That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!

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Like my little Wonka Meme?  I made it myself!!

Ok, I know you’ve all been there.  For one reason or another, you’ve decided to plan something really special for your little ones.  Perhaps it’s a vacation.  Perhaps it’s a trip to their favorite ice cream store.  The big day arrives and you have every little detail planned.  You’ve even envisioned the perfect pictures which will come of this special day.  The time arrives…and your little one(s) decide it’s the perfect day to melt down.

How about this, it’s the big day – Baptism, birthday, first day of school.  Your camera is ready, preparations have been made and you know exactly how this day will turn out.  Just as things get started, friends/family show up with plans of their own.

On any normal day I roll with the punches and adapt to what the day brings. There are some things in life you just can’t control, right? However when it’s supposed to be a special or a fun day, it’s really just a big kick in the pants when things don’t go as planned!

Allow me to share one of my woeful tales. Back in April, my Son had a day off of Kindergarten in the middle of the week. It was a scheduled break and I had the full day planned out. The weather was terrible so it was a great day to spend indoors. I was going to make a special pancake breakfast for the kids, followed by baking cookies. I had some fun snacks picked up and was going to treat them to an afternoon movie. That morning my kids woke up in very foul moods. Neither one of them wanted pancakes! When I said we were going to bake cookies they could not agree on the type we were going to make. I said we were going to make both of their favorites and even then they fought with me! After lunch was over they were so riled up that they eventually crashed hard. An afternoon movie was replaced by an afternoon nap. While the kids were napping I sat down on the couch and the only thought that entered my mind was “Really???”. If this had been yesterday the kids would’ve behaved perfectly fine. But no!!!! They had to pick a fun filled day to act up. Oh well, whaddaya do?

Good days gone wrong really used to bother me quite a bit. A part of me would actually feel insulted that my good intentions were met with bad behavior or other people who wanted the day to go differently. Now that I’m a tiny bit wiser, I know that things are bound to happen and if you go into your day with no expectations at all, you can’t be let down! Don’t paint the perfect day before it happens. Let the picture paint itself and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by the results.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Well I had an absolutely wonderful day today!  I’ll bet you’re wondering what I did.  Lunch at a fancy restaurant?  Our for a shopping spree? Afternoon at the spa?  Not even close.  I did absolutely nothing!  What’s that?  You’re shocked?  Don’t be!  This Mother’s Day couldn’t have been more perfect.  You see, my little family is quite busy throughout the week.  There’s school for my Son, swimming lessons, Beavers, band, play dates, chores around the house, errands to run and grocery shopping.  It’s only after my children go to bed for the night that I get a chance to sit down and relax.  Today I got to do exactly what I wanted – Nothing.

My kids and I spent most of the day in our pajamas.  They delighted as we watched a few Mother’s Day cartoon specials on TV and even a couple of movies!  Watching TV all day is a definite no-no in our house so this was a real treat for them!  Beds remained unmade until about 2:30pm and after they were made, my Mom joined us on the couch for a movie.  Rather than battle half the town for a meal at a restaurant, Mom and I decided to have a nice barbecue with my favorite – BBQ hamburgers!

This was also the first Mother’s Day where I got something from one of my kids that was exclusively from him.  Each year, I always get cards from my children but they are bought by my Husband and he helps them prepare and sign the cards.  This year, my Son made a card for me all on his own in Kindergarten and today he was so proud to present the card and a beautiful homemade flower to me.  My Daughter got a little upset at first, but my Son quickly noticed and added “This is from the two of us”.  That made me so proud!

I don’t need a fancy dinner, gifts or anything like that to have a good Mother’s day.  All I need is my children.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you Mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  Whether you’re a Mom, a Step Mom, the Mom of a fur baby or even like a Mom to someone…you all deserve to have a great day.

Life is Happening Right in Front of You – Are You Watching?

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How about this?

Yesterday evening, after putting my two children to bed, I happened across a moving video and I would like to share it with you (in case you haven’t seen it already).  The video is called “Look Up” and you can view it by clicking right HERE.  Don’t worry, it will open up in a new window!  Go ahead, check it out now (but come back!!).

In case you haven’t seen the video yet or plan on watching it later, this video was created by Gary Turk.  As of today, since being posted on April 25th, the video has 17,117,289 views and counting.  In this approximately five minute feature, Gary speaks about the downsides of cell phones and social media.  He tells the story as if it’s a poem and truly…it hit home.

I admit it.  I’m one of them.  There have been times when my family has sat down to a nice meal and, rather than engage in conversation, I would be seen checking Facebook on my cell phone.  There have been times when I’ve played a game on my phone while my children played blocks in front of me.  I admit it…and I feel terrible for it.

Do these things happen all of the time?  Definitely not.  However I really want to make an effort to ensure that these instances don’t turn into bad habits.  After watching the video last night, I went to bed and thought about what I had watched.  I silently promised myself to put the phone away while my children were up during the day…to look up.  Today that promise was kept (easily I might add!) but in looking up, I really got to see what this video is saying.

While at swimming lessons tonight, I took notice of how many parents were actually watching their kids.  Not counting myself, of the nine parents on deck, only two were paying attention to their children.  Everyone else were engrossed in their cell phones.  I could hardly believe it!  I remember when I was young, my Mother had me in swimming lessons and I was constantly glancing at her to make sure she was watching my awesome swimming techniques.  I felt bad as I watched several kids try and get their Mom or Dad’s attention to show off a dive or something…but nobody looked up.

The video goes on to say that social media is making people unsocial…that cell phones are turning people into robots.  Do I necessarily agree with this?  No.  I enjoy social media!  Facebook (while annoying at times!) is a wonderful platform for keeping in touch with family and friends who live away.  However, do people need to check Facebook every half hour to see what their friends are up to?  Most definitely not.  That’s borderline crazy!  As for me, after the kids are in bed I don’t mind logging on for a bit to catch up with some of the people in my life.

As for cell phones, I have a motto I use with my kids – Phones are tools, not toys.  I don’t allow my children access to my phone.  Some parents do, and that’s fine for them.  I don’t judge people.  I believe cell/smart phones are wonderful tools.  One of the most important thing my phone does is allow my Husband to be a part of my children’s lives when he’s away at work.  My Hubby works away for months at a time and he misses so many things – birthdays, holidays, etc.  With the help of our iPhones, he’s able to see some of these things.  Though away at work, Hubby was able to watch as our Son was initiated into Beavers.  It meant a lot to them both.

As a Mom, my iPhone has many apps which make my life a little easier.  It carries my grocery/shopping lists, it helps to play music in my vehicle during long road trips and it also gives me great new healthy meal options to try.  Like I said, a wonderful tool.  However that doesn’t mean I have to hold it in my hand constantly.

Don’t make the mistake of missing out on life.  Don’t let your kids miss out on life.  Put the phones down and put the computers away!  Don’t just “like” life, get out there and LOVE it!

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My Day Starts After Tetley Tea O’Clock

ImageI don’t know about you guys, but I am the furthest thing from a “morning person” there is.  I know many people who say that mornings are their best time of the day…that it’s the time when they are most energetic.  Early bird gets the worm and all that, right?  Well not for me!

If I jump out of bed before giving myself some time to really wake up, it totally messes me up for the entire day.  I’ll end up feeling dizzy, nauseated and downright cranky.  If you toss my kids into that nasty mix, things never end well!  I consider myself to be a caring and loving Mother, but I’m sorry, this Momma doesn’t punch in for the day until I’ve had my cup of Tetley tea.  No doubt most of you are coffee people, am I right?  Can’t start your morning without a good ol’ cup of Tim’s coffee or perhaps a cappuccino? 

The picture I’ve posted today pretty much sums up what a morning conversation is like with my kids when they go crazy before I’ve had a chance to wake up.  They’ll wake up all bright eyed and eager to start the day, come into my room and blurt out “Hey Mom!  Let’s have a morning snuggle!  What are we gonna have for breakfast?  Are you going to the store today?  What’s for supper?”  To which I respond something along the lines of “You…boy…with the face…stop bugging…your…girl person…who’s related to you.”  LOL!  I know, pretty bad right?

I wish I had an eighth of my children’s energy and focus in the mornings.  Until that time comes, bring on the Tetley!

Home from Vacation, Time to Relax!

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Please forgive my week-long hiatus friends!  During Easter break, my Husband and I decided to take the kids to the East coast to visit family and have some fun.  Speaking of which, have you ever gone on a family vacation and came back feeling more worn out than before you left?

Typically, when someone says the word “vacation”, thoughts of lush palm trees, beautiful sandy beaches and tasty cocktails come to mind.   In reality, when you go on vacation with young children, more often than not the whole thing ends up being a whole lot of work!  Kids don’t relax, they want to be active and on the go go go!  Movies, the arcade, Signal Hill, the Geo Center and more.  Toss in visits to family and a bit of shopping and you have a very full trip!  Before going on our little vacation I was feeling pretty worn out.  It had been approximately two months since my Hubby had been home and I was ready for a well deserved break.  Skip forward one week of crazy fun and last night I found myself lying in bed and thinking to myself “Phew!  I’m back in my own bed.  Time to relax!”  This afternoon I actually enjoyed washing dishes while my children napped.

I know what some of you are thinking – heading to the East coast to visit family doesn’t count as a vacation.  Sure it does!  For argument’s sake let’s use Disney World as another example.  I’ve had several friends with young children go to Disney World in the last few months.  Did they have a blast?  No doubt about it!  Was it tons of work?  Ohhhhhh yeah.  When you’re in one of the kingdoms it’s all walking and standing around waiting for the rides.  As fun as it is, a day of such activity is very draining on young ones.  Each friend had their kids melt down after 2-3 days at the different kingdoms so they were forced to take a day off from adventuring and stay around their resorts.  Resorts!  Perfect time for relaxing right?  WRONG!!  Keeping kids entertained while trying to get them to rest and rejuvenate is very difficult, especially when you’re in Disney World.  In the end, good times were had by all but each one of my friends were more than ready to get back into their routines and catch up on their rest from their vacation.

While it is a lot of work to take the kids on fun trips, it’s always worth it of course.  A lifetime of memories is far more important than few melt downs and missed naps.

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

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Unfortunately, the day that I have been preparing the kids for finally arrived.  Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to my Mother’s dog.  He was a big part of my children’s lives and it was their first experience with death.  I was on the fence about writing this post as I have recently written a post about how to talk to kids about death.  However some of their reactions were unexpected and I want to share this in hopes of helping one of you be prepared.

Before talking to my kids, I made sure I was as composed as I could be.  I knew it would be pointless talking to them if I was bawling my eyes out.  After a long drive I came home and gathered the kids, and my husband, in the living room.  I took a few deep breaths and finally let them know that during their nap, the dog had died.  Their initial reaction was exactly what I thought would happen – my Daughter audibly gasped and my Son burst into tears.  Once a few minutes had passed, my Daughter said “Let’s go look for him!” and my Son agreed.  After a fruitless search, more tears were shed and we shared memories of our beloved companion.

My Mother had been out and about, taking some time for herself.  She didn’t want to be around while I spoke with the kids.  When she came into the house, both children ran to her and bluntly stated “Grandma, your dog died”.  I couldn’t help but slap my head!  I knew that they may say things about the death, but to be so blunt?!  I mean, come on!!  Thankfully my Mom simply nodded and said “Yes, he did”.

The rest of the day was filled with similar statements and they were all met with the same response “Yes, that’s right”.  We felt no need to elaborate.  Today when my Son stated that the dog had died, I gently explained that saying things like that might make people sad and that it was better to say “I miss him”.  All of a sudden, they became very concerned about the whereabouts of the dog’s collar.  My Son began to cry again so I told him that we had brought the collar to the store to be cleaned.  In realty, it’s with the dog and will be returned to us when his cremains are ready.  We did not talk about what really happened to his body.  The kids believe he simply went to Heaven and that’s enough for now.

Saying goodbye is never easy.  I will miss that beautiful little soul who taught my children how wonderful it is to have a dog as part of your life.  Until we meet at the Rainbow Bridge…

What? No Five Minute Break?

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Did you ever have one of those days where, no matter how hard you try, you can’t find time to sit down…even for a few minutes?  Today was one of those days for me.

I don’t know how they happen, perhaps the universe decides to work against me on those days.  For some reason, I was pretty tired when I woke up.  Ok I’ll be honest – I was up late watching TV last night.  I’m sorry!!  The plan was that when the kids went down for a nap, I would lay down for a snooze too.  We had nothing planned for the day, just a typical lazy Sunday.

I’m pretty sure that my kids had some sort of buzzer or alarm hooked up in my chair so that whenever I sat down for a rest, they would act up or say they needed something.  Not just once or twice.  Every.  Single.  Time!  “Mommy I need to go potty!”  “Mommy can you take my castle off the shelf?”  “Mommy she won’t stop looking at me.”  “Can you please get me a drink Mommy?”  After half an hour of constantly getting up right after sitting down, I decided to be productive and take care of some chores around the house until it was time to put the kids down for their naps.

After golden hour had arrived (aka nap time!), I poured myself a nice cold cup of lemonade and curled up in my blanket for a short snooze.  The moment I laid down to rest, our dog has an accident on the floor.  I got up, dealt with the mess, let the dog outdoors to make sure he was finished and washed my hands.  Twenty minutes after that, I laid down again…only to hear the cat urging under the table.  She coughed up a nasty hairball…on the carpet of all places!  I had to get up again, deal with the new mess, washed my hands again and twenty five minutes later, I laid down once more.  After that the phone rang, then people began texting me, then the dog had to go outdoors again!  Once everything had been taken care of, the kids woke up!  I wanted to pull my hair out!

Needless to say, I’m very excited for bed right now.  I’m thankful these sort of days don’t happen very often.

Two Ladies, Two Kids and a Grocery Store…and Pizza!

ImageI have no doubt in my mind that I have been blessed with two amazing kids.  When we are out and about, as long as I choose the right time to go shopping with them, we hardly have a problem.  However once in a blue moon, a seemingly smooth shopping trip can go downhill rather quickly.

Today my Mother and I decided to go grocery shopping during the afternoon.  It meant that the kids would miss their nap but hey, that happens once in a while.  With lists in hand (well…on cell phone) the group of us marched confidently into the grocery store determined to complete our task.  These trips are very to the point (no browsing or dilly dallying) with rules and routine to help get the most time out of the kids.  Rules, you ask?  Yes b’y!

The Newfoundland Mommy’s Grocery Store Rules

  1. Do not touch any groceries unless Mommy says it’s ok
  2. When walking, always stay next to the cart
  3. Do not bug Mommy to put certain groceries in the cart
  4. The free cookie club cookie is earned.  Do not ask repeatedly for it.

Things started off very well with my Daughter helpfully pointing out her favorite fruits and vegetables and my Son handing me produce bags as I need them.  The product section was perfect, the breads area was beautiful, the meat aisle was…meaty?  Everything was going fine until we reached the dairy section.  Perhaps it was the lighting or maybe the yogurt was sending them subliminal messages but whatever the reason…my kids went absolutely nuts.

My pretty princess decided she was tired which put her into cranky mode.  She got upset when her Brother looked at her, when I put lemonade into the cart and each time we went into a new aisle.  My little man switched to “I’m gonna ask for pizza five times a minute” mode and when he didn’t like the answer, he whined and whined and whined!!  As always, I calmly addressed the issues and did my best to reassure them that we would be leaving very soon.

Thankfully there were no lineups at the check out but the bickering and complaining continued.  The cashier chuckled while, at that point, I simply ignored their antics and by the time I got outside I was in the midst of singing “Let it Go” in an attempt to hold onto what sanity I had left.  Here’s how it sounded:

ME:  Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…

KIDS:  Mommy!!  I want pizza.  I’m tired!

ME:  Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door…

KIDS:  Can we have pizza?  When is it bed time?

ME:  I don’t care…what they’re going to say….let the storm rage on…

KIDS:  MOMMY!!!  MOMMMMYYYYY!!!!!!!!

ME:  Your yelling never bothered me anyways…

Once we got into the car and seatbelts were buckled, “serious Mommy” kicked in.  The kids burst into insta-tears because they figured they were going to face consequences for their poor choices.  Was I mad?  Nahhhh.  Frustrated beyond belief but not upset.  Like I said, they did miss their nap time and I can’t blame them for the resulting behavior.  Pizza for supper and putting them to bed early helped to resolve everything.

What’s the lesson in all of this?  There is no lesson really!  I just wanted to tell you all about my day.  😉

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.