Archive for the ‘oldest daughter’ Category

Getting Ready for Christmas: Christmas Cards

Yikes, November is almost over. And with the end of November means the start of December. And the start of December means the start of the Christmas holiday season. This year I was invited by Cardstock to try out their custom photo Christmas cards. I’ll be writing an Everything Fabulous post in the next few weeks on tools for making custom Christmas cards so this was a perfect opportunity to try them out.

Of course that meant I needed pictures and not shots of the kids at the beach (not very Christmasy). We don’t even have snow here yet. Hopefully the wooly hats and mittens help set the scene. My kids had a great time, though I had a hard time getting them to stand still. I don’t know how professional photographers do it. Oh and these photos, I took with my iPhone 4. Is there nothing that phone can’t do.

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!

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.

Getting Ready for Halloween

Yesterday was cold and wet and leaves were all over the ground. It was a perfectly, eerie afternoon to work on getting the house entry way spooked up for Halloween this weekend.

I have two intermittent helpers during the day though I think they had more fun playing with the skeleton pieces in the front yard than actually decorating.

A few chilly hours later we turned our porch into something a little scary. Okay, maybe not much but at night it might look scary (meaning more Halloween candy for me).

Boo! Happy Halloween.

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.

Losing a Pet: Guilt, Grief and Stories

If you have a pet you know how they are more than just a pet, they become part of your family. Pets are like children really, they look to us to feed them and care for them because they can’t, usually. And in return they give you love and companionship.

Maybe that’s what makes loosing a pet so hard, at least for me. Yesterday we had to put one of our cats down. She was in the final stages of renal failure and was in pain. She wasn’t eating or drinking and walking seemed very difficult. It was sad to watch her in this state, especially since it seemed to happen so quickly, like in a matter of days.

Of course I’m sad but I have this overwhelming sense of guilt weighing me down. I feel somewhat responsible for my cats declining health. No I didn’t mistreat her; she was well-loved, but being an indoor cat I probably didn’t take her to the vet for regular check-ups, didn’t take great care of her teeth, brushed her occasionally. I realize she was old, over 15 years, but how can I not sit her and feel that something I have done and didn’t do lead to this. If I had taken her to the vet regularly could her condition have been caught sooner and dealt with? I couldn’t even bring myself to ask the vet for fear of what her answer would be.

I remember when our cat was born (she was 1 of 6 kittens born in our tiny one-bedroom closet). It was just my husband and I, no house, no kids. The mother cat, who still lives with us by the way, became sick after the kittens were born so my husband and I had to take care of them like we were their mother. We had to bottle feed them and keep them extra warm and teach them to go to the bathroom. I use to get up at 3:30 in the morning and come home on my lunch hour to feed them; it was just like having kids I thought in my limited kid world. I didn’t begrudge the role but it certainly confirmed to me in my newly married state that I wasn’t ready for kids of my own.

Our cat’s passing also affected our kids, well my 8-year old. It’s not that my 3 and 6-year old don’t care, they just don’t seem to comprehend what’s happened and that’s fine too. My 8-year old was crushed. Before our cat became sick my daughter had created a blanket bed in her room. She didn’t create it for our cat but that’s where she spend all her time when she was unwell. It’s like there was a connection between my daughter and our cat. The same thing happened when the kittens arrived. They didn’t arrive until we created a space on our closet floor, like we knew this was something needed. My 8-year old went to bed with our cat sitting there and woke up to greet her.

We had to put down our older cat almost 4-years ago, weeks after our youngest daughter was born. My kids always talk to Limburger, our older cat. They like to imagine he’s walking with them to school or playing a game in the backyard. I told my kids that now Limburger had a buddy, someone to hangout with and Munch would have someone to show her around. Now instead of Limburger visiting, both cats might pop by. I think this helped my oldest daughter deal with our cat’s death. I’m not saying the cat isn’t dead, I don’t believe in making up stories, but having her spirit around is fine. Lots of people believe this when it comes to the passing of family so why should a pet be any different.

After our visit to the vet to say our goodbye (my husband was brave enough to stay with Munch as she was euthanized so she wouldn’t be on her own), we order in chinese food, my 8-year old daughter’s comfort food. We talked about the crazy things Munch did when she was here and the bond she had with Limburger our older cat. We laughed at the stories and remembered her in her fun, active state.

I think loosing a pet is hard, harder than I expected, but as long as we don’t forget our pets they’re never really gone and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Write a Review Wednesday: Zombiekins

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 Doggy Slippers . This week we’re getting a little macarbre with Penguin Canada‘s Zombiekins (7+), written and illustrated by Kevin Bolger. I have to thank Vimala at Penguin Canada for my review copy.

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The little town of Dementedyville is the boring, uneventful place where Stanley Nudelman lives with his family. But all that changes when Stanley buys Zombiekins, a creepy yet strangely cute stuffy, from the woman who is rumored to be a witch and lives down the street. It seems when Zombiekins is exposed to the light of the moon he comes to life, and is hungry. Zombiekins slowly munches and crunches and slobbers his way through Stanley’s elementary school, turning all the kids into zombies. It’s up to Stanley and his friend Miranda to try to stop the school’s complete zombification.

My kids love stories that are a little dark. My 8-year old is fascinated by zombies and vampires and other mythical (yet scary) creatures but most of the books we’ve encountered, that she’s wanted to read, are aimed at an older young adult audience. When I heard about Zombiekins I thought it would be perfect.

My daughter whipped through the first six chapters of the book when it first arrived, saying it was completely creepy but creepy enough that she had to keep reading.

Although Zombiekins is a book about zombies, Kevin Bolger does a great job balancing the creepy with the fun. There’s no talk about blood or brains or other aspects of zombies that you would expect in a zombie book. Bolger’s zombie story leaves it to the child’s imagination what happens. Even the illustrations are fun cartoon style. But don’t get me wrong, the story is still scary and creepy; a few times my daughter had to stop reading and preferred to only read when someone else was in the room with her.

I love how the adult characters, the school teachers, seem oblivious to the zombie changes going on in the school; some teachers actual prefer the kids in their zombie state as these zombie kids listen and follow the rules, except for the ‘don’t chew on your classmates’ rule.

I would have preferred it if Stanley had actually stumbled on the solution versus his friend Miranda but I guess they were working as a team. And it is better than having the witch or some other adult figure step-in. I think young readers will be glued to the pages, I know I spent a late night reading to get to the end. My daughter is still finishing the book so I’m trying hard not to spoil the ending.

And the story of Zombiekins might not be over just yet. Zombiekins II will be crawling to your bookshelf soon…Stump! — scri-i-i-i-i-ich…


For more zombie fun visit www.zombiekins.com

To add a copy of Zombiekins to your own library visit your local bookstore or Penguin Canada. For other great reads for kids checkout earlier Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Teaching Life Lessons Can be Rough

My 8-year old is a lot like her dad in many ways, but there is one thing she takes after me on. Night time. Like me, my oldest daughter is a bit of a night owl. She seems to get a second wind when the sun goes down. This will come in handy when she enter post secondary and has to spend countless nights working on assignments (I turned in some of my best work at 2 a.m.).

But being a night owl means you’re not much of a morning person. This can work against you when it’s a school day and you need to get up and ready and out the door by 8:30 a.m. That being said you can understand how my usually happy and chipper daughter is a little unresponsive and very unco-operative in the morning. I should realize this but when I have 3 kids to get ready and fed and out the door my perspective (and patience) is a little warped.

One morning this week I had enough of the pouting and argumentative behaviour. My daughter was annoyed with something I had asked her to do and to teach me a lesson she decided not to come down for breakfast, that she wasn’t going to eat breakfast that morning.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. In the past I’ve cajoled and convinced her, albeit reluctantly, to come join us for breakfast. Usually after eating her mood has brightened and the day continues fine. But this morning, in my tired frustrated mindset (I told you I’m a night owl too) I didn’t go see her. I was tired of fighting in the morning and using breakfast as the rope we tug back and forth. This time I decided if she didn’t want breakfast then fine, I wasn’t going to push her.

I continued our morning routine getting the other 2 kids ready. When it was time to go I told my 8-year old to come down and get ready for the van. Of course she never believed I wouldn’t let her go to school without breakfast so she moaned and groaned and cried about needing something to eat. I gave her a larger morning snack for her to eat at recess but that didn’t help.

At this point I was debating if I had made the right choice, letting her skip breakfast, but it was too late to change anything, we had to go. We just made it to school with my 8-year old in such a state of tears about being hungry. After dropping my son off I took my daughter to the bathroom and had her splash water on her face to try to calm herself down.

I didn’t take her home, although she asked not to go because she was so upset; I made her stay in school. I didn’t want her to think her behaviour was a way to get what she wanted. I didn’t see her until the end of school at 3:30 p.m. She was back to her old self and didn’t seem to have any issues in the classroom. We both gave each other a big hug and apologized, both of us.

Did I do the right thing? If I had followed my old pattern and made her come downstairs and eat, like I’m sure most moms would have done, the morning drive to school would have been uneventful but we’d probably have the same issue with breakfast the next day. Did I push the lesson too far by sending her to school without breakfast and so very distraught? Maybe. I don’t know. Will my daughter pull the breakfast strike again knowing that I won’t cave in? Only time will tell.

Sometimes the best lessons to learn are the ones you experience yourself. I think my daughter and I both learned something from this experience. Hopefully we’ll remember and handle things without so many tears. I hate those lessons.

Barbie Fashion Fairytale Movie Event

Sunglasses. CHECK

Fashionable outfit. CHECK

Flashy smile. CHECK

Glamour pose. CHECK

My girls and I were ready to face the paparazzi at the movie premiere. I’m not talking about the Toronto International Film Festival, which by chance is happening in town this weekend too. No I’m talking about the premiere of the new Barbie movie, Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale, due out on DVD September 14, 2010. Yummy Mummy Club and High Road Communications were hosting this exclusive sneak peek for a few yummy mummies and daddies and their kids. I was fortunate enough to be invited, along with my two girls.

While we waited in a sea of glitzy and glamourous girls, we witnesses Barbie’s arrival at the event. My 3-year old was so excited and couldn’t believe Barbie had just walked by her. Before entering the movie, the girls were given these great pink Barbie tiara headbands and they had their chance to strut their stuff on the famous pink carpet. And like all movie premieres they posed admidst a frenzy of flashbulbs. My girls loved it.

Each child attending was also given a kids meal (drink, popcorn and Kinderegg) to enjoy during the movie and parents were given a free Tim Horton’s coffee. They even had the chance for kids to be a Barbie and pose in a Barbie doll box. It was a very cute idea but my girls wanted to get their seats. And it’s a good thing since it looked like a full house. We were lucky to get a seat near the front. We actually sat in the row right behind Barbie. My 3-year old kept sneaking glances over at her in disbelief.

It wouldn’t be an event without prizes right? There were 4 door prizes consisting of a Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale doll and DVD and surprisingly my 8-year old daughter was one of the winners! She was so excited that she dropped her popcorn on the floor. If you know my daughter’s love of popcorn you know she had to be REALLY excited to drop it.

Then it was time for the movie. My girls loved it, even more than Barbie: A Mermaid Tale (which we all loved). The fashion theme and the fairies, or rather flaries (fairies with flare) were big selling features.

WIN a Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale Prize Pack

EverythingMom is running a contest right now to give away five (5) Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale prize packs consisting of both the DVD and Barbie). But hurry, contest ends September 19, 2010.