Archive for the ‘oldest daughter’ Category

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).

Family Day: World Records and Wet Heads

To mark the 200th anniversary of the McIntosh apple, the Ontario Apple Growers hosted a Winter Apple Ball in Toronto at the Westin Harbour Castle. The event was a free event for the first 1000 people who registered and we were lucky to be invited to attend.

About the McIntosh Apple

We’re big apple eaters in our home, Delicious, Empire, Granny Smith. But my personal favourite has always been the McIntosh; it’s soft and sweet on the inside with just enough crispness on the outside for a good crunch with each bite. The first McIntosh was discovered in Dundela, Ontario by John McIntosh in 1811; however it wasn’t sold until much later when John’s son, Allan McIntosh, took a more serious interest reproducing the tree and selling the apple across eastern Ontario.

The Winter Apple Ball

When we arrived we spotted apples throughout the hotel, providing directions on where to find the Winter Apple Ball and giving out apple tattoos. We were also greeted by royalty when we arrived and of course my girls had to have their picture with them (my son, not so much).

In Candy Apple Lane the Ontario Apple Growers had a display of all their apples. Each had a description and samples so you could see that not all apples are the same.

My kids were more interested in the guy making balloon animals.

There were tables all around the Winter Apple Ball offering guests apple cider. I loved the warm apple cider but my kids preferred it cold; both options were available. There were water jugs if cider didn’t appeal to you. You could also sample apples as well as tasty muffins. Trust me, they tasted as good as they looked.

After the kids had gained some nurishment from their apple snacks, they were off to the obsticle course. My 4-year old thought it was the best thing every, climbing and crawling and diving and sliding.

Eventually my girls decided to go to the craft area, making their own princess crowns. I couldn’t convince my son to leave the obstacle course. He’s not much of a crafter but they did have cardboard shields the boys could decorate if they wanted to.

Then the big moment arrived; time to go for the apple bobbing world record. Each registered person had their own bucket with 10 apples to bob for. They also provided ponchos and hair bands to try and keep yourself as dry as possible. Some tables were shorter, ideal for younger kids.

It turns out apple bobbing is harder than it looks, especially in the case of my 6-year old son who is missing 3 of his 4 front teeth, but he still tried. The video will give you a peak at how the apple bobbing event went down:

With 357 participants, it’s pretty exciting to say we were part of breaking the apple bobbing world record.

Even though my 8-year old daughter was the only one to bob all 10 apples, everyone had fun trying. The kids even walked away with a fun goodie bag, including an Apple Crumble mis from Et Tu.

Making crumble was the perfect way to use up the bitten apples from my daughter’s apple bobbing and celebrate our fun day filled with apples.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6 – Mini Me Christmas Trees

If you celebrate Christmas you probably have a Christmas tree in your house. We do. We have a few actually: a fake one upstairs in our family room, there’s the Elf tree on the second floor and our real tree, the main Christmas tree, in our living room.

We love Christmas trees so much that each of my three kids have their own mini tree; a mini me tree since they decorate their trees themselves with whatever they want. So for our 25 Days of Christmas activity for day 6 we dug out the trees and let the kids decorate them.

My 89-year old has a pink tree. It was originally a Dora tree with Dora branded ornaments. The ornaments have since disappeared but the very pink tree lives on. This year my daughter has gone very minimalist, just having lights on her tree and letting the pinkness shine out.

My 6-year old son has my old Christmas tree. I remember buying this tree when I celebrated my first Christmas at my first ad agency job. I still have all the original pieces, including the light string which is might actually be dangerous, and the original box with its Zellers $9 price tag. When I decided to leave the agency world and work from home, the tree came with me and my son inherited it.

Of course he’s added his own touches, decorating his tree with some of his favourite Hot Wheels cars.

My 4-year old has a sort of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, really skinny, but she liked the shiny pink and silver metallic branches. She thought about covering her tree with Polly Pocket dolls (we have a few of them) but when I told her that items on the tree stay on the tree, she changed her mind. Instead she opted for some mini Santas. Sometimes the Polly Pockets visit.

Every night while the kids are getting ready they plug their trees in and enjoy their creations. And on Christmas Eve they can actually sleep with their tree lights on all night so Santa can find his way to their room and leave a small gift under the tree; ideally something that will keep them busy for a few hours Christmas morning so I don’t have to actually get out of bed at 4:30 a.m.

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 4 – Santa Cruise

We’ve seen Santa in the parade. We’ve seen Santa in the mall. We’ve even seen Santa on a train. But on a boat? Well for the fourth day of our 25 Days of Christmas fun we booked tickets on the Santa Cruise part of the Toronto Waterfront’s Winterfest celebrations. I actually heard about this on twitter through some tweets from WonderMoms, Ashworth Publish Relations and Brandie Weikle (Toronto Star‘s ParentCentral.ca editor). Minutes after hearing about it I booked tickets for the whole family ($10 Cdn per person 6 and over. Kids under 6 are free).

I can’t believe I kept it a secret from my kids. They didn’t know what we were doing until they read the advent card for Day 4: Ahoy there! Is that Santa in a life jacket? Today we set sail around the Harbour with Santa and his elves for some festive fun.

We arrived down at Queen’s Quay early so we could do a little window shopping. It’s been awhile since I’ve been down to the water front. The Santa Cruise was taking place on one of the Mariposa boats, the Northern Spirit. It was all decked out with Christmas garlands as were a few of their other boats (they do Holiday dinner cruises and have a New Year’s Eve dinner cruise that sound wonderful too). I’m glad we bundled up. Although the boat was toasty warm, waiting on the dock to get on board was a bit breezy. You forget how chilly it can get down by the water. The kids didn’t seem to mind at all.

As we boarded the kids were given a reindeer name (we were Dasher). This would be the group they would go up with when it was time to see Santa. This was a great way to organize all the kids and ensure everyone had a chance to see Santa and also avoided standing in line during the whole boat ride. Once on board everyone was given a drink ticket (they had hot chocolate, coffee or apple juice) and a 2-piece cookie from Redpath Sugar. Plus the parents were given a waiver to sign if their kids were getting photos with Santa.

The two level boat had tables and chairs set up on both levels. Santa visits would be on the lower level where a photo area was set-up. At our table the kids started colouring the holiday colouring and activity sheets laid out. The elves were very friendly and helpful, offering new colouring sheets if the kids finished all of theirs and clearing garbage away from the table, like cookie wrappers and drink cups. All the tables lined the inside of the ship, by the windows, so everyone had a chance to see the island and city as we sailed around.

We were one of the first groups on board the ship which meant we were one of the first to see Santa. The kids were so excited to see him and get a photo that they didn’t tell him what they wanted for Christmas (except my oldest daughter, she doesn’t need an invitation to tell you what’s on her mind). My 6-year old son didn’t tell Santa because he said Santa didn’t ask. I think the kids felt they were only there to get a photo and couldn’t afford the time to talk to Santa. It probably would have helped if Santa initiated some conversation about their gift list. Wish lists aside, they kids still had a great time seeing Santa and getting a photo. This image will be a great addition to our Santa Claus photo wall. Even my 4-year old, who at first didn’t want to really see Santa because he looked scary, said he wasn’t that bad, for a man with a weird, curly beard.

Santa visit over, the kids enjoyed their hot chocolate, colouring and Christmas music. My girls couldn’t help but hum or sing along; Christmas music can be infectious like that. I loved just listening to the music and looking at the landscape move by. My son and I even braved the cold weather and went outside for some pictures.

The cruise itself is about an hour-long. It seemed to be just the right enough time to enjoy the sailing and get in some Christmas fun. You can still Cruise with Santa on December 11 and 18th. For more information visit www.mariposacruises.com.

After our Santa Cruise we dropped into Chinatown for a quick lunch at House of Gourmet (one of our favourite spots. We go here for Christmas Eve dinner too). It was pretty busy on a Saturday lunch hour but they have group tables and turnover is pretty quick. We all enjoyed spring roll, shrimp and BBQ pork wanton soup and sliced BBQ pork on rice. Funny thing, one of the gentlemen sitting at our group table was working on a similar job as my husband. Small world.

As if the day wasn’t full enough, my 6-year old son lost his tooth, his first tooth, while out to lunch. He was so excited, he was showing everyone (and sticking straws and chopsticks in the gap where his tooth use to be).

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 3 – The Chocolateria

I love chocolate and really good hot chocolate. I could enjoy these all year round but there’s something about the impending holidays that makes that mug of hot chocolate magical.

For Day 3 of our 25 Days of Christmas I met the kids after school and we all walked over the new chocolate shop in our neighbourhood, The Chocolateria (they were written up in Toronto Life recently for their chocolate dipped potato chips. Yum!). They make delicious hot chocolate which was a nice treat after the cold, windy walk. I also let the kids choose one additional chocolate item to eat with their hot chocolate. This was easy for my 4 and 6-year old, they went straight for the chocolate dipped marshmallow snowmen. My 8-year old was harder to please and who could blame her with the choice. There’s different types of bark, turtles (really good, soft caramel turtles, not the type that stick to your teeth), dipped pretzels and pretzel sticks, dipped fruit, truffles and of course their wonderful dipped potato chips. She grabbed some bark and I grabbed some chocolate covered jujubes. We sat in the small seating area at the front of the store and watched people walking by while we enjoyed our sugar high. That sugar kept all of us going all the way home. Boy do I wish I had some chocolate dipped chips now.

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2 – School Night Christmas Movie

In our house we have a rule of no TV during the week. It helps that we don’t have cable so there’s no temptation but we do have movies and shows that we really enjoy on DVD. So what a treat to be able to stay up and watch TV, on a school night. That’s what our activity 25 Days of Christmas Activity was for Day 2 yesterday. The kids were able to choose one Christmas movie (they choose Santa Clause 2 since we watched Santa Clause 1 on the weekend), have 2 Christmas cookies and a glass of eggnog, all while snuggling under a warm Christmas blanket in their PJs.

I was amazed at how quickly the kids finished dinner and went through their bedtime routine so they could start the movie. It was a relaxed way to spend an evening, much more so then our 25 Days of Christmas activity the night before.

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

The Joke

We were sitting around after dinner just talking about our day when my 8-year old shared a joke she learned from a friend at school. It’s quick and easy and has been a big hit with the rest of the kids in my family so I thought I’d share it with you. The affect is probably better if done in person but the video of my daughter does a better job telling it than if I wrote it out. Perhaps your kids would enjoy it too.