My Five Rules for Summertime

Lemonade, biking, camping, swimming, walking to the store for slushies, eating M&Ms while hiding from your children in the closet – these are all classic summertime pastimes. And summer is an ideal time to reconnect with your family and spend time with friends. I’ve found it’s always good to lay down a few ground rules at the beginning of the season just to avoid unnecessary complications and to maintain realistic expectations.

And so, I present to you, My Five Rules for Summertime

    1. Parents are only going to “lookit” a limited number of times. Listen, we love to see your developing skills and yes, that cannonball off the diving board was great. It was just as great at the other 17 cannonballs you did leading up to it.
    2. No wet hands in the chip bag. Actually, no wet hands in or near any of the communal food. That goes for sand, too. So no wet or sandy or sandy-wet hands in food, okay? I think this rule also applies for all seasons, not just summer.
    3. Close.
      The.
      Door.
      All the doors, all the time. Just close them.
    4. Applying sunblock is not the same as being dipped in battery acid. Please stop acting like it is.
    5. Go ahead and ask for a snack/drink/screentime but for the love of Moses, just ask once. You might think that persistence will pay off, but no. It only makes your parents want to cry. Also, you come across a little unhinged. Or maybe that’s me. I don’t know because you won’t stop asking for all the things.

But seriously, CLOSE THE DOOR.

Happy Summer Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Kindergarten in Review

It has been my privilege to spend another school year in kindergarten. Teaching, that is. As our staff wraps up another busy year we are gathering reflections, quotes, and other magical moments that have made these past nine months memorable. I was digging through old tweets and posts and was struck by the ridiculous, hilarious and disgusting things that happen on any given day in kindergarten.

Obviously, I had to share.

Kindergarten Convos

Kindie: “Is this ‘O Canada’?”
Me: “No, Elton John.”

Me: “Did you flush?”
Kindie: “No, you gotta see it.”

Kindie: “My letter jar is at home.”
Me: “Oh, will you fill it with your mom and bring it back?”
Kindie: “No, she won’t fit inside.”

Me: “Friends, we don’t put play-doh in our ear.”
Kindie: “It’s not play-doh, it’s paper.”

Me: “I like your shirt – do you know where you bought it?”
Kindie: “Where?”
Me: “I’m asking you.”
Kindie: “Yup.”

Kindie: “Guess what!”
Me: “What?”
Kindie: “Sometimes my dad takes his phone with him into the bathroom.”

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“J is for Happy Pumpkin!”

In the computer lab…
Me: “Would you like to go to starfall or tvokids?”
Kindie: “Batman.”

Me: “Stop pushing.”
Kindie: “You look beautiful.”
Me: “Carry on.”

Kindie: “Why is he wearing lipstick?”
Teacher: “He’s not, he licked the metal window ledge. It’s blood.”

Me: “What do you notice about the parachute?”
Kindie:”My headband is purple.”

Me: “I smell something pretty stinky in here.”
Kindie: “Maybe someone was smoking.”

Me: “No one is more important just because they get to the library first.”
Kindie: “Except Jesus.”
Me: “Alright. Except Jesus.”

Kindie: “My back has these sharp things.”
Me: “Yes, that’s your spine.”

Kindie: “It smells good in here.”
Me: “It must be me.”
Kindie: “No.”

Me: “Did you just eat a really red snack?”
Kindie: “No.”
Me: “Did you get some new red lipstick?”
(pause)
(longer pause)
Kindie: “Yes.”

Kindie: “We made a pretend TV at the blocks and she keeps turning it off!”
Me: “Couldn’t you just pretend it’s still on?”

Me: “Why do you think there is a Skyjack at school today?”
Kindie: “We don’t hit… or kick.”

Kindie: “He spit at me”
Me: “What happened right before that?”
Kindie: “I came and told you about it.”
(Lesson on sequencing of events followed)

Me (during story): “What do you think Rabbit is planning?”
Kindie: “My toes keep growing bigger.”

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“It’s a snail family!”

Me: “Friends, what special day is Sunday?”
Kindie 1: “Swimming lessons!”
Kindie 2: “No school!”
Kindie 3: “Church!”
Kindie 4: “Thanksmothers Day!”

Teacher: “What rhymes with cat?”
Kindie: “I know! Shat!”

(Recruited the help of a classmate to help communicate with a new kindie)
Me: “How do you say ‘cow’ in Arabic?”
Student: “Cow in Arabic.”

(During a lesson on Canadian coins)
Me: “Who is that person whose face is on every coin?”
Kindie: “Jesus.”

 

Life Lessons From The Young

“Sometimes I miss my mom but then I just suck it up. Like a buttercup.”

“If you get flushed down a toilet you won’t come out.”

“I took ten dollars from my brother, but it’s okay because I said ‘April Fools!'”

“Maybe those tadpoles are just sleeping…or having a Code Red.”

“Yeah, God wears underwear.”

“You can live without a head, my dad said so.”

“I eat Ontarios for breakfast.”

Yes, I Said That

“You’re either are an elf OR Rudolph, but not both. Make a choice.”

“Put your book in your backpack, then I’ll watch you whip and nae nae.”

You’re still the line leader even if you don’t say it ten times.”

“We glue paper, not friends.”

“We don’t use the salad tongs on our friend’s eyeball.”

“There’s no teeth involved in kissing.”

“Maybe you could have warned me you had licked your necklace before you asked for help putting it on.”

How about next time you let that fart cloud dissipate a bit before calling me over for help?”

“Whose kitten and hamburger picture is this?”

“Putting marbles on your eyeballs is not a learning centre.”

“Help tidy up, it’s what dead Fishy would want.”

________

Is Kindergarten the most magical place on earth? Possibly. It has its ups and downs and can leave you exhausted. But only in kindergarten will a five-year-old slide you a note and tell you it says “I am leaving early today for a meeting with my investors.”

 

 

 

 

The Talk

“Well, that’s called a scrotum and the marble-y things are actually called testicles,” I explained to one of our four sons as my husband walked by the room, gave me a thumbs up and whispered, “You’re doing a great job.”

Wait, wait, wait. How did this happen? When our fourth son was born and I officially became a “Mom of Boys”, I anticipated some things that would come with that title: wet toilet seats, potty talk, unending food preparation, burps, farts, potty talk, so much potty talk.

Years ago I knew there would some potentially uncomfortable conversations to be had, and I was mentally prepared for some chats or questions. At some point I’d fill them in on the pertinent information regarding females, but I did not anticipate that I would be the sole one giving “the talk”. And I especially did not anticipate giving it to all four sons.

I’m not saying my husband bribed them to wait to ask the really big questions until his baseball tournament last summer, but I’m not not saying it either. Or perhaps he really undersold himself and has been dropping hints for years that Mom should be the one to address all things bodily function-related? Come to think of it, I also took the lead on toilet training all four boys, including the various peeing options. I even taught the youngest how to pee against a tree. How did this happen?

Lots of moms take this role all the time and I know I am fully capable of addressing questions and explaining how babies are made. But I did not expect to do this when my husband was in the next room. Listening in. And deciding not to chime in. Oh, and here’s another interesting tidbit, as a grade five teacher he covers this in the health curriculum every year. So. Not what I expected, indeed.

How does one go about teaching the facts of life to four offspring varying in ages from four to ten? Divide and conquer. And it helps to have a book at the ready.

A prepared and organized parent would have already purchased a book for that fateful day. Alas, we took a spur-the-moment field trip to the library. The sex-ed gods showed favour on this frazzled mom and an ideal book was found. IMG_2163

That evening I told the older boys that they could read through it and then I would check in to clarify or answer any questions. This went surprisingly smooth and I fielded their inquiries like a seasoned pro. “Well, he’s not actually making a tent, sometimes, when a boy wakes up in the morning…”

The challenge came when chatting with a younger son. I was very clear that the  information he learned was for him and not his friends or classmates. “Their parents get to decide when they learn about this. You don’t decide for them.” He nodded sagely. “And this is a topic we discuss within our family, not when friends come over, got it?” Again, he nodded in agreement.

By that point I felt comfortable covering the basics. Third time was the charm – I only had to answer a few questions with “we can talk about that later” and an occasional shrug.

“Why would you even want to do that? And with your clothes off?” 

“What kind of jock strap do girls wear?”

“Wait, we came out of where?”

Educating children about puberty and sex doesn’t end in one conversation. I knew the topic would be discussed many times. The next day I heard some whispers of “ball sack” and “so hairy” and “freckles” (pretty sure they meant nipples, but I wasn’t wading back into that so soon).

I was congratulating myself on my ability to think quickly and handle that milestone effectively (and on my own). I was so preoccupied with my success that at first I thought nothing of it when I found my two youngest boys sitting together on the couch when I returned from outside. Upon closer examination I discovered the older one had taken the lead in explaining changing bodies to his younger brother, with our new book as his guide.

“Girls don’t actually have a penis, they have an angina” he was describing with barely-suppressed glee as his baby brother looked at him with a mixture of fascination and disbelief.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I said in shock, “We went over this. That message was just for you, remember?

He replied, “I know. What’s the problem? He is family.”

 

 

Dear Mr. Kellogg

Greetings from Canada, Mr. Kellogg!

You have some fans up here in the chilly north. Big fans. We really like your cereal. Not Corn Flakes. Yes, I realize that is the flagship cereal, but come on, it’s pretty bland. And Mini-Wheats is a bit of a toss-up for taste, but you get credit for trying to keep us all healthy.

I would also like to give you credit for correcting some of your questionable choices. My research indicates that at one point you produced Bart Simpson No Problem-Os and they are no longer on store shelves. Wise move. And while you do get points for trying, I commend you for discontinuing the Mr. Ts Muscle Crunch.

Lest you think my motivation is only to criticize, I will reveal my true purpose for writing to you.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran.

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Three simple words (one slightly abbreviated I presume for the sake of whimsy – good one, marketing team) that would make Canadians so happy.

This sweet, crunchy deliciousness in a bowl can only be procured in the United States of America. It has now been added to the ever-growing list of food selections denied tax-paying, free-health-care-loving, apologetic Canadians.

Why, Dr. Kellogg, why? Are we not worthy of oats with a hint of coconut? Do our colons not deserve the 25% of our daily fibre? We would like the option of starting our day with the joy of eating distinctly shaped ‘O’s. WE WANT OUR TOUCH OF CINNAMON.

I long to see your crunchy, sweet, oven-baked product on our shelves, complete with both French and English languages. I will even help with the translation. Please, Dr. Kellogg, for the children. Si vous plait.

Listen, if you don’t feel that marketing COB to the Great White North is a viable option, I can support that – we are a very easy-going people. I can send you my mailing information and you can send me a private supply. No one else needs to know. Canadians are also very non-judgemental and can keep a secret.

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You’d like to make my morning better? Great. End this lock-out and start selling COB to cereal-loving Canadians.
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“Sorry, kids this is the last bowl from the box we got in the USA.”  “But Mommy, I like it, too.” “I know baby, I know.” *
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Not to exaggerate, but this might be the saddest picture on the internet.

You have the reputation of being both an industrialist and a philanthropist giving me hope that the lack of COB in our country is just an oversight soon to be corrected. Thank you for your consideration. I have faith in you.

_______

*if you are wondering why there is no milk in the bowl, all will explained here.

 

 

Family Mascot

Every family has a mascot, right? RIGHT?

If you do not already have one, I highly recommend it. And pets do not count, neither do children. Maybe an uncle, but I don’t recommend it.

Nothing says, “togetherness” quite like a mascot. It fosters a sense of belonging, trust me. It’s like a modern coat of arms. And it’s portable.

The selection process is important. You don’t want just any old thing to represent your family. Take your time, make sure you find the right fit. You could put it to a vote, but democracy is highly overrated in family situations. After thoughtful deliberation, just announce your selection to your loved ones.

Sometimes fate steps in and the mascot chooses you. That’s what happened to us.

One day I was angry-cleaning and muttering about not being the maid tidying up after my appreciative family I realized we had a new resident. He’d been moved around from hallway to bedroom, back to hallway and then finally the laundry room. This guy wasn’t going anywhere. On some level I knew that this was the mascot I’d been searching for. That’s when I decided to make it official.

Our mascot has adapted well to residing in our home. The transition has gone very smoothly and now it’s hard to imagine life without him.

Meal prep isn’t so lonely or tedious. Plus, Keith never complains about what I am serving.

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In the past, if I was too tired to read at bedtime I just had to power through. No longer necessary when you have a handy mascot. Thanks, Keith.

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Keith is a great listener and he doesn’t sass back. His demands are few: change of scenery every now and then, an occasional dusting. He’s the lowest-maintenance member of our family by far.

Welcome, Keith. I didn’t know our family was missing someone until you came along. 

 

 

 

 

Knit Two, Purl Two

 

“Come out to Wool and Wine – we can learn to knit together!” the invitation read.

“Hmmmm, wine, conversation, SNACKS? I’m game. Oh, knitting? I did that once or twice as a kid, so sure. Count me in. That’s like riding a bike, right?”

And so began my foray into the world of knitting.

Did you know that there are various sizes of knitting needles? It’s true.

I turned up to our first session with my fancy plastic shopping bag containing borrowed needles and two balls of yarn. Balls? Spools? Wads? Wads. I had two wads of yarn with me – I looked it up, that’s the correct term. No need to double check.

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If you think this looks like tricky yarn for a beginner, you are correct.

Apparently you can’t just start looping yarn together, you have to “cast on”. Good thing there were some experts in this group. I guess my mom always did that part for me. Do you “cast off” too? I don’t know because I have never finished a knitting project. Time wool tell, I guess.

As a kind friend set up my project, I decided to unwind with a glass of red and a handful of M&Ms (this was my kind of gathering!). It was totally worth the needling I had received from my coworkers at lunch about joining a knitting circle. They didn’t realize that the point was to try something new.

Dear reader, I won’t bore you with all the knitty gritty details of our evening, but we did spin some good yarns. I was in stitches several times reminiscing about old times and shared experiences.

This novice knitter only had to start over once so I decided to call it a night before things unravelled. The time had flown by and it seemed we had already developed a close-knit feeling of camaraderie among us. I hope this pattern continues in future evenings because yes, I’m hooked. I went into this new hobby feeling skeptical, but darn it, I enjoyed myself.

I might even finish this project, you never know.

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Just need an evening or two to finish up

 

Local Mom Under Scrutiny

Dear readers,

Today we feature a submission by rookie reporter, 8-year-old Moyer. He is an up-and-coming journalist with a knack for digging deep into his topics. Mr. Moyer is not afraid to tackle any subject, no matter how sensitive or inaccurate.

____________________________

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In addition to being a crackerjack writer, he also does his own illustrations.

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Editor’s note: the views expressed in the above article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Tough Bananas, Jan Moyer, or most Starbucks consumers.

 

Nutcracker Bandit Strikes Fear in Family

Local mom was shaken to discover her family home had apparently been the victim of vandalism.

“I love a good mystery. Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Sherlock, I’m a big fan of the sleuths. So I thought I would be able to solve this easily,” the mother of four said. Unfortunately, she was mistaken.

The family recently put out their Christmas decorations, including a family favourite, the nutcracker, Bob. Days later, the family was horrified to find that Nutcracker Bob’s trumpet had been broken off.

“This was certainly not an inside job. I specifically told my boys not to play with the Nutcracker and they all promised they wouldn’t,” said the devastated mom. “I don’t feel safe in my own home.”

When asked about the vandalism, the oldest son declined to comment. The youngest son, however, speculated that the family home might be haunted.

Similar incidents have happened to the family in the past. Toilet paper strewn across the floors, lights mysteriously left on, and chewed gum hidden behind furniture.

Authorities have not been called in, but the parents are documenting the recurring vandalism. For the time being, the family remains hopeful that the mystery will be solved.

 

 

 

The Future is NOW

My children, it is true that we live in an amazing time. But sometimes I ponder what the future might hold for us. What wonders could be just a few years away?

For instance, sometimes I like to imagine that in my lifetime we will have the ability to create some sort of mechanism that allows you to suspend a towel off of a bedroom floor. Maybe it will be on the back of a door, who is to say? I’ll leave that to the engineers.

Occasionally I like to dream of a time when we won’t have to eat food with our bare hands. I admit it is hard to wait, but I’m sure scientists are on the cusp of discovering the right formula to forge a device that allows us to deliver food directly from our plate to our mouth. Call me fanciful, but I think that could happen any day now.

If you’re like me, you might be wishing for an appliance of some sort that washes dishes for you. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all we have to do is load the dirty dishes into it and *poof* all the hard work is done? The dishes would come out clean with minimal effort from us. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but so did space travel, didn’t it?

So close.
So close.

When a drink spills on the floor it is such a hassle. You have to walk around it until it eventually dries up. But I have faith that one day there will be an absorbent material that can swipe up that mess in one go. I believe we have the technology, it just hasn’t been maximized yet.

If they can make a phone that allows you to hold the world’s knowledge in the palm of your hand, surely we aren’t far away from an apparatus that will pick up carpet debris with a suction action? And why stop at carpet? Perhaps this miracle-of-tomorrow will also be able to suck popcorn and dried gum from between couch cushions? Heady times ahead. Heady times, indeed.

I envy you kids, what a time to be alive.

Local Mom Disowned by Neighbours, Feels Bewildered and Betrayed

A Kitchener mother of two has been blacklisted by her neighbours and wants answers.

“One day we were sipping our soy chai lattes at the park, the next day I was pushed out of the group. I saw them scurry away after the school drop-off. They all claimed to have errands and appointments, but thirty minutes later one of them Instagrammed her banana bread and I could see the cluster of them in the reflection on her microwave. I just don’t understand what I could have done to upset them.”

“I thought we were friends,” said the confused mother.

Sources close to this baffled parent tell a different story. According to moms on the playground, this ostracism has been imminent for months.

“Just last week at a playdate she proposed handing out fruit cups decorated like jack-o-lanterns and bananas with ‘Happy Halloween’ scribed on the peel,” reports one exasperated mom.

Her former cardio-walker partner adds, “But the final straw was the plastic ring comment.”

She goes on to explain, “After we talked her out of the fruit and vegetable candy substitutes, she announced that she was handing out plastic spider rings instead of candy.”

Despite protests from her fellow parents that an overabundance of plastic rings and Halloween-themed pencils are more of a nuisance for moms and dads than dealing with a sugar high, this deluded mom suggested that parents could repurpose these trinkets.

“They could make a really fun mobile or maybe some DIY hair accessories.”

The other moms say that reentry into the group is possible, but that they need time to heal.