Our 500th YouTube Video!

It’s been 7 years and 500 videos! I’m exited to upload our 500th video and a look back at 7 years. I’m biased (as the mother) but I get choked up seeing them grow up right before my eyes. Thank you for watching and being a part of our YouTube journey!

Trick to Getting Kids to Clean Up!

As kids get older, and the amount of toys in your house add up, clean up time can get a little tricky. Just like when we were kids, cleaning up is a chore that isn’t very desirable.  Here’s a great tip on how to teach your kids the importance of putting their things back where they belong.


And check out this fun dice game to make cleaning up a little more fun!

Do you have any fun clean up advice? We’d love to hear it!

Happy Signing, and cleaning!

Signing Stories: 2.5 year old Finger Spelling

I’ve been with My Smart Hands for over 5 years now. When I first learned about Baby Sign Language I did a lot of research into different companies and classes and decided that I loved everything about MSH and wanted to become an instructor myself. I had already started signing with my son, and really enjoyed taking him to classes with me while I still could. H always picked up on signs very quickly, his first at 6 months, and about 60 by the time he was 1 year. His first words also all consisted of the signs we were doing with him.

He is a very visual child, and loved looking at different letters or signs, and by 2 he started to ask him to read everything to him. By 2.5 he was already fingerspelling a handful of words. I was so proud! Everywhere we went he’d want to stop and read signs and finger spell along to them – it was amazing!

From there he started reading short books, and everything else he could come across he’d still try. It really was amazing.

I still remember H’s Kindergarden classroom visit the Spring before he was going into JK. While his teachers were both busy greeting other parents, he loudly read out ‘Be All That You Can Be’ which was above the chalkboard. Both teachers turned with amazed expressions on their faces that a 3 year old could read that – Talk about proud mamma moment!

I really do attribute the use of ASL to H’s advancements. Not only did it help us immensly when he was non-verbal as a baby, but helped him and his skills beyond that!

Here is a video of him at 2.5 years old doing some fingerspelling. At the end, you will see a sign he made up for his Cheesy Pasta (Mac and Cheese) The signs for ‘Cheese’ the letter ‘E’ and the sign for ‘Pasta’ – too cute!


Karen Hewko
My Smart Hands Hamilton

Postpartum Depression Video Project – Need Your Help!

**Postpartum Depression**
I am working on another passion project and I need your help. Can you please share this with your networks you never know who has suffered with this until you share! I need all of you to make it great!

I am looking for moms who have suffered with postpartum depression in the past.
I need either a short video or a picture:

1. If you are submitting a video I need two short clips (can be in the same video)
a) Tell me what’s once piece of advice you would like to share with people who have a loved one that is suffering with postpartum depression. What is one thing someone did for you or that you wish someone had done for you that would have helped? (hold the baby while you shower, cooked you dinner, did your laundry… it can be anything). I am looking for just one quick tip we can share to help loved ones help the new mom.
b) A second tip on what you would say to yourself when you were going through it. What is one piece of advice you want to share/tell to the mom who is struggling with this right now?

2. If you are submitting a picture just write the above tips on a paper and hold it up in the picture with you.

I can edit the videos so no worries about sending me a perfect shot.
It doesn’t have be professional. Capturing your video on your smartphone is great.
Please shoot horizontally on your phone if you are using a smartphone.
It’s okay if you show emotion in your video. It’s an emotional topic.

The deadline to participate is Aug 5th. Please send me your stuff as soon as possible so I can begin to include you in this meaningful project. And thank you so much for participating and sharing!

Please send video clips or pictures to laura (at) mysmarthands com
Write in the email “I give Laura Berg permission to use my video clips (or pictures) in a postpartum video she will be posting on YouTube. My participation in this project is voluntary and I grant Laura perpetual rights to use my clips.”

Realistic Camping Tips for Children

Summer is here, and that means camping season! If you haven’t yet camped with children, you will soon realize that it is a lot different than camping alongside only adults. Check out this great post my Karen at That Mom Blog, also a My Smart Hands Instructor!

That Mom’s Camping Tips

I love camping, always have and normally I am one who is very easy going when it comes to it, but kids change all of that. If they are not happy and relaxed, you are not happy and relaxed. And I go camping to be happy. And RELAX.

Here is a list of ideas to make your camping with your kids a little more enjoyable, for all of you!

Pack a special bag for each child:

I picked up these large clear plastic Cars bags at the Dollar store. I put each kids name on it, along with a couple of little treats for them. Activities, flashlights and let them pick out a couple of toys from home that they wanted to bring along. When they started to get restless, or needed some quiet time, we would break out their bags and let them do an activity.

Plan fun activities

I can’t take credit for this one. This was all my great friend Tammy (That Mom Tammy@ThatMomTammy). She came up with this great idea of having a treasure hunt for the kids. Since we were using the exact same site we used the year before, we knew the layout. She drew up a special map for each of the children with their own path to follow. We would start off doing circle time to centre the kids, then find out who the secret camp pirate left the first map for. They ate.it.up. Whoever’s turn it was would lead the group along to their map. They would need to follow the specfic route with their friends towing behind - climbing across logs, under picnic tables, and in and around the tents. Their treasures would be found in the bushes, behind rocks, or tied in trees. 6 kids, 6 maps and one day = LOTS of entertainment. It was also a great way to get some structured fun in as well. Thank you again Tammy for the great planning!

Because we had a large group site, we also brought a small pool, and a hose with a sprinkler. HOURS of added fun for the kids!

Be one with Nature

Make sure to really embrace the outdoors. Don’t be afraid to go look for bugs and toads. Your kids will love it, and it will make you feel like a child again. I chased this toad pretty far into the bushes on one of our walks, just so I could bring him back for all of the kids to see. We played with him for a little while, and I may have even tricked a couple of them into giving him a little peck to see if he would turn into a prince. No such luck. Before releasing the little guy, we made sure to sing “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” letting him go on the last verse.

Don’t be afraid to get MESSY

Its inevitable. Your camping. You and your children WILL GET MESSY. And if they aren’t, your not having enough fun. Seeing my kids covered in dirt and food at home makes me shiver a little. All I can think about is what those hands will be touching, and what I will need to clean. I don’t like to clean. I try not to worry about this while camping – extra stress you don’t need! Your outdoors, there is mud, there are bugs, embrace it. Camping in a large group made clean up at the end of the day more fun. After sticky-icky marshmallows, us mamas would head down to the bathrooms for what we call “Assembly line bath time”. One mama in the shower washing the kids down, another drying, one dressing, and another brushing teeth. Works like a charm. Quick, easy, and yes, loud and wet.

What Routine? 

8:00pm bedtime? Forget it! While routine is great, sometimes you just need to let it go. Trying to get your children, let alone a group of children, to bed at their perspective bedtimes while camping is not something I would call fun. Let them stay up a little later. Pack up some fun after dark toys like glow sticks, or these awesome finger lights we picked up at the dollar store. Run them wild and tire them out. Of course, if you let them, they would stay up later than you, but a little later than normal doesn’t hurt anyone.

And when all doesn’t go according to plan…..

…do what you need to do. This is one of the problems we ran into last year. H would NOT go to sleep in the tent. This year it was Q. We still have some major bedtime issues with him and I didn’t think it was fair for the entire campground to put up with his antics. Finally, out of desperation he went into his brothers booster seat, with Mickey Mouse on the vans DVD player. Yes, I did it. TV WHILE CAMPING. Roll your eyes, snicker those snickers. I did what I had to do. Mama has to relax too! (And don’t worry, windows cracked, me right there, and of COURSE he went into the tent when it was my turn to crawl under the sleeping bag.)

Anyways, I hope this gives you some good idea’s when it comes to camping with your kids. Don’t be afraid, take it slow, and put a little planning into it. Maybe start out with one night and see how it goes first, or even in your own backyard. I am a BIG fan of camping, and think that it is something wonderful to expose our children to early in life.


Signing Stories + Instructor Feedback!

Our instructors take a lot of pride in what they do, and love hearing updates and feedback from past students! Here is an email that our instructor, Melody in Calgary received recently:

Hi Melody,
Me and my daughter Holly took your level 1 class back in Nov/Dec, so
thought I’d give you an update. Her first sign was around 8 months and now
she’s 11.5 months. We are keeping up with signing pretty good, and in the
last week, Holly seems to have really caught on. She is signing all done,
milk, more, dad (although this sign is closer to her ear than forehead,
she’s definitely using it to talk about her dad!), dog (which is funny
because we don’t have a dog), bird (backwards…so cute!), grapes, and I
love you! The last one is obviously my favorite. She does what you said
Bronwyn does – sticks out her open hand to sign “I love you”, but it melts
my heart every time. Thanks again for the awesome lessons!

If you have a signing story, or feedback you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it! Email rcdirector@Mysmarthands.com!

HANDmade Father’s Day Craft Ideas! + Learn the #ASL sign for DADDY!

We at My Smart Hands love HANDS, clearly! And with Father’s Day coming up, we thought we would share some great Father’s Day craft idea’s we stumbled upon on Pinterest. If you are looking for something to make, we hope that these will give you some great idea’s to get crafty, and make something HANDmade!

1. King Of The Grill

2. Hooked On Daddy

3. Ten Little Fingers

4. Hands Down, Best Dad

5. Daddy’s Girls

And of course, last but not least, don’t forget to teach them the sign for DADDY!

Happy Father’s Day to all the incredible Dad’s out there!

Be Summer Ready with Shoppers Drug Mart + $100 Gift Card Giveaway!

OAS_400x400_1Summer is fast approaching, and we want you to be ready for it. Whether it be for yourself, or keeping your kids happy and entertained, Shoppers Drug Mart is your go to place!

Help is only a click away when you visit Only at Shoppers where you can find an assortment of resources to help you with your summer needs. Find what will help you be beach ready, stay feeling rejuvenated, look beautiful and keep your kids happy and occupied this summer!

With a ton of great articles including ones written by myself, (busy bees: summer fun for kids & summers smile survival) you’ll be sure to be inspired!

Be sure to check out all of the great online coupons you can use as well (Hooray for Optimum Points!).

We want to know what one summer item that you just can’t live without is, and by letting us know you could be the lucky winner of a $100 Shoppers Drug Mart gift card!

Enter below on the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win!

Giveaway is open to Canada only, void in QC and ends 6/12.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be Safe This Summer – Don’t Let Drowning Happen!

With the summer months upon us, and pools opening everywhere, we thought it would be a good time to talk about a very important topic – drowning. It’s something no parent wants to think about, but it can happen faster than you could ever imagine.

Two summers ago I was at a pool party with a group of parent friends and their children. After getting my own child dressed I came out of the house to hear someone hollering to call 911, and my instinct was to leave my child with another adult and make a run for it. A 3 year old girl had slipped in the pool after her mother had turned her back for a matter of seconds to put something away in their beach bag. No one saw her slip in, and there were people everyone, including in the pool. Luckily someone spotted her and she was pulled out, but blue and not breathing. Between three of us we got her breathing again, and the paramedics cleared her and everything was okay. Had another minute passed without being noticed, it may have not been as lucky an outcome.

Drowning is Silent – What many people don’t know is that drowning is silent. There is very rarely any noise involved with it at all. No splashing or shouting.

Time is Crucial – If your child goes missing, and you are around water, look there first! Timing is everything!

Secondary Drowning – If your child does have a near drowning experience, it’s still very important to have them checked out. Secondary Drowning is something many people have never heard about, including this mother who blogged about her recent experience with it.

When having your child around water, wether it be the beach or a pool, never take your eyes off of them. For younger children, having flotation devices on them at all times can help add that extra step in safety. For toddlers, they should always be at arms length in the water. Talk with your older children about pool safety as well, remind them that they should never enter the water without a parent present. Taking these extra steps can help save a life.

We hope that everyone has a wonderful summer, with lots of time spend cooling off in the water, and we hope that this post is a good reminder to stay SAFE.

Karen Hewko
My Smart Hands Hamilton

Swimming Fun with Trunki PaddlePaks – Review

Summer is my favorite season. Swimming, camping, sending the kids to camp and enjoying a more relaxed pace all contribute to summer’s awesomeness.  Our family spends a lot of time outdoors in or near water.  While I love water activities, since having kids, I have come to hate carrying everything for everyone.  You’ve seen “me” or been me if you’re a mom. You start the day organized and everyone has a way to carry their own stuff. Within thirty minutes, there you are loaded down with everyone’s bags and extra junk struggling to keep up.

For a few weeks each summer my kids go to summer day camps. I have often wanted to pull my hair out when they come walking out to the car dragging a towel and their lunch container because they have lost yet another bag.  I’ve discovered the losses of these bags are sometimes accidental and sometimes “accidental-on-purpose” usually because the bag I bought specifically for camp was too big or got too wet and heavy for the kids to bother with it.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 10.02.27 AMThis summer, things are going to be different.  Meet the Trunki PaddlePak.  The picture here is of the Chuckles the Clown Fish PaddlePak. This is not just a cute little back pack. This is clearly a mom-designed item that repels water, keeps wet things away from dry things, fits your child’s body and offers your child friendly openings and closures.  The woman who designed this bag has clearly served as the family “pack-mule.”  The PaddlePak’s function is ingenious and kids want to carry the bag because they are fun and sized exactly right.

So far, we’ve been using the packs for swimming lessons.  We have Chuckles the Clown Fish and Spike the Blow Fish.  The kids’ wet stuff does not leak through the bag on the drive home! The water-resistant thing works both ways.  My son set his pack down directly on top of a running sprinkler while he waited for me after lessons.  The bag itself was not soaked – a quick wipe with a paper towel dried it – and nothing inside that wasn’t wet when it was put into the bag was wet either.

The bags hold a surprising amount of stuff.  The Chuckles PaddlePak is perfect for kids 2+. Not only will the bag hold all of their stuff for swimming lessons, a day at the beach or an overnight trip, your child can easily carry it himself! For older kids, there is a slightly bigger version of the pack in nameless shark or killer whale designs.  This summer, I will be retiring my old title of Mom-the-Pack-Mule.

photo 3photo 5











(I wonder if my husband would consider wearing the shark PaddlePak?)



This post content is sponsored by Trunki, however the views and opinions expressed herein represent my own.