Walking my kids to school, sort of

November 19, 2009

On the days when I work from home, I like to walk my boys to school in the morning. It’s the only chance I have to get to their school while it’s still in session (they go to an aftercare program after school and that’s where I pick them up) and see what’s going on, see the other mommies, and catch up. So I like to walk them to the classroom door, look quickly around the class, check notices, all that stuff.

But my kids make all that hard. We walk to school regularly, and I often take a couple other boys who live along our walking route to save their parents the walk when I can. And so all the boys run ahead of me, only stopping to wait for me to cross the street, then running on ahead. Our last two blocks have no streets to cross, and I can’t keep up with the boys. So by the time we get to the school, they’re already inside.

The other day, I walked four boys in, two of mine and two neighbours. When I reached the school, I checked to make sure the neighbours both got to their classrooms, but both my boys were long gone, having run up the three flights to their floor without waiting for me. And of course that’s fine. I know they’re at school and safely where thy should be. But now there’s no point in me climbing the stairs to their floor, so I miss out on all the social stuff with the other mommies.

It’s great they get the exercize of running/walking to school, but I miss the chatting outside class that we used to have in kindergarten. Ah well…

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The things my kids learn at farmer’s markets

October 7, 2009

His schoolteacher…had cut an apple and held one-quarter of it up to the class: this is the amount of earth that is not water; and then cut the quarter in half – this is the amount of arable land; and cut again – this is the amount of arable land not covered by human habitation; and finally, the amount of land that feeds everyone on the earth barely a scrap of skin.” –from The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

I go to a lot of farmer’s markets. My husband mocks me for it, but whenever we travel in the summer, I always find a weekend market. Sometimes even a weekday market. This summer alone, we went to markets in Haney, Squamish, 100 Mile House, Qualicum Beach, and of course Vancouver. I love the mix of fresh, healthy food with artisan bakers/food producers and crafts. And I always drag the kids.

Now I should disclose my interest here — I’ve gotten involved in food issues over the past few years, and now sit as a member of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council, an advisory body to the Mayor and Council of Vancouver on issues of food and food security. I also champion food issues for the Board of Trade’s Sustainability Committee. I’m not an organic-vegan hippie foodie, but rather am interested in preserving farmland for farming, in ensuring we have local food available, and in growing local food industries.

OK, got that off my chest. Now back to farmer’s markets. I love the variety of vendors. I love finding new stuff at different locations. My whole family still raves about the bison burgers we bought in Squamish this summer. And I love discovering new fruits and vegetables. Just last week at the Kitsilano market I bought a lemon cucumber (very cool and great fresh taste), yellow and purple carrots, and a variety of tiny plums I can’t remember the name of but am heading back next Sunday to get more of because they were the sweetest thing I ever ate.

My husband isn’t huge on markets, but my kids have grown to love them. To be fair, they nearly always get some kind of baked good snack (at Kits, try the Welsh cakes or the butter tarts!), and there’s veggies and fruit and cheese to taste. But last weekend, I discovered that they like a lot of things I like at the market. They like finding cool veggies. My 8 year old chose this wierd shaped red pepper and insisted I buy it. My 6 year old loves the differently coloured carrots. They both went gaga over the mini pumpkins and loved that I let them each choose one to buy. And because I’ve drilled it into them, they now get that farmers make more money if we buy at markets than the grocery store.

Sample conversation from last weekend:

8 yr old: “IGA has these same mini pumpkins at the same price, you know.”

6 yr old: “But if we bought them at IGA the farmer only gets like ten cents of the dollar we paid.”

8 yr old: “And at the market the farmer gets the whole buck!”

And they’re right. And I love that they know that. Of course, they also know that the cinamon buns at one baker’s stand are larger than the scones at the other stand. Still, baby steps.


The end of summer

September 7, 2009

The signs are all here now. Summer is over.

First, it got cold. We turned on the heat yesterday and don’t expect to shut it off much now until April.

Next, baseball is over. This year my son played summer ball, stretching the regular season from April all the way to the end of August. And yesterday we watched the last game for the Vancouver Canadians for the season. And yes, they won.

Third, lessons start this week. Piano lessons, swimming lessons, and soon weekend soccer games. Here comes my scheduling nightmare trying to get two kids to everything when both parents work and we only have one car. How do bigger families do it?

Finally, school starts tomorrow. Whooopeee!! I’ve been counting down the days for weeks now, and finally, it’s here. It’s been nice having a calm summer with fewer deadlines and an easier schedule, but when you’re trying to work from home and schedule actual client stuff and kids are running around the house or taking up your time, school can’t come fast enough.

Goodbye summer (although weather wise, I’d be happy to be proven wrong!), hello fall.


Labels for Back to School help keep the things my kids lose — discount for you!

August 27, 2009

Lovable Labels Bear_withTAG_8 (120x120)There are only 11 more days until the kids go back to school (and yes, I’m counting every one!), so I was thrilled when Loveable Labels asked me to review their Back to School Mega Pack of labels.

My kids seem to lose half the stuff they take to school. Lunch containers go missing, sweatshirts almost never make it home, and somehow even shoes don’t always come back. Our school has a huge bin of lost and found, but since all the moms buy the same three items of clothing at Please Mum for every boy (not the greatest selection for boys in clothes anywhere!), once it’s lost it can be hard to get back. Unless it’s labeled.

So we label everything. Years ago I sat with a permanent marker writing their initials on all the stuff they left at daycare, but these labels make it so much easier and much more likely things will get returned.

My Back-To-School pack came with a variety of labels for every application. It included:

lovable labels BTS pack contents* 15 Sticker Labels
* 60 Slimline Labels
* 48 Press ‘N Stick Clothing Dots
* 16 Shoe Labels
* 2 Mini Metal Tags
* 5 Book/Binder Stickers

With two boys, this is just barely enough labels. I admit, I cheated and put both their names on the labels so I could use it for either one (given how quickly clothes get passed down, this is a useful strategy). The boys picked out their own icon (a skateboard of course!), and were thrilled to get them.

I loved how easy it was to order the labels online, and the variety of icons and colours available. The quality of the labels is great. I’ve ordered from another lable company before and found Loveable Labels as good as others, but I like that they’re Canadian. And the variety of labels is great. I can stick them on lunch containers, backpacks, clothes, shoes, school supplies, water bottles — well, just about everything. I’ve even stuck them on sunglasses, toothbrushes (sleepovers!) and baseball mitts (have just located older son’s second lost mitt of the summer today!).

Lovable Labels BTS-ad

The Back to School Mega Pack that I got retails for $44.95, but they’re offering you, my blog readers, a 10% discount. Just quote “movies4mommies” when placing your order. This discount is valid for the next two weeks only.

And don’t forget to label jackets too. Those almost always go missing first.


Hot, hot heat

July 29, 2009

I am cranky from the heat. My husband is super cranky because he can’t sleep in the heat. The kids, surprisingly, are not very cranky from the heat, although maybe they’re just too withered from the heat.

I know we’ll all regret bemoaning the heat once the cold weather returns, but why can’t it be lovely during the day and cool and breezy at night?

How are you coping with the humidity and hot weather? Im considering checking us into a motel for a night just to get a cool, air-conditioned night sleep.


A night alone

July 24, 2009

Last night hubby and I had the house to ourselves. The boys’ day camp took both of them on an overnight, so from 9:30 Thursday until 3:30 Friday, we were free of children. For a couple without family around to take the kids for us, this was huge!

But of course we had to work, so we didn’t really get to take advantage until late afternoon. But then we did. We went out, we went for a walk, went for drinks, went for dinner, then went to a baseball game. With no kids. And we didn’t have to race home for a sitter.

But the best part, of course, was this morning. We slept in. Okay, we only slept in about 20 minutes later than usual, but I think it’s the first time we’ve been able to do that in years.

I hope the boys had fun on their overnight, because I know we did.


He read the book — should he see the film?

July 20, 2009

My eight year old is a very good reader. He just finished grade two, and in French Immersion at that, but this summer he’s jumped his (English) reading level to serious chapter books.

I have always known he’d be a reader. As a baby and toddler, he loved stories. Any stories. If anyone was reading aloud, he was there listening. At five, if someone was reading a baby book, he’d stop. He was sounding out words before kindergarten, and able to slowly push his way (with help) through easy Dr. Seuss going into grade one, but somewhere at the beginning of grade two, it all really gelled.

He was reading all the time. As in me shouting “Get your nose out of that book and go do (fill in whatever activity he needed to get done, like homework, practice piano, brush teeth, eat breakfast…).” He was reading the same level of books by midway through the school year in both English and French. These were short chapter books, like Junie B Jones, Magic Tree House and Geronimo Stilton adventures. By the end of the school year, if we went to the library, he’d come home with about 20 books and next week do the same thing. His English reading is now better than his French, but then it’s summer, so he’s not really reading French a lot right now.

I have always read a lot to my kids. When my first was a baby, I took him to a Mother Goose program, where we learned rhymes and songs, but where where the children’s librarian who ran the program told me my baby could have his own library card and that kids’ cards had no fines on them. So we began with books very early. And as my boys got older, I started reading chapter books to them at bedtime (one chapter a night). We are currently reading Sunwing, the second book in the Silverwing trilogy, and recently finished The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. My rule is that I’ll read the first two books in any series, but after that they’ll have to read the rest of the series themselves.

Turns out it was a great idea I had. Because I read the first two books in the Harry Potter franchise to my kids (I re-read it to my younger kid, but of course my 8-year-old listened in — see above). And my eight year old decided last year that the summer after grade two, he’d read the third. I thought it would take him all summer to get through that book, so it seemed like a great project.

Well he read the book in four days. And has now read the fourth Harry Potter book. And now I have a dilemma.

I believe that he’s old enough to read these books, even though they are probably more appropriate for a 10-12 year old. He’s pretty mature, for starters, and what he gets out of these stories is at a level appropriate for him (we grownups get other stuff out of it, but the kids enjoy it at their own understanding). But does that mean he’s old enough to see the films?

In BC, the Harry Potter films are rated PG. I’ve seen them all (not the new one yet), and think they might be too dark for an eight year old, and that perhaps I should make him wait a couple years. Or should I? If he can handle the book just fine, can he handle the film?

This dilemma will likely continue to haunt me, since he’s obviously reading above his age level, and so many great kids books are being made into PG films.

What do you think?