Word of the Day: baffle

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It’s baffling, but this is the first time that I really feel like I need a garden!

If you baffle someone, it means that you puzzle them, or make them a bit confused. When you’re baffled, you are surprised or taken aback. It means that the situation or person is strange and has made you stop and think.

You can describe something or someone as baffling. For example: his behavior is baffling.

Have you got any questions? Are you baffled? Leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you!

Grammar Mondays: modals 6

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The modal may is used to express two things: politeness and possibility.

In terms of possibility, it can replace might, though might is more commonly used than may in this context.

More often, school children learn that may is used for good manners. For example, rather than using the modal can when asking for something, use may:

  • May I have another cookie please?
  • May I go to the bathroom? (A child asking at school.)
  • May I leave the table?
  • May I? (Said simply when it is obvious what the question is, for example, when you’re indicating that you’d like to offer your help.)
  • How may I help you? (If you’re a shop assistant speaking to a customer.)

Do you have any questions? Leave them in the comments, or email me directly!

Friday Idiom: under the weather

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« I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so I don’t think I’ll make it to your party. »

« Josh can’t come to school today because he’s a little under the weather, I’d like him to rest. »

If you’re feeling « under the weather » it means that you’re not at your best. Use it within a sentence when you’d like to tell someone that you’re not feeling well. It generally means you have a cold, and isn’t used for more serious illnesses.

Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 3

I’ve decided that I’m going to change the name for what I call « my son taking care of himself while I work. » I’m going to call it: free play time.

Why? I think the name works better, it makes me feel better, and honestly? It’s really not so bad for him. Child specialists the world over toot the advantages of free play time for children. So why not call our Wednesday mornings that?

Our kiddo spends basically all of Wednesday morning playing on his own. At the moment, I’m pretty sure he’s drawing something. Maybe ten minutes ago he was playing with his toys, and before that, he got himself a banana to top up his breakfast. It’s 10am and he hasn’t even asked for TV or the tablet yet! I’m sure the time will come, but so far, I’m impressed.

So what’s the point of this post? Don’t feel guilty for letting your kids play alone! There is nothing wrong with your child spending time using his or her imagination and inventing games for him/herself. In fact, it’s good for them. It helps them become more autonomous, develops the imagination and shows them that they’re not the center of the universe.

To me, this last point is super important. My kid needs to understand that when I’m on a call, he has to be quiet, he can’t talk to me unless he’s « dying » and he needs to figure things out for himself. It may sound harsh, but he has to learn how to wait. Patience is a virtue, right?

I opened my business so that I could spend less time at work, make my own money (more than what I was making previously) and spend more time with my family. However, I didn’t open it to become a stay-at-home mom. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home parent, but it’s a different ball game.

So, if you have to work, forget feeling guilty. Organize your day so you can set aside family time, but when it’s your work time, guilt has no place. Your company is important, your well-being is important, and your kids need to learn to respect that; it’ll serve them in the future.

Word of the Day: remote

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Okay, for this word, there are at least a couple of useful meanings.

Remote, as per the definition above, means far away and/or secluded. So, we might say that a person lives in a remote part of the world. That could be a village in the mountains somewhere, an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or in the middle of the woods somewhere in Canada!

Another meaning for the word remote is the thing you use to change the channel on your TV! Technically, it’s called a remote control. Can you guess why? That’s right! It’s because you change the channel remotely, ie., from far away! Of course, most of the time, we just say: « Pass the remote. » Everyone will know what you’re talking about, you don’t generally need to add the « control » part.

Have you got any questions? Have you got more examples? Drop us a line!

Grammar Mondays: modals 5

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Might reflects possibility. We use this modal if we are unsure that something will or will not happen.

For example, if you’re unsure of your plans for the evening, you could say: I might go out, but I’m not sure.

If you’re unsure if you’d like to go out, you could also say: I might not go tonight, we’ll see.

Whether you use the affirmative or negative form is really up to you and how you want to spin your sentence. Do you want to emphasize that you might NOT do something (you’re leaning towards no)? Or that you might do something (you’re leaning towards yes)?

Give it a try, and don’t forget, if you have questions, give us a shout!

Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 2

It’s a quarter past 4pm, the baby-sitter will be back soon with our son, and we have nothing to eat, and I need to get to the cash machine to pay her.

The eternal question: what on earth is for dinner today?

Quesadillas? Why not… But what to put in them that our 4 year old will deign to swallow?! Urgh.

Of course, into the mix flies the Newsletter I haven’t written yet, and the fear that there is a typo I’ve missed in my publications today. I can’t afford typos, I’m an English teacher. But I’m human, and I always miss things! I have to read them 10 times to be sure, yet I still come back to work I’d done a long time ago and see mistakes.

Is this due to inattention? Sloppiness? Fatigue? A lack of time? Does it matter?

On Wednesdays (today) and on strike days (yesterday) my son has to fend for himself (only in the mornings on Wednesdays though, yay). It sounds awful, considering he’s only 4, but he’s pretty cool about it, so long as I can tolerate the noise emanating from his make believe universe. And he makes up some awesome stories! There he is, sometimes, building a spaceship that looks like a banana, or playing with his pirates when suddenly Ninjagos and superheroes come to save the day! But oh no! The cars are falling off the precipice and falling into the abyss of the floor! AAAAHHHH!

Okay, I don’t think he actually says all of those things, but it sounds like it, and the few phrases I catch from his adventures make them enviable!

On a more serious note. How do you organize yourselves? Particularly those of you homeschooling young kids? When do you work?! I’m so glad that tomorrow school picks up again. And so is my little guy. No more TV while mommy is in a class. No more Khan Academy while she’s in a meeting.

Yesterday, he came with me while I was giving a class at a local high school. He was so well behaved I bought him a chocolate ice cream right before lunch to say thank you!

Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 1

A few days ago, I got a big exercise ball to use as a desk chair. I’ve heard they’re better for you than regular office chairs, and apart from struggling a bit with keeping my balance, I’m inclined to agree.

My 4 year old, however, thinks this is his new toy and tries, at various times of the day, to use it as a soccer ball, balance ball, and just generally enjoys rolling it around our (smallish) flat. This would be fine, I suppose, if my desk wasn’t a make-shift kitchen countertop resting on one trestle and a bookcase propped up with a few books I don’t read anymore. It isn’t wonderfully stable.

My home office.

That being said, I’m rather proud of my DIY desk and will include a picture of it here.

The home office in a smallish apartment is a challenge, particularly when you don’t actually have a room dedicated for work. My desk is in our front room, which doubles as an office, a dining room, a dance floor and a play area. The least that can be said about it is that it’s versatile!

These are not my biggest challenges though. One biggie is figuring out how to make sure that the noise from my apartment doesn’t seep into meetings with clients. I try to schedule meetings and classes during school hours, but this isn’t always possible. So, I have purchased a pair of headphones with a noise-cancelling mike. I have tested it out a few times and it seems to be doing the trick, even if my interlocutors can still hear the occasional screechy voice from a cartoon character on the TV, or my son’s screams of delight or anger when something, anything, happens.

My dream is for a world where it’s ok to hear the sound of children in the background during work hours. I love having my kiddo around during the day, even if he makes it a little harder to concentrate. And then, when I think about, he doesn’t make it too much harder to concentrate, he just reminds me that I need to take breaks. He reminds me that my mind is fresher after I come back from a walk, or a card game, or a few minutes spent swinging on the hammock.

Modern society has taught us that we must sit on our butts all day, in the office and work work work! That this is productivity. But it isn’t, is it? Who among you is capable or sitting for 4 straight hours and actually get good work done? Then take a quick break and sit for 4 more hours. We’re not designed to do this. Our brains, just as our bodies, need action, diversity and challenge. Sitting like brainless zombies in front of a computer because we have to won’t make us more productive. Having our children around will not (necessarily) make us less productive.

I have noticed that I get as much work done in a 4 or 5 hour day as I do in a 6 or 7 hour day. My mind is fresh, ready to take on new challenges.

This is why I chose to be an entrepreneur, to risk it, to take on the challenge, to put myself out there and change the way I work and organize my life. It isn’t easy, it is stressful, but it’s rewarding and challenging and fun!

What are your current challenges?

Grammar Mondays: modals 2

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Must reflects an obligation. It is usually used to talk about rules or prohibitions. For example:

  • You mustn’t run by the pool.
  • You must wear a helmet when you ride your bike.
  • Pupils must raise their hand when they want a turn to speak.
  • A receptionist must answer the phone when it rings.
  • You mustn’t go swimming immediately after a meal.

Now it’s your turn, try to think of three things you must do, and three things you musn’t do.