Posts Tagged ‘playing in the backyard’

Celebrate Canada Day with a Gun Salute

It’s Canada Day! Families will be celebrating all over the country. Some will have backyard BBQs and pool parties. Other’s will travel to visit family and friends. There will be fireworks and balloons, face paint and beer, lawn chairs and sunshine.

Things aren’t so different at our house; we’re celebrating too, though maybe not in a traditional way. Maybe it’s our proximity to our friends to the south or maybe it’s just a child’s fascination with…um, water. Either way, here’s our tribute to Canada, a 3 kid gun salute

Happy Canada Day! How are you celebrating?

Better Than TV

I know how easy it is to get sucked into TV. We canceled our cable years ago because we would spend so much time watching ‘stuff’. With 2 of my 3 kids at home with me during the day I wanted to avoid relying on the TV as a toy or an object of distraction (though when I have to make a call or I’m under the weather the TV becomes my kids’ best friend), so we have a rule there’s no TV on during the week.

The one exception is Fridays. On Fridays the kids can watch TVO Kids or CBC Kids or sometimes PBS Kids from the US if the weather’s nice. It’s kind of a treat for them (and me).

But today was different. Unlike other Friday’s the kids decided to watch something else. They decided to watch men hanging from the old oak tree in our backyard, juggling branches and chainsaws. You don’t hear me complaining (until my 5-year-old son decides he want’s to practice swinging from the trees ‘just like the guys’).

Top Ten Tuesday: Kids’ Crazy Faces

Yesterday we celebrated Victoria Day, as did many people across Canada. The weather was beautiful and we spent most of the time outside, either at the park working on our cycling skills or in the backyard BBQ-ing. We switched to charcoal a long time ago over propane. It may take longer but the taste is far superior.

So as we cooked, the kids played and played and played. It’s amazing how long the 3 of them can play together without any major battle. Watching them goof around, I thought what a great post for Oh Amanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday blog meme: our Top Ten Crazy Kids Faces. Okay, this post might not have mass appeal but the kids had fun making faces and I can’t help but laugh when I look at them, even now, hours after I took them.

Spring, Earth Day, and Gardening: Guest Post on NTFFC

Spring officially arrived at the end of March and now the weather is catching up too. This means we’ll be spending more time outside, getting the yard and garden ready for Earth Day and the summer. My April guest post on Allie’s fantastic site, No Time for Flashcards is about plants and gardens. So if you’re looking for some books to get your kids excited about the gardening season and developing an appreciation for plants, be sure to jump over. And if you have a garden or plant book you enjoy reading, please add it in the comments so others can enjoy it too.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Are we over scheduling our kids?

As I sat watching my two oldest during their swimming lessons this week, I couldn’t help but over hear the conversation between two parents near by.

Tuesday night is soccer and Wednesday night is baseball. Thursday night is drama after the math club. Friday night is greek school. Even the weekends are full with cooking class, dance lessons and Sunday school.

How do they do it?

I have my kids enrolled in swimming. I think swimming is something every child should learn. They also belong to their local Brownie/Beaver group and attend Sunday school. With just three activities planned I find our week busy; I can’t imagine having a program every other night.

And what about the kids? On nights we have swimming we go from school to the pool, homework and dinner are taken care of in the van before class and after swimming it’s time to head home and start the evening routine. They’re exhausted. How would they feel if they had to repeat a day like that every day? And what about free play?

My kids love their programs but not nearly as much as they love their free time in the backyard. They bond as siblings, they explore and discover the world around them, they imagine and pretend. In school they follow rules and focus on work. At their lessons they focus on the class and follow the rules. Where’s the yelling and running and sitting and dreaming and singing and laughing and doing nothing?

I can appreciate a parent wanting to give their child an advantage by enrolling them in special programs to expand their knowledge but I think scheduling all your child’s free time is a misguided decision. And it’s these over scheduled and structured kids that complain about being bored in the summer or standing around in the school yard doing nothing. They don’t know how to use their imagination, they don’t know how to occupy their time unless there’s a coach or instructor telling them what to do.

Of course we don’t help each other either. It’s those parents, the ‘I have my child in advanced chess for fun’ type parents who guilt and shame the rest of us into following them. I mean if we really cared about our kids why wouldn’t we have them taking Latin classes. Or perhaps our children just aren’t gifted enough to handle the extra work.

I think there’s a misconception with some parents that a child doing nothing is a child wasting valuable minutes of their young lives. But you know what, doing nothing can be one of the precious things only found in childhood. As adults we seem to spend so much time getting things done that we don’t appreciate doing nothing or goofing off.

So my children won’t be chess masters or learn how to do pleas, but there’s so much more they will learn by just swinging on the tire swing in the back yard.

I think it’s time we as parents just let our kids be kids.

Practicing for Winter

You may remember the video of my son and younger daughter doing their crazy slide tricks. I thought that was bad enough until I turned around and caught my two older kids doing this:

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my son came up with the ‘bright’ idea. I mean, he’s the one with the creative way to solve those pesky slide puzzles.

And when asked what made him do it: Winter’s coming and we want to tobogganing but we don’t have snow yet. It’s almost like tobogganing down the big hill.

Hopefully the snow will arrive before a trip to the emergency room.

Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumb’s Other Half

We had a play structure installed in our backyard when I was expecting my third child (so my older kids could play while I was laying on the ground enjoying my morning sickness). It’s really come in handy. Like yesterday for example. I had some work to do in the backyard so I took my two youngest with me to play (I worked, they played). My son is a wanna-be circus clown and his younger sister is a wanna-be in training. I guess I should have been paying better attention:

This is actually tame for the two of them. In case you can’t make it out, they’re sliding down on the front half of a child’s plastic wheelbarrow. I say front half because my ‘clever’ son figured out the back half slows you down and therefore removed it. I usually give the kids a little leeway when it comes to playing in the backyard since the school playground has so many rules. But really if you think about the school rules, they’ re in place for a reason, so kids don’t do ridiculous things that get themselves killed. So of course I had to give the speech that what they were doing was dangerous, but not before I captured it on video (I guess that makes me Tweedle Dumb Mum).

Enjoy your weekend!

Cleanest of the dirtiest

Since we were only going to my mom’s for a few days and it was just me taking them, I wanted to make sure I had the least amount of bags to deal with. This meant squeezing everyone’s clothes into one small bag, one that would pass airport carry-on standards. We’d only be hanging out at the house so it’s not like we needed anything fancy. I thought one extra shirt and pants should be fine. Leave it to kids, or at least my kids, to prove me wrong.

Everything was fine until we arrived at my mom’s house. Her yard backs onto the escapement, making it a great place for kids to play and explore. After being in the van for three hours, hanging outside was a perfect way to release that pent up energy. My youngest obviously remembered our visit in February and sledding down the hill in the backyard. This was the first thing she tried to do. Problem was there was no snow, no sled and no snow pants. Her perfectly clean pants were now caked with brown mud, grass and who knows what else.

Okay, she’s young and maybe not thinking things through. But then my son decides to play a single-player version of catch by throwing a ball up the hill and catching it as it rolls down. Not so bad, until he tries to be a ball stopping superstar and dive across the grass. And my oldest daughter isn’t any better. She can’t seem to break away from the hills call, rolling down it on her side. I love the feeling of rolling down a hill, but not through squishy, slimy grass.

But I’m saved, right, because I packed those extra clothes. Sure, the next day the kids start out wonderfully clean. But after a day of sliding, skipping, ball playing, mountain climbing, cousin catching, dinky truck driving fun, you can hardly recognize them from the foliage out back.

So today we were leaving for home and I found myself having to pick through the pile of dusty, dirty kids clothes trying to find the items that were the least dirtiest of the bunch. And things probably would have been fine had I just ushered them from my mom’s house to the van to home. But I had to make a stop at the pie shop before heading home and I couldn’t leave them in the car. The girl at the counter didn’t seem to notice my dirty brood. Maybe she’s seen her share of mud encrusted kids come by (I mean they are out in a farmer’s field). Or maybe she just wanted me to stay in the shop long enough to buy more pies. It will be a while before my next pie visit. And maybe on my next visit to my mom’s I’ll bring that extra bag of clothes just in case.