June 15, 2014

my popsy

I have a pretty incredible dad. For more than 32 years now he's always gone above and beyond the call of fatherhood, and that's not something that's changed as I've grown into adulthood and motherhood. Somehow, he continues to be more and more supportive every year. 

At 6'2", with his booming voice, my dad was equal parts disciplinarian and snuggler when I was growing up. Along with my mum, the two of them kept my brother and I in check and provided us with an enviable childhood; one that I'm trying to recreate for my children to the best of my ability. 

But today, on Father's Day, I'll share my favourite story of dad that pretty much sums up who he is... 

When I was in about grade 1, we had the "smoking talk" at school. We were warned of the dangers, the possibility of sickness and even death. Well that was enough to scare the pants off this 6 year old - good work Ontario education system! My dad wasn't a smoker, but he did keep cigars in the basement, and I knew their whereabouts though I can't recall ever seeing him smoke one. 

Shortly after "the talk" at school, dad was looking for his cigars, and they weren't in the downstairs fridge where he ways kept them. He tells me he looked everywhere before asking my mum, then my brother if they knew where the cigars were. No dice. Nobody could find them, or knew about their mysterious disappearance. 

As a last resort, he came to his little brown eyed girl who surely couldn't have them. "Kristin, have you seen my cigars?", he asked. "Yes", I said. "But I'm not giving them back unless you promise me not to smoke anymore" (likely recapping some of my classroom learnings for him!). "I promise" he said. With that, I promptly reached right beside the fridge, in the dark space between it and the freezer, and pulled out his box of cigars. (He later told me he'd looked everywhere, but never thought to look from the perspective of a 6 year old!) 

Fast forward about 13 years. I was 19 and in my first year of university. The phone rang mid-day at my apartment and it was my dad. He was out for lunch with some colleagues/friends and one had just returned from a trip with some cigars, offering one to my dad. I still remember him saying into the phone "Krin, do you mind if I have one?"  Dumbstruck, I said "dad, have you not had one all these years?" He answered simply with "no. I promised you I wouldn't"

I'll never forget that day because though I knew my dad was an incredible person, that day he really showed me his amazing character. My dad continues to do everything he can for my brother and I and our families, but this story has always just summed it up for me. 

Reliable, trustworthy, loving. These are all words that describe my dad perfectly. I'm very lucky to have a dad like him! 

May 22, 2014


Has it really been nine months since I last posted here? Oh my; so many things to catch up on. I could have had another child in that time! (No, no - I didn't, don't worry. You're not that far behind!)

Well, let's get caught back up here. We'll start with something recent...our little Lady A has just celebrated her third birthday, which seems crazy to me. It feels like it was only moments ago that she came flying into this world (literally, flying - the doctor barely made it in time to catch her 9 pound, 2 ounce self!) and was placed into my arms, completing our family of four, forever outnumbering my sweet husband.

Cake #1 - May 2nd
Cake #2 - May 3rd

At 3, Lady A is one sassy little lady with an enormous personality. Sure, she has the typical three year old moments - larger, more dramatic moments than her big sister ever had - but she is so full of love and sweetness. She likes to tell me when she thinks I look pretty, has the most expressive little face, gives the best hugs, and keeps the rest of us in stitches every day. She looks just like Cal, and behaves a little like him, a little like me, and a little like her sister. And a lot like herself.

How can I sum up Lady A's personality at the moment? Well, the other day she was offering us the sassy side of her personality, and Cal finally had to say "Lady A, the bottom line is, you have to listen to Daddy". She promptly responded to him with "what's the top line?"

And what do any good parents do in that moment? We roar with laughter, naturally!

To cut through the laughter, she continued with her line of questioning: "you said that's the bottom line, Daddy, what's the top?", and her big sister piped in to add "and is there a middle line?". Ok smartypants'. At every line, you just need to listen to your parents! 

Her 3rd birthday was marked with a number of celebrations. We ate cake and cupcakes for three days straight, and she was given lots of lovely presents. She lives to look after her 'babies' these days, so we got her a doll playset, and I crocheted her a little doll as well. It's been cast aside in favour of her more lifelike dolls, but making it for her was fun!

This year, I had her help me create the guest list for her birthday party, and before I knew it, we had 20 children coming! Thankfully, we were not cramming all of these munchkins and their parents into our home - we had rented a local dance studio for the occasion, and all turned out very well! Two of my wonderful friends helped me paint the kids' faces, we played 'pin the tail on brown bear', had a beanbag toss and had assorted play stations set up. Of course when DJ Daddy turned the music to the Frozen soundtrack, we also had an impromptu performance from many of the little girls in the room. And let me tell you, these girls can really belt out an enthusiastic version of "Let It Go"!
Cupcakes on May 4th!

All in all, each celebration was great, and it was nice to see Lady A really enjoy her birthday, seeming to understand what all the fuss was about this year.

Our littlest girl continues to surprise us every day with her wit, intelligence and the simple fact that she's no longer a baby any more. At 3, she's officially a little girl.

August 23, 2013

kribble the frog

Swimming: an essential skill for any child, as far as I'm concerned. I may not have a perfect swim technique, but I swim well and have always loved being in the water - pools, lakes, oceans - anything goes. Now, I look forward to the day when my kids are strong enough swimmers that we can spend hours in a pool playing Marco Polo, doing underwater handstands, and having cannonball contests. But first come the swimming lessons!

When Lady M was 3 1/2, she took her first independent swim class at the rec centre near our house. She was excited to take the class, but when it came to the end she hadn't passed. According to her water stained report card, she was unwilling to splash water on her face, and put her face into the water. Fair enough; these seem like essential skills to demonstrate before graduating from Splash A to Splash B.

Rather than stick her right into another class, we gave her some time to practice these skills in the bathtub and in the pool when we went swimming as a family. Slowly her confidence grew, and our little lady was happily sticking her face in the water, blowing bubbles and splashing herself (and her sister) in the face. However, with all of the other extracurricular activities happening in our world suddenly more than a year had passed.

This spring, we signed her back up for Splash A to try once again, and in a few short weeks she had breezed through the class, splashing and kicking all the way to Splash B. Though we're not on the pool deck to observe the lessons (rather, we're behind the glass, watching from afar) it's clear they spend a good amount of class time singing songs. With these merry tunes stuck in her head, Lady M would come home singing them.

Her best song reiteration was "dunk, dunk went Kribble the frog one day, dunk dunk went Kribble the frog". Yes, it was meant to be Kermit, but my child of the new millenium is unfamiliar with the fabulousness of Jim Henson and all his muppets.

Unlike I did, Lady M isn't spending part of her youth watching The Muppet Show, or Muppet Babies, so has never heard of Kermit, Miss Piggy or the Swedish Chef. No, to my sweet little four year old, "Kribble" is just some frog who likes to dunk himself in the water. Maybe this Christmas we'll pull out The Muppet Christmas Carol, or introduce her to the updated movie with Jason Segel & Amy Adams. But for now, we'll just stick to Kribble.

Over the last two weeks, we put Lady M into the boot camp of swimming lessons, with a lesson every night for 9 weekdays straight. Getting home, eating an express early-bird dinner, getting changed and to the pool by 6pm each night was a brutal, frustrating, delightful challenge to say the least. Little Lady A wanted to watch her big sister swim too, so the whole family would pile in the car and rush, scramble, head to the pool each night for her half hour lesson. As one other parent said to me, it was basically a swimming boot camp, but 9 days later my little lady collected her report card, complete with Splash B sticker, and instruction to sign up for Splash C next.

Lately she's been telling us that she wants to complete every level and become a lifeguard when she's bigger, which I think is great. But, one step at a time. For now, she and Kribble will just move along to Splash C...

August 18, 2013

camp chronicles : my list of awesome

Each summer at camp I teach a leadership program for teenagers; it's the most wonderful week for so many reasons, but one of them is simply because I get to spend so much time chatting with my two co-coaches, Rene & Trish. The three of us have been teaching this program together for 13 years now, and it's just so easy now. We have a vast repertoire of lesson plans and activities to pull from, and change and adapt our delivery each year depending on the group that we're working with. But one of my favourite things is just the things that we talk about after each session, or as we paddle out on the lake on our annual canoe trip.
One of the (many, many) things we chatted about this year is The Book of Awesome. It's been around for a bit now, and you've likely read it, or are at least familiar with it. It's just as simple as it sounds: a book of things that are simply awesome.

On that note, I've decided to put together a little list of awesome - things that we talked about over the week, or the things that are simple reminders of how special it is to get to spend this week with my little family each year. Read on for my 2013 Camp List of Awesome... 

  • Snuggling in the bunk beds with Lady A & Lady M
  • Canoe trips
  • Lady A calling the cabin "our new home"
  • Unbridled energy and enthusiasm of the counsellors, campers, coaching staff and families
  • Morning dew on your toes while walking to breakfast
  • Lake water
  • Lady M's impromptu dance performances
  • Kids riding around on bikes & trikes
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • The beautiful waterlilies on Long Lake 
  • Simplicity
  • The coaches' dance
  • Not having to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • Rainbow headbands, legwarmers and armbands
  • Developing future counsellors 
  • Spending time with teenagers from whom I learn the new 'hip' lingo... 
  • My summer tan
  • Living in comfy clothes and flip flops
  • The annual badminton tournament
  • Puddle jumping on rainy days
  • Breathtaking sunsets
  • Family fun
  • Memories that last a lifetime... 
This list could absolutely go on for ages...now I understand how Neil Pasricha has easily filled two books! 

    camp chronicles: future olympian

    Last week my family packed up our car and a spacious, rented U-Haul trailer and headed off for what is traditionally my favourite week of the year: camp! For four years I was a camper there, and for four years after that I worked as part of the summer staff, spending eleven sun-filled, enthusiastic and life-changing weeks there. Now, after 19 years, I still return for just one brief week each summer and get the chance to re-live part of my youth, but I get to have my family in tow making it just a little sweeter.

    So with the SUV packed full of clothes, food and toys, and a trailer filled with bedding, bikes, wagons, a ride-on car and other assorted activities, we were off. Two very excited little girls, a dad with impeccable packing skills, a mum ready to go to one of her favourite places in the world, and a cabin awaiting our arrival.

    Last summer at camp I had to deal with one of my biggest fears: mice. (You can read about the experience here in 'camp chronicles: mouse in the house'). Now, if you're all up to speed, I'm happy to report that the mouse didn't return this year (or he was sufficiently trapped in the walls of the cabin thanks to Cal's handyman skills), so I slept a little more soundly each night, with a sky full of bright stars above me, the fresh, northern Ontario air blowing through the cabin and the girls safely tucked in their bunks.

    This year, at 4 1/2 years old, Lady M decided that she was going to take part in Dance camp; one of the many camp options that particular week. On the first night, she got all dressed to dance, and off she went to the Rec Hall where the camp is held.

    I'm told that she was right into the action, sitting up front with the counsellors (rather than the campers), offering a detailed introduction of herself, including telling her fellow campers about her dog who was staying "at my mum's mum's house", and participating happily in the session.

    Happily, that is, until her coach mentioned that it was 7:30pm. The session runs each night from 6:30-8:30pm, but as soon as Lady M heard the announcement that it was 7:30pm she told everyone that she HAD to get back to the cabin, because that was her bedtime. She was very determined that she needed to get back, apparently abiding by her bedtime more than she every has before! With some creative problem solving from the awesome coach who convinced her for the next hour that it "wasn't QUITE 7:30pm", Lady M stayed until the end and danced her little heart out.

    She was super happy after session, but after that decided not to go back. She never gave much of an explanation, but we finally learned on the last day of camp that the reason she didn't return to dance was because it was just too long! Granted, it did wipe her out for about 2 days, but she could've gone for 1/2 hour or 1 hour if we'd known. But that's ok - if she'd spent every session in dance she may not have had the opportunity to develop her new athletic love: badminton.

    Badminton is another session option at camp the week we're there, and Lady M was very curious about the game, and desperately wanted to grab a racquet and birdie and learn to play. With a couple quick lessons from the wonderful badminton gurus, she was striking each birdie with conviction! By Thursday she was so in love with her new past-time that Cal had to take her into the Canadian Tire in town and get her her very own lovely teal badminton racquet and a tube of birdies. He talked her down from the $50 racquet, and I'm sure she slept with her new $10 one under her pillow for the remainder of the week. She woke up asking the play, and went to sleep dreaming about her place on the Olympic Team for the 2024 Summer Games.

    Like her big sister, Little Lady A couldn't get enough of camp, and while she enjoyed a little bit of badminton herself, truthfully I think she just enjoyed the freedom...and all the toys that the U-Haul brought to camp. For the first time she was in control of the ride-on car, and she hit the pedal and drove all over the place in that little red jeep! When she wasn't driving the jeep she was riding her bike, pushing her dolls in the stroller or just simply running in the wide open fields. Really, what more can you ask for when you're two?!

    When the day arrived to leave camp, both girls were rather vocal about not wanting to go, but the exhausting week made it hard for them to protest too much. Lady M keeps asking when we get to go back, keeps singing camp songs and is already making plans for next summer. And when we pulled in the driveway at home last Saturday night, Lady A re-buckled her seatbelt and said 'no - I go back to cabin!' Clearly she would've stayed a little longer too...

    So I must admit, I love seeing my family up there enjoying the place that has always been so special to me. Getting to spend a week among amazing friends and people who we really see just once a year, but who are like extended family, is the best. And seeing the happiness in my kids with each new discovery they make confirms for me that we'll be going back year after year for a long time...

    April 13, 2013

    the big girl bed

    Tonight my little Lady A is snug as a bug in her new big girl bed, but the day did not go down in history as just a simple transition; nope, she added a little spice to the day to make it extra memorable for all of us...

    In less than three weeks Lady A will be celebrating her second birthday, and having gone from a little girl who was ridiculously easy to put to bed at night, to one who cried unless you stayed with her until she was completely out, we decided the time had come to move into a big girl bed.

    We had been storing a queen size mattress at my parents' house for some time now, so thought we should pick that up and get her little girl room set up. Yes, I did say queen size mattress. That may seem like a bit much for a 28 pound child, but my girls are both in them now because they just happened to be the mattresses we owned. The queen offers an extra buffer before they'll fall out of bed too, which is always good!

    Anyway, we had planned to go pick up the mattress later this afternoon, after nap. But, in a ironic little twist of fate, Lady A chose to make her final sleep in her crib the most memorable. I put her down, and she was crying a little, so I went downstairs to have a peek at her on the monitor while she settled. However, I didn't even have an opportunity to turn the monitor on before I heard the giant THUD from the floor above me; Lady A had gotten her leg up high enough to dive right out of her crib. In about 2.5 seconds I flew up the stairs and into her room, checking on my little girl who was laying on her back and crying. Thankfully, apart from a bit of a sore hand, her big jump had a relatively soft landing. It scared the heck out of me, but all was well.

    So I scooped her up cuddled my little munchkin to sleep before laying her back in her crib for her final 'baby' nap. This afternoon we set up her big bed in her room, and she is now peacefully slumbering in it tonight. A successful transition so far!

    With her growing vocabulary, increasingly expressive manner, growing independence and now her real bed, my baby is growing up so quickly! I'll always remember the day she moved into her big girl bed, both because of her nose dive out of the crib, but also because of how sweet and small she looks laying on her big mattress.


    March 25, 2013

    move over, mary poppins

    Medicine + Lady M = nightmare.

    About a month ago Lady M came down with a bladder infection that had to be looked after with antibiotics, and oh what a challenge. My poor little girl was rather uncomfortable, and after a trip to the doctor, she knew that medicine was in her future. And we're not talking about penicillin (aka. banana medicine - your childhood favourite, and mine!), my little girl had to take a fruit-flavoured liquid concoction.

    Night one was a success - she took her spoonful of medicine like a champ, no issue at all. The next morning, however, was a completely different story. Though she told me 'it didn't taste so bad' on night one, a mere 12 hours later she was telling a new tale. Judging from her reaction, overnight it had begun to taste like a mixture of marmite and arsenic. It  eventually went with her to daycare that morning, and our wonderful caregiver convinced her to take it somewhere along the way.

    That night I thought I'd be clever, and I mixed the "horrible" medicine in with a small bowl of chocolate pudding. She couldn't taste it at all, but feeling the need to be an honest mummy, I fessed up to what I'd done. At first she thought it was great, declaring "I can't taste it at all!" But, the novelty soon wore off, and she gave up on the pudding.

    The next 10 days presented a series of battles, creative thinking and clever hiding places. Because Murphy's Law is always right, on the second day of the Medicine Escapades Cal had to head to Florida, leaving me to fight the medicine battle all alone for the next week. That weekend we visited my parents and they were privy to a very long standoff between Lady M and I as I tried to reason with her and convince her to take the fruity medicine. For the record, reasoning did not work with my little four-year-old this time around. She is a clever grasshopper.

    The situation required a new solution, and I had to channel my creative thinking skills and really find ways to mask the taste in foods she was already consuming. And though Mary Poppins sings its praises, I wasn't prepared to give my little lady a spoonful of sugar. I did, however, mask the medicine in maple syrup and cranberry juice quite well. And I had learned my lesson: sometimes you can't be Honest Mummy; being a little deceitful was much more effective in this case.

    In the end, Lady M got her 7-day course of medicine into her, and her bladder infection cleared up. I can't help but wonder though, with all the amazing discoveries that have been made to date, how can antibiotics not have been made into a little dinosaur-shaped gummy or a clear, tasteless powder that can covertly be sprinkled on food?

    Seems simple to me, and I'm sure Mary Poppins would agree!