Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Do You Explain That?

I ran into an old friend this week. She was with her three children, all under ten, beautiful little steps of stairs. She and her husband were very good friends of ours, and we spent a lot of time together before children came along and our social lives disappeared. Over the years I often wondered why we never kept in touch.

While her kids wandered a short distance away, she told me she had tried to track us down on Facebook with no luck. She did manage to find some of our relatives. That’s when she asked the question she was so obviously itching to ask from the start, whispered behind her hand in a way made famous by paperback spies:

“Is Hubby’s brother gay?”

Yes. He is.

It was her next question that caught me totally off guard.

“How do you explain that?”

I haven’t seen this woman in five years and this is where she wants to take this conversation?

Before I could answer, she went on with a monologue about how she couldn’t imagine trying to explain anything like that to her kids. When something “like that” came on TV she would rush to change the channel. She was trying to raise her kids with old fashioned morals and values, but it was hard.

I took the hit to my values and morals and absorbed it like a pro. Perhaps she was expecting a sob story of family shame and denial, of how we were all so disappointed. I answered her question as simply as I could.

How do we explain that?

We don’t. It just is.

Our kids don’t ask us why their uncles are together. To them it is no different than their other uncles and aunts, grandma and grandpa, mom and dad.

It just is.

And thank God for that. Thank God that my children will grow up believing that same sex relationships are equal, and that, as far as gender is concerned, there is no right or wrong when it comes to love.

It just is.

And if they ever do ask, that's the explanation. Plain and simple. And without a hint of scandal.

So we said our good-byes. I gave my regards to her family, and she told me to send her an email or look her up on Facebook. Then I watched her walk away with her three precious children.

I won’t be in touch. I remember now why we lost contact to begin with. I’m doing her a favour really. Her children would surely notice our lack of values and morals, and I wouldn’t want her to have to explain anything. I pray that her children will never have to explain things to her.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Recommendation: Tracks of a Panda

My youngest daughter has a wonderful fairy godmother who believes that books are the best gift (and I agree). The latest gift was a book called Tracks of a Panda by Nick Dowson.

The story follows a Mommy Giant Panda in her quest to find food and protect her new baby. Each page is beautifully and delicately illustrated by Yu Rong. My little one also enjoyed the facts about Giant Pandas that are included beside the story. The text is simple but poetic, and is a joy to read aloud. A perfecting blending of fiction and non-fiction.

Any child that is interested in animals will enjoy this book, especially children in the 1st - 3rd grade range. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Momster Memory - First Kiss

All this talk of vacations, and having just returned from my own family trip, has stirred up some interesting memories. We had a lot of great family getaways when I was a kid, but the most memorable of all of these was the year I had my first kiss.

Our family vacation that year was a road trip to PEI. It was the year before seventh grade so I was smack dab in the middle of that awkward tween stage. I didn’t have braces, but I was growing out a bad perm. It had been a pretty rotten trip for me. Long drive, long ferry ride, annoying younger brother. You get the idea. I stepped in an ant nest during a picnic and my ankles were covered in bites. I got car sick for the first time in my life. There was sand in my hair.
My swimsuit had disappeared somewhere along the way and my mom took me to the nearby tourist mart to get another one. It was a horrible red and white striped one piece that made me look like a barber pole. Unfortunately, the white stripes on the suit became see-through when I hit the water. Fortunately, I had some sort of allergic reaction to the suit and broke out in hives. You may think this was unfortunate as well, but it got me out of wearing the hideous thing. I ended up just lounging at the side of the pool, watching the other kids.

He was going to grade nine that year. He was tanned and handsome and looked just fine tossing the younger kids around in the water. He was the son of some of my parent’s friends, and much to my delight, we ended up getting tossed together (not literally, like the other kids). To the parents, it was a convenient babysitting situation. To me it was fate.
We were watching the younger kids one evening while all the parents went to dinner. There were seven of us crowded into one cabin. After a couple of hours of bed jumping and wrestling, the boys were finally asleep and I stepped out back for some fresh air and peace. It was a beautiful night, the sky full of stars. He came outside to push me on the swing.

And then it happened. His lips were kind of hard, and I could feel the peach fuzz on his face. My heart was pounding, probably more from sheer terror than anything else. It lasted about three seconds. And that was it. My first kiss.
They say you never forget your first. It’s always special. And I still think about it now and then when the sky is full of stars. Or when I break out in hives.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Book of Lunchbox Fails

The first day of school is only 2.5 weeks away, and my inboxes are overflowing with back to school tips. The best of these are the lunchbox recipes. With three picky eaters, I’ll take all the help I can get.

Now every year there is at least one recipe in each bunch that includes peanut butter. This surprises me. Is there a school on the planet that still allows peanut butter? I thought the stuff was only to be handled by hazmat teams.
No matter, I skip the peanut butter crunchies and peanut brittle and focus on the other suggestions. But this year I got a booklet with 5 lunch box ideas your kids will love. Each one of them contained an ingredient guaranteed to send my kids to the principal’s office by way of the decontamination area.

Here are the offending suggestions:
Tuna and Veggie Sammies

Pro: Tuna is fish, and fish is brain food
Fail: Tuna is fish and fish is forbidden

Sesame Seed Chicken Strips
Pro: Healthier than the cafeteria strips, and easy to make ahead
Fail: Did you say sesame seeds. Yep, they’re on the list.
Egg Salad on whole grain crackers

Pro: Again, easy to make ahead and have ready for lunch the next day
Fail: Eggs are high on the list, a big no-no at this school.
Peanut Butter Banana Rolls

Pro: Peanut butter and a banana rolled into a tortilla. What’s not to love?
Fail: Peanut butter and bananas are both on the forbidden list, so this one is a double whammy.

Fresh Fruit Skewers
Pro: Fun, healthy, and easy to make.
Fail: The recipe contains watermelon and kiwi. Another double whammy, but at least this one can be replaced with less fatal foods, like grapes or other kinds of melon.

In all, these lunch box tips were a bust, but I might tinker with them to create versions that don't come with a side of anaphylaxis for some poor child.

How about you? Do you have any lunchbox favourites for your kids? Are your schools strict when it comes to appropriate lunches?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five is Not a Family

I’m a firm believer that every experience should be a learning experience. When you stop learning you stop growing, right? So what I learned on my vacation was this: Five is not a family. It might be a clan, or a gaggle, or a mob, or a boy band, but it is most definitely not a family.

Now anyone out there with more than two kids probably already knows what I’m talking about. You go to a motel/hotel/campsite that advertises a family rate. Excellent. Come right in dear sir and madam and your one, two, three…oh dear. I’m sorry. The family rate only applies to families of four. You’ll have to pay extra. You’ll also have to pay for a cot as the room only has two double beds.

Off to the restaurant. How many? Five? Oh my. Well, you’ll have to wait an extra thirty minutes for us to push two tables together. There must be an extra chair around somewhere.

Only two can sit together on amusement park rides. Two plus two is four (too bad).  No groups greater than four on the mini golf course (drat). The waterpark has a family rate (yay!) but it only includes four towels (boo!). It became a running gag during our vacation, and by the fifth day our son joked that we should vote someone out of the family just to keep things simple.

In the end we decided to keep everyone and put up with the inconvenience of being a herd rather than a family. More is merrier, even if it does cost extra.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Car Trip Must Have

I've been off the grid for a little bit. 'Tis the season of vacation and we were car tripping across the maritimes, camping and having a grand old time with the family. A lot of work and preparation, but it's worth it.

There is a very precise formula when packing for a long car trip. There is much debate about what should be included, but there is one thing that my car never leaves home without - wet wipes.

I have two packages of wet wipes on hand at all times, one in the glove box and one in the pocket of the back seat. There's also a small pack in my purse. They're good for everything. Kid gets chocolate all over hands and face - wet wipes! Teen spills Dr. Pepper all over the seat - wet wipes! Dog upchucks in the back - wet wipes! Mom has a meltdown on exit 82 - wet wipes!

So I might forget to bring toothbrushes, pajamas, or earplugs on the trip, but I will never forget wet wipes.

What's your never forget car item?