Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Lego Master Builders and the New Lego Store

The first Lego store in Ontario (only the second in Canada) officially opened last Friday in Sherway Gardens shopping centre. To celebrate the store gave away prizes and gifts to shoppers and held a big Lego build in the center of the mall with a Lego Master.

You know how my kids love Lego (like most kids their age) so of course we hopped over to check it out. You can read all about the weekend celebrations on EverythingMom‘s Toronto edition. The kids had a great time and after helping with the build project they earned their own Lego Master Builder certificates.

Heaven Cats: Kids Dealing with Grief

As parents we do what we can to protect our kids, steering them clear of sadness, hiding them from cruelty. It’s true they are vulnerable, more so than us, and we want to preserve their innocence, hold off on tainting them with skepticism, doubt, and fear that we as adult seem to know all too well.

But some things you cannot hide from your kids, like the death of a pet. One of our family cats became very ill within the last few days. We had lost two other cats recently to the same illness but that doesn’t make this loss any easier. It was obvious to even the kids that Tick (our cat) was not well and really struggled with her disease near the end. We all tried our best to make her comfortable and pay her extra attention but her condition quickly worsened.
We were hoping Tick would make it past Monday since it was my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday and having one of your favourite animals, a member of the family, die on your birthday isn’t something you would wish on even an enemy. But all hope and prayer aside, it would have been very unfair to Tick to prolong her discomfort and sadness. We hated seeing her in a constant state of depression, unable to walk or even stand on her own, so my husband and I decided to ease her suffering at the vet’s office.

I don’t believe in lying to kids. Some truths are painful and have to be faced but the degree of truth can be adjusted. We told the kids that Tick has passed away in her sleep during the afternoon, when they were at school, so they wouldn’t feel as though they missed saying goodbye to her. I did make sure they all visited her in the morning before heading out but I didn’t see the need to send them to school heartbroken and distraught. Some might disagree with what I did but I can live with my decision.

Of course my kids were devastated, especially my oldest. I think she was also angry that Tick has died on her birthday. Of course she wished Tick had held out a little longer but my daughter also knew that Tick was in pain and really, any day is not a good day for a friend to die.

I don’t know what tore my insides up more, the fact that Tick was gone or that my daughter was so upset over her passing. And although it should have been me, the mother, who offered the reassuring voice, the person to bring comfort to a difficult situation, it was my daughter. It was her and her Heaven Cats.

Heaven Cats is an imaginary world involving, you guessed it, cat spirits. It use to just be made up cats, living wonderful lives free of want and suffering, but with the passing of three of our five cats, Heaven Cats took on a whole new meaning. The cats were no longer imaginary but rather the spirits of our cats. They lived their days enjoying anything and everything they wanted. Sometimes they would visit us, walk with the kids to school, hang out and listen to a story, sleep on a pile of pillows in my daughter’s room.

My daughter was indeed update by Tick’s passing, but somehow knowing that Tick wasn’t gone, that her spirit lingered or could be called on when comfort was needed, was reassuring to my kids (and to me). I don’t think this avoids the fact that our cat had died – my kids knew Tick was gone – but it made thinking about her passing easier. This was especially important since Tick seemed to be in so much pain near the end, not able to do the things she use to do. Now as a Heaven Cat she was hanging out in a jacuzzi tub, eating ice cream, chasing butterflies and visiting the kids for a walk home from school.

I guess sometimes kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.

We’ll always be sad and miss Tick but it’s nice to know she’s out there, hanging around, keeping an eye on us (between milk baths and back rubs of course).

Write a Review Wednesday: Dream Big Little Pig

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Banjo of Destiny. This week we read SourcebooksDream Big Little Pig (age 4-8), written by Kristi Yamaguchi and illustrated by Tim Bowers. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Poppy is a pig who dreamed big. From a posh prima ballerina to a big-time splashy super model, Poppy had big dreams about what she wanted to be when she grew up. Even when she discovered she didn’t have a talent for singing on-key or that she wasn’t very graceful, Poppy always remembered the encouraging words from her family and kept trying. She kept trying new things that interested her until she discovered skating. Like her other career endeavours, she wasn’t very good at skating either but the more she tried the better she got; the better she got the more she liked it.

Kids are full of big dreams and I think that’s something that should be encouraged, even when things don’t turn out as planned. In Dream Big Little Pig, Poppy has great aspirations for her life and she takes a few risks following her dreams. Yes she’s disappointed when things don’t turn out but the encouraging words she remembers from her family and friends always keep her trying something new. Dream Big Little Pig gives kids a great example of having dreams and taking chances and sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding but always trying. It’s also a reminder to us as parents that our words, though we may think they aren’t being listened to, are being absorbed and referenced when the time is needed. Words of encouragement may be the difference from giving up to trying again or trying something new.

I like how near the end of Dream Big Little Pig, Poppy seems to have found her gift and made her dream come true, yet that doesn’t stop her from having new dreams and aspirations. That’s probably a lesson for some of us adults.

Kristi Yamaguchi,figure skating superstar, believes in and lives by the motto ‘Always Dream. This is seen in her Always Dream Foundation, founded in 1996, designed to support organizations that have a positive influence on children. The inspiration behind Dream Big LIttle Pig is to instill this motto and belief to ,always dream, in the hearts of children.

To add a copy of Dream Big Little Pig to your own library, visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are you kids reading?

Hawaii is for Families

Hawaii has always has always been one of those places you go on your honeymoon or something you save up for after your kids are out of the house. When planning a family vacation destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean or maybe Florida come to find before Hawaii does. Perhaps it’s because I’m on the east coast, or closer to the east coast, so getting to a sunny destination that is quick to get to makes sense.

But in January we decided to try something different. We had a little more time on our hands and thought of going somewhere that took a little more travel time, like Hawaii.

You may think that traveling with 3 young kids on a 12 to 15 hour plane ride is crazy, and I’ll admit I was a little worried, but it went rather smoothly. I was annoyed at first about being bumped and having to take 3 planes versus 2 planes but I actually think the breaks were good for the kids, especially since they weren’t that long. And coming back, with the longer flight, the kids slept most of the way since we were flying over night, so that worked our great too. With the entertainment on the plane plus our own entertainment (electronics, snacks and colouring supplies) the kids were more then content to sit quietly on the plane. I think flying from a border city helped also (I much prefer going through customs in a car versus at the airport and would recommend it to anyone who has it as an option.

Unlike visiting Mexico or the Caribbean, Hawaii is still a US state so you don’t have worries about currency or medical are or water safety or any of those issues that come up with visiting foreign resorts. Yet it still has a very tropical feel. Of course it helped that our hotel, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, offered a spectacular location and service. I even wrote how this trip was one of our best vacations to date. But that was my feelings; what about the kds? When I asked my kids where they wanted to go for their next vacation, Disney World or Hawaii, it was Hawaii all around. That says a lot since our family is a Disney family.

You can read all the reviews I posted on our Hawaiian trip over within EverythingMom‘s Family Travel section: from our stay at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach to visiting Pearl Harbor and a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center and more.

Below are a few photo highlights. Makes me wish I was back there now.

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In a Man’s World, Women Rock

It’s funny what goes through your mind sometimes, or rather my mind, especially when it comes to how men and woman are different. I think this thought has been brought to the forefront of my mind as I raise my kids, 2 girls and a boy. I hope that my influence and the influence of the men and women in my life is nothing but positive but I know that men and woman are treated and viewed differently in many ways. Things aren’t perfect, I’m not perfect, and although many say it’s a man’s world, there are many reasons why I love being a woman. Here are six:

  1. You can cry if you want to. It might be a stereotype that women are emotional, crying at the littlest things, but I’m thankful for this gift. Sometimes a good cry can get you through a long night of being up with sick kids or express your feelings of joy or love that no words could do justice to. As a woman, I’m lucky that I can have a good cry, that I’m not viewed as weak or inferior because of it.  I’m saddened that people (including woman) feel it’s not something that men and boys should be allowed to do.
  2. Get in the pink (or yellow or black). Woman can wear all sorts of colours and colour combinations unlike men who are still lumped into a stereotype of not being masculine if they wear pale colours. And although I can wear pink and yellows, I usually wear browns and greens. They may not be very girly but I can wear them and I love that.
  3. For the love of mom. I’m fortunate to have both my mom and my mother-in-law in my life. My mom worked hard raising my sister and myself, trying to keep a happy household full of love and understanding. She showed me that if you work hard you can achieve a lot, no matter what the obstacles. My mother-in-law raised my husband who is caring, understanding and supportive of both myself and the kids. Not all men are that fortunate and I’m lucky to have found mine.
  4. To dress, or not. Flowy sundresses. Taffeta ball gowns. Not something I wear often (or at all in the case of ball gowns) but if I wanted to I could. Or I can toss on jeans or track pants. Basically anything I want to wear (though it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something I should wear). There aren’t too many men who have that dress code freedom and wearing a kilt at the Scottish festival one weekend a year doesn’t count.
  5. No yelling required. Have you ever noticed that some men resort to yelling or cursing to get their point across. Of coarse woman do this too but  it seems more expected with men, almost like a mutual understanding. The louder men get, the more control they have or think they have.
  6. Speak up. Many woman before me, before you, worked hard to demonstrate that woman are intelligent and a point of view worth listening too. Whether it’s sticking up for your child being labelled by school authorities, not standing for someone budding in front of you in line, running for office based on something you believe in, we have the voice that’s worth hearing.

I’m sure there are many other reasons women rock but these have been issues that have come in my personal life recently. I hope I can raise my kids, all of my kids, with the same attitude. I hope my girls will be strong and empowered to make decisions based on their gut versus being swayed by others. I hope the same for my son but that he also shines in his mutual respect and appreciate for the women in his life as he grows up. Why do you think being a woman rocks?

Write a Review Wednesday: Bunny’s Lessons

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Out of Sight. This week we looked at another book from Blue Apple Books, Bunny’s Lessons (age 4-8), written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Charlie is a little boy, a little boy who Bunny belongs to. Bunny views Charlie has his friend and teacher. Everything Bunny has learned, he has learned from Charlie. Some lessons aren’t so fun, like jealous and scared and sad. But other lessons are wonderful, like pretend, all better and love. No matter what the lesson, Bunny and Charlie learn them together.

Like in Bunny’s Lessons, most kids have a stuffy, a companion that helps them through both scary and exciting times in their lives. My 4-year old has a rabbit friend just like Charlie. Growing up is full of new experiences: walking, the big bed, going to school, visiting the Dr. A stuffy is like an extension of a child. It gives them someone to confide in when they’re feeling angry or sad. It gives them someone to hug and protect them at night in the big bed. It gives them someone to celebrate the first day of preschool. The illustrations are colourful and warm, filling the page with life through Bunny’s perspective.

Kids don’t view their stuffies as just dolls but as real friends so it’s fitting that Bunny’s Lessons is told from the perspective of Bunny. Although my daughter’s stuffy is a bunny, just like Bunny in Bunny’s Lessons, the story would have just as much meaning to her (and I) if her stuffy was a bear or doll. Bunny’s Lessons does a great job illustrating the relationship between a child and their stuffie.

To add Bunny’s Lessons to your personal library visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday.

Write a Review Wednesday: Mad at Mommy

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose (age 4-7). After the last few days with my 4-year old I think a perfect book to review would be Scholastic‘s Mad at Mommy (age 3-7), written and illustrated by Komako Sakai. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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A little bunny is so, SO mad at his mommy. She sleeps in and yells for no reason and tells bunny to hurry up and…and…and. Bunny is so mad that he decides he’s going to leave home. And does. But then he forgets something.

I think as parents we sometimes forget what it’s like to be a child, learning new concepts, being small, wanting attention. In Mad at Mommy, Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when he gets in trouble for making a mess in the bathroom but in his mind he’s just playing and doesn’t understand. Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when she rushes him to get ready but then stands and talks with friends when they’re out.

My 4-year old and I have been going through similar battles; she’s struggle to gain more power and independence and I’m working to implement rules and guidelines. We both think we’re right and the other one is being unreasonable but in a way we’re both right.

Mad at Mommy is a great book for both parent and kids. It shows kids that it’s okay to be frustrated; sometimes even kids need to air their feelings (even unhappy ones) and need reassurance that mommy still loves them. For parents it reminds us to be mindful of how we treat our kids and how frustrating it was when we were little. I remember battles with my parents on wanting to stay up late or wear certain clothes. It’s easy to get angry at water spilled out of the tub but instead maybe we need to remember how fun splashing in the tub can be and explain why we’re upset about the water.

Both my 6 and 4 year old enjoyed reading Mad at Mommy and it opened a great dialog on how everyone gets angry but we always love each other. Probably long overdue but Mad at Mommy also got us talking about things each other does that we feel is unfair.

You can add a copy of Mad at Mommy to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Scholastic Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.