Category: being a mom

bye bye 2015. not sad to see you go.

bye bye 2015. not sad to see you go.

I am normally a pretty optimistic person (less so as of 2 years ago, for no good reason), but I have to admit, this year was HARD for me. Except from the last few days of December, while I have been on bed rest and, in addition, wonderful things happened and I am bathing in happiness, the rest of the year was not so great. I was having such a hard time coming up with anything rescuable this year that I actually forced myself to go through my calendar again, from January 1 to December 31 (today).
It was actually really nice to see all the things that happened this year, and by no means do I mean that my life is horrible, not at all. I just mean that it was difficult for me, all things considered.
I won’t go through all the good events and the bad events, although I did write them down and save them. Instead, it can all be summarized as this: I failed myself and everyone. Not completely, but a decent amount. I was not the wife I could have been, and didn’t even see it until a few days ago. I was not the mother I could have been, and I have to say, I am very proud of the parent I am, and this year was no exception, but the difference was that I was so sick and mentally checked out because of the medication I took, that I couldn’t participate in life (not just with my sons, but with everyone, with work, with my responsibilities) to the extent that I normally do. I was so drowsy most of the time from medication that I did not even understand a simple conversation, I couldn’t drive, and I was consumed also by my symptoms. 😦 not the best mother after all.
I missed and rescheduled so many meetings at work, missed events, including my brother’s 40th birthday, and just was absent from life in general for about 40% of the time, and that is no exaggeration. I worked a lot less, had a hard time catching up when I was able to work, and just kept letting myself and others down. For someone who has always been an overachiever, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
On top of everything, I don’t think I realized how much my health condition, and all that it affected, was affecting me (my happiness). I was pretty miserable, and feeling sorry for myself, a lot of the time.
But here’s good news #1: It’s over. Despite just having had a massive foot operation (which went amazingly well), my health is a little better at the moment. It doesn’t mean it will stay that way, but it means that it gave me a break for 15 days, which ended up being long enough for me to put things in perspective. I now see how much it was affecting me emotionally, and that is something I can change. I can also adjust my responsibilities (I don’t need to mentor FIVE people, be on two boards, work full-time hours and be home by 3pm for my sons). I can see what it most important, what I truly must do, and the rest, I can delegate or drop. Simple. I can do what I can do. Then if and when I start feeling better, I can do the things I did not think I was going to be able to do, which will be a pleasant surprise (the cherry on top), rather than assume that I can work 8 to 10 hours a day every day, while it has been over two years that my health has reduced it to less than half of that amount. At least I’m here, at least things are good. If I keep pushing like I did last year, my health will be worse anyway, so it is not a winning proposition.
There is still so much I can do, and I have a billion ideas and plans and projects I have started already, and I am very very excited to continue working on in 2016!
Good news #2: Still, despite being mainly absent from my own life, many incredible things still happened, my family is still thriving, my friends are always there, my company grew, I was honored with a few awards, my sons are really happy, and I came up with huge ideas. I may have been going at snail speed compared to my usual self, but I still moved! And I still contributed.
While recovering from my surgery, I have had the chance to think, and to think a lot. And the beautiful thing is that I have been feeling euphoric every single day. I have been filled with love, surrounded by friends, getting ideas, writing my book, planning with respect to work, family, life, and just incredibly excited about life!!! I had not felt like this in a while, and I am so happy to be feeling like I used to feel, just euphoric as a natural state 🙂
So here’s to an amazing New Year to you, my friends!

first day of school

first day of school

It’s a sea of firsts, as usual. One thinks every year will be similar, but every year, there are such immense changes in our children’s lives and likes, it becomes this amazing journey, which is unique in its own way.
The first day of school has been a long time coming with us: new clothes, new shoes, new backpacks, fresh haircuts, brand new notebooks… I love the start of the school year.

This year, my mom got the boys special highlighters. I remember when she bought me new stationery, I loved it!! It is funny, but they are some of my strongest memories of my childhood… Finding new highlighters in my shoes in the morning, as a surprise. I loved that she got the boys special stationery too, continuing the family tradition.

But this year, what made me realize how incredibly lucky I am, was this: J (now 15, going into grade 11), helped D (13, going into grade 8) prepare for his new, bigger high school. They are now both in the same school again. J carefully looked at D’s clothes last night, asked him to try on his new pants and t-shirt, trimmed his eyebrows (wow) and just made sure everything was absolutely perfect for his brother’s first day. This morning, he styled his little brother’s hair with pomade, and made sure every detail was taken care of.

They only had one hour of school each. one at 8:30am and the other at 1pm. We all drove together this morning, and then J and I went for a coffee after dropping D off. I wasn’t nervous for D at all, but J kept saying he was nervous about D’s first day. He so wanted his brother to have a good start, he was more concerned about that than his own first day with the IB program. It really was seeing empathy firsthand. The love and care with which he helped his brother enter a more mature world brought tears to my eyes. Like I said, I didn’t even feel as nervous about D’s first day as he did. I just felt excited. But today, during our morning coffee, he shared with me what it was like to start grade 8 in a new school, and I felt so close to him.

Hubby is away in Germany, and kept writing all day to see how they both did. It is such a great experience to go through as a parent, and it is one we treasure every year. I have to say, it gets much easier every year! I remember labelling the boys’ pencils and material until 3am every year, and now they no longer need their name on every pencil, glue stick and marker. They are responsible for most things, and we are just there to enjoy it as parents.

I feel so lucky to be able to take the day off and share these moments with them! It is on days like today that I am really grateful to own my own schedule.

I am working now, of course, but still, it was amazing to share the day with them. Being a mother truly brings so much to my life! I am grateful for every minute.

Hubby went to sleep already, and I am just now managing to write him with all the details of the day, but how do you describe every feeling, every moment you didn’t expect?

Hope your first day of the New Year was as amazing as ours.
Happy First

never saw #YouTube as a #classroom before – have you?

never saw #YouTube as a #classroom before – have you?

I just watched a TED Talk called “The nerd’s guide to learning everything online” by John Green.

He talked about how much he disliked learning in the traditional sense (school), and how pointless he felt it was, until he changed schools and got inspired to learn. This happened, he says, because he, for the first time, felt inspired to do so by the people around him. I quote: “And all at once I became a learner. And I became a learner, because I found myself in a community of learners. I found myself surrounded by people who celebrated intellectualism and engagement, and who thought that my ironic oh-so-cool disengagement wasn’t clever, or funny, but, like, it was a simple and unspectacular response to very complicated and compelling problems. And so I started to learn, because learning was cool.”

Being an educator, people’s experiences and interactions with education fascinate me. I love school. I have always loved school, always loved learning, reading, participating in class. I loved it so much that I knew, when I was two years old, that I was going to become a teacher, just so that I could always be at school. What I didn’t know back then, is that not everyone loved school, and it wasn’t for a lack of effort or enthusiasm, it was just not the right way of learning for them.

This is why hearing people, like John Green, talk about what finally attracted them to be a lifelong learner, is very interesting to me: It gives me a window into that person’s way of learning. My job is then to climb through that window and look at my schools from the inside, from their viewpoint, to see if we are reaching people like him.

You see, schools don’t have to teach the way they teach, they just do. It takes time to revolutionize an entire educational system. I have the advantage of owning my own school, which keeps us nimble. We discover a new way for people to learn, like John on Youtube, and we evaluate our program immediately, not decades later, to see if we are reaching all our students.

Like John, there are many children (and adults) who would feel re-inspired to learn, if only they felt that spark that John felt. My job as an educator, is to make those sparks happen. How?

In the classroom, by making all classroom learning experiences interactive. The student’s job is not to listen, it is to get involved, ask questions, find answers, be interested. If you want data, there’s google for that now.

Outside of the classroom as well, by teaching children to learn from every form that it presented to them. They can learn from asking questions, but also from teaching someone. They can learn from just walking outside, because the have been taught to look around, ask questions, discover. They can learn from Youtube, like John, because like him, they discovered something appealing, and found their tribe of learners.

Children are avid learners, but schools show them a very narrow vision of what learning is. They learn that classrooms are for learning, they learn that there’s nothing one can learn from looking at a tree, running down a hill, watching television, so when they do those things, they don’t get the benefit of learning from it.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that children should spend all their time running down hills or watching tv. What it means is that at school, they have been taught how to find learning everywhere, how to be lifelong learners. They have been encouraged to be curious, to try new ways of doing things.

That’s also why I work with children younger than five. That time is the most significant in the development of their brains, but also, setting up good habits (like the habit of looking for ways to learn and get engaged) at such a young age ensures that, regardless of the teachers they have in the future, they will always be lifelong learners.

I personally don’t spend any time on Youtube, so I don’t often find learning opportunities there, which is exactly why it was important for me to listen to John’s talk. I would not have connected those dots because they were not of interest to me. But to John, they are, and most likely, to many people too. Now that I have seen John’s TED Talk, I have a newfound understanding of Youtube, and of people like John, who want to find a learning community to interact with. I can now integrate this into my own views on education, and therefore make our schools more responsive to this specific type of learning.

Today I learned about why John thinks that “in a lot of ways, the YouTube page resembles a classroom”, and started thinking about how communities learn, beyond the classroom walls. I also learned something that i had not thought of before but that was so obvious now that I think of it, which is that every person can learn to want to learn (no pun intended here), given the right community. So how do we build these rich communities? How do we make this free learning accessible to everyone? How do we encourage our children to ask questions and marvel at the world, if they don’t already? How can our children, like John, re-connect with their love of learning? It’s there, we all have it.

The more I ask myself these questions, the more the world around me expands, and the more possibilities I see. And the more possibilities I see, the more I can share with my teachers, and the more they can offer their students.


Here’s John’s talk, if you’re interested:

Would love to hear what you think, as a parent, a teacher, or a learner 🙂

total spent after 2 hours of #shopping at the #outlets? ZERO!!

total spent after 2 hours of #shopping at the #outlets? ZERO!!

Hubby took me, for our date night, to the new outlets about 45 minutes from where we live. It was a great sunny day, and we had a really good time. It felt like a high school date 🙂 just walking around hand in hand, eating ice cream together, having dinner from a street vendor – Japadogs – they are Japanese-style hot dogs. A lovely date.

When we are about to leave, hubby looks at me and says “no bags!! You didn’t buy anything?” nope!

I love that. I think as a society we consume too much: too much food, too many clothes and shoes, too many things which end up in the garage and then get donated.

When Alex and I lived in a beautiful condominium with the boys, we had very little space, but we found it absolutely perfect! Then we bought a house so the boys could play in a yard, have friends over, the usual.

I remember when we first moved in. We brought our furniture and it looked so tiny in the house! The house felt enormous. It is a four bedroom house, not huge by any means, but compared to the apartment, it was very large. I remember looking at all the cupboards and closets and thinking that it would be impossible to fill them all with our belongings.

Well, we have been here 11 years and not one closet is empty. In fact, we were looking to buy a 6 bedroom house so we wouldn’t be so “crammed”. Imagine that! Then the thought cross my mind: It’s not that we have a house that is too small for us – it’s that we have too many things! The point wasn’t that we had to buy more so we could have more, the point is that we had too much.

For the next few months, I went through every single item in the house and made sure we wanted it or needed it, and voilà! There’s space in our house and it’s no longer too small! Would I still like a 6 bedroom house? Nah.

The thing about small(er) places is that we spend most of our time together as a family.We are all in the same space, all the time. Of course we each have our room (at least our children – Alex and I have to share a room 😉 ), but during the day, we are all together.

I had not looked at it that way before, but thinking back, I am sure that it had a huge influence on our relationship with our sons. When they do homework, we also work, together, on our dining room table. When they have friends over, we get to know them and develop a relationship. For many years I have woken up on a weekend morning to a house filled with boys, all in sleeping bags or wrapped in our blankets, asleep, and there are few things I love more than that.

So , in essence, less is more. 🙂



I read a lot. I love reading research papers, books about education, child development, psychology, parenting – anything to do with my field of work. I think that’s why CEFA will always be at the forefront when it comes to education, methodology, curriculum…

I like novels too, and poetry, although I don’t read it as much as I did when I was younger. There were many books I felt I needed to read in order to progress, so anytime I grab a book lately (and by lately I mean in the last 4 years), it is of an educational nature.

Right now, all four of us are reading together in our family room. We each have our own book. This is one of my favourite things to do as a family, read together each evening.

I feel so grateful for this moment. 🙂
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What it’s like to be a #mom today 💙💙

What it’s like to be a #mom today 💙💙

While I’m working at home today:
J is in our music room, practicing his electric guitar (he practices a good 3 hours a day) 🙂
D invited his best friend over. They are in his room, playing, and I can hear their laughs and excitement from here. 🙂
On another note, Tabbie the dog is on the chair right next to me, in her little bed, making sure I work. She stays there all day as long as I’m there 🙂
The sounds of my home are, to me, the sounds of happiness! I feel so grateful to be a mother.

#recovery mode still ON today

#recovery mode still ON today

Made huge headway – worked all day and all evening. Only got up at 8:30pm to make dinner for the family (we eat late in the summer), eat together, and chat. Did a little work after that but by 11pm I was tired. Still recovering I guess…
Today I will try again. I was able to, like yesterday, switch to the non-drowsy drugs, so I can at least make sense of the world! 🙂
My challenge:
only 40 e-mails (a record low), BUT I have 126 to dos. That will be hard. Impossible even.
My to dos are generally things no one else could do (otherwise i would have delegated), and they can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a whole day.
My rule for work is this: Any e-mail I can deal with in 5 minutes or less, I take care of immediately. Any longer and I add it as a TO DO in my to do program. The reason for that is that I can then evaluate all of the to dos I have, and then decide on the top 3. Once those are completed, I reassess the list in order priority for the day. If it is too much, I decide what to postpone, but the point is that everything that is there for me to do, is there for a reason.
Another day I will explain better how I go about setting my to dos. I do that three years ahead, not only daily. This is what allows me to meet my goals.
Anyway, back to work!

Today’s challenge: Recover a whole week’s worth of work in 1 day 🎯

Today’s challenge: Recover a whole week’s worth of work in 1 day 🎯

It’s 1pm and I finally feel well enough to work – yay! Still at home, my dog Tabbie by my side, my sons J and D reading their books, my hubby Alex is not home until very very late tonight, so I have the ideal environment. I’m ready.
Can it be done?

I have seen children play an intense videogame non-stop for 8 to 12 hours, sometimes more. My sons have, when they first got a game. Hours of intense focus and drive. This is no different. I have focus, drive, and I’m definitely interested in the work – I love what I do, so why not?

I will talk some other time about videogames, I am sure as a teacher and founder of an educational program, the last thing anyone wants to hear is that I support videogame playing for 8 to 12 hours, or that I support it at all for that matter.

I won’t go into it right now (I have work to catch up on – haha!) but what I will say is this: It’s always better not to adopt an all-or-nothing attitude about things like videogames. My sons have gone through phases, and that’s normal. Often they don’t play for months and months, and other times, a new game comes out and they want to play all day and all night. I think that’s great for them. They demonstrate perseverance, passion, drive, all good things. Besides, often they invite their friends (at my house we normally have our 2 boys and then all the boys in the neighbourhood, which we love), they are social, they have an amazing time. I find that because we don’t forbid them from doing that when they really want to, they don’t feel the need, the desire, to play like that all the time. I always ensure that my sons are the ones making the decisions for themselves, and you would be surprised, often they are a lot more strict with themselves than you would have been. They have a very pure sense of right and wrong.

Could I be more strict and forbid videogames completely at my house? Definitely, but what I have seen, for the most part, in households that are that strict, is that children hide from their parents, and play anyway, at their friends’ houses. I don’t want a relationship with my children where they lie to me just to do what they want. When that’s the case, you are no longer in the space as the parent where you can coach them. Besides, not all videogames are terrible. What we have tried instead is to discuss with them what playing too much does to their brains (it helps that I do a lot of research on brain development – I have credible evidence), and help them decide for themselves what an acceptable amount of time would be per week. If they want to use all that time in one day, then fine, they just know that they won’t have any time left for the rest of the week. The result?: moderation and self-control.

Anyway, I digress. Classical music is on, a hot cup of coffee my son made me by my side, 137 e-mails and 99 to dos – back to work 🙂


still not well enough to work 😕

So I’m trying not to panic, but I have not worked for a few days now. I worked, but I only worked a little, from home. For all I know, there could be urgent things in my to dos that I forgot about, but I still don’t have the strength. The way I’m feeling now, I don’t think I can go to work tomorrow either. Hopefully I will be able to at least read my e-mails and work on my to dos, in my pjs, at home.
I feel so bad about not showing up at the office. On the other hand, I always tell my children this:
If you’re sick, you stay home and have the best day ever! Don’t act like you’re sick to justify you staying home, just think “yay! I have a day to recover!” and then enjoy it as much as possible. Let your family spoil you with your favourite foods, read a great book, put your feet up and watch TV all day if you want, just be happy, because when you’re happy, you feel better sooner.”
I know that it is common sense, but I think we as parents have to reinforce that message, instead of saying “are you sure you’re sick?” and “how sick are you?”. My children have always remembered that, and it’s so great to see them when they’re sick, because on one hand, they are feverish and uncomfortable, and on the other hand, they know that they are about to get spoiled rotten by us, and it brings them so much happiness that it radiates through their skin.
Also, it works both ways. Today I was feeling awful, trying to push through and respond to one more e-mail, and my son D said “mom, you’re not feeling well, I can see it in your face. Just go lay down, I’ll bring your computer, make you a coffee, and take care of you.” Aw! I can just see them passing this tradition onto their future families 🙂

I know I shouldn’t talk about my teenage sons, but I’m bursting to!

I know I shouldn’t talk about my teenage sons, but I’m bursting to!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m told by J, my 15 year old, that I can’t post anything about him, and that’s understandable. It would be embarrassing for him if his friends read my blog, so I won’t.
All I will say, as non-specifically as possible, is that I couldn’t be more proud of them. They make plans by themselves, they do things I have never done, and they come back home from their friends’ homes without being asked by us, just so they can do their reading (11 books before September says their IB Program).

And people ask me why I have never imposed curfews, time-outs, cell phone restrictions or other types of punishments… How can I? They are better persons than me in so many ways, all I do sit in awe of them.

OK, I said too much. This is the last time. I’ll get in trouble for sure.

So lucky to be a mother.