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Archives August 2013
Though the latest trend seems to be “kid-free travel” with another airline offering a kid-free zone, I’m a big proponent of travelling with kids. It’s important to show your kids places beyond their own backyard so they get a sense of just how big and different the world really is. And you don’t always have to go a long way to change up the scenery. I’m just back from a quick weekend getaway with my family. We had a great time popping over to Richmond, BC, and a quick jaunt into Vancouver to see a couple of family members.
My husband rode out on his Harley, while my toddler daughter and I flew out from Calgary.
I’m a fairly well-travelled mom at this point so I knew to pack light, but still with all the essentials to make our stay comfortable and entertaining for the little one. She had her own backpack with a bunch of goodies to keep her occupied on the flight as well as during our meals since we were dining out the whole time.
I booked a lovely suite at the Westin Wall Centre hotel, near the airport, making it quick and easy to settle in once we arrived. A suite is really the only way to go when staying at a hotel so that you can put the babe to bed, and still be able to stay up and enjoy the room. Otherwise, you’re stuck having to go to bed at the same time as the kids and where’s the fun in that?
The Westin was also very family friendly, providing a comfy crib for Annabel. We also had a kitchen area with a fridge to store her milk and other snacks. It was genuinely a relaxing home away from home.
Another plus was its proximity to the Richmond Night Market so we were able to walk instead of getting stuck in the parking madness that happens at any busy venue. Richmond is home to two night markets that run all summer, and we loved being able to toodle around, trying out all the delicious market foods like BBQ squid, skewers of all kinds, fresh fruit smoothies, steamed BBQ pork buns and more. The markets have a decidedly Asian flavour, but there are foods from many ethnicities including Romanian, Slavic, German and of course, good ol’ North American street fare. Go hungry because it is the place to eat your face off. And we did.
The morning of our departure, hubby left early at 6am to try and beat the traffic home. So I was left with Annabel on my own, which was no biggie since I’ve travelled alone with her before. We were ahead of schedule and I was just zipping up our luggage when she decided to run around like a crazy person while eating a snack. Well lo and behold, she throws up all over herself and the carpet. By the time I cleaned her and the carpet up, we were no longer ahead of schedule. We became a harried mess rushing to the airport and hitting every possible hiccup along the way.
What should have taken five minutes to return our car rental turned into nearly 25 as everyone decided to show up at the car rental at the same time. That’s, of course, when Annabel decided to have a meltdown. Trying to steer her wonky stroller along with dragging our luggage into the terminal was a gongshow at best. We get there only to find out our flight had already been closed. I think Annabel’s tear-streaked face and me, drenched in sweat and short of breath (did I mention I’m 15 weeks pregnant?), must have looked overwhelmingly pathetic because the Air Canada employee called the gate staff to reopen the flight for us. Thank goodness. We got to the gate just as it was finishing boarding and I thought the worst was over. That is until Annabel spilled her juice all over herself and had, yet another, meltdown. And I, the well-travelled mom, had failed to bring a spare set of clothes on board with me. So, she had to sit the whole flight in soaking wet pants. Thankfully, we had a lovely flight attendant who made her as comfortable as possible, which in turn helped me to survive the flight.
Moral of this story? It doesn’t matter how well-travelled you are. Things can go sideways, especially with kids. All we can do is try to stay calm, ask for help and make do as best we can. As they say, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And this flight home certainly built me up for the next trip. Because there will definitely be a next trip. No matter how stressful travelling can be, its rewards are always worth the effort.
Here are some tips on how to travel with kids without going crazy.
Back at the beginning of July, Staples Canada invited me to a Back to School event. I scoffed, and laughed at the absurdity of a BTS event when school had just finished, but I still took in all the clean binders and knapsacks, lunch boxed unmarred by smushed fruit and dried juice box spills, and yes, I inhaled every eraser. Deeply.
And now, here we are in the 4th week of August, and I’m starting to feel panicked.
I don’t have any clean knapsacks –heck, I don’t have any erasers. And now that overwhelming mommy-fail feeling starts to creep in. Did I sign them up for the “right” autumn extra curricular classes back in June? Whispers of who’s on what fall teams is filling me with anxiety. Have I missed something? Some secret mommy code? Did I fail to get the book? Did they forget me when it came to delivering those manuals? Have I screwed up?
Because, as I sit here typing with sangria in one hand and earplugs crammed in to block out the ever-present August construction, I’m delighting in my lollygagging.
But am I missing some milestone? Will I be kicked out of the PTA because I didn’t shop before the Back to School sales?
And does Shopper’s really have to have the Halloween candy out now??
How do you mums and dads do it. Let me know and I’ll give you a gold star.
Or some sangria.
The first day of school for my boys is September 3, so I am currently getting prepared for the new school year. I like to make sure I am as organized as possible by setting up a monthly calendar, getting my school shopping done early, figuring out some “go to” lunch ideas and starting to establish proper sleep schedules as soon as possible.
1) We start the day with a special pancake breakfast (complete with a wine glass filled with milk). I think this year I might treat the boys to chocolate chip pancakes. I found a great recipe from Canadian Living here.
2) We like to take some special “first day of school pictures”. We always take a picture of the boys holding a photo from the year before. (They think it is super fun to watch themselves growing up in this way.) I also plan on taking some pictures with the fun first day of school printables I found here.
3) My boys bring a simple handmade card or gift for their new teacher each year.
4) My boys bring a little treat for their new classmates. A new class is a big deal for little ones, so it is a fun way to make the first day feel special.
5) At the end of the day, we have a special treat together at the kitchen table. The boys love it, and it provides me with the perfect opportunity to ask them questions about their day.
How do you prepare for, and celebrate, the first day of school?
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
I loved the academic part of school as a kid. My son doesn’t always. I am struggling with the gap: Is it our family’s fault for not providing the right structure? Is it a maturity thing? Is it the school’s problem? These are the questions that keep me up at night sometimes. Here’s my wish list for September, regardless:
1. It’s okay to be a boy
Before I had a school-aged child, I have to tell you that I would have called articles like this one over at TIME, School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys, fear-mongering. Now I’m not sure.
2. Hard work doesn’t have to be torture
I think our schools are reasonably good at giving kids the message that learning is fun (some of the time anyway), and that sometimes you have to sit down and do your homework. What we’re not always great at is connecting the two.
I totally get that it is hard for a teacher to be up on each child’s interests, but my son’s approach to work when he understands why he’s learning something, or how it connects to, say, grocery shopping, is much different than when he is handed a worksheet.
I also worry that homework is ruining our lives, but that’s another post.
3. Not everyone learns the same way…and that’s okay
My son learns best with his hands: Moving objects around, writing about things that are right in front of him, acting out stories with Lego people. School doesn’t always support that, even in areas like math where I think manipulable objects are great for almost all kids.
Of course I don’t share these concerns with my just-about-8-year-old. Instead I focus on the things we control, like the great life lessons we chose for our downloadable notes, below. And maybe that’s something I need to learn: Focus on the positive.
What do you hope your child learns at school this year?
There’s been a lot of buzz of all things baby with the birth of Prince George, including premium baby food as discussed in this Forbes article. And it’s about time there were options that consisted of more than sugar-packed snacks or disgusting goop in a jar to feed our precious little bundles. What the Forbes article missed though, is that we have our own Canadian trailblazer in the baby food business. Calgary mom Jennifer Carlson decided to make her own baby food when she wasn’t happy with what she found at grocery stores. That led to her founding Baby Gourmet, which has grown from a farmer’s market stall to a nationally distributed baby food company.
When I was a new mom, I made the decision to make my own baby food because I, too, didn’t love what was available in stores. But, given that I was challenged in the kitchen at the best of times, I had as many hits as misses with my little miss. Thankfully, I discovered Baby Gourmet’s purees, which my daughter loved. They were tasty and healthy so I ended up drizzling it all over the food I had cooked so that I was still, in essence, making her food. It was a win-win.
Even now, with Annabel turning three in the fall, she still loves the purees as a snack. They come in all sorts of creative combos such as Banana Apple Kale and Old Fashioned Apple Crisp. They also have the Squoosh line, which are purees aimed at kids instead of babies with flavours like Banango and Squabbleberry.
Their latest product has become part of my food arsenal when Annabel is being a fusspot, which can be often. I simply have to wave a bag of Mushies at her, which are bite-sized, freeze-dried, melt-in-your-mouth fruit and veggie snacks. She loves them and will eat her other food if the offer of Mushies afterwards is on the table. Plus, they’re a healthy treat so I don’t have to feel guilty about her gobbling them up.
I love when moms share their great ideas, and in the case of Baby Gourmet, I’m especially glad that Jen decided to take her recipes to market. Her food really made my life as a mom easier and Annabel’s menu both healthier and tastier.
Prince William spoke about Prince George at his first official event after becoming a father. His commentary is kind of adorable actually. My favourite quote is “I have to say that I thought search and rescue duties over Snowdonia were physically and mentally demanding, but looking after a three-week-old baby is right up there.”
I realize that having been born in 1982, Prince William is on the cusp where the generational lines are concerned. But it seems to me he’s taking a Gen-X approach.
I think those of us who went through the great divorce upheaval and rise of the two-income middle-class household during our youths — remember when you heard more about “latchkey kids” than “helicopter parents”? – have a particular approach to parenting. We want to be there. That goes for men and women alike. We don’t mind admitting that the nighttime feedings are tough, as long as we showed up for them. We don’t necessarily think our kids’ first swim meet will be the start to an Olympic career, or even higher self-esteem, but we want to be jumping up and down and cheering them on.
I realize Prince William’s mentioning Prince George in a speech is part of the family business — after all, the royal family’s fundamental job is to be and create a genetic legacy — but the way he focused on having been there at night was really familiar to me. Other parents might have discussed whether Prince George was “a good baby” or reflected on the Duchess of Cambridge’s Madonna-like aspects. But Prince William got across that he’s there, and in the game. Good for him.
For dads we admire, check out 5 Canadian dads we love. Prince William could do worse than to emulate these!
What do you think has influenced your approach to parenting?
(Thumbnail picture: By Robert Payne, via Wikimedia Commons)
“Mommy, why do you wear makeup?”
I paused, mascara wand hovering above my left eye and thought for a moment.
Do I tell her the truth? That I:
- smother my skin in foundation to even out any blotchiness caused by repeated sweating over endless boiling pots of
Phineas & Ferb macaroni & cheese having already slaved over the beautiful, well-balanced, uber healthy and delicious oven casseroles she & her brother won’t eat
- apply 10 coats of mascara to give the appearance of bright eyes when really I’m sleepwalking through another tedious recorder recital
- caked on concealer at first to cover the ever-deepening dark circles acquired from years of sleepless nights and midnight, 2am, 4am, 4:30am and 4:45 am feedings, then later to also mask the furrow in my brow crated by prepping crafts and mini muffins at 5am because someone forgot to tell me they were required in class that morning
- contour to camouflage weight gain from sampling said mini muffins (spelt chocolate chip with hemp seed and chia, but still…)
- use an illuminator to divert attention away from the sudden appearance of bags under my eyes, which arrived when she started asking about menstrual cycles and how babies were actually made. “You do WHAT???”
- deploy a booster to help plump fine lines which cropped up when the collagen suddenly disappeared either after I turned 37 or when she started fighting incessantly with her brother over Star Wars Lego
- use blush so I don’t look like Pale Rider at PTA meetings
- wear a specific, deep shade of nude lippy so I don’t look like Night of the Living Dead and scare her classmates on the school run
No, of course not.
Instead I say: “Because it makes me feel pretty, honey.”
“You don’t need it.”
Oh yes sweetheart, I do…
- smother my skin in foundation to even out any blotchiness caused by repeated sweating over endless boiling pots of
I walk past his room and sigh.
It’s a mess.
It’s always a mess.
Clothes strewn about.
Amp cords and guitar straps seemingly everywhere.
His bed a frumpy mess.
I walk in and start tidying up.
I spot a guitar pick.
I pick it up and smile.
Over the years, I’ve gone from picking up toy cars to Lego pieces to Nerf bullets to guitar picks.
I glance at the photos of his baby self on his bedside table and then at the posters of rock bands that have overtaken his walls.
He’ll be 14 next week.
He’s starting high school this fall.
And then what? College? University?
But at that very moment, it dawns on me that I might only have four more years of this.
Only four more years of him living under the same roof.
Only four more years of stupid jokes and loud music and full-on bear hugs.
I hear him run up the stairs, yelling: “Mom, wanna hear a song I just learned to play on the guitar?”
And instead of telling him “I’d rather you clean up your room” like I thought I would, I take a seat on his unmade crumpled bed and tell him that there’s nothing else I’d rather do.