Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Down for the Count

Ahh, that Robbie Burns. He knew what he was talking about when he spoke of the schemes of mice and men. Does anyone ever have their plans go exactly right? Anyone? Show of hands.

There are many simple and spectacular ways a family's scheduled events can go asunder, but nothing beats a stomach bug for efficiency.

* Warning! Stop reading here if you:
        - are emetophobic
        - are faint of heart
        - have a low "ick" tolerance
        - are not at least this tall 

We planned for a nice long weekend visiting the in-laws around the bay. The weather forecast was good, and we had visions of hikes and kayaks dancing in our heads. By Wednesday evening we had everything packed and ready to hit the road very early the next morning so we could be there by noon.

Our littlest one woke crying on Wednesday night, mere hours before we planned to leave. She didn't know what was wrong, but climbed into bed with mama and daddy to make it all better. Probably just a bad dream, we thought, until the leaned over the side of the bed and upchucked everything she ate in the past week. So we cleaned, and comforted, and got a bucket for the bedside just in time for her to yell "MOM! HOLD MY HAIR!" which I continued to do for the next six hours.

By morning she was bright as a button again, so although we were hours behind schedule, we pushed ahead with our plans. We arrived just before dark. We lost a day, but we'd make do with the time we had left.

By the middle of day two, the boy was complaining of an upset tummy. An hour later we were scrubbing the bathroom floor and he was quarantined to the room at the end of the hall. I started the washing machine while Hubby went to the store for ginger ale.

Around 8:00 I started to feel a little woozy. It's been a long day, I thought. My head ached. All that scrubbing, I said. Did I feel nauseated*, or was it just in my head, I wondered.


By the end of the weekend, the only ones left unscathed were Hubby and his dad.

Things I learned this weekend:
  • Five year olds can throw up way more than you would think
  • You might think the worst is over. It's not. Don't say it out loud.
  • If your flight is cancelled and you decide to wait in the airport closet, don't talk to the guy selling maple syrup (This may have been a dream).

* Nauseated means feeling sick. Nauseous means sickening. If you tell me you are nauseous, I might laugh, and that wouldn't be nice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lester's Farm Market

Thought that Lesters farm was only for pumpkins? Think again my friends. Autumn is a great time to visit - the animals, corn maze, and pumpkin patch will keep the little ones entertained. But summer is also a great time to drop by. Here's a list of reasons why you should go right now.

Reason #1 - Strawberries
Juicy, sweet, and oh so good. There is nothing better than farm fresh strawberries. Put them on cereal, or on waffles, or smother them in rich, creamy chocolate. Have a whole bowl of those with a glass of wine....what was I talking about? Oh yes, strawberries. The kids love them. Come mid-July you can even pick your own, which is always great fun. Personally, I like to have that part done for me.

Reason #2 - The Greenhouses
The greenhouses at Lester's farm are teeming with plants and flowers of all kinds. If you're looking for flowers for your garden, chances are you'll find it here. The flowering baskets are gorgeous. And there are all sorts of vegetable plants if you are that way inclined. The kids love to pick out flowers for our front garden. Choices are usually based on the ones with the weirdest names. It makes for a good reading exercise too. If they can read Astilbe or Helianthemum then come September Go Dog Go should be a snap.

Reason #3 - Baby Animals
The farm animals are always a big hit, but the baby animals are extra squeee worthy. Bunnies, calves, kids (the goat kind), and lambs all clamber for attention and food. The baby goats are super cute because they looks like they should be evil, you know, with the whole cloven hoof thing, but the only evil thing is how cute they are. Just make sure the little ones wash their hands before they go inside for ice cream. Baby germs are just as gross as grown up germs.

No matter your reasons, getting out to the farm is a great way to cure the mid-summer blahs, and prevent a full week of "MomI'mboredMomI'mboredMomI'mboredMomI'mbored..."

Don't live around here?
Check out your local petting farms/zoos, or U-Pick farms for some summer fun. Another great choice is a local farmers market.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Storytelling or Lying?

“I’m going to have a new baby brother or sister.”

My husband and I nodded and listened as our daughter’s friend, Amy, explained that her mom would soon be going to the hospital to get the baby.  When she left hubby asked “Is her mom pregnant?” I shrugged. She didn’t look like it, but it was possible. As time passed, however, it was obvious that the new baby was just a story.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Amy had a habit of “telling stories”. That’s how her mom described it. “Amy is such a story teller.” The new baby was one of her favourites, but she had no shortage of tall tales. She had our neighbour’s child convinced that her thumb fell off and she had to get a new plastic one. One day she ran home crying because the kids refused to believe that her stuffed toy dog was real and only sleeping.
These stories would be harmless if not for Amy’s insistence that they were absolutely true. Most children have very active imaginations at that age. It is important to let children create and make-believe. It is equally important to make sure they realize the difference between “pretending” and “lying”.
One morning, shortly after we got our new puppy, we met Amy and her mom, Linda, at the bus stop. Amy started in to tell us about the new puppy she was getting. Linda said nothing, but winked at me over her daughter’s head. It was obvious that Amy was spinning another one of her “stories” and I was to play along. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Linda to gently tell her daughter that making up stories is ok, as long as you don’t lead people to believe them to be true. It could be done in a way to spare the child the embarrassment of being caught in a lie. “That’s a good make-believe dog! If I were going to have a dog it would have brown spots all over and a fluffy tail.”
Linda’s reluctance to address her daughter’s habit did not help her child. While her stories may have seemed harmless, they were detrimental to her relationships with other children. Kids don’t like to be fooled, and they won’t play along the way adults sometimes will. It was also difficult for Amy when the children didn’t believe her.  
Young imaginations are a beautiful thing, but sometimes kids need a little help reining them in. Telling stories is a wonderful talent to cultivate, and helping children develop a healthy imagination is fun, not only for kids, but for everyone. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Cheer at the Supermarket

I'm in a really good mood today so there is no jeer. We really don't need one for the supermarket edition do we? I mean we've all been there, or at least seen it: Kids screaming for candy, eating the grapes, dropping jars of  pickles on the floor, performing death defying stunts in the carts - and the parents standing by as if they were watching an infomercial. There's one at every market. No need to go into the gory details. But on the flip side:

Cheers: To the mom and her little one at the local market. Small child sitting quietly and buckled into the cart. She wasn't crying, whining, or trying to wiggle free. Why? Because you made her part of the process. She helped choose the type of cereal, cookies, jam, helped pick the fruit and veggies. When I got close enough I could see a genius touch - a shopping list that had not only the words, but pictures of the items. The little one happily did her big girl job of reading the list with help from the visual aids. Smart move on the part of mommy.

Do you have a shopping do or don't to share? We'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


After almost two weeks of computer troubles, I'm finally back online. It couldn't have happened at a better time though. We finally got the weather we've been waiting for. Beautiful and sunny and warm. Perfect weather for outdoor fun.

One of our favourite things to do on a warm summer day is pack up some grub and head out for a picnic. There is a knack to knowing just what to pack for a picnic, and after a few years of trial and error, we have it down to a science.

When packing for a picnic, it's important to keep in mind ease of serving and eating the food, as well as food safety.

A few of our favourite picnic spots require a long walk from the car to the picnic grounds. We don't want to lug any more items than absolutely necessary. We try to keep it down to one cooler that can hold all the food. Potato salad is considered a picnic staple, but because it requires extra dishes and doesn't do well in the heat, we keep it off our picnic menu. The following is a typical momster picnic:

  • Baked ham and apple sandwiches on oatmeal molasses bread
  • Pasta salad with Italian dressing
  • Chocolate chip cookies or rice krispie squares
  • Lemonade (served from large mason jars)
  • Snacks such as goldfish crackers, cherries, watermelon, etc.

Food is packed among layers of ice packs to make sure everything stays cool and fresh. I will also throw in some frozen juice pouches which do double duty as extra ice packs and nice cold drinks once they start to melt.

Once again, we don't want to carry unnecessary items to our picnic place, so we try to keep our extra supplies to one bag or basket. Sunscreen and bug spray are essential. Plates, cups, utensils, and napkins are all packed and kept to only what is necessary. This leaves room for some extra fun things to help make the day memorable for the kiddies. We usually pack something to play catch, a Frisbee or ball of some sort. I like to toss some surprises into the bag to take out during the afternoon.

  • Bubble mix and wands
  • Jump ropes
  • Bug/guppy/frog catching nets (we make sure all the critters are set free)
  • For evening picnics we bring along glow sticks and sparklers for night time fun 

Picnics are a great way to get the most out of summer family time. These are the times your kids will remember.

Do you have any picnic tips or recipes to share? We'd love to hear them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Bad Day is OK

"I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet."

This is a favourite saying of my sister-in-law. She quotes it whenever her teenage son or daughter is moping about the house. She used it a few days ago when her sixteen year old son was in a grump because his bike chain broke and ruined his plans to join his friends. This day he was frustrated enough to have an answer.

"Mom, I get what you're saying, and I feel bad for the guy with no feet. But it also really sucks to have no shoes."

I had to agree with my nephew. 

Ahh, the carefree days of youth. No worries, no stress. Just fun, fun, fun. Right?

I think we too easily forget what it's like to be a teen. They may not have the worries of a mortgage, or car payments, or a full time job, but their problems are real. We're all entitled to a bad day. Knowing someone else has it worse may encourage empathy, but it doesn't cancel out how your teen feels right now. A little understanding goes a lot further than platitudes.

Bad days happen to us all. Give your teen a break. And maybe a wide berth.