Five Things I Love About Christmas

Five Things I love about christmasI am not a religious person and never have been. For me Christmas is all about family, food, giving, kids, and chocolate peanut butter balls.

Christmas Morning Excitement

I am writing this at 3:30 in the morning on Christmas Day under a sky of stars and hearts projected by my daughter’s nightlight. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t awake. We did have a round of whispering and bathroom visits around 2am, but now everyone, but me is asleep again.
I have always been an early Christmas riser, a trait that I have inherited from my dad and his father. When I was a kid, my dad’s parents spent Christmas Eve and morning with us, a tradition that I believe began because my grandparents would show up early Christmas morning ready to go after an hour drive to our place. In an effort to control my early morning rising and excitement and give my parents the Christmas gift of sleeping past five am, Santa always placed my stocking and my brother’s stocking at the foot of our beds. That meant I could open my stocking presents, burn off some excitement, perhaps go back to sleep, but at a minimum burn off some time before I woke up my parents.

Family

 After lunch on Christmas Day, my grandparents would head off to see my aunt and uncle and cousins, while we went to see my mum’s side of the family. The family gathering included my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It also included our non-blood family. After my grandparents come to Canada from England they were followed by their good friends and for 65 years our two families have gathered together on Christmas or Boxing Day. This gathering is one of the most important Christmas traditions for me.

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The Story of a Lost Bear

Image of a blue bear and a doll sitting together on a couch

Do your kids have a special stuffed animal or blanket?

Have you considered what you would do if it was lost?

When we were younger, my brother who is five years younger than me, had a favourite stuffed dog. If I remember correctly it was the stuffed dog that my dad and I stopped to buy at the hospital gift shop as a gift for me to take to my new baby brother the first time I met him. I named him Bright. He was a brown and white dog and in my brilliance I combined the words brown and white! Bright went everywhere with him for many years. I think either my mum or brother still have Bright around, which is a remarkable achievement.

We left him behind in at least one hotel during our summer travels. I remember the sense of panic of discovering Bright was not with us in the car. My mum found somewhere that she could call the hotel and ask if they had found Bright in our room. They had found him and the hotel owner or manager shipped Bright home for us so he was there when we arrived, much to everyone's relief.

I had memories of that incident stirred up several weeks ago when my daughters and I got home from a movie night at school and we discovered that my daughter's favourite bear was missing.

Image of a girl and her favourite striped pink lion

Each of our girls have favourite stuffed animals or dolls. my three year old has a couple of dolls that she carries around and that often travel with us. She isn't specifically tied to one of them over others though. She has a few favourites and she alternates between them depending on the day and week. Our eight year old was securing attached to her striped pink lion when she was younger. Now she has moved on to dolls, but they don't often sleep with her or get carried everywhere with her. When she was younger we definitely had a few instances of the lion being lost or left behind and the resulting parental panic about what to do if the loss was permanent. 

Our ten year old on the other hand has a blue bear that has always been and continues to be her favourite. As the first born she received many, many stuffed animals as gifts when she was born we picked a few that we put in her crib with her and took with us when travelling. She was interested in them, but not attached to them. Then one day in a store, she was crying and upset and one of the staff gave her a bear, which calmed her down. When we tried to return it, we were told to keep it. Ever since that bear has been her favourite companion. 

Image of a girl wearing upside down green toy glasses and carrying a blue bear
Image of a girl and her blue bear drawing on an easel

This blue bear is a steady companion, through thick and thin. He is her playmate and confidant. He has comforted her through injuries and anxieties. He is her best and most loyal friend. He isn't included in as many activities these days and can typically be found sitting on the living room couch during the day. He does however go with her anytime there is sleep involved - or frankly pyjamas. 

That was the situation a few weeks ago. We had a movie night at school and because our kids opted to wear their pyjamas and bring sleeping bags to sit/lay on to watch the movie, the blue bear came with us. We had brought our wagon with us to carry the sleeping bags, etc so at the end of the event, we loaded everything into the wagon and headed home. When we got home and unloaded everything the bear was missing. This bear, who means everything, was missing. She was tired and the fact that he had somehow disappeared on our way home was a totally disorienting experience for her. I don't think she could process what had happened. I knew that he had clearly fallen out along the way so I set off on my journey retracing our steps back to school.  

Image of blue bear lying in the grass

My biggest concern as I hurried back to school was that one of the other kids would pick up the bear and that it wouldn't be until the following week at the earliest before we were able to get him back, or longer if the kid/parents forgot to bring him back to the school. This is a bear that has been a lost bear before and those disappearances concerned me so greatly that I took to searching e-bay and other sites to see if I could find a back up bear. I was never successful in my searches. 

I was pretty sure where I would find our lost bear. At the same time I was fighting back a rising sense of panic and building the conversation in my head that I would have with my daughter if it turned out that her friend and companion over the past ten years had disappeared. 

Mostly I didn't want to return home and have my daughter feel like I had failed her in this most important mission. I wanted to be her hero who returned with the lost treasure. I also desperately wanted to avoid the heartbreak that would occur if I was unsuccessful in my quest. 

As it turned out, the lost bear became a found bear. He was on the lawn of the school lying amongst the leaves as I expected. We have cut across the front lawn of the school bumping the wagon along behind us. The rest of the journey home had been along the sidewalk so I thought the bumpy ride at the beginning was the most likely place for the the bear to have fallen out. I was happy to be proven right. I returned home with the blue bear and all was right with the world again. 

We have never again spoken of this incident...

 

Have you ever had to help your child come to terms with the loss of a favoured stuffed animal or doll?

It’s Not The Stork Book Review

Image of an illustration of a fetus in utero with text: Book Review: It's Not the Stork"

It’s Not The Stork

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Many parents are uncomfortable with the concept of talking about sex with their kids and some choose to make up alternate stories about where babies come from instead of providing factual information.

It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends is the first of three books by Robie Harris that are written to help kids learn about sexual health kids in an age-appropriate way. This book is for kids age four and up, The second book It’s So Amazing is written for kids seven and up and the third book, It’s Perfectly Normal is written for kids approaching and going through puberty.

Each page is a combination of illustrations, text and comic strips featuring a cartoon bird and bee who act as guides through the book. Often they give voice to feelings kids reading or listening to the book may be having. They also bring up and address common myths and misinformation around the topic of sexual health.

This particular book helps parents to answer the question of where babies come from. It starts with comparisons to families of animals like you would see at the zoo or in a park.

The book includes illustrations of boys and girls bodies with labels for all their respective body parts. It covers more than just reproductive organs, but names them just the same as other body parts. There is an  illustration of a sperm race to the egg – one of my daughters’ favourite sections primarily because some of the sperm are talking to each other about how they are going to win the race.  There are also actual size drawings of a fetus at various stages of development

While we as adults may be uncomfortable talking with our kids about how babies are made and sexual health, our kids have no such hang ups. They are just curious and looking for information. This book and the others in the series present the facts in an accessible way. There were sections that I was admittedly cautious about reading, but then decided to just read through. At the end of each section, which is typically two pages long, I asked my daughters if they had any questions and provided any additional information or context that I wanted them to know.

I believe that it is the role of educators to provide facts and parents to teach values. With these books I can play both roles and provide the facts framed through our values lens to ensure that my kids have the information they need and want about their own bodies.

Why Are My Kids So Lazy?

Image of a kitten sleeping on a rug

My Kids Are Lazy

It was Saturday morning and I got up before everyone else to have a bit of quiet time and get a couple of things done before everyone else woke up and the day went off the rails. This is regular practice for me. I am always the first up in the mornings and the last to bed. I suck at Continue reading