Archive for the ‘middle son’ Category

Was That Gun Fire?

We’ve been cleaning out our basement, our whole house actually. We certainly do accumulate a lot of stuff. Some things have been sitting around forever, waiting for that ‘someday I’ll use this’ kind of day. As I was taking garbage outside I noticed a bag my husband found downstairs. I had assumed it was garbage so I added it to my pile. But something inside me begged me to peek in the bag. Good thing too as the bag has little firecrackers in them. Can you imagine garbage day this week with boxes of these things being crushed in the back of the truck. Okay, maybe part of me wanted to actually see what would happen but my more thought out part vetoed that experiment.

Every time we take a road trip to the United States we pass a proliferation of fireworks warehouse stores. Every time we pass them my husband is drawn to them like a magnet. The problem is of course that we’re not allowed to bring them back over the border. Usually just wondering the fireworks store is enough to fill his need but on occasion he does get the urge to purchase something and it’s usually these small popper like firecrackers. Then they sit at home in our basement.

But what to do with firecrackers if you can’t toss them out (and don’t say soak them in water because that answer in no fun at all). There really is only one logical answer to this question. Set them off of course.

On our walk to the local pub for dinner last night the kids took turns tossing these Nitro Snaps. There sort of like caps; you throw them at a hard surface and they let off an audible pop and spark. The kids tossed them on the sidewalk, on the street at signposts, in the streetcar shelter . Our whole walk to and from the pub was full of POP, SNAP, BANG.

A few pedestrians walking by actually jumped a little and others quickened their pace. Nothing like ending your weekend with a BANG!

Happy Halloween

Halloween has come and gone. The kids had a great time trick or treating with Nana and Gramps, bring back loads of candy. I love how they sort their candy, my 8-year old daughter had each item right down to the chocolate bar brand sorted out in its own pile, my 6-year old son abandoned his sorting plan after his dad said he could eat some candy, and my 3-year old sorted things into what she would eat now and what she would eat later (you can guess which pile was bigger). I’m just glad the Darth Vader pumpkin my son requested actually ended up looking like Darth Vader, sort of, at least some of the kids in the neighbourhood agreed.

Happy Halloween!

I Want My Mummy

Halloween is this weekend as I’m sure your kids have made it quite clear. My son’s Beaver group held a Halloween party with games and treats and crazy boy fun. One game consisted of the boys being broken into groups and having to wrap up one team player as a mummy. Can you guess who the mummy is:

Yup, you guessed it, that’s my son. His team won, which is great but sort of a surprise. I mean, here’s a boy who can’t sit still for 5-minutes, even when brushing his teeth he’s jumping on one foot, yet her stood perfectly still while his friends wrapped him up mummy-style. And I mean wrapped him up good. You can barely see his eyes peeking out.

Perhaps his mummy-like behaviour has something to do with the Mummy Mazes book from Workman Publishing that we reviewed yesterday for Write a Review Wednesday. Of maybe it’s just his fascination with toilet paper.

Write a Review Wednesday: Mummy Mazes A Monumental Book

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 The Haunted House that Jack Built. In keeping with the Halloween spirit we’re looking at Workman Publishing‘s Mummy Mazes, A Monumental Book (age 8-12), by Elizabeth Carpenter. I have to thank Jillian at Workman Publishing for my review copy.

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When it comes to Halloween creatures mummies are at the top of the list. There’s something fascinating about them and their history. My 8-year old daughter is especially entranced by the whole Egyptian culture, mummies included. In Mummy Mazes, A Monumental Book, kids join Professor Archie Ologist on an expedition to find the secrets of ancient Egypt.

This large book is a combination story and activity book. Each page is filled with an intricate Egyptian mazes, like pyramids and mummies and wall paintings. Along with each maze Professor Ologist gives some interesting facts about Ancient Egypt. Did you know King Djoser built the first pyramid. Before him Kings were buried in dirt mounds or sunken brick chambers.

The mazes themselves are an interesting challenge too. Each maze has 3 starting points and 3 finishing points. Obviously there can only be 1 start and finish so the other 2 are there to mislead you. First step, figuring out where to start. Not to worry, the mazes are designed so you discover the false starts early in the maze; you won’t be halfway through a maze with a false start. Once you’re done the maze, figuring out the correct finish, you then need to use the hieroglyph at the end of your page to solve the mummies message at the end of the book. Each maze can be coloured and removed easily by the perforated edges making them great for display.

Although Mummy Mazes is designed for 8 to 12 year olds, I have found myself drawn into figuring out the mazes along with my daughter. My 6-year old son loves to help find the false starts but the mazes are pretty intricate and his interest usually wanes a little after that. Mummy Mazes is a great way to learn about ancient Egypt in a fun and entertaining way. If you have a child with a fascination with ancient Egypt or solving puzzles, Mummy Mazes might be a great book.

Visit your local bookstore or Workman Publishing to get your own copy of Mummy Mazes, A Monumental Book. For other great book suggestions for kids, read through the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Thanksgiving Outing: Leaves, Running and Slide Stunts

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving which we celebrated at my mom’s house north of the city. My sister and her ever increasing family were coming over to celebrate with us on the Sunday so we arrived a day early. This gave me time to spend with my mom and the kids to hang out with grandma.

My mom’s home backs on to the escarpement so it’s like a natural wonderland for the kids when we show up.

Not far from my mom’s house is a park with a modernized playground for kids. It’s one of those parks that are suppose to be more accessible to everyone. I loved the musical playground as we entered. They had steel drums and pipe drums the kids could play but my favourite was the standing pipe instrument made with steel and plastic pipes. Kids could run their hands across the pipes to make sound.

They also had a lot of climbing structures and a triple slide. The competitive side of my son had him setting up races between himself and his little sister. But these slides have their own built-in fun with turns and bumps so when my son tried to do some crazy stunt by sliding down on his feet he ended up riding the rail for a short part. Thank goodness he didn’t fall off. Of course I wasn’t quick enough to stop him but I did capture it on the camera. Funny how these things happen.

Remember merry-go-rounds in school playgrounds when you were growing up? I do. They were one of my favourite, running around to make it spin fast and then jumping on to enjoy the ride. I was saddened to hear that many of these merry-go-rounds were actually removed from playgrounds as they were deemed dangerous. But at this playground they had a super structure merry-go-round. Imagine a rope ladder wrapped around in a cone shape then put on a spinning platform. That’s what this was and my two kids loved it. My 3-year old climbed up near the top and sat there as the thing swung around. My son loved jumping in and out of the cone, swinging out from the top and all sorts of crazy stunts. Sounds so much safer than the merry-go-rounds we use to use right? [snort]

Big Boy, Little Boy

When my son transitioned into grade 1 at the beginning of this year that was a big milestone. It seems my little boy is growing bigger and more independent each day. This is all good. I love to see him take on responsibilities that were once too difficult for him to manage. Even conversations with him take on a more mature tone, excluding the occasional toilet joke.

Sometimes though this sense of growing up can be misleading. I sometimes think I expect too much from my son, grow impatient with him when he doesn’t understand something that seems so obvious to me, get frustrated when things aren’t done a certain way, the way I learned how to do them.

Yes he’s getting bigger and he certainly isn’t my baby boy anymore and I’m proud of that and encourage his growth where I can but sometimes it can be a fine line between the big boy he’s growing into and the little boy he still is.

When I was saying good night to my son one night I found myself just staring at him, eyes closed, peacefully sleeping. I looked at his blond curls on his forehead, his long lashes curling up against his skin, his small fingers clutching his bedtime buddy. Those little fingers, with their chubby dimples still there. Seeing these fingers reminded me that my son is still a little boy, that although being six and all that he’s accomplished so far is another step towards being big, six-years old in the scheme of life is still pretty young.

I’m trying harder to keep this in perspective, balancing his need for independence and growth with his need for patience and understanding. Trying.

Throwing Rocks isn’t All Bad

Sunday’s weather was beautiful, cool and clear, perfect for a morning at the lake.

The kids love going to the lake. For people who live within walking distance from it we really don’t spend enough time down there appreciating it

It seems in my role as mom I spend a lot of time telling my kids what they can’t do: Don’t do flips over the back of the sofa, stop using the central vac hose as a jump rope, don’t convince your little sister that sliding down the stairs on a piece of cardboard is a good thing.

I know as parents we’re suppose to encourage our kids, offer positive reinforcements, focus on the good, but some days that seems to get lost with all the warnings I seem to dish out. Sometimes we have to make judgement calls as to what really is a Don’t and what the kids can actually get away with.

Sunday morning I gave in and let my kids throw rocks. Not those little tiny peddles I mean big, honkin’, you-can-build-a-house-with-those type of rocks. We drove not far from our house to Mimico (my husband loves to visit Bird’s and Beans coffee-house there) and the lake is right behind the place so we went for a walk. Actually my 3 and 6-year old went for a run. You would think I had kept them penned up all week and they were fleeing for their lives. If only they had that much energy for the walk to and from school. Somehow I think the big boulder wall they ran along helped.

There is a beach area along the path, a beach of rocks. My husband was trying to show the kids how to skip stones but there were those kind of rocks. So stone skipping turned into stone tossing: who could throw the biggest rock? Who could throw the farthest? Who could make the biggest splash? Who could throw the most before counting to 10? It was amazing the number of competitions my kids could think of around tossing rocks into the lake.

Yes, we did have to spread them out to ensure no one accidentally tossed a rock at a sibling standing in front of them, but overall there were no issues and they had fun, I mean real laugh-out-loud fun. From tossing stones to looking for the best stone to climbing the rocks, my kids had a great afternoon at the beach. No one got wet and it didn’t cost us a dime, except my husband’s coffee but we won’t count that.

So many throwing rocks isn’t all bad.

Ontario Place: Racing Cars and Hanging Out

At the end of summer we were invited to the Fisher Price Fall Toy Preview event at Ontario Place. After a busy morning of playing with toys, my 3 and 6-year old were invited to spend some time having fun at Ontario Place.

My 3-year old loves her older brother. No matter what he does, she has to follow. Walking around Ontario Place they were up on benches, along curbs, zig-zagging around trees.

On of our first stops had to be the Power Wheels race track. My son loves these though he’s getting pretty close to being too big to ride them. I remember the first time he drove around the track, he would stop in the middle of the track to checkout the engine, adjust the radio, he even offered to give someone a ride who was stuck. I was surprised my 3-year old picked it up right away. She was around the track a few times without incident. She loved the fact that she was in a pink Barbie car too.

The kids moved from one car ride to the next. This one required no steering but it went pretty fast, forwards and backwards. They loved it. And since this ride is down a hill (not that visible) there weren’t that many people waiting to ride so they went on two more times.

If my 8-year old had been with us, she would have made a bee-line to the Frogger ride (where you hop up and down). My son has always been too short but this time he was just right and eager to ride.

I wish I had video of his ride. When the ride went up he was so excited but when it made it’s first drop he screamed. Not one of those ‘whee this is fun’ type of screams. His scream was more like ‘oh my god what have I gotten myself into’. After a few more drops he was fine but continued screaming.

Before we ended our day we took a ride together in the ferris wheel. The kids were busy saying hi to all the other riders who passed us in their ferris wheel cars. It was great seeing all around the park and out to the water.

After this the rain started. We were soaked by the time we got to the van but both kids thought it was worth it. Thanks to the folks at GCI Canada and Fisher Price for a fun filled day.

For the (lack of ) Love of Playdates

So school has started up again. That means waking up early, making lunches the night before (or at least planning on doing that and then rushing around first thing in the morning actually doing it), helping with homework and…dun dun dun dun…those dreaded playdates.

There’s something about the start of school that drives everyone into a playdate frenzy. We step into the school yard and my 8-year old is bombarded with requests for playdates. I realize she hasn’t seen many of her friends all summer and everyone is excited to get together but I sweat over the thought of the playdate question.

Many parents do it; some are organized enough to have scheduled dates with the same kids every week. How they do it is another story, not the scheduling part but the physical kids over to their house or over to a friend’s house act. Who has time? I know school has just started but here’s what happened when I relented to my 8-year old having a playdate:

  • 3:30 – 4:00 pick-up at school and negotiate the whole playdate plan (where, when, who, including having to explain to the 6 and 3-year old that they can’t partake). Walking home the very distraught siblings and playing some sort of negotiation game on when they can have their own playdate.
  • 4:00-4:15 provide a quick snack to try to subdued the distraught siblings. And since one of the distraught siblings is a 3-year old you know there’s nothing quick about anything. She changed her mind 6 times before reluctantly eating a quarter of something and complaining later how she’s starving.
  • 4:15-5:00 work on any homework assignments and reading skills all while trying to distract and entertain (read ‘try not to kill’) the tantrum tossing 3-year old in the background. This makes it hard for the 6-year old to get his homework done and he makes that very clear with big sighs and saying loudly ‘I can’t concentrate’
  • 5:00 realize that I’m suppose to be at the playdate house to pick my 8-year old daughter up and we’re still in mid-homework kerfuffle.
  • 5:00-5:15 (though it sure felt like it was much longer than that) try go shove a pair of shoes on my reluctant 3-year old for our walk to the playdate house. I explain for the 800th time why we can’t drive there and have to walk. I’m forced to pull out the old stroller from the backroom since that’s the only way I’m sure we’ll get to the playdate house before school tomorrow.
  • 5:15-5:30 We make the long walk with the tired 6 and 3-year old fighting for most of the way there. I can’t be bothered to stop the squabbling and tune it out to the joy of my neighhbours and those walking by (Mother of the Year award nomination flushed down the toilet at this point).
  • 5:30-5:40 Work hard to extract my 8-year old daughter and her friend from each other so we can make the walk back home.
  • 5:40-5:55 Explain over and over (and over) again why we will no longer be having playdates during the school year.

And with every playdate at a friend’s house you know you’re expected to return the favour. It may not be said out right, but you know the thought is lurking in the back of the parents head. I know because I’ve been there, hosting one particular friend many times and never receiving the invitation in return.

Nope the whole playdate thing is way over-rated in my book; they’re stressful, time-consuming and extra work that I just don’t need. My kids may think I’m a terrible mother for not allowing them out on playdates but believe me it’s better than dealing with me when I get stressed out about the whole ordeal.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

A Day of Firsts

Day 1 at Disney World and we had to visit Magic Kingdom first. When you have young kids Magic Kingdom has to be your first stop. It will probably be one of the resorts we visit more than once on our current trip.

We’ve actually visited Disney World a few times, I think six times, but even with all those visits there are still things we haven’t seen or done. Today was actually a day of a few firsts. Today we checked out Country Bear Jamboree, a show we’ve never seen before. Similar to the Enchanted Tiki Room, this is more an attraction that you sit in an air-conditioned room to watch a themed animal animatronics show. The kids seemed to like it, I felt it was a little dated, especially some of the songs, though I’m sure my six-year old son will start singing the song ‘Blood on the Ground’. Probably not a show we’ll see again (unlike Enchanted Tiki Room which we have to see every time we visit) but I’m glad we did see it; I’m glad we had the chance to try something new at Disney.

We also tried Splash Mountain for the first time, especially after we found out our three-year old met the height restrictions, just. barely. Usually the stand-by wait for Splash Mountain has been up to 1.5 hours but when we walked by it was only 15 minutes. Everyone loved it. Yes we got wet, not too wet but wet enough. And once wasn’t enough; we went on two more times. If given the chance the kids would have kept going on but there were some other rides we wanted to hit before heading back to the hotel.

Since this was our youngest daughter’s big ride, just passing the height requirement, she received her Splash Mountain pin. (The kids like to participate in pin trading, but we also buy a few select pins on each visit, like for the resort we’re staying at and a specific ride pin that really means something to each child on that trip).

My six-year old son’s favourite roller coaster is Thunder Run; he experienced for the first time last year. So this year my eight-year old daughter convinced him that he should try her favourite roller coaster, Space Mountain. He sat in the car between me and my daughter. While we whipped around I asked if he liked it and he said ‘no’. Oh dear. I could say close your eyes and it will pass but the ride takes place in the dark so that wouldn’t accomplish much. As the ride continued he started screaming but not ‘get me off this ride before I jump’. No it was ‘this is awesome’. At the end of the ride I asked how he liked it and he said he loved it. After his initial fear of the lap restraint not holding him in, he relaxed and really loved it. He loved it so much he went again. So he earned his Space Mountain badge.

I love that a visit to Disney World means we can visit the attractions and rides we love but that we always find something new to try; a new resort, ride, food. It makes it a great new experience every time.