June 25, 2012

Free online summer reading program for kids

As we approach the end of the school year, it’s important to note that many kids will be affected by the summer slide.  This is a learning reversal that takes place during the summer months when children are not in school.  According to experts, annual summer reading loss of three months accumulates to a disturbing two-year gap by the time kids are in middle school.  Just this week my friend Nancy forwarded a site to me which I thought I would share with you.  It is called, We give books and is a digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them.

We Give Books’ Read for My Summer is offering a free online 10 week summer reading program for kids ages 5 through 8. A brand new book will be featured weekly, and the cool thing is, your kids can print out their reading log to share it with their teacher on the first day of school.

If that isn’t cool enough, they’ll also be donating a book to a child in need every time your child reads a book.  View the reading list and sign up your kids for the summer reading program here.

May 19, 2012

BlogHer features article from The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom

Hey Everyone!  I have some super exciting news, I was recently featured on BlogHer!  Imagine my surprise when I recieved an e-mail from Jenna Hatfield saying that she liked an article that I had written on ‘Why I’m sending my kids to public school’ and she wanted to feature it on her publishing network.

The article has caused some lively debate and encouraged parents to talk openly with each other about their feelings and choices regarding our educational system.  Check out the article and weigh in on the topic It’s about choice and we’re choosing public school over private school!

How did you decide where to send your kids to school? Was it the right decision for your family and what has been your experience so far?

February 8, 2012

Snorkeling in Grenada

Dear Epic Readers,

I hope this post finds you well.  As promised, here is the third issue in my Travel Tuesdays series.  So grab a pirate’s punch and let’s hoist off on an epic adventure to Grenada.

In the South Eastern Caribbean, about 100 miles north of Venezuela, you will find the gorgeous island of Grenada (pronounced Gree-Nay-Dah).  It is also known as the Spice Isle or the Isle of Spice.  Over the centuries, the island has been inhabited by Black natives of African descent, British, French and Amerindians – both Arawaks and Caribs – whose artifacts and carvings can still be found throughout the island.

More than 70% of Grenada’s exports go to the United States and European Union. Their growers are increasingly adopting sustainable farm management practices, which is why their clean, green organic approach to agriculture is recognised around the world.  Cocoa, Banana, Nutmeg and other spices for export have been the island’s main source of foreign exchange for hundreds of years, and in fact Grenada is the world’s second largest nutmeg producer.

One huge highlight for me about Grenada was going to the world’s first Under Water Sculpture Park at Molinere Bay.  Wow, that was an exhilarating experience!  All of you who have read my blog from the beginning know that I’ve always struggled to learn how to swim.  This summer, I had a breakthrough at my local swim school and was able to swim the entire length of the pool and back.  Even accomplishing this feat, I still have no clue how to tread water.   So you can imagine how the voice in the back of my head was screaming at me to stay on the cruise ship and let hubby go on this adventure by himself.  Still, I resigned myself to put on my swimsuit and take a book with me on the tour so I could stay in the catamaran if I changed my mind at the last moment.

Off I went on the catamaran, zipping over the waves, my hair streaming behind me, the wind whipping in my face – what a feeling of freedom and exhilaration!  Then we slowed down for our guide to share some details about the aquatic life around the island.  After this tutorial, our next stop was Molinere Bay.  It felt almost like an outer body experience, floating outside myself as I watched the real me get into a life jacket, flippers, and goggles, climb over the edge of the boat and ease into the ocean.   Now, all my friends will tell you that I am an extremely cautious person.  I am not a risk taker, and never have been.  Had you asked me about this last year at this time, I would have said, “I never will be a risk taker!”  Yet, having children changes you.  Having watched my kids learn to walk and talk and do all those incredible feats that they do in their first few years; having encouraged them to try again when they literally fall on their bums when learning how to walk; having been their cheerleader for three years and encouraging them to try something new even if they are scared, I decided to take the same advice myself:  to be brave and bold and try something new too.

Before I knew it, I was holding on to a little lifebuoy, swimming along looking at the most amazing, breathtaking vista before me.  Seeing fish in an aquarium pales in comparison to watching those iridescent luminous shimmering fish swimming everywhere.  It was breathtaking.  Then I glimpsed something off in the distance, coming into focus and taking shape as I approached.  There were beautiful sculptures dotted along the ocean floor!  My favorite was one called ‘Christ of the Deep’ standing majestically with arms outstretched and head looking up towards heaven.   Christ of the Deep was placed in St. George’s Harbor to commemorate the people of Grenada for their help and to thank them for the hospitality they extended to the people on board the Italian ship Bianca C after it caught fire and sank in the harbor. 

If you are in Grenada, book a Seafaris Powerboat Eco Tour and ask for Albert.  He is passionate about sharing the history and ecology of Grenada and is a wonderful guide of the underwater sculptures.  He was truly awesome at making the excursion interesting for both experienced and novice snorkelers!

Here are three of the most exciting highlights of the island:

  • Visit the Mona monkeys that live near Grand Etang National Park.
  • Tour St. George’s market for ginger, cinnamon, mace, turmeric, nutmeg, coconuts, bananas, and so much more.
  • Snorkel in the world’s first Under Water Sculpture Park at Molinere Bay.

Cheers,

From the beautiful island of Grenada

Char a.k.a Epic Mom

February 7, 2012

Blogging Basics – Choosing a blogging platform

When I decided to start a blog, I had no idea where to start, so I researched various blogging platforms to see which one best suited my needs.  Here is a simplified look at three of the most popular blogging platforms.

BlogSpot/Blogger:  Blogger and BlogSpot are both services offered by Google.  BlogSpot is a free domain service provider, whereas Blogger is a free publishing platform.  Blogspot provides a subdomain if you are not using another custom (non-BlogSpot) domain, with the catch that the given subdomain will include a “.blogspot.com” ending, such as “example.blogspot.com”.  BlogSpot/Blogger has a limited amount of themes but it is relatively simple and easy to use when compared to wordpress.org.  You do not need any extra training to use the blogger dashboard, and the options are clear and easy to navigate.  You can monetize on BlogSpot by having AdSense ads placed on your blog. It’s important to note that on this platform, blogs can be deleted without warning.

WordPress.com:  Free publishing platform that anyone can use.  You will have a subdomain like (example.wordpress.com). It is easy to modify and has tons of glossy and professional looking themes and plenty of plugins.   There is no need to back-up your database regularly for safe-keeping.  You will have to pay for a Premium account if you want to monetize on WordPress.com. It’s important to note that blogs on this platform can be deleted without warning.

WordPress.org:  Self hosted publishing platform that allows you to have your own domain name.  You will have to pay for hosting if you want to use this option.  There are a number of very professional looking themes that allow you to have a great look for your site, and an exceptionally wide range of plugins that you can use to specialize the look and feel of your website.  A big reason why I chose WordPress.org, was that I am able to own all my content which isn’t possible on Blogger or WordPress.com.  Finally, on this platform, your blog will never be deleted without warning.

Another reason I chose to use WordPress.org was related to an analogy I read.  The writer compared Blogspot to a neighbourhood in which any resident can walk over to all the other houses and look inside at their leisure. The analagy continued that wordpress.org at least gives the blogger a little more control over who is able to view their site and posts. Having young kids, the ability to control content more closely in Wordpress was really the deciding factor for me because I wanted to protect them as much as possible while blogging. That being said, there is no right answer to the question of which blogging platform is the best. Instead, you have to weigh the options and figure out which platform works best for you.

So epic readers, which blogging platform did you choose to go with and what would you recommend it to others?

February 2, 2012

Brighten those Winter Blahs

Hey fashionistas,

When you look outside and the only thing you see is winter white, you need something to help you shake off those blahs and say "heck no" to those blankets of snow.  Hunter green, mustard and aubergine are the perfect colours to warm you up this winter.  Whether it costs a thousand bucks from Saks Fifth Avenue or ten bucks from your local thrift store, outfits in these colours will definitely work to brighten those winter blahs.

Ciao for now,

From the friendly fashionista

Char (also known as Epic Mom)

Brighten those Winter Blahs