhood flu lasts five to seven days, barring any complications. Each winter the flu makes its way to Canada and wreaks havoc on hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting residents. Children are an at-risk groups for flu complications, according to the Center for Disease Control, and those with health issues such as asthma and diabetes are at an even greater risk for flu-related problems. Once a child comes down with the flu, the duration of the illness depends on several factors.

History

The flu has been around since ancient civilization. Officially named influenza by Italian astrologers, it has caused countless deaths throughout the world. Historically, the largest killer flu epidemic was the Spanish flu, which killed 27 million between 1918 and 1919.

Time Frames

The time frame between exposure to the flu and coming down with it is approximately 72 hours. Children who get the flu are actually contagious 24 hours before they develop symptoms. Once they are sick, they continue to be contagious throughout the illness. To reduce the length of the illness, rest and drink fluids. The flu usually runs its course in five to seven days barring complications. Pneumonia that begins during the flu is often life-threatening, as your body is already in a weak state when it develops. Get medical attention for

Prevention/Solution

Flu shots are recommended for children from 6 months to 19 years old. For their first vaccination, children between 6 months and 9 years old will need two doses spread one month apart. Children who have been previously vaccinated require only one annual injection.

Stomach Flu

Other strains of flu affect the stomach. Symptoms of this common flu include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Headache and fever can also be present, along with stomach cramping. Duration of this virus is one to 10 days. Stomach viruses are contagious. Children are at an increased risk of complications due to how quickly they can dehydrate. Treatment includes encouraging the child to drink specifically designed oral rehydration liquids such as Pedialite. Treating the fever with a doctor-approved over-thecounter medication is also appropriate.

Types

Flu comes in many varieties, but they all fall into one of two categories: strain A and strain B. During each flu season, one strain is more prevalent than the other.

According to the CDC, a vaccine for several of the stomach viruses is available and is recommended for babies and young children. Although it will not prevent the child from getting the illness, it is designed to reduce the severity of symptoms.

The symptoms of strain A are typically more severe than the symptoms of strain B. Each year, the virus undergoes small changes, and approximately every 20 years, its structure undergoes a major change. Annual flu shots are recommended due to these constant changes. Each year scientists develop vaccines based on those annual changes.

Symptoms

Both children and adults will experience high fevers, muscle aches, headaches, congestion, dry cough and a sore throat. Children with the flu differ from adults in that they are more susceptible to additional symptoms of nausea and diarrhea.

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Christmas Tree Allergies By: IP Staff

Types

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology lists pine as one of the prime sources for outdoor allergens. Pine produces a high amount of pollen during the spring, triggering allergies. While pollen production slows in the winter, pine tree needles and tree sap often collect pollen. Other allergens that may cause Christmas tree allergies include mold, fertilizer, tree sap and pet dander.

Symptoms

Christmas tree allergies trigger similar reactions as other allergies. You or your child may develop a runny nose, watery eyes or a persistent cough. Congestion is common, as is redness around the eyes. Parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, and eyes, may itch. People with a tree sap allergy may develop a red rash if the sap touches their skin.

Christmas tree allergens can become airborne. To many families, the holiday season is not complete without a decorated tree twinkling in the window. Each year, Canadian tree farmers sell millions pine and fir trees for the December holiday alone. For people with Christmas tree allergies, this abundance of pine and fir needles can make allergy symptoms difficult to control during holiday festivities.

History

The first known report of Christmas tree allergies is a paper on asthma and its connection to a Christmas tree dating from 1929. The paper details a situation in which three asthmatic patients under observation by a Dr. Cobe experienced an increase in symptoms after the introduction of a Christmas tree and ornaments.

Significance

Doctors do not have an exact statistic for the number of people who suffer from Christmas tree allergies because individuals often choose home treatment options over a doctor's visit. A Swedish study that tested participants for pine balsam allergies reported a 5 percent positive reaction. In a 1969 clinical study conducted by Drs. David Malloch and Derek M. Wyse, 7 percent of 1,657 participants showed positive reactions to Christmas tree allergies. In that study, 48.7 percent of participants decorated a Scotch pine tree.

Misconceptions An artificial tree can prevent some Christmastime allergies, but still collects some common household allergens. It lacks allergy risks related to pollen and tree sap, but can still trigger allergies caused by mold and pet dander, according to Dr. Jeffrey Adelglass, from the Allergy Testing and Treatment Center.

Prevention/Treatment

If you hate Christmas tree allergies, but don't want to give up your holiday tradition, you have several choices. First, clean your tree before bringing it inside. For real trees, wash pollen and other allergens off with a garden hose. Put the tree trunk in a bucket of water and allow the tree to dry. For artificial trees, wipe down the branches and package the tree in an airtight container before you store it each year. Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt anytime you work with a real tree to prevent the sap from causing an allergic reaction.

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Together Time

Top 10 Kids' and Family

Board Games You'll All Enjoy By: Ellen Notbohm

Reconnect With Your Kids Over a Fun Board Game Playing kids' board games is a great way to have fun together. Even if you just have ten minutes to spare in your busy schedule, playing a quick game will allow you to relax together and provides a much-needed opportunity to talk, laugh, and share stories. Check out these great games for kids of all ages. 1. Zingo – ages 4 and up This is a terrific game by ThinkFun. It’s very similar to bingo. Each player chooses a board showing nine pictures. Then players take turns sliding the Zingo chip dispenser to release two picture chips at a time. The first player to fill his or her card wins! This game is recommended for ages 4-8, but even younger children will be able to identify the pictures and enjoy the game. 2. Sorry – Ages 6 and up A collection of kids' board games wouldn't be complete without this classic. Kids of all ages love this timeless game for 2-4 players. Be the first to have all your pieces reach “Home” to win. But watch out! Other players will “boot” you back to home when they land in your space. Great for teaching strategy, cause-and-effect, and counting. 3. Connect Four – Ages 7 and up Be the first to connect four checker pieces in a row as you try to prevent your opponent from doing the same. This game is great for teaching concentration, strategy, and cause-and-effect. Start your own “Connect Four” tournament today. 4. Uno – Ages 7 and up This lively card game is fun for both kids and adults. Be the first to get rid of all your cards as your opponent attempts to get you off track by switching the colors and/or numbers in play. This terrific game is great for 2-6 players. 5. Checkers – Ages 6 and up Checkers is a timeless game of strategy and concentration. It teaches children to anticipate and plan for their opponent’s next move, and offers hours of fun and conversation. Note that the game becomes even more fun as your child's ability to strategize develops, and even surpasses, your own! 6. Yahtzee – Ages 8 and up This is a simple dice game of luck, strategy and challenge. Aiming for various number combinations with each roll, players become increasingly determined to win as the game advances. This fun and addictive game also reinforces math skills as scores are tallied.

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7. Upwards – Ages 8 and up This game is similar to Hasbro’s classic Scrabble, but allows players to build upon one another’s words as they go. For example, if your opponent plays the word “run,” you might use an “f” to change the word to “fun.” Helps reinforce spelling skills while providing hours of fun!

8. Othello – Ages 8 and up Othello is a challenging strategy-type game similar to checkers. Instead of eliminating your opponent’s pieces altogether, the object of Othello is to convert your opponent’s game pieces to your team's color. 9. Monopoly and Monopoly Jr. – Ages 5 and up Monopoly is a fun real estate game for children of all ages. The “classic” Monopoly game, by Milton Bradley, is recommended for children 8 and up. However, the newer “Monopoly Jr.” games – with simpler rules and fewer properties – are recommended for children 5 and up. Both versions come in a variety of themes, from your favorite Disney characters to popular films and geographic regions.

10. Life – Ages 9 and up This is a great kids' board game that really illustrates the importance of decisions we make throughout our lives. For example, will you marry? Go to college? Get a well-paying job? What will happen if you do? What will happen if you don’t? Players find out as these key decisions are determined simply by spinning the wheel.

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Is Your Child Keeping Up?

These same questions should be posed to teachers and counselors. What specific skill is your child struggling to master? Are there any attitudinal factors that are impacting his or her achievement? What resources does the school offer students who need catching up or getting ahead?

Help your child set goals

A mid-year check-up is also an opportunity to get your child more engaged in the learning process. Keeping in mind that children, like all of us, feel successful when they accomplish goals, work with your child to determine learning and achievement objectives that are attainable with a reasonable amount of time and effort. Whether your child strives to master multiplication, gets A’s and B’s in core academic subjects, or reads several works of classic literature, it’s important to determine, together, how to reach these goals.

Remember the power of praise

Finally, make sure your child know that you’re a watchdog for both problems and progress. This means that the mid -year check-up should also be an opportunity to acknowledge the special skills and qualities that are unique to your child. Reading, writing, reasoning and computational abilities are qualities that will speed progress in the race to achieve. Being a good listener, feeling concern for others and finding special hobbies and interests are qualities that will enhance your child’s self-esteem and happiness. Recognizing and nurturing all of these qualities will give your child solid footing for years to come.

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Feature

Appreciating Diversity During The Holidays Diversity’s About More Than Just a Simple "Happy Holidays" Greeting Card By: Donna de Levante Raphael

Guess who's not celebrating Christmas this year? Millions of people in Canada. That's right. Millions of Canadians don't celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of nonChristian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation. Because many stores tap into the cash value of Christmas with their plethora of santas, ornaments, and Christmas fanfare at your nearby mall, we can easily overlook the depth of the diversity present in Canada, and especially in Toronto during this season. In reality, many different events, both spiritual, religious, and tradition based, are being celebrated in many different ways during these times.

Mark your calendar and your address book with other scheduled religious or holiday celebrations. If the calendar or PDA you use does not list holidays like Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Diwali, find out the dates and record them as reminders. Many programs like Microsoft Outlook allow users to add calendar dates for celebrations from different parts of the world automatically, making this task quick and effortless. Take a few minutes to mark your address book with the holidays that people celebrate. When writing holiday cards, recognize their holiday, and include a little handwritten note acknowledging their celebration.

It used to be that being inclusive meant sending out politically correct "Happy Holidays" greeting cards and changing Christmas office parties to "holiday parties." Today, celebrating inclusiveness and diversity is about more than just changing labels and titles. Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time to be with friends and family to build understanding and awareness about others. Three Ways to Build Your Awareness of Diversity and Create an Inclusive Holiday Environment Learn about other religious or holiday celebrations. Carve out some time from online shopping or a holiday TV show to learn about another culture’s celebrations during this time. Watch a TV special about other celebrations, do a Google search on a holiday, or check out books at your local bookstore while gift shopping. Share your learning with others, and use it as a chance to expand the conversation at parties and at the dinner table. Make no expectations about other religious or holiday celebrations. Realize that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year, and some people choose to celebrate none. Be respectful of these differences by taking interest in other people's traditions and making them feel welcome. Don't be afraid to ask people what holidays they celebrate. Find out what they do during this time of the year that is special. Let it be an opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions and the traditions that accompany them.

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Feature

Holiday Celebrations 101 By: Monica Santangelo My holidays would not be complete without hanging up the sequined red felt stocking my grandmother made the year I was born, sharing a hymnal with my sister at the Christmas Eve candlelight service and filling my plate with my brother’s Cajun fried turkey. How does your family celebrate? No matter what your religion or background, every family has their own special rituals and this December, all across the metro area, families will be celebrating the holidays in their own individual ways. As the year comes to a close, learn about the other celebrations and perhaps incorporate some aspects into your own holiday.

Christmas

Christmas has a strong religious meaning for many families as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Originally a wholly religious holiday, today’s Canadian celebration is a mixture of secular and religious traditions from around the world. The gift giving is reminiscent of the original birthday gifts, the ones the Three Kings brought to the baby Jesus at his birth. Romance and kissing under the mistletoe is an old Scandinavian tradition. A bunch of mistletoe was the symbol of the goddess of love. Santa Claus (Old St. Nick) is based on a fourth century man named Nicholas, who not only preached about Christ, but was also generous to children. According to legend, he took pity on sisters who couldn’t afford to get married. In the middle of the night, Nicholas tossed bags full of gold down the chimney. They happened to land in the sisters’ stocking hanging by the fireplace to dry. Since then, Santa has visited good children with presents for their stockings. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, originally names Rollo, was born in the advertising department of Montgomery Ward, USA in 1939. The department store created the story and made little booklets that Santa would give to each child that visited that year. Ten years later

and cowboy singer, Gene Autry recorded a musical version of the song and sealed Rudolph’s place in history. Advent Christmas Tree It’s a fun ways to count down the days for Christmas Materials  Poster board or cardboard  12 Toilet Paper Rolls  Green Paint (or marker)  Glue Instructions: Cut each toilet paper roll in half so you have 24 circles that are about 2 inches tall. Paint each circle green. Once the paint is dry, glue them into the postboard in the shape of the Christmas tree below. Once the glue is dry, trim the posterboard around the toilet paper rolls, into the shape of a Christmas tree. Place a small candy or other treat into each circle. Starting on December 1st , take out one piece of candy or treat per day to help you count down every day until Christmas!

Chanukah

Chanukah (HA-noo-ka) is a Jewish holiday first celebrated over 2000 years ago in Judea, now known as Israel. The timing is based on the Hebrew calendar, but usually falls in late November or early December. This year, the holiday begins at sunset on December20 and ends on December 28, 2011. The actual dates on the Hebrew calendar are 25 Kislev 5772 for eight days. Chanukah is also known as The Festival of Lights – This eight day Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish peoples struggles for religious freedom. Volume 1, Issue 3– I-Parent

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The most common symbols of Chanukah include the menorah (meh-NOAR-uh), dreidals (DRAYdels), potato latkes, and gelt. The menorah is a special candelabrum that holds nine candles. Each candle is lit after sundown on each of the eight nights of Chanukah to represent the miracle of the lamp burning for eight days when there was only enough oil for one day. The dreidal is a small top with four sides. Each side is marked with a Hebrew letter (nun, gimel, hey, and shin) and stands for “A Great Miracle Happened There.” Potato latkes, similar to pancakes, are a traditional food eaten around Chanukah time and deep fried to symbolize the oil in the temple. Gelt is Chanukah money used for gifts or in dreidal games.

Kwanzaa

Almost fifty years since its inception, Kwanzaa is a 7 day celebration of African –Canadian heritage beginning on December 26th to celebrate the African harvest and African-Canadian roots. The holiday which literally means “first fruits” in Swahili was established in 1966, by an African scholar and social activist and is based on the seven principles: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. On each day, the celebration focuses one of specific principles, with the biggest celebration happening on December 31st, the sixth day of the holiday period. On that night, a great feast (karamu) is held. Families and friends gather to eat, drink, sing, dance, and read stories and poem celebrating their cultural heritage. Guests sip from the unity cup and exchange gifts.

Holiday Fact Chanukah (rededication) has only five letters in the original Hebrew. In English there are at least 16 way to spell it, including: Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Hannuka,Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah Hanukkah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Khanukkah and Xanuka. Potato Latkes 6-8 medium potatoes ½ medium onions 3 large eggs ¼ cup flour Salt and pepper to taste

Because Kwanzaa Is timed with the first harvest, fresh fruits and vegetables are traditional fare.

Using a cheese grater or food processor, grate 68 potatoes to yield 6 cups. Drain off the extra liquid. Grate ½ onion. Mix the grated potatoes and onion with the eggs and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oil in a skillet and drop your batter by teaspoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until brown on the edges, then flip and fry the other side. Serve while warm. Serve with apple sauce, or sour cream.

Bead Necklace Most traditional Kwanzaa gifts are handmade, so show your creativity and make necklaces complete with handmade beads.

Holiday Fact The extra `a’ in Kwanzaa was added to give the name seven letters, one for each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Supplies:  Sand  White Glue  Fishing line  Markers or Paint  Sand Beads To make necklaces: Measure out desired length of fishing line. Make a double knot at one end. String beads onto the fishing line.

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Family Finances

Money-smart Holidays Enjoy December’s Goodies, Without January’s Hangover By: Ira Schwartz We’ve been good all year, right? Surely a tiny little splurge during the holidays wouldn’t be such a bad thing. As tempting as that prospect may seem, there’s a very good reason to exercise restraint: Spending wisely during the holidays can set you up for a financially healthy new year. Spending in December is almost a national sport. It’s certainly our largest seasonal outlay of funds. Total holiday retail sales this year will be a challenging holiday season for retailers. This year consumers will be more wary with spending but nonetheless our holiday retail spending is estimated to reach $32.7 billion ( a moderate 3.9 percent increase compared to last holiday season spent by Canadian households.) Financial experts offer the same tips every year: Make a list, don’t shop at the last minute, don’t use plastic, and so on. We hardly pay attention any more. So here’s a strategy that many financial gurus say really works: turn the holidays into a regular item in the family budget. Your do have a budget, don’t you? You can’t do any substantive planning without a budget, according to the experts. Set aside a little money each moth or each pay period. It adds up: as little as $100 a month equals $1200 come giftbuying time.

Don’t Forget the Cookies

As long as you’re making a plan, be sure to include the rest of the holiday necessities: Wrapping paper, cookies, holiday dinners, decorations, and candles, new clothes and shoes, tickets to events, cards and stamps and the like. And even though you hear the financial experts’ other tips every year, like the refrain from seasonal tune, they bear repeating:  Make a list of what you want to buy and how much you want to spend on each person.  Use cash. When it’s gone, quit shopping.  Paperclip credit card receipts to the card and check them regularly against your list and your budget.  Don’t shop at the last minute. There’s too much pressure to buy something, regardless of the price.  Consider alternatives to gifts: gift cards, homemade cookies, dinners, offers to baby-sit or wash the car.  Consider drawing names rather than giving separate gifts to everyone in the family or your circle of friends.  Contribute to the kid’s education fund or savings accounts rather than buying a lot of gifts. The payoff for financial sobriety can be substantial: a new year without a financial hangover.

A Wealthy New year

Let’s face it nearly all of us make some sort of financial vow come January 1 st. So as long as we are making a list and checking it twice, we might as well cover preparations for the new year.   

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Make clear, concise goals. Don’t just say you wants to save money, determine the amount you want to save- and how you’re going to do it. Pay down debts, starting with the highest interest rate – usually the credit cards. Save, save, save. Open saving accounts and start a college fund for the kids. Volume 1, Issue 3– I-Parent


Make Money A Family Affair 

Discuss financial issues with the family. Even if one spouse or partner handles the bills, the other should be aware of the fiscal necessities such as the family’s financial goals, how much is in the bank, and the retirement fund, how much dept the family is carrying and where the insurance policies are. Check your insurance coverage. If your family situation has changed over the past year, your coverage needs to change as well. Revisit your estate plan. Besides a will, most people need a durable power of attorney for health care, financial issues and a living will. Changes in your family situation can trigger a change in those documents. Go high tech. Do your banking or bill paying online. You’ll save on stamps and cut down on paperwork though you still have to monitor your account.

All the above are great suggestions from experts. The real issue is how do you keep those resolutions? First, write down your goal. Clearly stating your goals and how you intend to achieve them, then committing them to paper (or computer files) can help you keep your goals realistic. Having a written record also helps you stay focused if you get off track. Then break goals into smaller pieces or action steps. Seeing your progress can help you feel less discouraged. Finally, don’t be shy about seeking professional advice if your need it.

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The Hip Mom

Dare To Dream Big! By: Patricia Garner

What do you dream of? Many of us may dream of being thinner, younger or sleeping with George Clooney (hey, we know a girl’s gotta dream), but these are not the dreams we are referring to. What about the other innocuous, non-eyebrow-raising dreams that may not be tabloid worthy yet make our heart sing, bring a smile to our face and a sparkle to our eyes? We ask you again: what do you dream of? Is it more free time, fulfillment or balance? Is it more selfexpression, creativity or fun? Or do you aspire to create something entirely new for yourself after years of putting things on hold? For many of us, we need to remember what our dreams were, recognize what they still are, explore the possibilities and discover what they might become. How often do your dreams materialize? What do you do to forestall them from remaining a stray thought in your head? Fantasizing is healthy, ahem…but at some point it is important to take a respite from Xanadu and start taking action - less we want to be at the effect of our life rather than at the cause of our life. Excuses abound and become the norm. “I don’t have the time,” “I’m already overcommitted,” “I’m too old” or “I’ll wait until the kids are a little older.” What excuse has become your mantra? We might wonder how; how can we possibly fit any more into our already jam-packed lives? How we can possibly find the time to follow our own dreams when we are already overcommitted? Life is busy, no doubt, but how can we not? Yes, we are mothers, but we are also women, partners, professionals, friends, creators, leaders and so much more. Our contributions reach far beyond our homes and our families, yet all too often we fail to recognize our own significance when it is not in relation to others, and neglect our dreams and lose sight of our aspirations. What would it feel like to rediscover your passion and give yourself permission to pursue it? To catapult the “stuff that dreams are made of” into action? To pursue your goals and to be your most balanced, accomplished self? To become all that you aspire to be, to create the life of your dreams? Dare to dream, and dream big, because you alone decide how your tomorrows will unfold. So we ask you once again, what do you dream of?

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The Daddy Life

On those very long day car trips, there is an alternative to hours of slack-jawed video watching. A road trip is an ideal time to exercise your kids’ mental muscles. Here are some fun ways to use the car to build math and reasoning skills, as well as knowledge of the world around. Since some of the math can get complicated, don’t be shy about keeping a calculator in the car.

Driving Lessons By: Paul Humphrey  Fun with the trip odometer: Most modern cars have a trip odometer that can be set to zero at the beginning of the trip. Ask your kids to estimate how many kilometers to your destination. When you pass a sign giving the kilometers to an exit or city, ask what the trip odometer will say at the exit, to give kids practice adding whole numbers and decimals. On a long straight stretch, ask kids to estimate the distance to a visual landmark, and use the odometer to check the estimates. Kids will learn about counting and adding with decimals, decimal/fraction equivalents, and develop their sense of distance.  Are we there yet? Never let the whine go by without grabbing the math opportunities. “Well,” you ask, “how fast are we going? “How many kilometers left?” (Subtract the trip odometer reading from the total distance.) This is a great chance to talk about average speed and teach your kids mental math tricks.  We’re almost there! Kids can see this for themselves if they have their own map. Draw, trace or photocopy the route from a regular road map, simplifying for younger kids. Help them follow along as you drive, checking off each landmark as you pass it. Older kids can focus on the scale information – how many kilometers between each landmark? You ca also use computer mapping services to add fun information to maps, like the locations to favorite fast-food restaurants or attractions.  Speedometer: teach kids to read the speedometer – it is one of many displays where tick marks stand for numbers (like rulers, thermometers and clocks), and once they can read one they can read them all. (Try not to get annoyed when they say you’re speeding.) In a traffic jam, have them keep track of your maximum speed in the last five minutes – imagine the excitement when you hit 40 kpm! Maximum is an important concept in the study of math functions.  Car compass: A car compass can help kids hone their senses of direction. Ask them to guess the direction of travel before checking on the compass. Have them predict what direction you will be going after the next turn.  Road signs: Sign present learning opportunities for older and younger kids alike. When you see a sign with a curvy arrow or some other symbol, have fun thinking of all the things the sign could mean (wiggly people ahead?) Talk about the odd warning signs. Kids who are learning to read can practice on words that appear again and again during the trip. You can teach them to recognize the name of your destination city; they will gleefully point out at every opportunity. Understanding symbols is a pre-reading skill for younger kids. Awareness of traffic rules and roadway situations can be life-saving safety information for any kid old enough to ride a bike.  Gas mileage: At fill up time, teach your kids to calculate or estimate your kilometers per kilograms by dividing the number of kilometers you went by the number of kilograms the car took at fill-up. It’s another ratio.  Can we make it? Once your kid’s get a sense of the car’s mileage, they can predict when you will run out of gas. This is an example of a multiple step problem, a problem that must be solved by a series of calculations. Multiple step problems are notoriously difficult for kids because they require them to keep their place in a series while performing each calculation. The more practice they get on these problems, the easier they become. Teach them how to read the gas gauge. Then ask them to estimate how many miles left in the tank. Ask them 8if they think you can make t to the next exit, next city or the next station, given your car’s usual mileage.  License Plates: Give your kids a map of Canada and have them check off the license plates they see. See who can find a plate from the farthest place. Point out the funny vanity plates. Most provinces have dozens of special interest plates. Simulate interesting discussions by speculating on these organizations and their members. Your kids may not what some of the abbreviations mean, help them with these.

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Single Parent World

Holiday Ex-Etiquette By: Donna de Levante Raphael

How to find peaceful solutions within a fractured family When a family is fractured by separation, absent parent or divorce, it creates added stress during the holidays with regard to child visitation, gift giving and attending children’s programs. But I doesn’t have to be this way. If apart parents have an acrimonious relationship this would be the time to for them to set aside their differences and focus on communication, cooperation and compromise, the holidays can be a little less stressful for everyone. There are those parents who are concerned about the best interest of their children and want the child to still have a family unit. However there are those parents who are obsessed about what they want and can’t let go of their obsession in order to think of the best interest of their child and this makes for total disaster for all involved. These situations must be limited to a bare minimum. If you are one of those parents, understand that this is emotionally and psychologically devastating to a child who only sees and hears the acrimony between the parents. “Parents may not be able to completely rid themselves of the negative emotions associated with the separation and divorce,” says Lydia Robb, a social worker and parent information educator. Parents, especially non-custodial should look at the bigger picture and how, in the long run, it is affecting their children. It’s not,” What do I need?” “It’s ‘What does my child need to have a good holiday?”

A Peaceful Resolution

Most kids who have had the experience of their parents being together kin the family unit, do grieve the loss of an intact family with every holiday and at every stage of life. When parents of young children who have recently separated are willing to come together peacefully during the holidays, it gives their children the opportunity to experience it as an intact system. Parents should also be cautious about creating delusions that could be misleading. “One of the cautions parents should be aware of, should be when divorced parents behave like buddies,” says Lydia Robb “It can be confusing to a child who is probably already with reconciliation fantasy.” For this reason, Robb recommends parents set clear guidelines about their relationship and explain it to their children if they plan to spend any holiday time together.

Keep the new relationship clear

Although should be encouraged to give both parents a gift, in high conflict situations, this may present a problem. “If the other parent can help in the right spirit-realizing this is important in the child-he or she should, Robb says. “But if it’s going to be an issue, get someone else close to the child to help.”

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Holiday Ex-Etiquette

Most children of absent parents, usually separated or divorced parents put their parent’s reconciliation at the top of their wish list. They with their parents would reconcile their differences and find a balance with regard to communication, cooperation and compromise. The following is a list of things parents who are interested in the best interest of their children can do to make that holiday wished come true.                   

Always put your children first. Focus your time on quality time, rather than on material objects. Don’t do things out of your obsession to disrupt the life of the other parent. It is unfair to your child. Set aside your personal differences, past hurts and disappointments. End constant desire of seeking revenge. This will make the holidays less stressful for everyone. Make a schedule for visitation and have a solid plan with regard to gift-giving and attending children’s events. If the conversations or any communication gets heated, call a time out between you and arrange for another opportunity to talk. Establish a good working relationship with your ex-spouse on behalf of your children. You don’t have to be buddies; you do need to be a team player. Prepare your children ahead of time of what to expect over the holidays. Be on time and keep goodbyes short while transitioning from home to home to avoid extra stress. Do not provoke situations with the other. Set clear boundaries if you decide to spend the holidays with your ex-spouse. Communicate these guidelines to your children so they don’t misunderstand and think reconciliation is a possibility. Look for a compromise with regard to giving the children gifts and communication with the other parent. One parent shouldn’t be giving the biggest gifts, while the other, perhaps cash strapped parent is giving less. If you are the non –custodial parent be gracious enough to let your child enjoy the gift you gave them at their home. Don’t make them suffer because they may be enjoying your gifts with the other parent. This is petty behavior. Avoid the competition game of putting the other parent down, or by spending money on your children as a way to buy their love. Set budgets for your gift giving and stick to it. Help the children make or choose a gift for the other biological parent. This models thoughtful, generous behavior. If you cannot participate in this experience, find a neutral adult to help. Do your own communicating. Avoid making your children messengers. Recognize the importance of your children’s relationship with their extended family. Be cordial and courteous to one another. If the extended family is always on the warpath with you then, you will need to do what is in the best interest of the children and cease those visits until the drama has subsided and everyone can and act reasonably. Attend these programs with other family members or go alone. This is not the time to bring a casual date to the family. The focus should be on your child, not you or someone new in your life. Give each parent equal time alone to interact with your children at these events. If possible, coordinate schedules so one parent takes the child to the event and the other brings him home. Allow children to discuss past holidays if the subject arises. Remember that most kids old enough to remember, who were in a two parent family unit will grieve the loss of an intact family with every holiday and at each stage in life. Be sensitive to this and keep an open line of communication with your children. Have reasonable expectations. The first few years after separation or divorce can be the hardest time to enjoy the holidays. Don’t expect things to be perfect. It takes time to heal wounds, establish new traditions and adjust to a new family unit. No need to keep harping on the past and making it a part of your children’s future because you can’t move on. Seeking revenge on the other will only leave your children feeling unloved. Take care of yourself during the holidays. You’ll be a proper parent if get proper rest, exercise and nutrition, as well as the emotional support from others you need. Remember the best gift you can give your children is your loving attention and the opportunity and freedom to love their other parent. This is providing the situation is in the best interest of the child as opposed to the best interest of the parent. If the situation is emotionally and physically unsafe then use your better judgment and ask for professional help in the matter at hand.

Parents, your children only have 18 years to be children. As your children grow there is going to be weddings, grandkids, even great-grandkids! As parents, we can either set the stage of life for our children to be something good or something miserable for the rest of their lives. Make a choice.

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December 2011 Issue