Saying Goodbye – Explaining the Death of a Pet to a 5-Year Old

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“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ” – Anatole France

Today, I had to give the most difficult talk that a parent has to have with their child – explaining death.  My Mom has a dog who is 15-years old and to cut straight to the chase, he does not have much time left.  I have done a lot of research on this subject and spoken with friends and family to get their opinions and so this morning, I felt prepared to have this talk with my kids.

After breakfast, the three of us went into the living room and sat down together.  I proceeded to tell a story (that I made up) about a young boy named Billy, his sister Sarah and their dog named Rover.  I described how they grew up with Rover, their favorite activities, and so on.  I explained how Rover got old and that the parents explained that Rover would someday die and go to Heaven.  The next few days were spent giving Rover extra hugs, extra treats, and saying loving words to him.  One day, they run downstairs to greet Rover…and Rover does not wake up.  They have a memorial service and the siblings experience different emotions at home and at school, but soon are able to remember Rover fondly and with happy hearts.  I honestly got choked up several times during my story!

After it was over, my Daughter says “I sad that Wover is gone.  I play princess now!” then she runs off.  That’s what I expected and I was fine with that.  She is only two after all and I knew she was too young to understand.  Some of you may ask why I bothered to include her in the conversation.  Well in my research, I found several good websites that encouraged being honest with children as young as two.  You don’t have to go into any detail.  Simple, to the point explanations are fine.

Once my Son and I were alone, I noticed he seemed deep in thought.  I encouraged him to ask any questions he may have and he quickly asked “Is Grandma’s dog gonna die?”  I took a deep breath and responded “Yes”.  With that, he burst into tears and ran to me for a hug.  At that moment, I cried too and wondered if I had done the right thing.  Then I remembered what many websites and people had recommended – when possible, preparing for an eventual death helps to make things easier.  The opportunity to say goodbye and to give final hugs can give a sense of peace when the death finally occurs.

After a couple of minutes, my Son calmed down and asked when Grandma’s dog would die.  I explained that nobody knows when a pet will die, only God knows that.  Next he asked how long the dog would be dead.  Once again, I swallowed down the large lump in my throat and told him that once a pet dies, they stay dead forever.  They do not come back, and we cannot see them anymore because he will be in Heaven.  He actually asked this question several times over the following half hour and I gave the exact same answer each time.  Shortly afterwards, my Daughter (who had been modeling her princess outfits to us during our talk) says “It’s ok, Grandma’s puppy will have Angel wings and will fly!”  That happy thought ended our conversation.

There are many books out there which deal with the death of a family pet, however there were several which went into too much detail or would make the situation more complicated (ie – a parent trying to replace a deceased pet with another to fool the child).  I didn’t want to touch on things such as burial, funerals or what happens to the body after death, so that’s what prompted me to tell my own story.  It allowed me to include the elements that I felt were important and keep the story relatable to them (ie – brother/sister, old dog, reference to God, etcetc).

How you explain the end of a pet’s life to your child is completely up to you of course.  No matter how you explain things, the conversation will no doubt be difficult.  As long as you are there to support your child and help them tend to their grief, they will be just fine.

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Letting Go…Letting Go…Can’t Hold You Back Anymore…

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Most of us have a hard time letting go when it comes to our children starting their personal journeys through school.  It’s difficult to accept that they are entering a world all their own which, for the most part, does not include us.  Their time will be taken up with learning to print, identifying sight words and deciphering the beginning concepts of math.  Their teachers and classmates will become very important people in their lives.  This transition can be difficult for both parents and children.

As you know, I live in Newfoundland.  Today the province’s budget for 2014 was released and it was revealed that in 2016, Kindergarteners will go from a half day, five days per week to full days.  Nobody is sure yet if it will be five days a week or the choice of Mon/Wed/Fri and Tues/Thurs with every other Friday.  This change will come into affect when my Daughter is ready to begin Kindergarten.  I’m really not sure how I feel about this!

If it turns out that the full days only happen on certain days (ie – Tues/Thurs) then I wouldn’t be so opposed to it.  Yes there will be full days but they will be balanced with the following day at home.  I know some of you out there are saying “What about the kids in daycare?”  As always, I’m speaking for myself and how this will affect my children.  During the course of the year, it will be easy to explain that in their next year of school, they will be going to school everyday.

I understand the reason why many parents are excited over this change.  For working parents, this announcement is a blessing.  It means that children can come out of full time daycare a year sooner.  For parents with high energy children, the focus of school studies can help to channel that energy in a positive way.  Finally, some parents simply prefer their children entering the education system head on with full days.

On the other side of the fence, you have people like me.  I’ve grown up with Kindergarten being half day classes.  I believe it’s a wonderful transition into this new world.  Kindergarten is often the first experience for some children in being away from their parents.  To take these kids and place them into full days…it doesn’t seem right.  What is the rush?  Why are we pushing kids to grow up so fast?  Many friends of mine with children in Grade 1 have often described how hard the transition from half days to full days was on their children.  If it’s difficult for kids at the age of six, why do we want to place these hardships on five-year olds?

For now, all I can do is wait and see what comes our way.  No matter what is decided, as always, my family and I will adapt to the changes.  I have two and a half years before I walk my daughter to school in her cute little “first day of school” outfit and adorable backpack.  With all of these changes coming up, I plan on spending each and everyday making the most of my time with her.

 

Who Knew A Turnip Could Cause So Much Grief?!

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Yeah I hear you all shouting “YES!!  This chick gets me!”  I do…I really do.

This evening I had one task – Go to the grocery store and pick up a turnip (aka rutabaga for all the mainlanders out there) for tomorrow’s stew.  Seems easy, right?  Not hard to remember at all.  I arrive at the store a mere seven minutes afterwards and think to myself “Fruit, the kids need fresh fruit for the week”.  After scouring through the produce and picking out lots of yummy fruits and vegetables, I wander through the meat section and pick up some chicken, a roast and some ground beef.  After that I grab some milk, spices, cheese and pretzels.  I was excited that there were no lineups and coast through the check out.  A few minutes (and $97) later I walk out to my car, load up the groceries and sit down in the driver’s seat.  Do you think I bought the turnip?  Mother bleepin’ NO!!!  I realize my mistake, shout “DAMNIT!!!”, and stomp back into the stupid store.  CLEARLY it’s the store’s fault and not my own.

Don’t you deny it all you Mommies and Daddies out there.  I know you’ve been in my shoes before.  How many of you have gone to Walmart for diapers, spent $50 or more on stuff you didn’t even need and you forget the diapers?  Exactly!  Don’t be afraid to put your hands up.

Why does this happen?  What the frig happens on a short trip to the store that you forget you’re supposed to get a single item.  Not just a single item, an important one at that.  Let’s face it, who heads to the store just to get one item unless it’s very important?  An ingredient to finish off a meal, diapers, wipes, pads…these are all items worth a trip to the store.  Forgetting that item is a kick in the pants and spending money on things you didn’t necessarily need just adds salt to the wound.

I will go now and enjoy my fresh fruits and veggies.  I’ll tell you one thing though – that stew better me darned good tomorrow!

Stay-at-Home Moms…Priceless

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Ok all of you stay-at-home Moms (and Dads!) out there.  Here’s your opportunity!  How would you like to write your own paycheck?  Right on!  How much do you believe you should be earning?  (and no, this isn’t about some money making scheme!)

This topic – what a stay-at-home parent should be making – is surprisingly widespread over the internet.  There are many websites out there which try and analyze what we should be earning if this were a paid position.  According to “research” stay-at-home parents work an average of 94 hours per week and when you take all of the little jobs we do into account, it’s estimated that we should be earning between $92,000 to $116,000 per year.  Can you imagine that?  Can you imagine earning that much just for doing what we do?

When you think about it, we stay-at-home parents do many jobs throughout the day.  Let’s see…janitor, taxi driver, chef, maid, police officer, banker, nurse, and teacher just to name a few.  Am I the only one who thinks that we are pretty incredible?!  All of these things we do out of love for our children.  Wouldn’t it be great to be paid for all of this work?  Yeah I hear some of you out there – “It’s a labor of love”.  I know that, but we’re just talking hypothetically here!  Have some fun!  Live a little!

So where’s our money?!  I vote we go on strike until we see some of that cash…or at least some vacation time!

What A Mess!!

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If you haven’t been here yet, I promise that you will be here soon – cleaning while your kids are awake and ready for action.  Holy moly b’ys!!

Today’s lunch left us with a larger than normal amount of dishes, so while I was taking care of the mess I set my kids up in the living room with their leap pads.  They were fairly quiet while I was working in the kitchen and seemed to be content when I checked in on them.  During the final five minutes of my chore, something happened.  The only explanation I can offer is perhaps an indoor tornado.  After finally finishing up in the kitchen, I went into the living room…or rather disaster area!  There were costumes and other dress up items scattered everywhere along with my daughter’s prized collection of nick knacks.  I stood in the doorway completely dumbfounded.  How did this happen?  They were so quiet!  Usually a session of dress up is accompanied with the typical “I’m a princess!” or “Rawr!  I’m a dragon!”  After my brain had finally processed what had happened, I sent the kids to their room to get ready for an afternoon nap while I cleaned the living room.

It took me about ten minutes to clean up the latest mess.  I will confess that I was REALLY looking forward to their nap time!  Once I had finished, I went upstairs only to discover that the indoor tornado had hit my children’s bedroom.  I mean…come on!!!  My kids look at me like deer caught in the headlights.  A couple of deep breaths later and I was able to calmly request that they quickly tidy up their room.

Most times, I don’t mind a little mess here and there around the house.  Hey, I have two small kids right?  There’s bound to be the odd Buzz Lightyear, Toothless or Princess Sofia laying around.  I really don’t mind that.  What I mind are the “everything everywhere” messes…especially when I have a schedule to keep. 

By this point, you’re thinking that I have some grand solution to all of this.  You’re thinking “here it comes…the big hidden secret to keeping a clean house!!”  Sorry to disappoint you, however I’m a firm believer that messes come with the territory of raising a family.  My advice?  Simply accept it.  If I were to devote the majority of my time cleaning my house, sure I could have a perfectly clean house all of the time but where’s the fun in that?  Kids will be kids and kids, generally, are a bit messy.  Most will learn to keep things neat and tidy as they grow, but while they’re young I would rather spend my time doing fun things with them rather than clean 24/7.

So embrace those small messes my friends!  Be not afraid of naysayers who look down upon you.  Anyone who would judge you for some misplaced toys clearly does not have kids.  😉

We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a…STOP IT!!!!

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It has been 66 days since our Christmas tree was taken down.  Christmas day 2014 won’t happen for another 286 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes and 44 seconds…43…42…41.  Despite decorating my children’s rooms for Valentine’s Day and now Easter, despite endless performances of “Let it Go” and despite my desperate pleas…my children refuse to stop singing Christmas carols!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I am the number one fan of Christmas.  Even though it’s so far away, I still find myself looking forward to certain traditions which come up during the holidays.  Christmas carols?  LOVE THEM!!  Once November 12th hits, BAM, carols blasting on my iPhone and in the vehicle.  However right now, I’m trying to gear up for Easter and each time my two kidlets try and start up a sing-along of “Jingle Bells”, I lose my mind!

I have tried everything to get them to stop.  I have downloaded multiple children’s soundtracks, including “Frozen” (their current favorite) that I play during outings in the car.  I regularly play “Galaxy Kids” on the TV radio music channel during playtime.  I’ve tried explaining that Christmas songs are only for Christmas time but they will not be swayed.  Nothing works!

It doesn’t just happen at home.  Oh no, I’m not that lucky.  You name the place and my kids will put on a show for you.  Their favorite place to belt out the holiday tunes is the grocery store, especially when we’re in the lineup.  I’m usually too busy putting groceries on the conveyor belt to politely convince them to sing a different song.  What’s more is that their adoring fans shower them with compliments and applause!  I’m doomed no matter which way I turn!

So maybe it’s time for me to decorate the Christmas tree and set up the nativity scene again.  I just have to start seeing the bright side to all of this.  Come Christmas, I’ll rent out the local theatre and start charging people!  Joy to the World!

Quinoa Pizza Bites

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Right on b’ys!!  I did it!  I went and tried something new.  I did some research on healthy, but fun, recipes and found quinoa pizza bites.  I’ve always wanted an excuse to buy quinoa, and today I finally did!

This recipe is very, very basic and while it was good…I do plan on making some changes in the future.  I’ll explain more after I post the recipe.  Quick note, in case you’re wondering, Quinoa is pronounced KEEN-wah.

RECIPE FOR QUINOA PIZZA BITES

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 egg (For a substitute, use 1 1/2 tbsp. of milled flax seed combined with 4 tbsp. of warm water)
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Cheese
  • Pizza Toppings (if desired)

1)  Preheat oven to 350º.

2)  Boil water and add Quinoa.  After boiling for a couple of minutes, remove from heat, stir occasionally and allow quinoa to absorb the water.  This takes approximately 10-12 minutes.

3)  Once quinoa is ready and cooled slightly, add egg (or flax seed mixture) and mix with hands until quinoa is able to be formed into the pizza bites.

4)  In a greased muffin pan, fill each section 1/3 full with quinoa mixture.  Be careful not to overfill the sections as the bites will tend to taste bland.  Using a spoon, pack the mixture down gently and create a small dip in the middle of each bite.

5)  Bake the bites for 10 minutes.

6)  Remove the bites from the oven and add pizza sauce, toppings and cheese as desired.

7)  Bake again for 10-15 minutes.

8)  Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

There you have it.  For my attempt, I used the flax seed mixture since (1) I didn’t have any eggs handy and (2) eggs used as a binding agent doesn’t really go over well with my family as most of us don’t like the taste of eggs.  In the original recipe, it simply said “bake for 20 minutes”, however I found it left the bites really crumbly and hard to manage.  Afterwards, I noticed that another recipe said to bake the bites before adding the toppings so that they end up more firm.

The next time I try this recipe, I plan on adding some flavor to the quinoa such as garlic, chili powder or oregano.  Quinoa is much like rice in that it takes on the flavors you add.  Quinoa itself is rather bland, that’s why I think adding some flavor will really make the bites tasty.

I hope you enjoy these!