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Summer is over, the kids are back to school, and soon I’ll be headed back to the hockey rink with my three boys. The lazy days of summer are behind us, but I know that Fall offers a lot of opportunities for fun too. We always put together a Fall Checklist, and it helps get us in the mood for the new season. Here is the list we put together for 2013:
Need some ideas for your own checklist? You can try some things on my list, or you might want to consider some of these…
On a sunny Fall day, the backyard is a perfect place for an outdoor adventure. My boys love nature scavenger hunts and backyard safaris. For a nature scavenger hunt, you start by making a simple list of items that the kids can easily find. (E.g. a stick, a flat rock, a leaf, a flower, a blade of grass, a bug, etc…) Then, as they find the items on their list, they can check them off. A backyard safari is fun too. You can buy stickers or plastic animals at the dollar store, hide them around the yard, and send the kids out exploring. Fun, right?
If you haven’t tried geocaching yet, a warm Fall weekend is the perfect time to give it a go. Basically, geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt. ”Google it”, give it a try, and I guarantee your little pirates will be thrilled.
Fall is also a good time to think about our feathered friends. Making birdfeeders is a great way to spend an afternoon with kids. Just slather some peanut butter on a pine cone, roll it in birdseed, and hang it from a tree. Cheerios threaded onto pipe cleaners make good birdfeeders too. It’s fun for the kids to hang their creations from a tree and watch the birds eating them.
Need more ideas for easy and inexpensive options for Fall fun? Kite flying, backyard camping, bike riding, trips to the park, and hiking are always fun this time of year. And when you come in from playing in the cool Fall air, bake up something seasonal using apples or pumpkins. (Apple crisp is one of my Fall Favorites, and you can find a delicious recipe from Canadian Living here.)
What is the number one “to do” on your Fall Checklist?
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
Even though it is almost the end of July, it is not too late to squeeze in some summer reading with your kids. A number of studies have shown that children’s reading skills decline during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean we (as parents) are powerless to do anything about it. Here are a few ways to get kids excited about reading during their summer vacation.
One of my favorite ways to keep my boys reading and writing during the summer months is giving them each a “Mommy and Me Journal“. I buy inexpensive journals and give them to my 6 year old and my 7 year old. We spend all summer writing secret notes back and forth about our summer adventures.
Another great way to ensure everyone keeps reading is to put it in the schedule. Summer can be a busy time, so setting aside a specific time for reading is helpful. In our house, the boys get to read for half an hour past their bedtime each night.
It is also important to make sure there are always a variety of books available to read. Visit the library often and choose books that are at the right level for the child. (Canadian Living has a great list of 10 Great Canadian Summer Books for Kids that you can find here.) Choose books that include topics, themes or characters that interest them, and mix it up by reading different types of literature (e.g. books, magazines, comic books, cookbooks, ebooks, etc.)
Another fun idea is to take reading outside. Lay a blanket in the backyard, take a book to the beach, sit in a lawn chair or build a simple outdoor reading tent/fort. Reading a book outside can be a fun summer activity.
Don’t forget, it is also important to set an example for your children. Read in front of your kids, and curl up on the couch and spend some time reading to them.
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
Kids… What’s special about your dad? What makes him the best dad ever?
We received some sweet responses from a few of our little friends after posting these questions on our Canadian Living Moms Facebook page. After all, there are a few things that Daddy, well, just does THE BESTEST!
I love my daddy the most because…
“He lets me use him as a punching bag when I’m practicing my karate.” – Scotia, age 13
“He helps me take off my shoes.” – Jack, age 3
“He plays board games with me.” – Michael, age 7
“He makes the best Nutella waffles.” – Hailey, age 8
“He bends the rules when Mom’s not home.” – Mackenzie, age 11
“He sends my brother on timeout when he’s not playing nice.” – Ryan, age 5
“He shows me soccer moves so I can play better with my buds.” – Matthew, age 8
“He takes me golfing and teaches me how to play.” – Michael, age 8
“He takes me on long bike rides even with his hurting hip (dad is on a waiting list for a hip replacement).” – Marco, age 10
“Daddy…Rockie Bee-Bee…Akimo kiss…translation…I love it when daddy sings Rock-A-Bye Baby and gives me an eskimo kiss before bedtime.” – Alexander, age 2
“Grandpa Dido picks worms with me and we catch frogs together.” – Matthew, age 7
I’d love to add a few more to this list.
What would your child say is the reason his or her dad is the best dad ever?
During my morning walk around the pond this weekend, I felt grateful for this little piece of nature so close to my house.
Over the past 14 years, it has been my go-to place….
It’s been my thinking spot over the years.
It’s the place where the combination of stale bread and ducks can bring forth the sweetest of giggles from our children.
It’s been host to our winter Sunday afternoon pond hockey games.
It’s seen competitive races along it’s path on our family bike rides.
It’s the place where I catch up with friends on crisp morning walks after the kids are off too school.
As the kids have grown up, it’s also become their place…
My son and his friends disappear for hours.
They come back home with muddy bikes, dirty clothes and great stories…stories of climbing trees and forest hikes and exploring all that nature has to offer.
My daughter laces up her running shoes and heads out the door to take advantage of the running trail around the pond on her evening runs.
And one time, we spotted this…
So, on this Earth Day, I want to say thank you to our very own little piece of nature.
I am in awe of it.
See you down at the pond!
I won’t watch those gory killing fighting bloody movies.
I don’t like them.
The only movies I will sit down to watch are comedies.
Because I want to laugh and I want to be enlightened.
I don’t want to watch guns and shooting and bombs and blood and death.
I don’t want to see the corruptness and the craziness and the insanity.
I’d much rather steer clear of these types of movies and pop a romantic comedy in the DVD player instead.
I much prefer that world.
A world that makes me feel warm and giddy and happy.
And yet, no matter where I turned as the story of the Boston Marathon began to unfold – whether I was on social media, watching TV or listening to the radio – as I became engrossed in the insanity of it all, I felt like I was watching a horrible movie.
As gory images flashed before me…
Images of absent limbs and bloody streets and dazed faces and lost loves.
Images of hurt and sorrow and loss and fear.
Images that I so desperately didn’t want to see, but couldn’t tear myself away from.
I kept thinking of how I don’t really like these types of movies. I wanted to turn the movie off and put on a comedy instead.
But this was real life.
This was really happening.
I’m at a loss for words.
I was starting to lose faith…
In our world.
And then I read this quote: ”If you alter your life out of fear, then the bad guys win. And that’s the worst outcome of all.” – Michael Levin
And then this one: ”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers
And then I read the stories of instant heroes…
Like the marathon runners continuing to run to the hospital after they crossed the finish line to donate blood or the local restaurant- and home-owners who opened their doors and hearts to those affected.
I saw that there is a lot of good in our world.
Plenty of it. An abundance of it.
I just wish that all of the good was enough to disintegrate all of the bad.
My daughter is obsessed with Beanie Boo’s.
She has a total of 18 of them.
I’ve told her that she can probably get her own reality TV show now.
We’ll call it “18 Beanie Boo’s and Counting.”
She knows them all by name and dedicates each day to only one.
She takes it to school in her backpack, eats with it, plays with it and even falls asleep with it.
When a new one arrives in our home, she takes it up to her room and introduces it to all its “brothers and sisters.”
She’s a very good Beanie mommy!
Recently, upon her daily inspection of her Beanie Boo’s, she counted only 17.
She immediately knew which one was missing.
The newest addition to her quickly expanding family, Cashmere, was nowhere to be found.
So she enlisted my help.
We both searched for days.
She cried herself to sleep at night.
I’d exhausted my search.
I didn’t know where else to look.
So… I gave up.
She came to me with tear-stained eyes and said: “You’re just going to give up?”
“I’m sorry, honey. I looked everywhere. I don’t know where else to search. Besides, you have 17 others.”
“MOM! YOU CAN’T SAY THAT TO ME! IF ONE OF US KIDS WENT MISSING, COULD YOU SAY: ‘IT’S OK, I HAVE TWO OTHERS’?”
“No. Absolutely not!”
“Well… it’s the same thing, Mom.”
How could I argue with that logic?
And so, the search continues.
Please let me know if you come across Cashmere.
She’s a white cat with pink ears and big eyes.
Her young mommy is leaving a spot beside all 17 of Cashmere’s brothers and sisters in anticipation of her safe return.
Have you seen this?
Disgusting, isn’t it?
I’m not a hockey parent, but I’ve done my fair share of sitting on the sidelines of children’s sporting events and cheering them on.
It’s a lovely place to be.
Watching the kids out there on the field giving it their all is, quite simply, one of life’s most rewarding moments.
So when I saw this video, I felt sick to my stomach.
I was utterly disgusted.
Honestly, what were they thinking?
They are supposed to be there for their children.
To cheer them on and to be their biggest supporters.
But instead, this happened.
Please, please don’t tarnish the game.
Don’t take away the children’s love of hockey.
Don’t take away the sparkle in their eyes and the excitement on their faces.
It really is a beautiful thing.
These parents could see that too…
if only they would just sit back and watch.
Sometimes I sit back and watch my kids interact with each other.
Will she use her allowance to buy her brother some Pokémon cards just because he likes them so?
Will he let his very excited little sister accompany him to his friend’s house to meet his brand new puppy?
Will she happily put on an apron and spend the afternoon baking with her younger siblings?
I watch the ways they speak to each other.
The ways they resolve conflicts.
How often they break out into giggle fits.
And the ways they help each other out.
I see that my children genuinely like each other.
They depend on each other and enjoy their time together.
I see them run to each other with exciting news or even not-so-exciting news.
I know they have each others’ backs.
This is what I see today.
I can’t see into the future.
As a parent, one of the greatest gifts we can ever receive is seeing the ever-strengthening bonds of our children well into adulthood.
I hope that all the time they spend together today as children growing up in the same household – sharing rooms, chores, toys, laughs, fights, moments and memories – will create a bond so strong that nothing can break it.
Not their future partners, not their life paths and not their geographical distance.
I’ve seen far too many siblings grow up and grow apart, never to speak to each other again.
I hope that never happens here.
I hope that they always remain the very best of friends, that they always share in each other’s accomplishments and that they continue to be each others’ rocks.
It would make my heart smile.
Sometimes, I look back through moments in my life and I marvel at the everyday changes that have occurred over time.
Insignificant things, it seems.
Yet, they’re really not.
Like the time my youngest told me she wanted to have a shower instead of a bath.
OK. No problem. I didn’t give it a second thought.
She’s growing up. It’s a part of life.
I quickly turn on the shower, check the water temperature and in she goes.
Life goes on.
Showers are simply a way of life for her now.
No more baths.
No big deal.
And then, one day, as I’m going through my daily life, I stop and think: “Hey, how old was she when she stopped having baths? Maybe six? Was she seven already?”
And for the life of me, I can’t remember.
As a matter of fact, I can’t remember a lot of my kids’ lasts.
I can’t remember…
the last time I rocked them to sleep,
the last time I pushed them in the stroller,
the last time I tied their shoes,
the last time I bathed them.
But, I clearly remember…
the first time they slept through the night,
the first time they got a haircut,
the first time they rode a two-wheeler,
the first time they put on skates.
Why, I wonder, do I remember their “firsts,” but not their “lasts”?
Is it because I am so tired of doing these things that I’m happy about having one less chore?
Is it because I don’t realize at the time that this will be the last time?
Or is it because I’m too busy celebrating the firsts that naturally follow the lasts?
I’d like to say that, judging from all of the firsts that are stored in my brain and on my camera, it’s most definitely the last point. But if I was to be completely honest, I’d have to say that it’s a combination of all three.
What about you? Do you remember your kids’ lasts as well as their firsts?
I came home from work last Monday (the kids’ first day back to school after the Christmas break) and
my 13-year-old son proceeds to name off a few of his friends who received cellphones for Christmas.
Really, I thought. That’s nice.
Then he tells me that if he ever gets a phone, he wants an iPhone 5.
“Oh yeah,” I say, as I start to prep for dinner. ”But, you’re 13. Why do you even need a phone?” I ask.
“Well, to keep in touch with you and Dad, of course.”
He’s a real charmer, that son of mine.
“Oh really! That’s why you want a phone?”
“Well, yeah – that and the fact that all my friends went long-boarding today, and because I don’t have a phone, I didn’t know about it.”
Honestly! You’d think calling the landline was taboo around here.
And then the following day, back in the office, Donna Paris, our senior life editor, showed me this. It’s an iPhone contract written by Huffington Post blogger Janell Burley Hofmann to her 13-year-old son, Gregory.
I think the idea of having your child sign a contract before giving him or her a cellphone is sheer brilliance.
I love everything that it stands for and all that it implies – not only in regard to the ownership of the phone, but for life in general.
Although I’m not running out and getting my son a phone anytime soon, you can bet your bottom dollar that, when I do, I am going to incorporate bits and pieces of this contract into an agreement between the two of us.
In looking through the comment box at the end of Hofmann’s post, however, it appears that not everyone agrees.
So now I’m curious: Where do you stand on this? Yay or nay to having your child sign a contract before you hand over a cellphone?