Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'll Take 'Supreme Commander' Please

My middle son has been going through a phase lately in which he is trying out different ways of addressing me.  He has tried 'lady' and 'woman' as two examples.  As in, "I'll have a toasted bagel for breakfast, woman!"  And: "Listen, lady, I'll clean up my room later!"

That doesn't go far with me.

He even tried 'crazy woman' which REALLY didn't sit well.  I think he's still regretting that lapse.

Where does he hear these things? 

He's really trying things out and testing the limits.  It's interesting.  It keeps me on my toes.  As I've said before, it's hard to be a 'good' parent because it's exhausting to keep on them all the time, but I think that comes with the whole job.

Anyway, I finally sat him down and looked him right in the eye.

"Listen carefully.  I answer to a few terms only.  I will accept Mom, Mommy, and Supreme Commander.  That's IT."

He replied, "You got it, Supreme Commander!"

That's right. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Literacy + Fun = Sigh of Relief

I had read that children's literacy skills often regress during the summer and I thought I would try to counter that by making sure we do reading and writing during the day.  We read every night, but the kids have been wanting to have a lot of video game time this summer and I wanted to try to balance it out a little better.

(Interestingly enough, there was an article in today's Hamilton Spectator that said that only children of lower-educated parents experience the regression of literacy skills.)

Anyway, I was asking (okay, forcing) the kids to write about what they had done on our camping trip or with their friends, etc.  It wasn't exactly fun.  Okay, it wasn't fun at all.  Not for any of us.

Today I was going through the whole scenario when my oldest son came to the rescue in the form of a great idea.  Instead of just writing down random things he suggested writing letters to each other.  He proposed being the 'mail man' who would deliver all the letters.

Everyone got into it, even me.  You'd receive a letter and then you'd respond, and vice versa.  The kids loved it.  They were laughing and giggling.  They were reading the letters and writing letters, and they thought it was a great game all at the same time.

Whew.  Thank goodness for sons with good ideas!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's Not Be Judgy, Joan!

I was in the grocery store with three of my children.  I will usually try to avoid this at ALL costs.  There are a million things I would rather do than go shopping with three kids.  I will do anything.  I have been known to shop late at night after boot camp is over and I'm all sweaty and tired and I really just want to have a shower.  But as long as I'm is TOTALLY worth it.

However, today I was taking the big chance because I didn't have a full list.  I was just getting some things for my son's birthday party.  It is still a big operation.  I have to try to keep each child occupied.  It uses every bit of my energy and all of my faculties.  I put the smallest one in the cart and usually shove a bagel in her mouth.  Yes, I do.  It works.  That's all I have to say.  I ask the oldest one to push the cart so it keeps his hands off his younger brother.  I ask my middle son to get me items off the shelves as I walk very, very quickly down every aisle in order to maximize the very small window of opportunity I have to stay sane in a store with children accompanying me.  As soon as I see my middle son starting to look like he's about to start knocking items down just for fun, I will say in as loud and commanding a voice as possible, "I need leeks NOW! Go! Go! Go!"  It's a pretty good strategy I have to say, barring a few bouts of wrestling in the produce section.

Anyway, this one woman was watching my kids and she told me that they were very well-behaved.  I looked around for the mom behind me who I knew she must be speaking to.  To my surprise, it was actually me who she was addressing.  I thanked her and prepared to move on.  I was thinking to myself, "We better get out of here fast before she sees what my kids are REALLY like."  (And that would be: normal, active kids who get bored in a nanosecond.)  Anyway, as I was leaving she asked me if they went to private school.  I replied that no, they just went to a plain old public school.  Let's not go there, I thought. 

Next she asked me if I had heard those other children screaming.  Yes, I had.  I think everyone in the store and within a half mile of it had heard these two.  They were two little boys with their mom and they were screaming very loudly.  To be fair, they were pretty young - maybe not even two.  I felt badly for the mom, because I have been there.  And it's not nice to be judged.  My youngest child was at least two years older than those boys.  Maybe that lady had never had kids or maybe she had forgotten what it was like.  Babies cry.  Kids scream.  They have temper tantrums.  They get tired and they can't articulate it and so they yell.  It's life.  It has nothing to do with private school.  And sometimes you just need to get your milk and bread before you get out of there.

No one likes to hear screaming but let's try some sympathy for the moms out there who hear it the loudest.  Who's with me?  You'll have to get back to me; I need to get my kids out of the store ASAP.

Long Point Camping

We just went camping with friends at Long Point.  The kids loved jumping over and into the waves.  And it's amazing how long playing in the sand can occupy kids.  My husband had to work so he wasn't there, and it was challenging to watch all three kids at times, but when they got to the sand play it was great.  I yelled in surprise to my friend, "Look at me!  I'm actually lying down!"  I was able to lie down in the shade of a sand umbrella and relax, while still having all three kids in my line of vision as they built sand castles and moats.  It was a beautiful thing.

There were many other good moments and one crazy moment.  The good things included:  being on the beach all by ourselves in the morning.  I had a mug of coffee and we walked along the water's edge.  The early morning sky was beautiful. 

It was also nice when we saw tons of lights flashing in the bushes and realized they were fireflies, and to hear the awe in my daughter's voice when she said, "Look at THAT, Mommy!"

Another nice moment was walking back from the camp bathroom at night after brushing our teeth.  We looked up at the stars and couldn't believe how many we could see.  We all put our arms around each other spontaneously and kept walking to our camp site.

And now to the crazy moment.  There's always got to be one, right?  And this was completely my fault.  Usually my husband packs up the tent and the trunk while I pack up all the bags and so on.  This time, of course, I had to do it all by myself.  I admit that by the end I was just stuffing things everywhere and shoving things into the trunk without being very careful.  And I hate to admit this, but as we were driving away from the camp I did notice the little red light on the trunk that said it wasn't shut all the way.  But we were about to stop for ice cream on the way home and it was only a minute away, and I told myself I would fix it when we stopped.  Unfortunately I forgot.

And then when I was on the highway, I suddenly remembered....because my trunk popped open and the cooler hit the highway with a loud crash.  And not just the cooler, but several bags also hit the road. 

I yelled, "OH MY GOD!" and swerved violently off the road.  I looked back at the kids, who were looking at me in wide-eyed shock.  "NOBODY MOVE!"  I said sternly, and then I ran out of the car to get everything off the road.  Thank goodness I wasn't on a busy road.

When I got back into the van, my daughter said, "Mommy, that was CRAZY!"

Yes.  Yes it was.  Note to self: never ignore a red light!  Most exciting trip home EVER.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins My Kids Love

Pumpkin Muffins

I love it when I find recipes that are healthy AND that my children love.  That doesn't happen very often.  These muffins don't have any white flour at all.  They are very moist and yummy, and we all love them.  I omit the raisins because my kids don't like muffins with bits in them.

From Smart Cooking by Anne Lindsay. Makes 15 Muffins

¾ cup Natural bran

¾ cup Whole wheat flour

¾ cup Granulated sugar

1½ tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp Baking soda

1 cup Raisins

½ tsp Salt

1 cup Mashed/canned cooked pumpkin

2 eggs Unbeaten (I beat them, because once when I didn't there were bits of egg white in the muffins.)

½ cup Vegetable oil (Crisco)

½ cup Plain yogurt or buttermilk  (I use Greek yogourt)

1. In bowl, combine bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda,

salt and raisins and toss to mix.

2. Add pumpkin, eggs, oil and yogurt. Stir just until combined.

3. Spoon batter into paper lined, or non-stick, muffin tins.

4. Bake in 400°F oven for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Do I Do With Them?

We all need things to do with the kids in the summer.  Here are some of our favourites:

  • bike rides (make the ride to a forest area and let the kids play there for awhile and it will last even longer)
  • picnic in the forest (let the kids play in a creek; bring wipes or an old towel; bring water and snacks and you can enjoy it more!)
  • mini-golf
  • bowling
  • ice-cream
  • library; get out some new books, graphic novels
  • try a new playground in a different neighbourhood
  • give the kids some loonies and take them to the dollar store and let them pick out some arts and crafts activities
  • water play: water gun fights, sprinklers
  • backyard play: bubbles, frisbee, soccer, boomerangs, chalk on deck, hopscotch, bocce, volleyball
  • get some neighbourhood kids together at the school for a game of road hockey or soccer
  • do a neighbourhood walk to a fun destination like a Chapters or a Booster Juice
  • go to a garden centre and enjoy looking at all the plants, flowers, and fountain or water features
  • go to an outdoor market and let the kids pick out some fruit or vegetables or a new kind of cheese
  • balloons can keep kids happy for hours
  • go look for frogs and dragonflies at a nearby pond
  • do a scavenger hunt for outdoor items like pine cones, heart shaped rocks, different kinds of leaves and so on
  • do backyard treat hunts
  • buy a new board game for rainy or really hot days
  • have the kids set up a 'store'; my kids love to do this with anything on hand such as a book store or a snack store (the best one they ever did was a pretend 'spa' in which they - voluntarily - gave me massages!)
  • build a fort
  • beach time - bring lots of sand and water toys to keep them occupied
  • camping
  • try to keep siblings from making each other crazy and make sure you add in some me-time!