Category Archives: kids

Perfectionism

Last year Lily wanted to be Rapunzel for Hallowe’en.  Fortunately there were plenty of Tangled costumes available, but none of them came with the trademark long blonde hair.  No problem – a little yellow yarn and I’ve solved that problem.  Except for one minor little detail:  I am the least crafty person you will ever meet.   But, with the best of intentions I pulled out my glue gun, bought yellow wool, a yellow headband and set to work.

It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning on October 30th that panic started to set in as I looked down at a mess of yellow and unsightly gobs of stringy glue along the top of the headband.  I tried to fix it.  I kept putting it on to see how the yarn was falling and how much more I would be able to add.

It was awful.  Lily was going to hate it.  I was ruining her costume.

She woke up full of excitement until I sat down beside her and explained that I’d really tried but I wasn’t sure she was going to like her wig.  When I pulled it out from behind my back, there was silence.  The pit in my stomach grew as I chastised myself for lacking even a shred of maternal Martha Stewartness.

But, then Lily’s little face lit up and she grabbed it out of my hands to put on.  She flung her new hair over her shoulder and twirled around the room.  Oh, it looked awful but she was happy.

I had forgotten that kids don’t have the same expectations of perfection that we do.  And, frankly, I think Lily, in her youthful wisdom, knew it was going to be a tough road for me with my inability to pull off anything crafty.

I’m not a fan of perfect and don’t often strive for it, but, sometimes I still get caught in its evil little trap.  Lily’s headband has become my reminder to throw out perfectionism and just do what I can.

It helps that a year later it’s still one of her favourite things in the dress-up bin.

Happy Hallowe’en!  

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It’s Not Fair

Nothing sets me on edge more than hearing one of my children bellow, “It’s NOT FAIR!”  That one sentence can turn me foul even when in the midst of a sun-shiny-birds-singin’ kind of day.

Lily thought it would be a good idea to whine it’s not fair when I asked her to pick up some of the ten thousand blankets she’d used to build a fort in the family room.

Frustrated,  I jumped into my now-overused diatribe on ‘fair’.  I threw out a few examples, including “Is it fair that your brother is cleaning the guinea pig cage and you aren’t helping him?”

It was going well until I threw in, “Is it fair that you’ve been playing all day and were out  on the swings while I made lunch, brought your dishes in, cleaned and put everything away?”

Lily had been quick to answer all the other questions with a ‘No, that’s not fair’ but here she took pause and looked a little bit confused, “Yeah, that’s fair.  That’s what parents do. Kids are only supposed to play.  Parents have to do all the other stuff.”

I think I have to revisit our chore chart…

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Operation Old Lady

I don’t have specific dreams for my children.  I don’t care what career they choose or worry about what they’re personal definition of success will be when they’re older.  I just want them to be happy.  I want them to have fun, follow their dreams and fall in love with their whole heart.  My only worry is whether I’m doing the right things to help them succeed in their happiness.  Oddly enough, it was my mom’s seventieth birthday celebration that showed me that it’s not a matter of whether I’m doing the right things; it’s a matter of being authentically me.

My sister and I tried to plan something for my mom for months but nothing felt right until we decided on a gather-the-gifts tour around Owen Sound, lovingly titled Operation Old Lady.

Mom received riddles before the big day so that she knew when to be at my house. When she arrived, we were all gone but there was a clown asleep on our front porch.  The clown (played by a most-amazing friend who I now owe dearly) had a horrible case of “Snoozilepsy” and my mom had to sing to wake her up.  My mom quietly sang Happy Birthday to Me then moved on to a verse of Home on the Range to no avail.  Only when my dad said ‘Well, the sign says sing louder’ did my mom rouse our clown with a belted out version of Jingle Bells.  Our Snoozileptic clown tried to read my mom her first clue but having ‘never been to clown college”, she never learned to read (Tessa, you’re brilliant).

When mom and dad arrived at their second stop, the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market, they wore smiles from ear to ear.  From there mom had to find the balloons that a few vendors happily allowed us to stash behind their stand with a gift attached.  Mom gathered a custom Red Hat sock monkey, some delicious cookies and a bag of the most incredible kettle corn.  The best part?  Thanks to Tom Pink and Stephanie Hargrave, the entire market stopped and sang my mom Happy Birthday.  It was awesome.

There were many more stops and a lot of incredible people that made the day unbelievably perfect.  Loretta at Millcreek Chocolates made our cheeks hurt we were all laughing so hard.

It was a day that wouldn’t suit everyone (as one woman made very clear by stating we should have called it Operation Humiliation) but at the end of it mom said that she hadn’t laughed so hard in years, which is exactly what my sister and I had hoped for.

When I was thinking about the craziness of the day, I realized that mom’s celebration exemplified some of the very things I want to teach my kids.  And, all of a sudden I understood that my parents never sat me down to teach me the lessons I hold dear today – they lived the lessons for me.  They didn’t verbally emphasize that one of the most important things in life is happiness and having fun – they just had a lot of fun together.

My parents didn’t sit me down for rousing motivational speeches about following my dreams but I was around when they talked about starting their own business;  I remember going and looking at various properties they were thinking about.  It didn’t matter that they didn’t go through with it – they were dreaming it and somehow, even as a kid, that’s what mattered.

When I started to fall for my boyfriend at seventeen years old my parents embraced him.  When at twenty we started talking about getting married my parents didn’t mock us or tell us we were too young – my mom said it was a good thing because if we broke up she’d have to adopt him.  My husband and I have had so many dreams throughout our years together, some we’ve followed and some we haven’t, but we’re always up for an adventure and we’re laughing along the way.

Sometimes I mess-up, I cry, I laugh, I play, I snark, I joke, I dream and, I am happy.  Hopefully that’s what my kids will take with them in life, because if they’re waiting for words of wisdom they unfortunately have the wrong mama.

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Dr. Seuss Reinforces Respect

I have always loved reading.  I still have copies of my favourite childhood books and enjoy nothing more than being immersed in a great story, the characters becoming friends as you turn the page and lose yourself in another world.

Reading with my kids was something I started to look forward to as soon as I knew we were expecting.

Jackson and I used to have book time where we would lie on his bedroom floor reading, signing and looking at the pictures. Unfortunately,  Lily and I didn’t have quite the same quality of one-on-one reading time because, well, she had a two-year old brother.

I remember looking forward to Lily growing into her big-girl bed, thinking that I would finally have my special book time with her.  I had dreams of us reading together, laughing and cuddling until her heavy eyes would finally give in to sleep.  But, dreams are made to be broken and my little girl, who went to sleep without a peep in her crib, became the Beast of the Big Bed.  The time we could have spent reading and solidifying our mother-daughter bond was spent in a stand-off of gnashing teeth and primeval grunting until one of us fell into a heap of sweating desperation.  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t all that bad but it wasn’t the rainbows I’d hoped for.

It’s been a couple of years since our nighttime battles and I now have the story-time I’d dreamed of — most nights, anyway.

Last night I was reading Sneetches by Dr. Seuss to Lily and was shocked when Jackson asked me to read it to him as well.  Usually Jackson and I will sit together to quietly read our own books so I jumped at the chance to go back in time before anything other than a chapter book was too ‘baby’.

At the end of the story I looked at Jack and told him that Sneetches was one of my favourite Dr. Seuss books, “I think it’s a really important one too, especially right now.”  Without a second thought he replied, “Yeah, it doesn’t matter if we’re different from someone else, we should always show respect.  So what if one Sneetch has a star on their belly, right?  You should respect everyone.”

With that, I thanked Dr. Seuss for giving us stories like A Wocket In My Pocket to just have fun and be silly with while also offering books like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who that are still fun, but, should we decide to, can be used as a springboard for much bigger conversations.

It makes me happy to picture my kids, years down the road, looking at their own bookshelves, seeing The Sneetches sitting there with its spine torn and ragged from years of reading.

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Twenty-one hours

It seems to have become a bit of a new year tradition for us to pack the car and say goodbye to the snow as we drive to South Carolina.

Yes, that’s twenty-one hours in the car. With two kids. And, we’ve been doing it for the past four years.

This year, we loaded my phone with movies to help pass the time for the kids, but, to our surprise, they watched one movie in twenty-one hours.  To my horror, that left more than nineteen hours that I needed to fill.

It was a last-minute trip this year so I didn’t have time to do much planning.  We played car bingo which the kids had a love/hate relationship with (we’re still working on patience and delayed gratification).  The front-seaters got a little tired of the ‘when are we going to see a dooooog?? When are we gonna see an airplaaaane??’ whining from the back-seaters.  I found a fantastic website for mazes and games that kept the kids busy as well as introducing Jackson to the world of Sudoku.  Everyone’s favourite car activity though was a little something I threw together just before we were leaving.  I’m a big fan of imagination so I made a few pages with random shapes for the kids to turn into art.  They loved doing the same sheet over and over to come up with something new each time.  One of the sheets had a circle and stars at the top which I was sure would be turned into a moon but in the four versions they did, never once did those stars become part of a night sky.

We had a week away in a beautiful place where the weather was perfect.  We saw nature, ate well (honey almond ice-cream = going back next year ) and played, yet, some of our favourite memories are of the drive.  There’s something to be said for being stuck in a confined space together with no choice but to make the best of it.  Okay, to be honest, the drive home is never fun.  There’s nothing new and exciting to look forward to at the end so everyone’s nerves are a little more prickly (yes, by ‘everyone’ I mean ‘me’).  For the last five hours of every drive home my husband and I commit to flying next time…

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Poor Goofy

Last night we watched a commercial for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse special featuring Minnie Mouse.  Jack, who hasn’t watched Clubhouse in years, exclaimed “That’s not fair! Minnie Mouse is taking over and it’s Mickey’s show!”

“I think it’s a special Valentine’s episode.”  Pointing back to the screen I say, “See, there’s Mickey – he’s still in it”

“Why would she be in the Valentine’s episode?”  A look of realization crosses his face, “Minnie isn’t his sister, is she?”

“Nope.  They love each other.”

“They’re boyfriend and girlfriend?”  he says as he mentally works out this new reality, “So then, Donald and Daisy? They’re not brother and sister either are they?”

“Nope.”

Jackson says with a sigh, “Well, that’s really sad, then. Goofy doesn’t have anybody.”

We decided poor Goofy seems happy enough, regardless.

 Valentine’s is coming quickly, I hope your day is filled with hugs and laughter. 

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All the Awesome

Sometimes it’s a video clip that inspires me, reminding me of the diversity and adventure that waits around every corner.  Sometimes, it’s just a silly commercial that makes me smile while emphasizing a life lesson to always be open-minded and nonjudgmental.  Regardless, it’s almost always something simple that reminds me of all the good – all of the awesome – that’s still alive and well in the world.

This week, it wasn’t a little thing that served as my reminder of how fantastic people really are:  it was a grand gesture of kindness from a person I follow on twitter.

A woman I have never met before, and only sporadically tweet with, spent over an hour with me on the phone talking about language development and reading in order to help Lily with ongoing letter recognition issues.  Diane Duff (@diane_duff on twitter) offered her time so generously and provided me with so much information that I’m still trying to process it all.

So much of this blog used to be about Lily’s adventure through sign language and her progress after being classified as having a severe speech delay.  Then, for some reason I stopped updating.  My last post about Lily’s progress was back in September of 2010 before she ventured into the world of junior kindergarten.

Diane has inspired me to get back to it.  As I create and make tools to help play letter games with Lily I will share them with you.  I will blog about our progress and touch on the information Diane has provided me.  I can’t repay her for all she did for me on Monday but I can put what I’ve learned out into the universe to possibly help someone else.   So, I hope you’ll check back for free downloads and some game ideas that will be great fun for any child.

Furthermore, building on my last post where I expounded on my love of snow and Christmas, for the next couple of weeks (and beyond?) I will be highlighting something nice that happens during my day.  It’s a small way I can do better by consciously recognizing all the awesome –  even the small, quiet awesome – instead of unintentionally letting myself get bogged down in all that is wrong with the world right now.

TODAY:  three men, early twenties, who were engaged in conversation and goofing around with one another still took the time to hold a door open for me – even offering smiles and a happy you’re welcome! (If you’ve been here before, holding the door or a thank you after having the door held open for you, is a pretty big deal to me)

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