Posts Tagged ‘raising kids’

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?

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?

On Raising a 4 Year Old: Don’t Test Their Will

Yesterday the weather was pretty good and even though I’m dealing with some sort of flu bug I still walked the kids to school (versus driving them). If we get out the door on time, the 20-minute walk can actually be good for everyone. Even my 4-year old, who seems to have all her energy drained from her as soon as she hits the end of the driveway, is able to keep up and get to school without a single whine. I think it helps to have siblings to walk with; they’re more entertaining than walking with mom I guess.

But after dropping my older two off at school, the 4-year old and I have to walk home. Alone. On our own. As soon as we step off school property it hits: I can’t walk! My legs are broken! This is the worst day ever! Why didn’t we drive? All sung out in that not-s0-wonderful shrill that 4-year olds are so good at.

With my cold still fighting my body for supremacy, I didn’t really feel like taking on this battle. Then my super intelligent mom brain kicked in. My 4-year old decided she didn’t want to walk so I agreed. Instead we stood there in the snow outside a row of houses on our walk home. I would show her. She expects me to fight with her and drag her home unwillingly but not this time. This time she would get what she wants and see that you have to be careful what you wish for. Sort of reverse psychology stuff I guess. My daughter would quickly get bored and reluctantly decide to walk home with me without any fuss and that would be that.

What was I thinking! Trying to play a phycology games with a 4-year old!

So she sat there, on the house’s stone wall, playing in the snow. She drew circles with a stick. She made foot prints. She guessed with each person walking by if they lived in the house we were standing in front of or not. It took every fibre in my body not to cave and just resort to dragging her home. Give it a few more minutes I thought, then she’ll get bored. But of course right at that moment a neighbourhood cat came by and loved hanging out on the step with my daughter.

I was getting cold (and I didn’t have my phone to twitter out my stupidity). I asked my daughter if she was getting cold. Nope. I said we should get home so she could get her snack. Not hungry. Three hours went by. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, maybe 20-minutes since I didn’t have my phone to confirm how much time we were wasting.

Eventually my daughter decided it was time to go home. I suppose I could have used this moment to relax and observe the world through my daughter’s eyes. Perhaps if the weather was warmer an I was feeling better, maybe. One thing I did learn is not to put a 4-year old’s will to the test.

Write a Review Wednesday: Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose

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 Where’s Walrus. This week we’re looking Sterling Publishing‘s Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose (age 4-7), written by Nancy Gow and illustrated by Stephen Costanza. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Publishing Kids for my review copy.

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There once was a beautiful princess. A typical start to child’s fairytale story, however, this wasn’t your typical princess. Along with her ruby-red lips and fair face, this princess had very large feet. No suitor would take her to be his wife. And while this princess despaired about her unprincessly features, across the land was a prince dealing with his own issues, a very large nose. One day while skiing the princess and prince happen to meet and fell in love. But they both knew they would have to reveal their hidden features to each other. Would true love win out?

Any book that has a princess in it is bound to interest my 4-year old but Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose isn’t your typical fairytale.  Full of fun, colourful illustrations and written in rhyme, Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose is a wonderful book to read out loud; the story reads almost like a song and my daughter loved it. I loved that it was a princess (and prince) story where the main characters weren’t stereotypically beautiful. Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose is a great story illustrating how we shouldn’t judge people by how they look. Imagine the amazing people we would miss meeting if we avoided them because they were different. Although we try as parents to raise our kids to think this way, sometimes a story can be an easier and more enjoyable way to get the message across (versus mom just telling you to behave or not behave a certain way).

Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose opens up a great discussion with kids about how people are different in how they look or behave or in what the believe. The fact that the main characters are a prince and princess makes it that much more impactful, to me anyway. These types of characters are always perceived as beautiful and if they’re not they must be mean (such as the step sisters). Both the Prince and Princess were different but they are still lovely people. And my 4-year old still enjoyed it because of the princess.

To add a copy of Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose to your personal collection, visit your local bookstore or Sterling Publishing Kids. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are you reading with your kids?

Write a Review Wednesday: Zero Kisses for Me

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 Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. This week we’re all about love with Valentine’s Day around the corner so we’re reviewing Tundra Books Zero Kisses for Me (age 4-7 ) written by Virginie Soumagnac and illustrated by Manuela Monari. I have to thank Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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It’s hard being the little one in the family;everyone always wants to give you kisses, especially your mom. She sends you out in the rain. Kisses. She gives you a hug. Kisses. One little boy has had enough; he’s worn out by the end of the day after all those kisses. He tells his mom that from now on he wants no more mushy kisses. Not ever. But at bedtime, when his mom obliges his wishes, something isn’t quite right. Could it be he’s missing his kisses?

As my kids get older I know there will be some resistance to mom kisses; I’m already seeing this from my 8-year old daughter. I think as kids get older they feel, just like the boy in Zero Kisses for Me, that big kids don’t need to get kisses all the time; kisses are for babies. I think that’s why I loved this book so much. My kids are always trying to be ‘bigger’ and going to bed without a goodnight kiss is one of those things big kids do, so many kids think. Both the words and illustrations do a great job depicting how a young child is caught between wanting to be grown-up and not be coddled and kissed all the time while at the same time wanting to remain little and protected by their parents. All 3 of my kids could relate to both sides of the boys reaction.

When the boy has difficulty sleeping, after not getting his usual bedtime kiss, he is comforted again by lots of kisses from his mom. Reading Zero Kisses for Me segued nicely into talking about growing up and kisses and respecting personal space (such as maybe not giving too many kisses goodbye in the school yard but lots for good nights and good mornings).

If you want to add a copy of Zero Kisses for Me to your personal library, visit your local bookstore or Tundra Books. For other great book ideas for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. I also included Zero Kisses for Me in a list of book for kids based on the topic of love. Checkout EverythingMom‘s Everything Love section to see what other books are on the list. What are you reading with your kids?

The Death of a Bedtime Buddy

When you have kids you sort of expect you’ll have a few years of sleepless nights but after the infant stage the novelty of waking up at night (for me at least) starts to wear off, quickly. My 4-year old hasn’t slept through the night since, well, forever. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the solid nights have been few and far between.

To try to appease my daughter I had given her a musical lamb that my mother-in-law had given my oldest daughter (she found it at some sale). My two older kids had no real interest in the lamb so it’s just sat on the shelf but my youngest daughter is more of a stereotypical child; she would play with toys they way manufacturers designed them to be played with (and a majority of other kids play with them). My older two were never like that as kids.

I gave the daughter the lamb, which she could wind herself, and she loved it. She would play it over and over until she fell asleep. The best part of course, no 1 a.m. wake-up call. I was feeling pretty good about this new routine so of course something had to go wrong.

Tonight as I’m getting my 4-year old into bed, I pulled out the lamb, ready for the start of an easy, solid night sleep. I tuck my daughter in, lamb resting in her arms. My daughter is in a defiant ‘I can do it’ stage so of course I didn’t even suggestion winding the lamb for her. I left to say goodnight to my son and check on my oldest daughter only to hear wailing down the hall. My 4-year old was upset that she couldn’t wind up her lamb. I tried and it wouldn’t wind either. And it wouldn’t play. I tried to find something else to entertain her but it didn’t matter, it wasn’t her lamb buddy. I sat with her as she tried to settle, sniffling and sighing between tears.

The lesson I should have walked away with: maybe teaching my daughter to rely on a toy to help her sleep isn’t the best option.

The lesson I ended up walking away with: I need to buy my daughter a new musical lamb.

Hey, if something works for you, why change it (if only the lamb still worked).