Monday, March 28, 2016

Holiday Traditions: Easter

Our children get excited. Really, really excited for any holiday. Our oldest who typically presents with a more shy and conservative demeanor suddenly bounces off of the walls which usually ends in an epic meltdown. He stops sleeping and just get "sooooooooo excited." Whether it's a quiet day with the family or an exciting adventure, it tends to yield too much excitement for him. Perhaps this is a trickle effect for him from having a birthday over Christmas and that has set some tone for subsequent holidays. I don't know.  Our youngest can "handle the pressure" but our oldest, absolutely cannot contain his that I have officially over-used the word "excitement", I can honestly say that he has a distinctive personality that continually allows you to look at things from new perspective and grow your patience.

We struggle to maintain the excitement and passion for celebrations with a calm and peaceful vibe; can you relate?  This year for Easter we planned a family breakfast. The whole focus for the festivities became about this special breakfast. And--- it worked. We still had the "traditional" - commercialized? - egg hunt but the focus on the family breakfast without any mention of the egg hunt, yielded a successful day. A really successful day. A new tradition has been formed where we focus on the details of the holiday meal. This seems to provide the excitement for our son while keeping that excitement contained and ensuring the focus of the holiday is that of family versus commercialism. He had the details covered - pancakes shaped as bunnies, the remaining pancakes served in a Easter basket, special spring napkins... he set the table with pride, escorted everyone to the table... the day followed with an Easter Egg Hunt, a family walk to a local farm, and ended with a family movie night.

You can tell from this, we are not religious but we have begun reading "Our Daily Bread." We grapple on a daily basis to find peace and surround ourselves with a central focus that is bigger than ourselves... Our six year old absolutely gravitates to this book and its messages. I highly recommend checking it out. Discovery House introduces the book well, "If you’re looking for ways to help your children or grandchildren learn and grow spiritually without being too preachy, too boring, or too demanding, look no further. Bestselling children’s author Crystal Bowman and her daughter, Teri McKinley, present short and engaging devotions, easy-to-remember Bible verses, and exciting facts that encourage children to spend time with God and apply the truths of His Word to their everyday lives. This illustrated, kid-friendly version of the well-loved Our Daily Bread devotional is perfect for children ages 6–10."

Now, in complete contraction to what I have just said, here are the kids enjoying their egg hunt... From our family to yours, Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

The world of boys...

And, it happened. The boys have a pet worm. ?!?! I think we are making good progress through the list of stereotypical incidents to experience being the parents of boys:
1. Stop son from eating wood bug/pill bug
2. Retrieve Lego from son's nose....twice.
3. Pee in the bushes.
4. Pee in the middle of the school yard.
5. Pee in a cup on a road trip.
6. Pee on the highway.

Add this to the list of things no one ever tells you about boys. Or, maybe they do but they do not INSIST that they are going to happen. I am here to tell you: they will. They do. Yes, you will cringe. You will shake your head. But.... With this also comes the other side of having boys, they will love you like nothing else. Admire you more than anyone else. And truly be the most precious thing you ever have had around your neck.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Best Pancake Recipe - Turning Breakfast into a Fun Activity

This is the BEST pancake recipe! Time saving tip: Plan ahead and mix the dry ingredients in jars in advance then, on the day of cooking, simply add the milk and eggs. Alternatively, make a batch at once and store cooked pancakes in ziploc bags so you can easily warm up throughout the week. The latter was the strategy used in this video (and hence why the chocolate chips not rapidly melting). The placing of chocolate chips is a great activity to support FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT --- of course, healthier options would be using fresh berries but it's school break so the kids are enjoying a special treat. :)

2 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
4 T sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups milk

1. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.
2. Combine all ingredients.
3. Cook & enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Traveling With Children: A Few Tips

We like to travel. We are somewhat addicted to traveling. Having a family does not stop us or slow us down... perhaps it even encourages us more. We want to expose our children to different experiences as best as we are able to. With kids, we have been to Germany, Italy, France, Hawaii, across Canada and the northern USA so --- BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI (not yet to Newfoundland)... Maine, Washington DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Wisconsin Dells, Mt. Rushmore, Seattle, etc. For a 6 year old and 3 year old, that's not too shabby. For adults, we like to think that's not too shabby. With all of this traveling with children, we have learned a few things:
  1. Activities in ziplock bags is convenient; keeps them sorted and more accessible.
  2. Limit the activities you bring. Too many provides too many choices and takes up too much space. 3 for each child is appropriate.
  3. Mega blocks provide a surprisingly great activity. They are big enough to not get lost and easy to contain.
  4. Only use electronic devices after a set period of travel where the child(ren) have been calm.
  5. Any opportunity to allow the children to run around, take advantage of: seatbelt sign is off on the airplane, let them stand/walk by the washrooms; washroom pit stop on a long car ride, allow 5 minutes for them to run around - set a timer if you have to so 5 minutes doesn't become 45 but allow sufficient time for everyone to stretch their legs. By setting the timer, children are made aware (even if there is a bit of a learning curve) how long they are able to race around.
  6. Any opportunity to let the children rest, take advantage of it. If you are driving and the children are sleeping, keep driving as long as your body (and itinerary) appropriately allows. 
  7. With sleeping arrangements, don't be afraid to convert the bathroom into another bedroom or temporary living room. On our cross country trip our children were aged 2 and 4 and sleeping in the same room was difficult. A routine that ended up working well for us was putting the 2 year old down for the night while the 4 year old had a prong longed bath. We even set up blankets on the bathroom floor to allow him to watch a show while his younger brother fell asleep. In the morning, because the younger child always woke earlier, he and I would watch a show in the bathroom while the rest of the slept. 
I am sure that I will add to this list but there is a start...

....We have been fortunate enough to travel from Canada to Germany several times. "Dad" is born and raised there so that is certainly part of the motivation but it has enabled us to have some notable experiences. If you are ever in Berlin, the zoo is an absolutely must!!  Below are a few snapshots of some of the animals we have been able to see. The animals are exceptionally well cared for and the proximity which you can get to them is phenomenal... and with that, I will sign off for today. Stay tuned for more snapshots of our travels.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Comparing Children: just don't do it

We have started to take the boys skating. It's become a weekly thing. They both enjoy it and although it does not come easy for them, they are having fun.

Our oldest lacks muscle tone. He could not process protein like a "normal" child and instead, protein consumption sent him into a comatose state; extreme lethargy, sudden high fevers, spontaneous - projectile vomiting... Not fun. BUT... he is out growing it. We are exceptionally fortunate to have a child with metabolic disturbances who grows out of it. We are blessed. Supporting his development to assist him in "catching up" presents numerous situations which test our patience to a level that I never knew existed.

When your child is at the playground or hockey rink, have you ever found yourself admiring the physical abilities of other children there?... Then, you catch yourself --- as you inadvertently are comparing your child. That used to be us. Selfishly, one of the blessings of our son's health adversity is that we have genuinely stopped comparing our child to others.... I highlight this as such a blessing because I think it makes us better parents; we focus and celebrate our child without the distractions comparisons may present.  However; that does not stop others. I listen to them share proudly about their child's accomplishments as they continually offer, well-meaning but non-constructive, suggestions that are so specific within the realm of a child's development, I cringe.

At our last visit to the rink, I  mistakenly asked the age of another child as this child's skills were exceptional and it provided and easy means to begin a conversation... He was 6. My son is 6. This other child was literally skating laps around our son. When our son stands and shuffles, we get excited. The passive tension rapidly rose as this other parent began suggesting everything to teach our son how to play hockey... We listened but stepped aside feeling really awkward and judged.

Our child is having fun in activity that helps him increase his strength, balance, coordination and support muscle growth.... We'll take that and proudly brag via posting a video of his newly acquired skills to You Tube. See for yourself: happy, healthy and determined. There is no need compare him to others.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

"You're a mom." -- the answer to...everything.

Have you heard that line, "you're a mom" and suddenly that statement is apparently an answer.... To everything.

I have recently realized just how frequently one of my coworkers says this to me. However, it is more in the context that I share stories about my kids --- and am personally realizing, inadvertently, too much. This did get me reflecting though on just how frequently those three words have become such a prevalent statement in a variety of contexts. For example:

My husband and I were talking about getting things done around the house with the kids... I was frustrated and finally, directly, asked, "how am I able to do this --- and this and this, then?" His response, "you're a mom." Long pause. He then continued, "you guys are super human. I don't know how you do it, you just do." It that supposed to be a compliment?

Imagine a casual dinner conversation... There is a transition of topics that you don't notice but your friend without children catches on without reservation where as, you are totally oblivious:
Me: interesting...son, put your penis back in your pants... So, what other opportunities are you looking into?
Friend: ummmm.... That's obviously not the first time you've said that.
Me: Sorry, said which?
Friend: son...
Me: oh, that. That's the phase were in now so I don't notice it anymore. Maybe I should be more aware of the words coming out of my mouth..."
Friend: nah, you're a mom.

Have you experienced the "you're a mom" response? Share your story in the comments below.

Add more in the comments below!