OK. I'm bad. Here is the coles notes version of my September:
Kids started school
Daughter loves JK
Nana broke her leg at school
Lost all health cards
Son Two - first major allergic reaction
Daughter hates JK - carried into class kicking and screaming
Hockey Select Tryouts
Grandparents go to Greece
Stepped in a nail
Needed a tetanus shot
Grandparents return from Greece
Son Two's First Cavity filled
Kids started hockey
Moms started hockey
Cousin Birthday Party
Dad started hockey
Wait - still soccer
Swimming lessons - sons
Swimming lessons - Daughter - wrong pool!
Allergist Visit - yes, we should get rid of the cat. MEOW!
I always used September as the ramp-up month, but this year I had to really hit the ground running, and without much success. At this point I am already thinking about Christmas presents and my snow tires. Somehow, I am forgetting Halloween and the costumes, candies and preparation.
I wanted us to do something fun, and since the kids were committed to visiting grandparents for the weekend, I suggested Paramount Canada's Wonderland. When I was a teen, it was just, "WONDERLAND." When did it become such a mouthful?
We arrived at Wonderland, and learned that if we bought 2011 Season's Passes for $59.99 plus HST, then we would get in for FREE that day (not until the end of the season, which I thought was the offer last time we purchased late in the season).
I've always loved roller coasters, and driving up and down the 400 I knew that I was going to try the Behemoth.
The first ride we went on was Flight Deck. This was also the LONGEST line up that day in the park. HATED IT! My ears got bashed around so much, that the sign recommending that you removed your earrings actually made sense, DUH!
The next ride was the Sledge Hammer. Here we saw a guy in line get taken out by a flying iphone. Yep, came flying right out of someone's pocket on the ride, hit him in the eye, and he went down and stayed down. OUCH!
Next was the Behemoth. LOVED IT! Scared because you actually don't feel like you are being held in at all. Plus the cars and coaster look to me like something that may have been designed by Dr. Suess. I don't recommend this ride for my kids - yet.
Husband really wanted to try that one near the entrance where they hoist you up and you sort of fly - sort of like a bungee jump swing thing. Birthday or not, I really, really couldn't talk myself into it.
He insisted on the DropZone. The only good things about that ride are the short line, and that it only lasts 4 seconds. Four seconds of sheer terror, but still only four seconds.
Finally, we shared a funnel cake; this was the first one ever for both of us.
Getting tired, we decided to ride the Behemoth one more time (yes, after the funnel cake). They were calling for thunderstorms so they said that certain rides and attractions would be shut down. Funnily enough, the Behemoth, at 230 feet likely in my mind the first thing to be struck by lightening, was not shut down.
It was a great date, but we were so exhausted that Husband feel asleep half way through the movie we rented, "the men who stare at goats."
Son One is at a skateboarding camp this week, and he loves it!
Son One tends to be a little fearful and timid when trying new things - especially when there is a potential for injury. He isn't fearless like his siblings. Actually, Son Two is a scaredy-cat when it comes to rollercoaster and waterslides, so maybe each kid just has their thing.
Who knew that there were some many different and amazing camp options out there? Whatever your child's interest, you can find something for them. AND it works out well because you are not committing to a year of an activity, just a week. So if they aren't as interested as they think, they don't have to go back!
In Toronto I find camps fill up rather early. Our favourites this summer have been this skateboard camp, the ROM camp for Son Two, and Swansea Tennis camp (our third year at both ROM and Swansea).
Yes, I called Sick Kids Hospital and ensured that their best orthopedic surgeon wasn't on holidays before I signed Son One up for this week. The camp requires helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. They also work with kids a lot and really seem to know what they are doing!
Next week we don't have any camps scheduled. This means that Mommy and Kids will get to sleep in. YEAH! Maybe Monday will be our Pajama Day.
Daughter finally got a real haircut, with a real hairdresser!
I was getting my hair done on Monday afternoon, and she claimed that she wanted hers cut as well. I was pretty excited - besides the time she cut her own hair last year, she hasn't had a haircut at all. Yes, a bit of a mop-top, but I love her all-day-bed-head look! It really works for her.
She came with me to my hairdresser, where she was pampered! Watching cartoons while I got my colour painted on (yes, I do colour my hair... now everyone knows!) and then Oreo Cookies and milk. Snacks? Well, I guess I get a cappuccino. And of course since her brothers get a lollipop as they leave the barbers, so did she get to pick a lollipop on her way out the door!
Daughter was pretty good sitting in the chair, though stillness isn't easy for her, and he took a few inches off in the back to really even it out. Plus he trimmed her bangs, and she loved it! While lounging in the stylist's chair, she sighed, "this is the life!" Hmmm... am I raising a spoiled princess? I'll let you know after our pedicures and shopping today.
Of course, nothing is more important about getting your hair done than the reactions of the males in your household. Son Two is not one to disappoint.
Me: How do you like my hair cut? Son Two: You got your hair cut? I couldn't tell. It looks the same to me. Me: You are growing up to be just like your father, aren't you? Son Two: Huh?
Daughter is flouncing around showing off her new style, and I am thrilled that she finally let some who knows what he is doing cut her hair. Her fear that "haircuts" mean clippers and a barber shop seem to be behind her. Soon she will be requesting haircuts!
One of our family traditions is a visit to the souvenir shop on the last day of our vacation, where the kids are each allowed to pick out one souvenir. I am not sure exactly how this evolved, but I am sure it has something to do with them knowing that they would get something for sure on the last day, so we don't have to listen to them ask for something everyday of the trip.
They are trilled by the prospect of wandering the aisles and picking something of their very own. Unfortunately, I am sure that this is the actually translation for souvenir:
sou-ve-nirn. From the French for recall, or memory; modern usage - bringing home a bunch of stuff that has no use but to collect dust.
Today's shopping option was the souvenir shop in the Ottawa Travelodge. The kids were seriously excited, and I was not.
It was your typical motel shop. A two-metre-square confectionery/momento haven, filled with everything that you will never need, most with the word, "Canada" plastered across it. There was everything that you will find in ANY souvenir shop in Canada:
The Mountie Moose
Many Mountie Teddy-Bears
Soap Stone Sculptures
Bottles of Maple Suryp
When shopping for souvenirs, I try to steer the kids towards one of two items: food or T-shirts. My theory is that at least they wear the T-shirts, and the perishable items don't last too long in our family. And most souvenir shops have either fudge, a wonderful sugary love-substitute, or "moose-droppings" (chocolate covered almonds, for those of you who don't know!)
Of course, the kids wandered, and wandered and wandered and select nothing. 15 minutes in I had to remind them that McDonald's only serves breakfast until 10:30 am. At 20 minutes I sent their father in to deal with them. 8 minutes later he came out with three children, 1 new webkinz (yes, I know!), a stuffed husky, and an Ottawa Canadian Flag Pin... and a $37 Visa bill.
Last night we watched the Mosaika Light Show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and it was amazing.
Turned into the late night for the kids. The show runs from 9:30 - 10:00 pm. But it was worth it.
I am not sure how they did it, but the lights flashing pictures across the front of the Parliament Building told a story of the history of Canada. Hundreds (maybe thousands?) sat on the lawn watching the show, reviewing their Canadian history lessons in the silence of the dark night. A cheer went up when Terry Fox was shown with his Marathon of Hope, and many stood for the closing "O' Canada"
If you plan on being in or around our nation's capital this summer, plan on an evening at Parliament Hill to watch the Mosaika Light Show. The kids and I loved it - AMAZING!
Bonjour from sunny Quebec! We are half-way through our amazing family vacation in Mont Tremblant and I have JUST figured out the internet connection (at $9.95 USD a day, I hope someone is reading this!)
Drive through Ottawa (stop at Dunn's Deli for Montreal Smoked Meat and Poutin (silent e))
We took the quickest ferry EVER across the Ottawa River. I swear it was moving away from the dock before we even had the mini-van in park. The ride here wasn't bad at all. However, we did leave home at 6:30 am and arrived here just after 3:00 pm, so you do the math. GPS messed with our minds. Seriously - dirt roads?
Day One - The Room:
Check-in was painless, and the room is better than expected. We have a full kitchen, one bedroom with en-suite and king-size bed, a second bedroom with full bath and two queensize beds, and a pull-out couch that we haven't opened. Did I mention the in-room laundry facilities? And three TVs?
Day Two - The Resort Activities:
There is so much to do here! We bought these family activity passes. The boys love everything. Daughter isn't sold on the bungee trampoline (if I didn't have to step on a scale to prove my weight, then I may try it...) There is so much to do! Highlights - the gondolas, the luge, the rock wall, beach and pools. Of course, great golfing too. Plus, you can buy and carry open alcohol everywhere!
Day Two - The low-lites:
Opposite of highlights. No free wi-fi... Because of the full kitchen, I have to cook and clean (some vacation!) Some Quebecers (being careful not to generalize here) are pushy, rude and ignorant. But did I mention they sell wine in every corner store?
You can paint pottery here! Yeah! Girls afternoon. There is also great shopping. And LOTS OF DEER! So far, the deer are daughter's favourite. Did I mention we walked down the mountain? No need - thighs sore for days. Ears are sore, too, from Son One whining all of the way down. Son Two was awesome.
Kids are tired. Doing so much is exhausting. I am out of books that I want to read, and now have to rely on the last minute book that I threw into my bad in case I ran out of books (either that of the few English options from La Presse). Also, running low on diet coke. Yes, I know that they sell Diet Coke in Quebec! I am just not sure if it will taste the same...
OK. So far, no mention of food. Poutine - the best - pulled pork! Seriously. But there are 20 different kinds to try (unfortunately some kind of listeria problem means that the Montreal Smoked Meat Poutine is not available). Then the beaver tails - favourite is the maple butter. Also, there is the maple syrup taffy on snow (year-round, how "cool" is that?) and the mountain something chocolate store. Still waiting on the frozen bananas with milk chocolate and almonds. They are always out of stock.
Husband went golfing. I took the kids to the beach, and then McDonalds. Hey - I can't cook every night.
Tomorrow - Family Luge Race Day, and trying to use up our activity passes before we leave the mountain for the capital. Yes, Ottawa is our next stop.
I definitely recommend Mont Tremblant as a great summer vacation spot for the family. The price isn't bad, and neither was the drive from Toronto. The kids are practicing from French, nightly entertainment, and so much to do we definitely won't be getting it all done in a week.
Vacation with kids can be a challenge, and so much extra work! Before Kids, Husband and I went away a lot, and far off, exotic destinations (OK, maybe not too exotic). Now, we plan, plan, and plan some more.
It seems like there is so much to do just to get away - days of laundry to ensure that everyone has the clothes that they want to take away; planning routes and stops; booking hotels far in advance to ensure that we have enough room, and there is a pool...
When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to climb into the station wagon (yes, wood-paneled!) and go on crazy long driving trips - before on-board DVDs (ok, actually before VHS if you must know). We argued over music, who got stuck on the hump, and who was in charge of getting snacks from the cooler for our parents up front. But did we have fun? Always. Like the time we went south and left the crayons to melt in the car. Or sleeping in the back of the station wagon while our parents drove through the night to get to Florida in one day (before seat belt laws). And getting there was really just half the fun.
As a parent, I know that all of the work and money of family vacation is far outweighed by the benefits of taking a vacation today.
What are some of the benefits of family vacations?
The kids aren't getting any younger - they grow up so fast! Seriously - soon they won't want to go away with you.
Vacations are adventure - great seeing and experiencing new things together! See something new - and the kids may even learn something while having fun.
Get to relax together - things move a little more slowly... no schedules, fewer rules...
Everyone is in play mode on vacations - kids get to see us on their level, playing and having fun from morning until night.
Away from home - away from the stress, the schedules, and the daily grind. We all need to get away from it all.
Quality AND Quantity time - Yes, together, 24 hours a day, 7 days...
Finally, you are creating a family history. Stories that they can tell their children... a shared history is a glue that holds the family together.
Here are some suggestions for planning family vacations:
Ensure that your location is family friendly. Kids won't have fun if they are including in something that is obviously intended for adults.
Pool. Always a pool. Indoors all year round. Outdoors if warm enough in summer.
Food options. Don't plan on eating out three meals a day. Kids know what they like, and you will get tired of the $10 kids meal that doesn't get eaten. Bring a cooler. Find a grocery store, and sandwich it. PB &J is always an option. Include cereals for breakfast and PRESTO - only dinner is hot.
Know your family. Are you the museum kind? Do you sail? Camp? Love the beach? Just want to sit around a pool? Plan the bulk of the vacation and for what you know your family will love, and then add a dash of something new.
Kids move slowly, and tire easily. DON'T OVER PLAN! They need breaks, rest-stops, and regularly scheduled meals to keep them in good spirits.
Consider going with friends or family. People the kids already know, who have kids the same age. The more the merrier! And the kids start to entertain themselves.
Bring games. Plan for the rainy day with family games that you never seem to have time to play at home. Great for evenings after dinner (especially if you make every vacation a vacation from TV as well)
We've taken the kids on planes, cars, and boats. Children travel well, and introducing them to travel at young age help make them ready for adventure and flexible. Family vacations are some of the best family time...
Nope, I didn't get to do a dance recital for my adult ballet class. I know that the tickets would have sold out, but I guess we aren't good enough for the show.
Daughter, on the other hand, gets TWO dance recitals.
The first was last week during her Sunday class. She wore her pick ballet outfit and dancer around in the studio during her last class to the delight of the allowed TWO guests per dancer.
Here is her picture from that recital (NOTE: with my laptop I am turing into a computer genius! I can automatically upload these photos from iphoto... clever?)
Notice the grace? And almost all of the girls are up in the air at the same time. WOW!
Tomorrow is her other class recital, and this one is "CATS" and they are dancing on a stage in a high school auditorium along with other young classes from her dance school. Last night was the dress rehearsal, and the dancers are expected to wear FULL make-up. Here is Daughter in her make-up, and in her costume.
She is supposed to be a cat, or "Tigger". We've decided to nix the dots and go with whiskers on her checks for the dance, and attach a tail. Should be fun!
Son One wanted a birthday party. His birthdate falls right around March Break, so we have lucked out only doing family parties in the past.
This year, he wanted a big one. Kids from school, kids from hockey, other friends. I booked a Cineplex Birthday Party at Queensway Cinema on Sunday. Yes, a month and half late. Here are my thoughts and recommendations from a movie birthday party - the good and the bad.
Book well in advance. You need to book at least two weeks in advance, but really think about at least a month if you want a particular date.
Getting in contact with the manager at the theater was a challenge. I averaged four calls before I had one returned.
You need to be flexible. Because you book so far in advance, you may not know the movie or time. We booked a party on the 25th from 3-5 (movie start time). We got a call the Wednesday before the movie and found out that the movie would start at 3:40, so we got the party room at 2:10. I recent information to each family.
We paid for the premium package, $19 a child. They got pizza or hot dog, the kids combo and the movie. Birthday child is free.
Bring something to entertain the kids before the movie - the theater does nothing but feed them. The room is small-ish, but the sound is terrible and I think everyone ended up with a headache. Both of my boys were crying from the noise.
They reserve your seats in the cinema, and you get to tell them where you want to sit! Unfortunately, you don't pay until everyone is seated. On a busy weekend like this one, it meant the movie was sold out. Doesn't really effect us with our reserved seating, however the other 19 people who bought tickets before the movie was sold out didn't have seat! Terrible system.
We saw "How to Train Your Dragon" and it was an amazing movie.
No set up or clean up for the party, and your house doesn't get trashed!
They tell you the end time of the movie, so all of the parents were there and pick-up lasted about 5 minutes.
Son One was happy with this party, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters. We had 16 kids, but I would recommend 8-10, just to save your sanity and your ears.
I am sitting at my computer typing while I drink my coffee. Really, I should be baking a few dozen cupcakes...
Yesterday was the last day of hockey house league this season. It was amazing. Both my boys were in the finals of their respective age groups. Yes, Husband is both of their coaches, and while it may be nice to give him some credit, I actually give it all to the kids.
Son Two played first (after lacrosse - where he scored 4 goals - WOW!)
Unfortunately, they lost 4-3. What a game! But the kid cried, and I had to have the disappointment, good loser talk with him. There was a young boy on this team who really wanted to have a chance to play goalie. And Husband, never believing that they would make it to the finals, promised this child a chance.
Look, it is house league. The rules are fun, fun and fun. This boy was so thrilled to have his chance, and he did such a super job! It was upsetting for Son Two to lose. But he is over it. He was actually more disappointed in himself that in anyone else on his team, and he is now claiming that he will never play hockey again. Promises, promises!
Son One's game was great. Son One appointed himself the hero of the game as he scored the first goal, and the winning goal with 1 minute 17 seconds left. Final score, 3-2. Unfortunately, he scored the goal far away from our cheering section, so they were all crediting number 13.
For me, the good news is just that the season is over. YES! It has been a great season, but I am looking forward to the break.
After hockey, we rushed over to MY PLACE, A CANADIAN PUB for our school fundraiser. The theme was "Pints and Picassos" and each class prepared a piece of artwork for silent auction. It seemed to be a success.
What do we have on the agenda for today? Oh - just a birthday party for Son One that is about 7 weeks overdue. The best is that Son Two now wants a birthday party... I think that is 4 months overdue... Can that even be done?
We are taking 15 boys to see, "How to Train Your Dragon." I already have the headache meds in my purse - just in case.
Managing the lives of a family of five, you need a decent system. Some use their blackberries, some an iphone calendar, others the old fashioned kitchen calendar.
Lost without my details, I was at Walmart yesterday and bought a bristol board, drew my own calendar, and called it, "MAY!" Yes, I also bought one for June.
May is a busy month - we have the usual ballet, gymnastics, speech - and then we add hockey (that never ending sport), lacrosse, T-ball and soccer. Plus, Husband and I are taking a 10th anniversary trip to Italy, there are school assignments and field trips, and parties.
With Husband and I away for 10 days (YES!) I want to ensure that it is crystal clear for those watching out children who goes where, when. This will also help out Husband, who BTW arrived at the wrong arena on Wednesday night for the regularly scheduled hockey practice that hasn't changed since SEPTEMBER!
So, I sat at the kitchen table last night, filling in my full size bristol board calendar, and a friend arrived to take me out. SHE LAUGHED AT MY CALENDAR! She asked if I was planning on hanging it on the kitchen wall when I was done. OF COURSE!
Sure, she's laughing now, but I already know that we are triple booked on Saturday the 15th of May. And May 2nd. And probably every other weekend between now and July...
But I have to remind myself that there are two keys to having a successful calendar... the first is making it, the second is checking it!
This Saturday is the last day of our hockey house league. Yes, we started mid-September and are still going. There seem to be two seasons to my life - hockey and summer.
Last summer, I agreed to be convenor for the novice house league group. Yep, keeping 140 players and their parents happy from September through April. Luckily, I had another hockey mom offer to help me out, so it worked out really well!
I feel like we had a successful season, and to me it is all thanks to the coaches. They show up week after week, smiling, happy, organized, getting their kids on the ice for the games, running their practices. As this is house league, I am also thrilled to report that all parents and coaches kept their tempers in check all season long.
As this is house league, the first three rules are fun, fun, and fun. All kids get equal playing time, and we try to focus on player development. It is amazing at this age (7 and 8) to watch kids who can barely skate at the beginning of the season, whipping around by the end.
Dodge Caravan sponsored all ten of our Novice House League teams - Thanks Dodge!
Really, I don't know if I am thrilled that the season is over, or concerned about how I will now spend all of my free time for the next 3 1/2 months.
Of course, the boys still have 4 on 4 for the next few months, and the spring / summer tournament team for Son One. Oh, and our women's hockey has a spring session that runs until July 15th.
I guess this means that hockey will go on and on... at least some of our Saturdays are free after this weekend!
Son One is in a hockey tournament this weekend. It is a "Select" tournament, so fairly competitive. I was checking out the results on line last night, and felt sick. I couldn't sleep I was so upset. These are a bunch of seven-year-olds, and I really want to know what these coaches are teaching these kids about a love of the game.
Let me explain.
In our division in the tournament, there was an error with a team. They are supposed to be select teams born in 2002, however, a team got put in out division which was born in 2003-2004. Anyone involved in hockey in south western Ontario knows that titles of ages are confusing. We call our kids minor Novice, but in this tournament they are Tykes. Some areas have Mites and Tykes, some have Tykes then Minor Novice. You can see how the mix-up could have occurred.
Yesterday morning we woke at the crack of dawn to drive almost an hour for a game. When we got there, we learned that our opponents were five and six year-olds (we have about four kids on our team who have already turned eight). The coaches were in a quandary as to what to do. Tell our kids to go easy, and we risk not being able to ramp up for the next game. Move them around? Technically, we needed the win to continue in the tournament. However, as our coach so eloquently stated, "we don't need to win a tournament at the expense of some kids starting to hate hockey."
Instead, our coaches instructed the kids that they had to pass at least five times before they were allowed to shoot. I am sure that he also told most of our forwards that they were not allowed to shoot at all.
As parents, we sat in the stands, cheering every save by the opposition goalie, and staring at our hands in our laps sheepishly when our kids scored. After the first three goals, we prayed that they wouldn't score anymore.
After the game, I was impressed by our kids in the change room. They were talking about how fast some of the younger kids were, "I could barely catch number 4 on his breakaway!" How great the goalie was, "did you see him save, shot? He went like this!" (some sort of half dressed demonstration of goalie positioning) and even felt sorry for number 9, who had a ricochet off of his skate score in his own net. Number 9 was a five year old kid, probably less than 40 pounds, but he stood his ground against our kids and had an amazing poke check. Number 2 - a big strong defense - what a shot!
I was so impressed by our opposition. They stayed in the game right until the last buzzer, playing their hardest. I've seen eight-year-olds come to the bench in tears because they were scored on. These kids showed heart, grit and determination, and grace in defeat.
Later, I learned that their coach had asked our coach before the game to ask us, the parents, to tone down our celebrations. Apparently, the team that they had played the day before had horns and cheered and shouted for everyone one of the 16 goals they scored. Our coach said, "I don't need to do that." Thanks coach, for thinking so much of us parents that you knew we would put the kids first, hockey second.
When looking at the scores from other games, I was disgusted by other teams. These kids went out after us and were beat 22-1. 22 Goals!!! There was also another team in the tournament who lost 16-1, 13-0, 13-0. 42 goals against!
Who are these coaches who are teaching the kids to keep scoring when they are already killing their opposition? Not enough to beat them, you need to humiliate them too? These are seven-year-olds! It reminded my of the Junior Team Canada 16-0 nothing Boxing Day game this yea (which we stopped watching after the first period). Really, with role models like these...
I am so glad that our coach decided that the lesson yesterday wasn't about seeing how many points we could possibly rack up, but instead a deep respect and appreciate for your opponents, and a love of the game. Sport should be about building character, but now I see why it gets such a bad rep.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be running a hockey practice for my seven-year-old, I would have thought you were insane. But last night, I did just that.
I was never a skater, never interested in learning to skate, and I had never even watched a full hockey game until I met Husband. But it is not only the great Canadian passion, it is turning into the passion of my family, and I can't explain the fun of getting to share that with my kids.
Husband, as you know, is sick. He was supposed to be running the first outdoor practice of the season. He was feverish, and with the wet cool weather and his pneumonia, opted out. And then he said, "but why don't you run it?"
Yeah, I thought to myself, why don't I? I have been taking hockey since May. I am the house league convener. Sure, these kids are all seven and have been playing since they were four. Sure, they are all pretty competitive select kids. But I am a natural leader. I have a whistle. I have pylons. I have pucks. How hard can it be?
It was AMAZING!!!! Thanks so much to the two dads who were on the ice helping out, but actually let me run the drills. The kids listened. I used my whistle. We covered skating, pivoting, turning, backwards skating, puck handling. OK, so maybe it wasn't always in the best order. But they did well, and it was a decent practice.
Then the scrimmage...
I almost sat it out, worried that I would get knocked over by some over-eager seven-year-old and injured. Also worried that I would look like a complete knob. But again, thanks to the wonderful support and encouragement of those two amazing dads, I stuck it out.
And it was the BEST time I've had with my first born in a long, long time.
It is hard to describe the magic of the moment. It was cool, but not cold. The wind was bad but I was actually starting to skate hard enough to warm up and not notice. I could take the puck off of the kids, pass to the other adults (my teammates).
The magic? My son was smiling, and we were having fun together because I was with him doing something that he loved. A light snow began to fall, and we switch teams so that we were together. It was almost time to go and you could tell that the kids were getting tired. Son One got a break-away, and I tried to catch up. He saw me, and though he could have taken it in on his own, he passed giving me a chance to score.
Yes, it would have been amazing if I actually had scored. But this is the real world and winter hockey magic only goes so far.
The good news? I didn't fall and make a fool out of myself. On the ride home, Son One said that I was better than he thought I would be, though not as good as Daddy. I am still not down from my high.
Is it just me, or do people seem to be doing a lot of complaining lately? At first I thought it was just a phase that Daughter was going through. She is really demanding and moody (three going on thirteen?) But then I have just come across many, many people that must be having a bad month.
Is it something about October? Are our bodies adjusting to shorter days and longer nights? The rush of school and activities making you crazy?
I find people are complaining, and meddling, and complaining some more. Maybe it is because I am doing more volunteering, and dealing with people are a daily basis with different opinions on how things should run. However, these "suggestions" are often not well thought out, and are really complaints in disguise. Word of advice - if you don't have the time to help and volunteer, don't knock those who are giving time and energy to help you and your kids have fun.
Really - Can't we all just get along? Can't we all be happy?
Yesterday was my Monday Morning Women's Hockey celebrated Thanksgiving with a family hockey day. We had about 60 people, women with their husbands and children, come out and play hockey together.
We started with a free stick-and-puck skate, did some Team (family) pictures, drills, and then some shinny. The dads played the older kids, and the moms played the 5-6 year olds. I think we played 12 moms against 5 kids, and we still needed out coach to help up score. Seriously.
This is our family-team picture with a cup (but not The Cup.) Yes, we are missing Son Two from the picture. He hates posing in pictures. I just took, "future model" off of his resume.
Daughter played "hockey" yesterday for the first time. Our little princess actually spent most of the hour and a half being carried around the ice by her father, but only on his right side. She can be a little demanding.
Finally, I have decided that I want Husband to construct a penalty box somewhere in our home. TIme-outs don't work? Go sit in the penalty box. I will put 5 minutes on the clock for roughing, slashing, tripping, pinching and hitting. This is a non-aggressive-contact family. The kids seem to love sitting in the box (so far).
A great day was had by all. Yes, it is sort of sad and pathetic that my 5-year-old can skate circles around me. Son One was kind enough to skate the drills with me, since we had to go in teams and Husband was busy with Daughter (other women got to skate with their husbands, HONEY!) At least I am a better hockey player than Daughter - so far! Maybe I would be the fourth draft pick from our house - unless they looked at Daughter's potential in which case I would be last... but smiling!
Our kids have found a new game, and now they are addicted. Much better than being addicted to cartoons!
The game is called SEQUENCE, and the goal is to get five in a row, twice.
There is the main version, for 7+ that you can play with teams and up to 6 players.
There is also a kids version with animals, for 3-6 year olds, and a math version. We now have all three.
Son One is the King, and Husband is the master. There is both strategy and luck involved, and I swear that not only are both born games-players, they have the luck of the Irish. (I was going to say that they were born with horseshoes up their butts, but I thought Luck-of-the-Irish sounded better.)
Son One plays to win. He doesn't cheat, but he really, really wants to win. Son Two, when playing with his Dad and brother, often loses and get so angry and frustrated.
However, when I play alone with Daughter and Son Two, neither of them ever want to win because it ends the game. They don't win on purpose, so that the game can go on and on. And I don't try hard to win, because I am playing against a three and five year-olds. But at some point, I just have to play the winning card. Daughter is thrilled for the winner, "YAY MOMMY! Good job!"
SEQUENCE games come recommended by Bill Barrett. There is a faux stamp on the box with his signature and everything. One question - who is Bill Barrett?
Day two of our vacation, we woke in Sudbury, packed, and went to find the Big Nickel. Somehow, driving around the night before we had missed every sign on every lamppost and at every interesting with an arrow pointing toward the Big Nickel.
We drove up, and saw the 30 foot stainless steel nickel up on a hill.
Paid $4 for parking, and when to see it. Wow. It is a big nickel.
While there, a mother and her son walked by. He asked, "Is that really the biggest nickel in the whole world?" She just shrugged.
The kids looked at the Big Nickel for about 3 minutes, then ran over to the playground beside the nickel and played for 30 minutes.
The mine tour, movies, and exhibitions at the Big Nickel is called Dynamic Earth. We decided that we would check it out on the way home as our plan for Day Two was to get to Sault Ste. Marie.
After a not-so-quick, $45 brunch at Perkins, we were on the road again.
Two weeks ago we left on our vacation. The plan was to have a driving vacation, leaving Toronto, visiting cousins in Terrace Bay, spending a few days in each of Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Algonquin Park. I booked some hotels.
Monday morning of the August long weekend, we prepared to leave. For Day One we planned on driving to Sudbury, and I had secured lodging for the first night at the Radisson.
Because we had planned on camping one night, there were sleeping bags, tents, and fishing equipment as well as our suitcases (Daughter packed two), food for the trip, and every electronic thing you could think of.
Electronically, we had:
2 cell phones
1 Cell car charger
1 Cell outlet charger
2 GPS systems
2 car chargers for GPS
1 Camera battery charger
2 in car DVD players
1 car-to-outlet charger
3 ipod Nanos - synced, 2 with movies
1 ipod in car charger
5 sets of earphones
1 cord to plug the ipod into the van's stereo system
2 miscellaneous chargers
1 set of miscellaneous video cords (from old DVDs?)
1 Camcorder charger
3 Nintendo DSs
1 Nintendo DS car charger
1 Nintendo DS outlet charger
3 extra Nintendo DS stylus'
YES - all of that was packed. The kids didn't use their DS ONCE! We couldn't locate the camera charger when it was needed. Half of the cords are in a pile on my coffee table, waiting for me to get them untangled and organized.
Remember the days when your parents would throw you in the car with a colouring book and some crayons and you would drive to FLORIDA? The Sony Walkman was the best invention EVER because you could listen to Depeche Mode and the Smiths, and your parents couldn't tell you how awful "The Queen is Dead" was.
For myself, I had packed five books (almost finished the last one), Daughter's sweater and knitting stuff, and my make-up. I didn't as much as moisturize the entire trip, never mind wear my make-up. But the tweezers did come in handy for slivers.
The van was all packed and ready to go. Everyone was strapped into their seats - a van that seats eight barely had room for the five of us with all of the stuff. Suitcases were doing double duty as footrests under each of the kids' feet.
And we were off. It was 12:32 pm. 12:37 pm we stopped for gas. As Husband was filling us up, Son One, a notoriously bad car travel, remarked, "I've been really good so far, haven't I?"
It had been five minutes. "Yes. Yes you have, honey."
Back on the road. Turning onto the highway, I asked, "Honey, did you pack the Toys 'R' Us bag?"
"What Toys 'R' Us bag?" Husband asks.
"The bag with all of the gifts for the kids that we are going to visit. It was right in the hallway with all of the other stuff."
I look back and notice Son Two trying hard not to smile.
"Do you know where the bag is?"
"I put it behind the couch."
He hid all of the gifts which I had bought. GREAT!
"I am NOT turning around," says Husband. Of course not, I think. 12 km into a 3400 km trip, why would you?
We seldom have company that stays over night. This is because most of our family lives within an hour drive, and therefor never feels the need to sleep over.
This weekend we had one of Husband's cousins come in with her fiance. It was a great visit.
Saturday night we went to see The Dream in High Park - William Shakespeare's The Tempest presented by CanStage and TD. Consider taking your kids to see it (I would say 10 and up). Kids are free, thanks to TD. It is PWYC (Pay What You Can), but they ask for $20 per person.
It was a great production, though not as dark as I had remembered The Tempest to be. Parts were very funny, and they have tiered the hill since I last went to a production in the park, so it was fairly comfortable. Bring a blanket, mosquito repellent, and something soft to sit on. There is a canteen, or you can bring your own picnic.
Yesterday we went to watch the Jays beat the Red Sox and walk around Habourfront.
The game was pretty good, though we sat near obnoxious fans. I don't know why this guy felt the need to heckle and boo the opposition, but really, I am trying to teach my kids good sportsmanship!
The kids loved the new wave display at Harbourfront, though I wonder how long it will be until someone gets injured, the city gets sued, and it comes down.
Son One finished an amazing week at Canlans Hockey camp on Friday. He went with his cousin and a friend, and they had a great time. It was full day camp, so he was dropped off around 8:30 am and picked up at 5:00 pm. They also fed them a hot lunch every day, so I only had to pack snacks and water.
This week, I have all three of them in half day morning camps, and I don't know what to do with myself!
Daughter is trying her first camp EVER! It is a dance camp, and she was so excited to get up and dressed this morning, packing her snack in her new Tinkerbell Butterfly lunch box and grabbing her dance bag.
Both boys are doing half day camps at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). On the drive down it was so funny listening to Son One tell Son Two what it was all about; having attended one of the Saturday Morning Clubs he sees himself as an expert.
There is still tennis, and more hockey camp, to go in August. At first I thought that I may have over done it with the camps. However, with this crazy city strike I've realized that it is not like I can take them to the pool, the islands, or even some of the parks. And their swimming lessons are canceled. At least I know that they are having fun and learning something new.
Son One had his first week of camp this summer, and it was amazing! It was a Challenger Soccer Camp. They have instructors from England who come to North America and travel from location to location spending just a week teaching soccer.
The kids get balls and jerseys, and they each join a "team". Son One was on England, and apparently they won the World Cup (in reality, England hasn't won since 1966).
He loved it! Though he had many friends at the camp, none of them were on his team. He also learned a lot, and was thrilled to come home each day and show us his new moves. Not only did he learn some new moves, but he learned some new words and new songs from the English Coaches (luckily his favourites are "mate" and "Cheerio")
At the end of the week they had silly costume day, and flag day. Plus, we got a report card to see how he actually did.
This week has been a nice, family oriented, do-nothing first week of summer. I threw out 4 large garbage bags of stuff from the house (thanks to the garbage strike, I can get rid of anything and everything since I am hauling it to the dump sites myself!)
Today I got some grocery shopping done in the morning, and some baking in the afternoon. We had a nice lunch of BBQ hot dogs and hamburgers.
But the kids (along with Husband) get up to the darnedest things... NOTE: Do not try this at home!
When I returned from the grocery store this morning, Husband and the boys were standing on one side of the street, while Daughter stood on our neighbour's lawn. The boys had hockey sticks, while Daughter had this nerf gun thing.
Here is how the game went: Daughter shoots the dart thing out of the gun across the road (only after Daddy has yelled, "No cars!") then the "boys" (Daddy included) have to try to hit the projectile, swinging their hockey sticks like baseball bats. Hitting it back across the street - 4 points; half-way across the street - 2 points; making contact - 1 point; and, zero for a complete miss. Really, this is the game that they came up with on a lazy summer's morning. This is when I realize that I really have no clue what goes on in the male brain.
For the afternoon, they had the slip'n'slide set up in the backyard. This is no ordinary slip'n'slide; it is approximately 5 feet by 30 feet. They set it up down the hill in the back; the inflatable bumpers have long since developed punctures.
(I was inside making gross molasses cookies to help increase the iron in our diet. The kids loved them. Just goes to show that you can make anything better with enough chocolate.)
Last summer Husband introduced them to "tobogganing" down the slip'n'slide. They take out their foam boards from the winter, and run jumping on them to slide down the hill. Last summer the boys actually perfected standing on the boards and they went down the hill. This summer they are taking the game a step further. One stands on the side and throws a ball, while the other one has to try to get the ball before he comes to a complete stop at the end. As far as I am aware, they have yet to come up with a point system.
Now the question - Do I let them play and have their fun? Or try to impose some rules and boundaries so that they don't hurt themselves or one another? Sometimes when they start making up these rules that piggy back rules which only they seem able to follow, I am reminded of that old McDonald's basketball commercial. BOYS!
I have two very smart sons. Please remember this as you read about their two recent T-Ball injuries.
Husband went to Canadian Tire (possible his favourite store) and bought the boys a new bat and "T" so that we can play T-Ball as a family. Saturday we spent the evening hitting the ball to my husband down and across the street. We live on a fairy regular Toronto neighbourhood street. There are a few cars. But we played there anyway, hitting from the corner of our front lawn across the road and down toward Husband who was our only fielder. There was only one park car hit, so we were doing well. The boys and I would each take two turns at bat, then Daughter would take three. I am not sure how that worked, but as they boys didn't complain, I didn't mention it.
Then Sunday Husband decided to take the boys up to a high school field near our home, while I took Daughter for a walk on Bloor Street. We passed the field on our way home, to be joined by Son One limping with a huge, bleeding gash on his ankle. I swear I could see it scraped down to the bone.
This is how Son One was injured. It was wet, as it has been many days this past week. And Son One was wearing Crocs. Husband set the "T" up on the cement and had the boys hitting to him in the field, taking turns of course. Then Son Two decided that after he hit, he would run imaginary bases. Fine. Then Son One decided that when Son Two hit, he would chase down the ball, then try to beat his brother home to get him out. Crocs, wet cement, and a wet plastic base attached to the bottom of the "T" don't mix. Son One came running home, touched the base, and slide on the wet cement, bare ankle on cement. He was still limping three days later.
Everyone came home. Then Monday I went to Walmart (remember the $124 shopping trip where I needed nothing?) Son One and Daughter came with me, so Husband decided to take Son Two back to the field for some more batting practice.
Again, Son Two decided to run pretend bases after each hit. His brother wasn't there to try to get him out. Son Two ran right over home plate. The "T" sticks up out of the middle of home plate. Son Two's legs aren't long enough that he can clear the "T"... do you see what I am trying to say? He bounced off and fell to the grass holding his privates (after previous day's incident, Husband decided to was safer to set up on the grass, even though it was wet).
The craziest part, is the that Son Two ran the bases many more times, running right through home as if the "T" didn't exist, and injuring himself a number more times before he figured it out.
I never thought of T-Ball as a dangerous sport. I am now trying to find them something that they can play were they can't get hurt; but really, where is the fun in that?
Husband was home today, and the kids didn't fight quite as much as yesterday. Six loads of laundry were done and put away. House is a mess. Only slept in until 8 am.
Son Two was up at 7:45 am, and was lounging on the couch watching cartoons. When I asked if he was enjoying his summer vacation so far, he answered in one word, "Awesome!"
Daughter has the illness Son One brought home a few weeks ago. Fever of 104.2 F taken in the arm pit. Double dose of Motrin to get it down. If she still has the fever on Monday may take her to the doctor. No other symptoms present.
Bolton Tractor Pull last night was great, though heavier on the trucks than the tractors. These are really fancy souped-up trucks tractors - I am sure that none of them have ever seen a real field. Learned that diesel fumes won't kill you, but gas fumes do. An important lesson? Woke up with 4 mosquito bites. Damn. I hate bugs.
Currently, Husband is outside playing catch with the boys. He is trying to explain to Son One why it doesn't work when you try to catch a baseball with your face. Son One does not appear to be injured. I don't really understand what kind of game of "catch" they are playing. Husband just gave Son One a 5 second head start before he wiped the baseball at him and tried to hit him... The silly games these boys play!
Now Son Two and Daughter are climbing from the hood of the minivan to the trunk of the car. As Husband is the supervisor on duty, I choose to come inside and tell you about it, instead of watching someone get hurt.
As soon as someone comes in crying, I will start popping the popcorn and putting on tonight's DVD. Our feature presentation, "Inkheart."
As promised, here are some pictures from Daughter's ballet recital. As mentioned, my camera picked last week to quit. However, my mother let me download her pictures to show you want a cute little dancer I have.
The recital was The Wizard of Oz, and my Daughter's group, called pre-dance, where little Totos. Hard to see, but they wore little black furry ears. Yes, they expect three year olds to wear make-up at the recital. Blue eyeshadow, pink blush, and red lipstick. I had to take her to Shoppers to buy some blue eyeshadow and red lipstick; somehow those are not items which I regularly stock in my make-up bag.
Yes, she's a character...
Happy in her make-up and costume... Excited for the show!
Do you remember the last strike in the summer of 2002? Why do garbage workers always strike when things get hot and smelly? IMPACT! Hey - I just paid close to $300 for garbage. Great service.
I am so sick and tired of this wonderful city that we live in. I swear City Hall would be better run by chimps. They take Toronto, this world class, amazing city, and turn it into the most poorly run bureaucratic nightmare. David Miller - I voted for you; and for you, Bill Saundercook. I am now publicly admitting my mistake. (Actually, I don't think that I actually voted for David Miller... Hmmm... Can't remember.)
This strike is terrible. How will it effect you, amazing mothers of Toronto? No public pools. No summer camps. No swimming lessons. No city daycares. No garbage pick-ups.
My kids swimming lessons for the summer - nope. Wait - I haven't gotten a refund cheque from the city, have you? They owe me over $200! Hmmm... Do you think I will just get a credit on my account? Gee - thanks! I am tempted to call Visa and get them to take it off my bill.
Do you know how ridiculous this city is? For years pools have opened the weekend after the last day of school. However, last weekend our public pool was opened for a few hours, before it was closed due to the strike. What a waste of money! Rushing to open it early, only to shut it back down again. The City could have saved the resources, anticipating the strike.
When you read about the union's position, it is hard to be sympathetic. Do they realize how lucky they are compared to the general population? It is our tax money paying for everything they get! In fact, we are their bosses.
Historically, I understand the need for unions to protect employees rights; but between the auto and the public sectors, it seems like they have far too much power. Who is looking out for Joe and Jane Taxpayer? Not David Miller.
Last night was daughter's first ever dance concert. I would post pictures of how adorable she looked in her costume, except for some reason this is the week that my digital camera decided to quite. Yes, first ever dance recital, last lacrosse game and trophies, and no pictures!
Watching Daughter on the stage, I have to say that a star is born. Having watched her loathe and fail to participate in most of this year's dance classes, I expected her not to make it onto to the stage. Actually, surprisingly she made it onto the stage, and when the curtain went up to reveal the crowded, standing-room only audience, she didn't run to me in the wings (I was the parent volunteer for her group) nor freeze.
She shone! She smiled. She danced. She loved every minute of performing. And when her group was over, she joined the mosh pit of mini-dancers in front of the stage and kept bopping along with the performances right to the intermission.
I knew that she wouldn't last to the end of the concert, so we left. I hate doing that, because I know how hard everyone has prepared for the show, and I feel bad leaving when there are lots of parents whose kids still haven't performed who sat through my kid on stage. But she is only three, and I worried she would become disruptive.
Daughter has a wonderful bright glow about her; a sweetness that draws people to her. And though I admit to being a very biased mom, I actually think that she was one of the best in her group last night. I am not sure if she has the talent to be a dancer, but she definitely sparkled as a performer.
OK, I know. Now I am just bragging. If I can get a copy of the show, I can load it up and you can see that I am right.
My daughter's dance concert is next week, and this is a whole other world. Blue eye shadow, red lipstick and blush--sparkling hair gel optional. She will be thrilled that she gets to wear make-up.
She is 3 1/2. I don't even think that she really dances, just sort of jumps around. It should be fun, and she loves it! We picked up her costume today. Her group is sort of supposed to be Toto in a Wizard of Oz production. This is a serious thing - we had to confirm that her name was correct for the program months ago. I have tickets for my mother and mother-in-law.
I hope that she doesn't get stage fright! I have to say, I am a bit of a frustrated ballerina myself. Would love to find a decent adult ballet studio in Toronto. Any ideas? Of course, fitting myself in with all of the kids activities would be a challenge. Maybe I should just become a patron of the arts, instead of trying to find a tutu in my size.
Below is an article written by Emily Jacobson, who will start blogging along with me! Welcome to Toronto Mommy, Emily!
We had the luck of booking a vacation almost 5 years ago at a resort in Jamaica called FDR Pebbles. Each room came with its own Nanny - what a treat! Ours was a 27 year old woman with 10 years of experience with children.
We felt spoiled! We would swim with the boys in the pool, and then when they were tired our nanny would take them back to our room to change them and let them have their naps. She would feed them at a children's buffet for lunch so that we could enjoy some peaceful adult dining, and she took them to the children's clubhouse for different events.
We were able to have a wonderful family vacation because we had family time and husband/wife time. Also, the resort had strict rules so we always felt safe and secure with the nanny. You could ask your nanny to stay late, and pay extra, but we never felt the need for it.
Here is Emily's article on Five Reasons To Hire A Nanny for your Next Vacation
You have waited all year and have worked so hard to earn vacation time. You are looking forward to sandy beaches, romantic dinners with your spouse, long walks alone on the beach... but your thoughts get drowned out by a crying toddler or whining child. Should you disregard the well deserved vacation time and concentrate on only doing things around the house during your time off? Nonsense! You can hire a nanny to take with you on your vacation. This will allow you to be able to do all the family oriented activities as well as spend quality time alone with your spouse or take part in an adventure that is not kid friendly. You may be thinking, "A nanny? I can't afford a nanny." Forget that thought. Nannies are not that expensive and many of them will take care of the children for no charge other than the free vacation. Nanny Toronto, among others is a great online resource for quality nannies who charge reasonable fees. So why would you want to hire a nanny for your next vacation? Here are five good reasons:
Vacations are a time to relax and enjoy your family and activities many times outdoors. If you leave you children at home you miss out on family bonding. If you bring the children with you, you may be setting yourself up for a stressful vacation. Bringing along a nanny will allow you to enjoy both at your discretion.
You and your spouse are probably in need of some alone time. Hiring a nanny will allow the children to go and do activities that they enjoy while you and your spouse relax and enjoy each other - alone - without any disruptions.
A nanny can provide an out during a meltdown. Nannies are trained to handle many different upsets. Remember, the nanny is there to take care of the children, while you are there to enjoy your vacation and your children. Rely on the nanny to give you a break when meltdowns occur.
Hiring a nanny can also benefit the children. All children love sole attention. The nanny is being hired to take care of the children and to give them 100% of her attention.
Hiring a nanny will also allow you to enjoy travel to and from your destination. Nannies have a knack for occupying the minds and imaginations of children. A good nanny will have a "game plan" ready for all circumstances that may arise during vacation and vacation travel time.
Hiring a nanny for your next vacation could result in a very good experience for you and your family. Hiring a nanny does not mean that you intend to ignore your children during vacation, it is simply giving the children an opportunity to enjoy their vacation as well. There may be times that the children do not want to participate in planned vacation activities that the adults want to undertake and having a nanny will diminish any quarrels that may have resulted from the disagreement. Nannies will provide a more peaceful and rewarding vacation for the entire family.
This season brings something new to me as a parent - snacks for sports teams.
When I was a kid, I remember getting cut up oranges at soccer half time, freezes after T-ball, and donuts after curling. Snacks are a little more complicated now.
First, I am not ever sure that the kids need the snacks. I remember one mother a few years ago who actually followed her child around gymnastics with a juice box and goldfish... did she have low blood sugar or something? It was a 50 minute class! Most of these sports are taking place in the evening after dinner. I don't usually give my kids a snack between dinner and bed. Before this whole idea of bringing snack, I would just make sure my kids had water.
Now I sign up for a snack night, and it is wrought with peril. No peanuts or products which may have come in contact with peanuts. Green please - only reusable packaging. Individually wrapped items only. Confused? Me too!
Last week at Son One's T-Ball a parent brought frozen Oreo ice cream sandwiches. Unfortunately, they didn't bring enough and Son One didn't get one. Another time at T-ball a parent brought a huge assortment of individually packaged goodies - kids were leaving with three and four items! And there was even pop for the coaches.
Last night was my turn to bring snack for Son Two's soccer team. I asked him for advice. He wanted carrots and apple juice. I brought juice boxes, raisins, cut up watermelon, and individual wrapped rice crispie squares. I also brought a bag for garbage, and wet wipes. Yes, I was trying to win the best snack prize.
One mother told me that I brought too much. However, most of the food was gone. Except the raisins. Raisins were the economic choice, at $2 for a package of 14. But even as I was packing the snack bag, Son Two commented that he hates raisins and they would be for the other kids, right?
I had two takers on the raisins. Almost everyone grabbed a juice box and a rice crispie treat (in fact, it was a box of 24 for a team of 14, and I came home with 2) and most kids grabbed some watermelon. There was even a little sister of one of the players who had at least 4 slices of watermelon. But the raisins just weren't popular.
Why do raisins get such a bum deal? They are sweet and juicy and plump. People don't seem to mind them in trail mix, but add them to baked goods or try to serve them on their own, and forget about it!
Maybe this will remind us all about how we used to love raisins...
Oh yeah, baby! Now you remember those California Raisins.
How many of us Toronto Mommies were up before 7 am to register our children for the summer swim programs through Toronto Parks and Recreation?
My children have taken the past two sessions off, as I find it hard to convince myself that I should be going to a hot humid pool in the middle of February. And then spring sort of got away from me, but they will be back in the pool for summer lessons!
Daughter finally gets to go without a parent. Lucky girl! Now that she is three I am done with parent and tot classes, forever!
Son One is playing in the Ronald McDonald tournament this weekend in Toronto. Yes, I know, hockey in June is just wrong, but I guess if the NHL can do it, so can these tournament organizers.
Game one was a team from Montreal. The first period was close (ending 2-all) but the final score was 9-2. The kids didn't really care, and we took them to Boston Pizza to fuel up.
Second game was 10-0. Our guys fought hard the first two periods and then just gave up. The kids, who enjoyed the first game, said that second game just wasn't much fun.
Early in the season, our kids were on fire! They often won games like the 10-0 one, but we, the parents, felt terrible for the other team, and the coaches did, too. Our coaches actually made decisions like not having all of the strong players come out against some weaker teams, just to try to make it more even.
This team seems to have a different philosophy. At the end of the official season, they went and poached the best players from at least three other teams to add to their roster. In effect, they have eliminated the competition because they weaken their opponents as well as strengthening themselves. Doesn't really seem like playing fair to me.
Look - I am not complaining because our kids lost; really I couldn't care less, and I know that the kids aren't really bothered by losing; I notice that by the time we are home all is forgotten. Plus, I think that losing helps develop character and teach them about sportsmanship. All season long I remember secretly wishing that our kids would lose a few games, just to know how it feels. But the difference is that we have a team of kids from one area, many of them attend school together, and it is our community rink that we represent. This isn't the GTHL yet, so isn't it just supposed to be a selection of the local house league, thus the term select?
I know that other leagues outside of Toronto have pretty hard boundaries dictating where kids play. I think at the very least, since there are so many different leagues and programs in the GTA, they should consider a radius rule - like you home rink has to be within 5 km or something. Just a thought.
Tomorrow the kids are playing a team from Illinois. The good news is that because of today's blowouts, I am pretty sure that we won't have a hockey conflict with our family plans on Sunday. The bad news is that it is an 8 am game.
Son Two made it to another instruction night of T-Ball last night, and besides some good-natured wrestling, there was no checking.
There are about 20 kids in JK and SK who come out for the hour of instruction, and it is pretty good. There is one main instructor, and 8 or 9 parents on the field to help run the kids through hitting, throwing, and catching drills.
The instructor had set up two batting helmets to act as a "goal" and asked one little boy, let's call him "Alvin" (name changed for protection) to come over and demonstrate how to play "goalie" with ground balls.
First the Instructor called him three times, "Alvin can you come over and play goalie? Alvin? Alvin? Can you play goalie?"
"Alvin" wondered into the dugout, completely ignoring the coach. The other 20 kids waited patiently in line for the demonstration (surprising, as most aren't that patient).
Alvin's mother was one of the parent's on the field, and she started calling him, too.
"Alvin, the coach wants you to come and show the boys how to play goalie. Alvin, come on over. Alvin. Alvin. Alvin, come here."
Then it was both the coach and the mother calling. "Alvin, come here and show us the how to play goalie." "Alvin, listen to the coach." "Alvin, come on!"
I swear between the instructor and the mother, they must have called Alvin's name at least 12 times. I was ready to get up, grab the kid by the ear, and tell him to pay attention. If I were his mother, and I was on the field, I would have gone over to him, gotten down on my knee, held him by the shoulders, and spoken into his face. I do not call my kids more that three times. It was CRAZY!
Not to mention all of the other five-year-olds waiting, getting less and less focused as they became less and less patient. If I were the coach, I would have picked one of the other kids for the demonstration.
Finally, Alvin sauntered over and sat down in the middle of the goal, picking up the infield dirt and putting the handfuls into his glove. I just don't accept that kind of behaviour - if he doesn't want to be there and doesn't want to participate, please don't make the rest of the kids suffer!
If would have been funny, except it was so annoying! Hate to say it, but some parents are really a little clueless. My kids have always paid attention to me when I call their names - even as toddlers they knew not to ignore Mommy saying their name.
On the news today they are talking about the latest report card on how our kids are doing. The Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card looks not at the health of our children specifically, but how active our kids are across the country, in active play, organized sports, etc. It also looks at screen time.
It is recommended that kids get 90 minutes of activity every day. Currently 87% of Canadian kids are not getting that. The recommendation for screen time is not more than 2 hours per day; only 10% of youth are meeting that criteria.
I blame the parents.
JUST KIDDING!!! Actually, I sort of read this and think another survey that tells us how we are failing as parents. Gee - do they take into account ridiculously frigid winters or humid as hell summers and the difficulty that poses to getting outside? Or what about that it isn't safe (or maybe just not well thought of) to have kids running around their neighbourhoods for free-play. There are more cars on the road, fewer kids and fewer neighbours at home, plus an extraordinary emphasis on adult supervision.
Wow - 90 minutes every day is a bit of a shocker. I wonder how recess and school fits into that. I would guess that Son One gets close to that 90 minutes at school, between the three recesses and the mandatory activity every day. My kids also play outside year round, and are involved in many organized activities. But I feel bad for the busy and poorer parents who are doing their best, without a lot of help. $500 government tax credit for kids sports doesn't go far enough, and there is still getting them to and from activities.
Another measure on the report card is Active Transportation - or walking to school. In the city when you live blocks from your school, it sounds reasonable... unless you are like me and can barely get the kids out the door for a quick ride to school in the morning. I like to walk to get them, but they are usually so tired at the end of their days that they complain about walking all the way home (we are 1.7 km from school).
One thing that really jumped out at me, that I would like to do something about, is lower income kids who don't get to participate in organized sports. I am going to put some thought into it and in the future maybe come up with a project.
It wouldn't hurt any of us to turn off the TV and get outside more... But this report card just seems like another pressure or blame to put on parents.
On Saturday we were invited up to visit a friend's cabin in the woods. On our last visit, my boys were very interested in fishing in their pond. Alas, they explained that their pond was fish-less! We decided to bring them a hostess gift of trout to stock their pond.
On route, we stopped in at the Primrose Trout Farm. We purchased 20 8-10 inch trout for the pond, and carried them away in a large plastic bag nestled in our blue bin.
If you have youngsters who want to try fishing, consider a trip to the Primrose Trout Farm public fishing ponds located at Highways 89 and 10, about an hour from Toronto. They have a catch and release fly fishing pond, as well as other ponds where you and your kids can try fishing and come home with rainbow trout you can eat! Kids under 10 are free, and fishing licenses are not required.
My boys really want Daddy to take them back so they can actually catch fish next time, instead of just buying them. At this time of year the woods around the ponds were filled with beautiful white trilliums, and a few mosquitoes.
At our friend's cabin, we released the 20 fish into the pond. Two of them didn't look too good after the drive, and didn't make it. But somewhere in the pond the remaining 18 are happily swimming along!
Many families have a Friday Night Movie tradition. They may order pizza, pick up a few DVDs or BlueRays and some popcorn, and cuddle up on the couch to decompress from their busy work weeks.
We have a movie night a few times a month, but with the kids 3, 5 and 7, it is sometimes hard to find a movie that they will all enjoy. The older boys like anything action or adventure, but Daughter still prefers Disney movies with anything princess.
A few of our favourites that keep everyone entertained:
Night at the Museum
Star Wars (any of them)
Harry Potter (the first three)
Journey to the Center of the Earth
The Neverending Story
There are more that we watch - Mama Mia is Daughter's favourite but Husband would rather peel his eye-balls than watch it again.
Right now both boys are involved in hockey, soccer, lacrosse and T-ball. I am thinking that the number of rules involved with each individual sport are overwhelming, and increasingly hard for them to compartmentalize.
Oh so I tell myself to explain why Son Two was cross-checking in T-Ball last night.
They were doing this drill where one child hit the ball and three or four other children tried to field it. Their job was to catch the ball and throw it back into the coach.
First I have to brag a little - MAN! Son Two has an arm on him! Accurate and far, he could throw from the fence in the outfield to first base with only one bounce and straight to the coach every time!
However, I think we have to go over the rules a little.
Son One and another boy ran for one ball, and got there at the same time. They tussled for it, and then Son Two crossed check the other kid and knocked him flying. The other boy, not one to be pushed around, jumped up and into a kung-fu ready stance. He kicked out trying to get Son Two, but my son jumped back, narrowly avoiding the kick. Son Two pounced forward, hand holding the baseball ready for the knock-out punch. Luckily, he missed.
The coach was focused on the hitter, so I ran out in the field (yes, in my red heels with my purse flying) and dragged Son Two off for a "water break", and a brief lecture on the rules. I felt like Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, "There is no hitting, kicking or pushing in baseball!"
We were early for T-Ball practice tonight, so I took Son Two over to the playground for 20 minutes. There I witnessed a fight between a mom and a grandmother that I didn't understand. This is what I saw, peppered with my judgment of the situation thrown in.
The kids ranged in age from 18 months to about 2 years old, so very young. For some reason two girls were playing in the sand under the apparatus instead of in the sandbox. Suddenly, the 18 month old infant grabbed the two year old's hair in both fists and was pulling hard. The two year old was screaming, and I thought it took the mother of the 18 month old a little long to respond.
A grandmother (guess? caregiver? older mom?) came running over and grabbed the girl who had had her hair pulled and then another child, who also looked about 2, who was playing nearby (twins?) The grandmother was definitely too far away to really be supervising those two. Grandmother yelled; Mother yelled back louder, and with much more aggression. I was worried that I may have to call 911 to report a fight.
I thought the mother of 18 month old hair-puller would have shown a little more shame in the behaviour of her daughter, instead of jumping to defensiveness. But minutes later I learned that there was more to the story as the grandmother was dragging the other two kids back.
I was curious as to what would happen in round two, but torn because I didn't want Son Two to be late for T-Ball, I left before all was resolved. Now I have to make-up a really good story as to why the kids were fighting, and why the mother seemed so evil. But a good story is always more interesting than the truth.
Saturday was Opening Day for the High Park Baseball Association, arguably the premier little league in Toronto. It was founded in 1952, and has represented Canada in the Little League World Series.
Saturday was a dog's breakfast as far as the weather was concerned. It looked like it would hold off, but almost as soon as the Opening Parade commenced, thunder boomed and the field was cleared for safety reasons.
We live in the area, and this is out first year with the boys registered at High Park. It is yet another sport that my kids are involved in, but Husband was a pitcher through his teen years, and I think that our kids will enjoy T-Ball this year. Son One has an arm! When he was 8 months I first noticed it when he was sitting on the floor throwing his toys at me. He hit me between the eyes with amazing accuracy, over and over again.
My little spitfire - Son One - is playing for the Jays. The coaches are AMAZING! I hope he has a great season... just like our Toronto Blue Jays. At least it is fun, exercise, and fresh air.
Last year the boys played soccer on a Toronto City Parks and Recreation soccer team. It was great. They got full uniforms, refs and coaches, and medals at the end of the season. The age was 4-6, so as Son One was 6 and Son Two was 4, they actually got to play together.
As they grow up, the 22 months between them will mean that they won't be playing on the same teams anymore. This year they are even playing in different leagues because of how the schedule worked out. Sort of makes me a little sad... I love watching them play together. Son One is actually very considerate, often passing the ball to his younger brother to try to help him score. He is much less considerate to his brother off the field.
Soccer is starting up again, and it is such an amazing sport for getting your kids active. I am so not a soccer player (so please don't be offended) but as far as I can tell, there isn't even much skill required at this age. You run, you kick. Simple as that. Everyone loves to score, and no one seems to notice, let alone care, who wins.
Why is it always worse when our children get injured when someone else is supervising them? I am sure that my mother remembers the daggers I glared at her when Son One fell down her front cement steps. Luckily my children seem to be born with unusually thick skulls which so far (touch wood) have kept them safe.
Tonight Daughter was riding her new two-wheel bike with training wheels while Husband watched (I was at the first night of summer hockey with the boys - yes, hockey, it really never ends.) She is madly in love with her new bike - it is pink with a basket on it. She also picked out a new helmet with fairies on it and that lights up. Could she be any more of a girl? Daughter has asked me three times already to remove her training wheels. I keep telling her that she has to wait until she is four. Here are a few pictures of the proud girl on her new bike. Yes, she learned to ride it wearing a dress.
When I came home tonight and Daughter was crashed on the couch, fast asleep. Husband explained that she had fallen off of her bike and scraped both knees, and in her pain cried herself to sleep. Sad, isn't it? I wasn't even home to hold her and dry her tears. I asked Husband what first aid he had done - polysporin or spray bandage. Nothing.
At least my Husband is super safe when it comes to protecting their little brains. All of my children are so used to wearing their bike helmets that they routinely wear them through lunch. So her little head wasn't hurt. My poor angel!
Son Two had a wicked bike accident last year, also not under my supervision. It goes down in history as the quickest treatment we have ever received in an Ontario Hospital - in and out in less than an hour. Here is the picture I took of him that night as he slept. Again, he was wearing a helmet (that we replaced the next day). Surprisingly, he still rides a bike - though not the one from the accident. He is one tough kid.
Looking at the picture still is so upsetting. I guess as moms we have to realize that we can't always be there, and our kids may get hurt when we are not around. It is such a feeling of guilt that not only weren't we there to prevent the pain, but we also weren't there to kiss it all better.
No one mentioned that we have 10 weeks of summer vacation this year! School ends early - school starts late. Around Toronto there are so many great summer day camps (overnight camps next year, I promise).
Here is a very short list of ones we have tried, or friends have tried and recommend:
Toronto Habourfront Centre Camps
Have heard many wonderful things about these camps. Variety of activities for kids 4 - 17. Plus often a busing option from a school near you. For younger kids, there are dance and multi-sport camps. Older kids get really great art and acrobatic stuff. AMAZING!
Canlan Hockey Camps
We used to do a lot with a competitor of this camp, but really have had much more success and happier kids with the Canlan camps. The instructors are young, friendly and fun. Meal plans are a great option for the full day camps. There are lots of great hockey camps around the city, but we like this one.
Last summer my boys loved the local tennis camp. The instructors were all university aged kids, but fun and creative. We did half day; I thought full day of tennis may be too much for our younger kids.
My boys love soccer. This summer we are trying the "Challenger" Soccer camps for Son One, but last year we just found a small, local, and very inexpensive one in the park. ($65 for half day - starting at age 5)
Challenger Soccer Camps dot com
Both boys did this one last year. They must have been really active, because their lunch boxes where always completely emptied! Great for younger kids (3, 4, 5) however, we did full day and the program just repeated itself from the morning for the afternoon. The kids didn't seem to mind, but I would have liked more variety.
This is an amazing art studio near us. Look for one locally. Again, I put both boys in the camp, and their creations were spectacular. The instructors are all great, and there is an art show at the end of the week. For younger kids, unless they are really into art, the half day was enough. Older kids who love art would love the full day. This is like a real art studio, not arts and crafts.
ArtWorks Camps dot com
The museum has great programs for kids starting as young as 4. Our family are members, and we have tried the Saturday morning clubs. The summer camps look great, and offer something a little different than tradition outdoor or sports camps. They run two weeks, instead of one. Book early!
Many of the activities which my children are involved in are run by volunteers - hockey, T-ball, soccer, lacrosse, and Beavers. How often do the rest of us thank them? Or help out a little when we can?
These activities could not run without the volunteers. Every week I drop Son One off at Beavers, knowing that there will be adults there to work and play with him. Every sporting team has a team of coaches working together for practices and games. My kids would be really bored if there were no volunteers.
Recently I sent a brief, emailed, thank you to Son Two's lacrosse coach. I just wanted to thank him and let him know how much my son is enjoying it. His response was immediate. The coach said that he never hears from parents except when they complain that he isn't doing enough, or doing something wrong. Isn't that too bad?
I try to thank the coaches regularly, both in person, by card, and email. I wish that I was rich and could buy them each a lavish thank-you gift, but besides some Tim Horton's gift cards or donating into a group gift, I just can't. I am thrilled by the time and effort these adults, with their own full time jobs and families, put into my kids having great experiences. The least I can do is say thank you.
Besides saying thanks, the best thing that you can do it to pay in full on time. Thank you parents of mine! I was never one of those kids who got the green or yellow paper saying, "please send a cheque to the next class." (BTW - is it just me or does it seem that the wealthier people were, the less likely they were to pay on time?)
As parents, we model acceptable behaviour for our kids. I see so many parents complaining about how things are run, or doing their best to get away with stuff. Why not thank our coaches and volunteers often and sincerely? If you see someone doing an outstanding job, let them know! It is really the least that we can do. Thank you very much. Here's my cheque.
For lunch today we turned on the BBQ to make some hot dogs and hamburgers.
Except that daughter, who has been eating chicken fingers twice a day for the past week, insisted on chicken fingers. And Son Two prefers his hot dogs boiled, not on the BBQ. Why do we bother?
Husband and I enjoyed the BBQ - except I was all out of pickles. What is a burger without pickles?
It has been an exhausting weekend, except that I haven't really done much. I think the nice weather is taking it out of me. Sitting around in all of that fresh air watching the kids run around. Boy, I am really beat.
At least the hockey season is officially over. The boys won their house league championship game yesterday, and now I have these two huge trophies to dust. This doesn't mean that we are done with hockey for the summer, it just means that there are no more games until the fall.
I asked my husband if there is a service where we can send the equipment for cleaning. He recommended that I just check the labels and wash it. Thanks, just what I needed. More laundry.
Today I took Son Two to a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Roger's Centre. We had these amazing tickets given to us (thank you Dave!) It was give-away day; son came home with a Jays School Pack consisting of pencil, sharpener, eraser, ruler and pencil case.
We took the subway down; it always seems to be the highlight of every trip downtown. At least today I didn't end up carrying Son Two to and from the station like last time I took the TTC to game. It is not a short walk for a 5 year old.
The game was fun. We didn't stay until the end 'cause it is just too long. However, the pitching was awful so the hitting was great, making it an exciting game to watch. Son Two is really starting to understand the game - balls, strikes, outs, runs. There were four home runs. Son Two had a $6 tub of popcorn, $5 candies, and a $6 ice cream. I had tried to convince him to try a hot dog from a street vendor before the game, but no luck. I wanted a $3 hot dog and pop combo.
The best was when a ball was fouled off right in our section, about 8 rows back and two seats over. Two grown men sort of fought over it. Son Two sat down, very disappointed. I asked him what was wrong. "You didn't even try to catch it!" he said.
At the end of the last few daytime games I have attended, they allow the kids to run around the bases. Last time it was such a thrill for the boys, but this time Son Two just wasn't going to make it to the end of the game.
The highlight for me was the one-on-one time with my son.
On the way there, I was sure to hold his hand tight while waiting at the subway stations. At St. George station he let go of my hand. I watched him pick his nose and put it in his mouth.
Me: Honey, that is gross to pick your nose and eat it. Son Two: I wasn't eating it. Me: Did you just put it in your mouth to taste it? Son Two: Yeah.(I keep forgetting that kids his age don't understand sarcasm.) Me: Well, it is still gross. Son Two: Uh oh. It just went down my throat by accident. Me: Yeah right.
On the subway ride home I was feeling tired. Shocking given the approximately 2 litres worth of diet coke I drank at the game.
Me: Honey, is it OK if I take a little nap? Son Two: OK. Me: Will you wake me up when we get to our stop? Son Two: No. I will get off and go home and get Daddy. Me: By the time you go and get Daddy I could be in Scarborough. Son Two: That's OK. Me: No it's not. You wouldn't actually get off without me, would you? Son Two: I know my way home.
I forced myself to stay awake. I love my son, but I don't trust him not to leave me sleeping and drooling somewhere.
Woke up this morning tired just thinking about what we had to do today.
Last night I made Husband a detailed list of who goes where, when, and what equipment they require. I even printed out a couple of maps for different arenas we would need to go to for various activities.
Our Saturday included:
One hockey practice Three hockey games for Son One, plus One for Son Two One lacrosse skills practice each for Son One and Son Two Four different arenas visited
Unfortunately, Husband caught a version of our plague, so I was on my own with the three of them for most day. Needless to say, I am really, really tired. And I wasn't even the one playing lacrosse and hockey, I just had to watch!
Husband and I had plans to go out on a date tonight. I can't remember our last date night, but I seem to think it was sometime in January. I'm pretty sure that he didn't get sick just to get out of it.
Now it is Saturday night, and I am home with three very tired children and a sick husband instead of being out dancing with a glass or two of wine. This is what I signed up for, isn't it?
Am I the only parent who feels like we are pushing our kids to do too much too fast? So much pressure! Such high expectations! Are we creating a super generation? Or maybe just a bunch of kids who will soon be ready for the therapist's couch?
This year I officially learned of an occurrence in sports called, "playing up." This is where kids play with the group ahead of them, the older kids. In theory, these kids are so skilled that they would outplay everyone in their own age group, having an unfair advantage or learning little, and instead they learn superior skills and get challenged by the older kids.
Does this sound crazy to anyone but me? First of all, often these kids are pushed up by their parents who either believe their child to be of superior skill or they have an elder child so it is just more convenient.
If the child is truly of superior skill - more power to them! I would think that they would benefit more (by the boost in confidence) by being the best player on a team of their peers, rather than being a mediocre or good player with a bunch of older kids. Plus there may be pressure on them that they are not mature enough to handle.
I've noticed such a difference, not just in skill level, but in an understanding of rules, strategy and sportsmanship in kids as they age, more associated with maturity.
Parents also need to consider the feelings of the older sibling who is constantly subjected to a younger sibling. Please give them each their space, and the opportunity to achieve individual without competition or comparison.
I wonder if part of the pushing, and the bending of the rules, comes because many of our generation assume themselves superior. We are impatient, aggressive, and like to be first. Now we push our kids to be the same. Are those really qualities we want to instill? It seems like every parents is asking for special permission to push their child ahead, and they expect to get it.
Son Two is born on January 2nd. Thirty-two hours earlier, and he would now be in SK instead of JK, and could be in many of Son One's activities. My OB wanted him to be born December 26th (he was a booked c-section), but I asked it we could wait until the new year.
People thought I was being silly - why not have him a year earlier? One less of year of daycare to pay for, off to school one year earlier - Husband always answered, "Yes, and off to work one year sooner - what are we rushing him for?" Also, December boys tend to take, on average, until Grade Four to catch up to their classmates. Why start them behind the 8 ball like that? Isn't it easier on them to be the biggest, smartest kid in their class than the opposite?
We have had stellar parent / teacher conferences with Son Two's teacher this year. She keeps going on and on about how he does this at an SK level and that at a SK level. Yes, but had he been born two days earlier, we may have been having very different conversations a year ago.
I think adding all of this pressure to our kids is because we parents are so competitive with one another. My kid is better than your kid therefore I am better than you. How silly are we?
So we put a six year old on the ice with a bunch of seven and eight year olds, because he can skate like the wind. Except the seven and eight year olds have an extra 20 pounds on them, and they know that sometimes it is better to pass. Or we put a five year old on a field with six and seven year olds because he really loves soccer, but he won't actually get to touch the ball. And don't get me started on parents who actually lie about their kids ages or birthdays.
Parents - please stop the insanity! Let your kids grow up and develop at their own pace with their peer group (I don't know about you, but my kids are already growing up too fast). One of the greatest things both husband and I remember from sports was the friends we made on our teams, easier when we are the same age instead of the little kid sitting at the end of the bench because his parents know the convener.
When I was growing up, we used to ski. My parents would take us on ski vacations, but the last time I skied was before I was married, about 10 years ago.
On Monday, I skied for about 2 1/2 hours with the boys. It is Friday, and I am still sore.
Maybe I used new muscles. Maybe I am more out of shape than I thought. Or maybe I am just getting old.
Both sons did very well (and yes, they wore helmets, though husband and I didn't - next time we will.) Instead of the old rope tows and poma-lifts, they have something called a "magic carpet." This is like a moving sidewalk up the hill. AMAZING! The kids just stand there. Innovation and technology have really improved skiing for beginners.
We rented daughter some skis, but she wouldn't actually go on the hill. She walked around in her ski boots, her snow pants and pigtails looking like the cutest little ski bunny ever. But she didn't ski.
While I took my turn watching her, the boys headed up the magic carpet. Son Two fell off about a third of the way up. I watched him - I watched the operator. I wondered if I should put on my skis, or just run over in my boots to help. Then he stood up, skied to the bottom of the hill, and got back on. Aren't kids amazing?
Near the end of the day, Husband and I took the boys up the chairlift. This is why I am sore. Son One managed well with his father, getting down the blue square run with only one fall. Son Two took one looked down and panicked. First, I tried to head down with him holding my hand. But I gave up, placed him between my legs, and snowplowed down holding him up. Have I mentioned Son Two is 50 pounds? Plus equipment?
Fifteen minutes later we made it down.
Me: Husband, did you notice Son Two was having some trouble? Husband: Yeah. Looks like he was afraid to come down. Me: Were you thinking of coming to help us? Husband: I knew you had in under control. Me: Thanks.
Apres ski, we relaxed on a balcony outside the chalet. The sun was shinning. We were refreshed from the exertion. It was a wonderful day.
The friend had a great time last night! The boys were asleep by 10:30, which I thought wasn't too bad. Husband made them a pancake breakfast.
The guest called his parents last night before getting ready for bed, and they called again this morning to check what time they should come by. This was his first non-family sleepover, and they wanted to make sure all went well.
March Break is coming to an end. So far we have:
- gone to a cottage
- tried skiing
- gone on a Bike ride
- had sleepovers
- saw "Escape to Witch Mountain"
- played outside
I think the highlight was watching the boys try skiing.
How's your March Break been? Are you counting the hours until the kids return to school? Or are you trying to do a few more "fun" activities first?
Did you miss me? Did you notice that we were away? For the past three days, we have been at a friend's cottage. It was wonderful.
We don't own a cottage. I am starting to think that we need to make it a condition of friendship with our children - either you have a pool or own a cottage. Both would be great. (Just kidding!)
There is a boy in Son One's class who also plays hockey with him. He has WONDERFUL parents, who invited us up to their cottage for the night. I sort of extended it to two.
Their cottage is beautiful. A cabin the woods, but large and comfortable. Plus, they have a dog - really, what could be better?
The boys took a ski lesson yesterday. Today we all went skiing. Daughter just walked around in her ski boots looking like an adorable ski bunny. She didn't ski. The boys did great! I couldn't believe how quickly they both picked it up. We just did two half days.
We haven't really been invited to a cottage before. There are five of us, so I am sure it was a lot for our hosts. Also, having two families together can be tough, because you all sort of need to get along. I thought we may overwhelm they as they just have one child, but luckily, things really worked out. We had great BBQs, played charades, watched movies, walked along some trails. And there was the skiing.
Daughter wants to go back next weekend. I explained that we have to actually be invited.
Tonight was another successful book club. I am home a little earlier than normal, but with March Break coming up, two of our members were away.
We had read, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It was generally well received by our club. Most of us are unfamiliar with our WW II history, and didn't even know that the Guernsey Islands had been occupied.
Moms out there - if you are not currently in a book club with other moms, you really need to start your own. We meet once a month, and sometimes spend most of our time talking about our husbands and kids and drinking wine. Also, these women in my group always have the most amazing selections of cheese. At home we stick with marble cheddar, so it is always and adventure.
Being the Catholic system, my children are now officially on March Break. Tonight, because they have no school in the morning, they actually waited up for me! I guess a few more years and I will be waiting up for them.
How many of you are going away for March Break? What is the plan, skiing or going south? For those of you staying home, are your kids in camps, or are you hoping to see some of what the city has to offer? Or just staying home and relaxing?
Whatever you choose do you, have a safe and happy March Break!
It cost US$483 and took 1 hour and 20 minutes to get into Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
The day wasn't starting out so good. At the first attraction, we actually had a 50+ year old man and his wife bud in front of us in line, and then stare me down daring me to say something. I didn't, of course, I am Canadian.
Is Disney World really the happiest place on earth? I would bet that if you did an exit survey, at least 50% of kids 10 and under would have cried at least once. Parents should be forced to consume prozac on entry, and random shots of tequila throughout the day.
On the plus side, the Fast Pass is a great idea. Food wasn't as crazy expensive as I expected, and as it also wasn't very good, the kids really didn't ask for much.
Each child picked one souvenir - Daughter got a Minnie Mouse purse, Son One a Mickey Pirates of the Caribbean Towel, and Son Two picked another Balzac Ball, but really big this time.
Favourite rides? Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain. Space Mountain was a little fast. Daughter's favourite was "It's a Small World" for the second visit in a row.
Best advice? Wait until your kids are over 40" to maximize ride options. Daughter was often bored waiting for the brothers, especially given the average waiting time was about 30 minutes without a Fast Pass.
The kids didn't want to meet any of the characters, which is actually a good thing as they are often hard to find and there are line-ups for pictures and autographs. However, we did see the Parade of Lights and everyone enjoyed that.
I have to say, for the most part, Disney really has its stuff together. Cast members, hosts, and employees are everywhere, very friendly and as helpful as they can be.
This was our third visit since we had kids. We keep saying that it will be a long time before we come back. The current plan is when Daughter is 8, but who knows. Maybe that crazy mouse will call us back sooner.
We made it safely to Florida. And it looks like I can keep in touch, so you won't miss me.
Customs was fun. As soon as we got into line, Daughter asked, "Will they have bathrooms when we get to Florida?" Turns out she needed to go pee. So did Son One. Of course, you have to get through customs, and then security ("Why are they taking our shoes?") before you can find bathrooms in the terminal.
The flight was great, except that we had to change seats as we had been given the emergency exit row, and kids can't sit there! Plus one guy didn't want to move, so we couldn't actually sit all together. And he read these really gross medical textbooks.
All three kids fell asleep just before landing. We waited until everyone had deplaned (don't you love that verb?) and tried to figure out what to do. We woke up the oldest, grabbed two bags each, and carried the younger two. Except that I couldn't really carry daughter that far, so we had to wake up Son Two and make him walk. He wasn't happy.
Daughter slept through the monorail trip, luggage pickup, being strapped into her car seat, and the drive. Both boys stayed away until 2 am!
Today we have been in the pool twice, seen lots of wild life, and visited Target. Seems like a typical Florida day.
The most shocking thing so far is that they don't recycle here! I swear, David Miller would have a coronary. Not bottles, cardboard, or cans. Everything goes into the garbage. And, garbage trucks come twice a week to pick up! Amazing. Of course, the truck came at 7 am this morning and woke up Daughter.
Yesterday I heard that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be practicing at High Park today at noon.
Son One threw a 20 minute fit last night when I said I wouldn't go and get him autographs. The funny thing is, he walked right by one of the Leafs heading into school this morning, and didn't even recognize him.
I took Daughter and Son Two, who is only in JK AM, to the park. Son One came as well, with a boy in his class and his really nice mom who picked them up for a surprise "lunch."
Walking toward the arena, I practically knocked in Toskala and Joseph, who were getting out of a BMW and instead of the team bus. We saw the rest of the guys get off the bus - MAN - they are HUGE!
May, Blake and Moore seemed to be big hits. My kids were thrilled to see them practice. They were amazingly fast. All smiles, jokes. Some wore sunglasses; others wore touques under their helmets.
Before the Leafs started their practice, George Bell Atoms and Novice did a shoot-out. They then got to watch the practice from the bench. Then Home Depot, who helped refurbish the rink along with the Leafs, had these funny huge blow-up hockey players take to the ice. I took some pictures, I just can't figure out how to mail them to the computer from my phone.
The kids were thrilled to see the Leafs, and the event organizers kept handing out all this swag. We came home with T-shirts, bobble heads, fake crazy hair, and those silly blow-up things they always give to fans.
Less than 5 minutes into the actual practice, the boys noticed the giant snow pile left by the Zamboni, and decided that it was more fun to climb it then to watch. Daughter found a nice mud puddle to sit in, and I felt like a bit of a stalker continuing to watch the practice on my own. Also, my arms were getting tired from holding all of the swag.
It was a great community event, and I thought it would be pretty exciting for the kids. I was glad I wore my long johns... And at least I appreciated seeing the Leafs. If only my camera had worked, I would have pictures to show you, and later them to prove that we sometimes did fun stuff.
I received an email about an interesting opportunity to help kids from inner city New York. The name of the organization is The Fresh Air Fund, and they help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get a fresh air experience that they will never forget.
They are currently looking for host families for summer 2009; people willing to open their hearts and their homes to create an amazing experience. It is for girls and boys aged 6 to 12 who reside in low-income communities in New York City and are eager to experience the simply pleasures of life outside the city.
You host for only two weeks. I have added links so that you can check out their website. If you cannot host, consider a donation to help make fresh air summers possible. I hadn't heard of this organization before, but it seems like it could do a lot of good for many children.
I am not sure if my father was part of a similar program when he was growing up, but I have often heard stories of him and his sister going to spend a few weeks in the summer on a farm. These are very fond memories of his, and now he even fancies himself a little bit farmer, starting conversations with, "well, when I was on the farm."
Last night I came home to find my husband snoozing on the couch, but the kids painting at the kitchen table. OK - you know who gets to clean this one up.
They were all pretty enthusiastic, and I think they made at least three of four paintings each. When I walked over to one side the table to admire them, I noticed red footprints on the floor.
"Stop!" I said, "Let me look at your feet." They all complied. The boys were wearing socks - no red there. Daughter was barefoot. She had paint on her nightgown, her arms, and her face. But her feet seemed clean. However, I kept her in mind as the number one suspect. Husband suspected me, and as my socks were black, I wasn't 100% sure he was wrong. I took them off.
Down on my hands and knees, I scrubbed away the prints. I also cleaned a suspicious looking smear off of one of the chairs.
Husband came into the kitchen and noticed more prints. We cleaned those up. Now it was time to put the paints away and get the kids to bed. STILL MORE PRINTS!
This was getting weird.
We kept cleaning, and footprints kept appearing. Son One thought it was funny, but I was sort of getting a little freaked out. Were we haunted? By a frustrated painter?
Finally, husband, the detective that he is, cracked the case. He found a print over by the cat bowls. See - you knew we had three kids, but I have never before mentioned Merlin, our 11 year-old black male domestic long-hair.
Husband scooped Merlin up and checked his paws. Sure enough, one of the back ones had red paint. Caught - red pawed! Now if we could just convince Merlin to take a bath.
My kids surprised me a little last night. As I was putting them to bed, I said, "Two more days of school and then two day off."
"No!" They both corrected me. "One more day, then four days off."
I rushed down stairs to check the calendar. Sure enough, they have a PA Day tomorrow, and family day on Monday. FOUR WHOLE DAYS! Of course, hubby is working both Friday and Monday. Whose idea was Family Day anyway?
Now I am trying to find great things to do around Toronto. Here is my short list:
1) Subway Ride and ROM visit
2) IMAX Movie at the Ontario Science Centre (They recommend the Alps for children - BUY TICKETS EARLY!)
3) Visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame
4) Arts and crafts, puzzles and games, and baking at home, with a Pizza lunch
5) Subway Ride and skating at Toronto City Hall
6) Shopping, Lunch and Spa Visit with girlfriends (oh wait - it is supposed to be a family activity)
I always thought that the need to "socialize" our children was a bit of a myth. My kids have one another, cousins, and attend all sorts of activities as well as lots of play-dates. But most people whose children have spent time in daycares laud "socialization" as the primary benefit.
We just returned home from a play-date where Son Two was bit, slapped, pushed, tripped and had his head shoved into a wall by a five-year-old desperately in need of some "socialization." This child is "home-schooled", though obviously too young to really have much need for the "education" component of kindergarten.
Look, I know that my kids have bit or pushed or tripped, but still biting at age 5? Pushing someone's head into a wall? Slapping? As we left with Son Two shouting that he would NEVER return, the child tried to hug and kiss him good-bye (we all know how they feel about kissing in JK!)
I am not quite sure what to do. We have had play-dates in the past that never sunk to this level. Interest was expressed in future play-dates, but I just can't put my son through that again.
Kids need other kids to help learn the rules of how to treat one another. OK, now I am just being preachy - But really, what would Jesus do?
My kids are pretty good at keeping their stuff together. But they are kids. After Son One decided to leave his hockey gloves behind, I decided we needed to label some stuff.
I called Mabel's Labels. A Canadian company, run by a mom, who operates out of Hamilton. I ordered the labels online on a Wednesday night, and received them Monday (regular mail - no delivery charge).
WOW! I bought a combo pack for $34, putting our last name and cell number on the tags. We received shoe tags, clothing tags, stickers and tag bags. I spent half an hour putting the labels on some stuff with the help of Son One. I did of the kids school bags, boots, coats, water bottles, and sports equipment. And I still have labels left over.
Yesterday it paid of. His brand new $135 jacket was accidentally taken by someone who swore she had one for her son just like. But she noticed our name and we got it back right away.
YEAH MABEL'S LABELS! Now if they could just included some sort of GPS monitoring with paging capabilities, I could even use them on my cell phone and car keys.
I am a hockey mom. When did that become such a negative? Sarah Palin didn't help matters with her joke about the bulldog and the lipstick. In the past it was the hockey dads that beat up on the coaches and the refs.
COME ON CANADA! There are millions of us "hockey moms" out there. We are the ones ensuring that the kids have eaten and are rested before they get on the ice. We are cleaning their equipment and airing it out. We are dressing and undressing the kids. Cheering for them, win or lose. Sitting in frozen arenas for hours, and driving all around the city.
I have never heard a hockey mom say anything bad about her child, another player, a coach or a ref. The only time I even heard a "hockey mom" yell at the ref, it was her husband and she was trying to draw his attention to an injured child on the ice.
The soul of our country is hockey. It is not an evil sport. The participants are not crazy mutants. It is a fast, fun game involving a lot of skill.
I know my kids won't make it to the NHL. Out of the 400,000 + kids currently playing in the GTA, I think fewer than 7 will ever even make it to a farm team. The same way teaching your child to ride a bike won't get them into the Tour De France, playing hockey isn't just about one day playing for the Leafs.
Don't ask me what I expect my child "to get out of" hockey. They are learning to skate, puck handle, play on a team, and be a good sportsman. It is great exercise, fun, and entertaining. They get to meet kids outside of school and make new friends. I think any organized team sport is a great experience for any child.
Please keep the disgust out of your voice when I tell you that I am taking my kids to hockey. Yes, I am a hockey mom. If you have a problem with that, I just might deck you.
This afternoon I took my kids to see "Hotel for Dogs." I am not going to say much about the movie, except that it stars Emma Roberts, Julia's niece, and Don Chettle and it is much better than "Bedtime Stories."
Son One has been sick all week. While well enough today to get out and about, he is a little tired and I didn't want to inflict him on his teacher in that condition. I also know that kids pick up most of their viruses from other kids, so I want to make sure he is 100% before sending him back. I wish all parents would just keep their kids home when sick... but that rant will come another day.
Daddy is always the fun one. He plays with them all of the time. I am the one who worries about what and when they are eating, how clean their are, if they are where they need to be when they need to be there, if they have clean clothes, if they have snacks, books, etc. Basically, I am the nag and the boring one. I do all of the behind the scenes work, but get little of the glory. Then Daddy comes home from works, wrestles with them for half an hour, and he is the King (Daddy does a lot more, but it doesn't help my argument here to include the details.)
Today I decided to be the fun one. We had nowhere pressing to be and nothing important to do. Instead of heading home for the afternoon, we played hookey and hit the movie theater. They each picked a treat and we relaxed along with about 10 other people watching the movie.
Life gets too busy and hectic. We rush from activity to activity. School, hockey, gymnastics, dance, soccer, skating, speech, family visits, Beavers, doctors appointments, playdates, birthday parties and so on. It seems endless.
Today we slowed down, skipped our normal routines, and instead had a few hours of family entertainment. Now it is time for a nap.
Today my daughter had her ballet class. She gets to wear pink tights, a pink leotard, pink ballet slippers, and a pink chiffon skirt. Last week she got a pair of leg warmers. It is adorable! The girls run, jump and dance around to music for 30 minutes. There is nothing sweeter.
I always wanted to dance ballet. I loved the point shoes and the tutus. Ballerinas were so elegant - slim, pretty and graceful. I never asked my mother to sign me up for ballet - I knew my parents would find some way of telling me that I just wasn't "built" for ballet. I wasn't slim. I wasn't graceful. I never wore pink. It wasn't obvious that locked inside was a girl who loved tulle and wanted to dance on a stage en pointe.
In my mind my daughter will be accepted to the National Ballet School, and is on her way to becoming a prima ballerina.
Am I living vicariously through her? Of course! Maybe I should find myself an adult beginner ballet class and follow my own dream.
Or maybe I should just buy myself some pink tights, a leotard and a tutu and dance around the house with my daughter. It might be more fun.
My daughter is a youtube addict. She discovered it at Nana's house, of all places! I thought grandparents were just about ensuring an addiction to sugar.
Every time she notices me on the computer (or "puter" as she calls it), she sits on my lap and begs for "three little ducks." Are you familiar with five little ducks? Find it on youtube, and you see six little girls dressed in yellow doing some simple choreography. 2 minutes and 3 seconds and she loves it.
Check out youtube with your child! There are some great animated nursery rhymes and kids songs. But I warn you - it is like crack to their little minds. And you really have to watch with them. There is a "Wheels on the bus" that runs over people, and quick links to very questionable material.
I have to admit that it is scary how comfortable my kids are with the computer, and how early their interest started. I assumed that I wouldn't really have to start monitoring them until they were preteens, chatting with friends. I know better. We keep our computer in our kitchen where I live, and I watch them with whatever they do. My husband and I have already agreed that they will not have computers and the internet in their bedrooms, and we don't have a camera on the computer.
Part of me is excited for them - that they have this amazing tool and all of this information at their finger tips! They can send stuff to friends, talk to family members on vacation all around the world, and play all sorts of games. They make books and movies for fun.
Remember Lemonade Stand and Miser? The commodore pet? Then the 64? Atari? Space Invaders? They've come a long way, baby!