All Friendships Have Purpose

Friends come into our lives for many reasons – some are there for the long haul, some are there to teach us, some are there just for a blink. No matter the type of friendship they all have an impact. They all aide in our growth, whether we can see it immediately or not.

It’s easy to see the purpose of the long-lasting loyal friendships – it’s the one’s that end painfully, abruptly, or for no real reason at all that are tough to process.

It took me a while to find the good in friendships that ended. It took me a while to not take it as a personal attack on my character. It took me a while to accept that all friendships have different purposes in our lives. It took me a while to digest that some times there is no explanation and no rekindling.

Some friendships end like a breakup with hurt and no closure. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change that.  Sometimes it’s hard to not take it personally. Sometimes you take on all the blame when deep down you know you shouldn’t. Sometimes you continue to make excuses for someone that doesn’t deserve it. And sometimes you try to fix something that isn’t worth fixing.

Somewhere a long the way I found my worth. I found my courage. I found my voice. I spoke my mind. I stopped investing time in one-sided friendships. I no longer forced it. I reassessed my friendships. I reassessed myself.

For me, it became clear that the quality of friendships means significantly more than the quantity. Being popular or liked is not a priority. Being surrounded by exceptional friends is.

Just like you shouldn’t settle for a partner, you shouldn’t settle for a friend. Only you can decide what type of friends help you thrive. Only you can decide what type of friends you want in your life. Only you. Decide the qualities you need in a friend and don’t settle  –  be surrounded by people that complement you and lift you up. Time is too precious to spend it with anyone but.

I know now that all friends, at any stage of my life and for whatever length were there for a reason. Whether short or long – they all taught me something. Some taught me strength, some taught me self worth, some taught me confidence, some taught me trust.

All of my friendships up to this point, the good, the bad, the ugly, the short, the long – I wouldn’t change any of them. They all led me to where I am today, they all provided me with something in my life at that moment, they were all there for a purpose and for that I will always be grateful to them, each and every one.

 

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Road Trip Must Haves

So, you’re going to be stuck in a car for an extended period of time with your kiddos,  – who’s idea was that? Even though you may instantly regret the once brilliant idea of a family road trip – I’ve got you covered with some must-haves to save your sanity. In no particular order I give you:

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1. A portable dvd player : The cons of letting your children watch too much tv should be thrown out the window. This device will save your sanity. It may give you zoned out kids that don’t want to pay attention to the scenic views out their window (that was bound to happen anyway) but the silence will be heavenly. If you’re really concerned, find some educational dvds – but, don’t leave home without one.

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2. A Boogie Board: This was by far the hottest item during our road trip. Our children played with them just about non-stop and we may or may not have played with them too! The stencils add to the use of this drawing board and it was a big hit and still is post trip. Also your kids will get a real hoot out of saying “boogie” every time they are using or talking about it – enjoy!

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3. Snacks, a lot of snacks : You are asking for torture if you don’t pack a variety of snacks in a quantity large enough to feed a small horse for a week . Your children are bound to use the dreaded “S” word about every 10 minutes and if you don’t deliver, well, we all know what will happen. Just be prepared.

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4. A new toy : Keyword here is “new”. The novelty and interest of having something new to play with will last about 30 minutes longer than an “old” toy (if you’re lucky) and trust me – you need all the 30 minutes you can get. Pick something you’re confident your kids will enjoy and it should occupy them for a few minutes.

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5. Colouring : Pack a lot of colouring books and/or paper but do not –  I repeat, do not –  bring markers,  unless of course your favourite past-time is cleaning it off your children and everything in arms reach in your car. Stick with crayons or else add magic erasers to your packing list.

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6. Books: Bring your favourites and maybe a couple of new ones. Look and find books occupy them a little longer – so bring one if you can. Also, if you have a child that can read – bring books at their level so they can read to the younger children, leaving you to save your voice for yelling at your kids to look at the skyline to their left to have them look to the right way too late and say “what?!?” You know what I mean.

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7. Games: Travel games, travel bingo – if your kids are old enough to play these then pack away. If your kids are too little, stick  with games like I SPY. Your neck is going to be sore from turning around every time they say “Mom”, so you don’t need to strain it more by directing them in a game they aren’t old enough to play. Age appropriate is best.

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8. Magnets: Magnets are always fun – whether the classic letters or characters, this will occupy them for at least part of the trip. We brought metal tins for them to stick to and also to contain them when they were ready to move onto the next thing. Check out your local dollar store (or $40 store) for some great options.

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9. Medicine: And by “medicine” I mean your entire medicine cabinet. You might think I’m joking but you will thank me when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your child starts complaining their tummy hurts and you are able to save them from vomiting all over your car. Or when your head is pounding from a change in elevation or backseat bickering and you need some relief. Save yourself the headache and over pack.

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10. Ear Plugs or a Car Divider: This item is for the parents only. When you are at your wits end consider ear plugs or a privacy divider (like they have in limos), it could save the entire trip from disaster. Joking! Or am I? But seriously, if someone invents a privacy divider for everyday cars – I want shares!

There you have it! I hope at least a few of these items help you in preparing for your family road trip, save your children from boredom, and give you some sanity! Safe travels!

 

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*Note: This is not an ad and I am not sponsored in any way by any of these products. These opinions are my own and you should always use your own discretion and follow the directions, warnings, age suggestions, etc. on the product packaging.

 

 

That time I got shingles…

On my face. I know what you’re thinking – how old is she? I assure you I’m only 33 – not a spring chicken but definitely not over the hill either. Trust me I was as shocked as you – I mean shingles are meant to target “old” people – right? Wrong…very very wrong.

It all started on a cold and dreary day in October – I had what I only assumed was another miserable pressure induced migraine. One side of my face and scalp went numb and was sensitive to the touch. My normal trusty friend (good ol’ Motrin super strength) was not super that day and barely even touched the pain. This “migraine” continued into Sunday and then again into Monday.

Monday I could no longer take it and went to the hospital – the Dr gave me an IV of goodies to treat severe migraines and finally I had some relief. I mean relief until the Dr noticed what I had just accepted was adult acne – he said he had a hunch I had shingles and gave me a prescription for anti virals. Turns out his “hunch” was 100% accurate and I did in fact have shingles. For anyone that has had shingles – you know it gets worse before it gets better. And for all of you that haven’t, I’ll describe it the best way I can…

It’s like a bee is stinging you continuously and when that feeling subsides your face is on fire and when that eases a little the itchy feeling becomes unbearable – I think you get the idea – it’s not exactly a party. I feel like I could have handled it better if it was hiding on my back or blended in with the stretch marks on my stomach but alas that was not my reality. The nerve pain that lasted for weeks after was worse than the greasy hair or rashy face. Every time I would get the nerve pain I would panic and think the shingles were coming back and some times still do – I’m aware this is unrealistic and dramatic but to me it seems plausible. Shingles and anxiety definitely don’t mix and I wouldn’t wish it on any one.

The timing wasn’t horrible, a few weeks before Halloween, the Phantom of the Opera was a good back up costume idea. Many have reassured me it didn’t look “that” bad – just like they tell you you look great when everyone knows you look horrible and have gigantic bags under your eyes – but I do appreciate their efforts. Turns out – when your parents were told (back in the day) to ensure your kid gets infected with chicken pox so they won’t get it later in life was a downright lie – it means the virus lays dormant in your body until your body wants revenge on how you’re treating it and throws it back at you as a reminder to take better care of yourself. And what a reminder it was.

All exaggeration and joking aside, shingles reminded me of a lot of things. It reminded me to be grateful for the healthcare we have and the Dr for catching my shingles early enough so there wasn’t damage to my vision. It reminded me that no one notices your physical appearance as much as you do. It reminded me that wearing no make up can be freeing. It reminded me that so many people have it worse and aren’t fortunate enough to receive a pill that will make it all go away. I am grateful for a wake up call to take care of my body and keep my stress in control. Remember to take time for yourself and to cherish the body you were given.

Happy Wednesday!

Until next time….

 

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Disney – Epcot

Epcot or Apricot (as our daughter kept calling it) was the first park we visited on our Disney vacation. Epcot has a stereotype of being an “adult” park – and that is how I remembered it (from 25 years ago when I was there last – gosh, that makes me feel old). Our experience at this park with young kids somewhat still fit that label – I would love to enjoy food and wine from around the World and leisurely wander the park with no children – but Epcot has come a long way in 25 years and there is still plenty to fill your day with young kids.

We arrived at Epcot approximately 40 minutes before the park was to open at 9 am. There were a lot of people already there waiting and the line ups were long – but Disney runs like a well oiled machine and they moved everyone a long really quickly.

As Epcot was our first park, meeting Mickey was top on our list to start off our magical trip. Our first stop was the Epcot Character Spot – here we met Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. All of the characters were exceptional with their interactions and our kiddos were in complete awe. There are also restaurants in all of the parks and select hotels where you can meet characters while eating – regardless of how you choose to meet characters during your experience – if you have little ones this is a must!

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Next we headed to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa and go on Frozen Ever After. While waiting for the characters the kids enjoyed a Berry Cream Puff from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – they enjoyed it so much that I had one upset kiddo when I took just one strawberry off the top – lesson learned. The characters were lovely and we had one completely mesmerized with Elsa. We had a fast pass for the Frozen ride and I would recommend snagging one if you can because the ride has extremely long wait times. The Frozen ride was well themed and a lot of fun – if the wait wasn’t so long we would have rode it again.

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After visiting Norway, we did a little exploring as we headed to Japan for our 12:00 lunch reservation. One thing I would like to point out – if you are hoping to explore tastes from Around the World at the kiosks in every country – most of them don’t open until 11 and some 11:30. We were a little disappointed and wish we knew this sooner as our lunch dining didn’t leave our bellies much room to try other things in Epcot.
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For lunch we had reservations at Teppan Edo, a Japanese table service restaurant where the chef cooks on the grill right in front of you (Teppanyaki style). The kids loved that they could watch the chef cook and were amazed by the onion volcano. I ordered the Julienne Beef (we all tried a different type of protein) it was so tender and flavorful – I would highly recommend it. The kids used chopsticks and were very entertained while waiting for their food. The portions were large (especially for the children) we left with very full bellies and food still on our plates. I would definitely eat here again but not before I try a few other places at Epcot first – I hear there are many that are out of this world!

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After lunch, we picked up some caramel corn at Karamell Kuche for a snack for later and explored other countries in Epcot as well. Our daughter picked a pearl from Japan for her souvenir – a really neat (and a little pricey) experience – but a souvenir that she will cherish for a long time. In China, they had their names written in Chinese at the Kidcot Fun Stop. Our next stop was Test Track. We knew this was one we couldn’t miss for the sake of our 4 year old, so we all embraced the 70 min  wait. The line (like most in Disney) was very interactive so they weren’t too bored. My son is still talking about that ride and that he loves Epcot the most because of Test Track – so I would endure the long wait again if we ever return.

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At this point the kids were pretty tired (remember, we drove for two whole days prior and this was our first day there) – so we started to head out around 4 and met Pluto close to the exit (one of the highlights of their day).  One of the Cast Member’s informed us that Epcot is the biggest park (size wise) so it made sense that we were all exhausted from the walking. There is so much to do in Epcot and I know we didn’t even see a quarter of it but we adored it nonetheless. It was a lovely, yet not overwhelming, first park day at Disney to ease them into the rides and the magic and we have memories that will last for years to come.

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Disney – Port Orleans Riverside

So, you’ve decided to spend a fortune and go to Disney instead of buying a small car. We did too, at the beginning of December with our two kiddos. It was a trip I had dreamed about and planned for several years – and a trip I’m still dreaming about since we’ve returned.  It took a lot of saving because I’m not a millionaire…yet – but it was worth every penny. I’m hopeful that some of our experiences will help you dream, plan and have an unforgettable vacation. Keep in mind – I am by no means a travel agent. And yet still – prepare yourself to be bombarded with Disney posts over the next couple weeks – starting with accommodations.

The accommodations were a tough one for us. We debated renting a house for a week – but that meant more work while on vacation – pass. We debated staying at a hotel off of Disney property to save a few dollars – but that meant less conveniences – pass.  We decided staying on Disney property was best so we could take advantage of Disney transportation, the dining plan, earlier dining reservations and fast passes and it ended up being a great decision for us. Disney has over 25 hotels – the competition was fierce but the winner was Port Orleans Riverside. We knew a few friends who had stayed at Port Orleans and it also came highly recommended by our travel agent and online reviews…and I read a lot of reviews.

The property for Port Orleans Riverside is very large – Disney spares no detail when trying to immerse you into an experience. Although I’ve never been to New Orleans – it sure felt like I was transported there for a week. We chose an upgraded Royal Room and our room was located in the Magnolia Bend section of the resort. Our location was pretty ideal, we were one building down from the “quiet pool” and the main building (front desk, dining etc.) and main pool was just across the bridge.

Here is what our building looked like – we were on the second floor – it felt like we were in a room inside of a mansion.

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Our room itself was a traditional hotel room – with some fun added royal theming. The picture on the headboard had a button that when pushed would light up fireworks on the scene. Our kids gave that button a workout – I don’t blame them though – it was really neat. The kids also both received letters from Princess Tiana – a nice extra touch. The room was clean, comfortable and really all the space we needed for our stay.

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There really aren’t words to describe the grounds, I could try but I wouldn’t do it justice, so I will just share some pictures instead and let you add the words.

One of our favourite features was the boat transportation that you could take via the river to Disney Springs – we used the boat quite a few times and it never once disappointed – it was also a nice alternative to always taking the bus. If you stay here – make sure you take advantage of the boat!

The river really added to the ambiance of Riverside and we enjoyed many walks along it. The quiet pool and main pool were never too busy during our stay – we were told by some Americans that it was because it was too cold to swim – but I promise you it felt like a Canadian summer most days and we were most definitely not doing a polar bear dip. I suspect that most people spend the majority of their time at the parks which is why the pools were mostly deserted but that was okay by us. The main pool had a great water slide which our children enjoyed non stop and the quiet pool had laundry facilities which also came in handy.

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The quick service dining location at our resort was the Riverside Mill Food Court. We had dinner here twice and also grabbed breakfast once and some snacks here and there. The food is pretty standard but we had no complaints. The children enjoyed the pizza and my husband loved the pasta. My favourite was the gluten free mickey waffles they made for me (I will have an entire post about food coming soon). This is also where we were able to get our refillable Disney resort cups (which I filled with coffee every single day – a necessity).

The cast members at our resort were truly exceptional. They went above and beyond with their customer service and ensured that every thing ran smoothly and if it wasn’t they would correct it immediately. The Disney staff blew us away wherever we went and I thank them for their part in making our vacation so magical.

Lastly….Christmas! We went to Disney during their Christmas season – the decorations were gorgeous and have set my expectations extremely high for how I would like my house to look next year – think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and then some.

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I would definitely recommend this moderate resort to anyone planning a Disney vacation and would love to stay there again one day….one can always dream, right?

Port Orleans Riverside was more than just a resort – it was our home for a week that we will always remember.

 

A little less judgment

Tis the season of New Years resolutions – and whether you make them or not, have good intentions or not,  keep them or not – we all have goals for the year ahead. The thought of a new year often leads us to think of a fresh start and if that is what you need for change – then great – but remember, you can change any time of the year, any day of the week, you don’t need a designated time to change.

This year, I challenge you – think before you judge, include instead of exclude. This may sound easy enough, but if it was – we would all be doing it by now. Over the last few years with my children in school, I’ve noticed that there can be cliquey mom groups and I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. Without fail, it makes me think of high school, where you would struggle to find your place, where you wanted to belong, where you didn’t want to be an outsider.

We are not in high school any more. We don’t know everyone’s story. Don’t pass judgement you don’t want passed on you. It’s a process and it’s in our nature to judge – but just think before you do. Let’s break the cycle of cliques. Let’s show our children that friends can come in many forms. Let’s show our children how to lift others up. Let’s show our children that we can be better.

We were not made to be divided into groups. We were not made to be the same. We were made to be different.  We were made to complement each other. We have different strengths and weaknesses for a reason, so that together, we can be a force to be reckoned with.

This year – step out of your comfort zone, ask another mom for coffee, talk to a mom you haven’t before, make a stronger connection with ones you have. You could surprise yourself and make an unexpected connection, or you may not. But, whatever the outcome, give it a shot, try not to judge, be inclusive.

Find your tribe – the moms that complement you, the moms that accept you, the moms that support you, the moms that raise each other up. You can find great friends, in unexpected places, you just need to be open to it. You don’t have to be friends with everyone you meet, but instead of passing judgments on ones you don’t click with, pass smiles and simple hellos instead.

Happy 2019 – Be kind and leave a positive mark on others.

Until next time….

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Gluten Free Products that are actually good!!

*Note: This is not an ad. I have not been sponsored/paid by any of the below companies to mention their products. This is my personal opinion only. *

Eating gluten free doesn’t have to suck but often it can. For the last 5 years, I’ve been gluten free. I am gluten intolerant – not Celiac. It has taken a lot of trial and error to find gluten free products I enjoy, ones that aren’t too dry, ones that closely resemble the gluten filled goodness I’m missing. I’ve put together a list of my favourites below (in no particular order) – if you are looking for something new – give one of them a try, or maybe you already have – either way, Enjoy!

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  1. O’Dough’s Bagels

There are several flavours available but my favourite are the Everything ones! They         are the closest I can find to a “real” bagel and to make it better they are thin and only         100 calories each!

PC Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets Coated Chicken Breast Cutlettes

2. Presidents Choice Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

Yum, yum, yum! These chicken nuggets are delicious! If you’re jealous of your kids             getting all the fun – give these a try. If they are for your kids – they will thank you                 because you can’t even tell they are gluten free!

3. Chex Cereal

This cereal reminds me of cinnamon toast crunch – something I can’t eat anymore. The chocolate flavour is also really good – try any of them – you won’t be disappointed.

4. Glutino Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers

These crackers need nothing else, not cheese or meat – you can add them if you want – but they are really good on their own. You can even feed them to your non-gluten free family and friends and they won’t suspect they are missing gluten.

Breton Black Bean with Onion and Garlic Gluten Free Crackers

5. Breton Gluten Free Black Bean with Onion and Garlic Crackers

Let’s stay on the cracker train for a minute. These crackers are also yummy and not dry. Although good on their own, I tend to have cheese or soup with these ones. Breton makes other gluten free flavours as well – but I think this one is the best.

6. Robin Hood Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend

This flour blend is the answer to all your baking frustrations. It is my go to –  I substitute regular flour for this blend in all of my old recipes and haven’t had an issue yet. And – Robin Hood has some great gluten free recipes on their website if you are looking to try out something new.

 

7. Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Minis – Gluten Free

Finally! Pretzel crisps are now available in a gluten free version! I’ve only been able to find the mini version but they also make one the same size as the original ones.  A great addition to any of your favourite dips.

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8. Catelli Gluten Free Pasta

There are several gluten free pastas on the market – and there are a lot that I do enjoy. The catelli brand is readily available where I live and a great substitute to regular pasta. It tastes very close to regular pasta – most can’t tell the difference. Catelli also has recipes on their website – which I just discovered as I was writing this post – yum!

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9. Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix

Betty Crocker makes some great cake mixes – I’ve had both the chocolate and yellow – they are both what you would expect from a cake – and a great solution when you don’t want to bake from scratch or want to quickly whip up some cupcakes. AND – their website has recipes too – I see a lot of new things in my future.

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10. Nature’s Path Gluten Free Waffles – Pumpkin Spice

Be still my heart!!! There really isn’t much to say here – if you need a pumpkin spice fix and love waffles – this is a must!!!

 

There are a lot more products I love – but I’ll save those for another time. Give some of these a try – especially if you are new to gluten-free eating and struggling to replace old favourites. And when all else fails – have a glass of wine!

 

 

 

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Grateful

Today, I’m grateful for air to breathe and a sun that shines

I’m grateful for little smiles and sweet warm hugs

Today, I’m grateful for adrenaline that keeps you moving

I’m grateful to be part of a kind community that steps up when you need it the most

Today, I’m grateful to live in a place where medical care is readily available

But most of all – I’m grateful for a sweet boy that is going to be okay and is braver and stronger than I will ever be.

Being a parent is the toughest job you will ever have but also the most rewarding. Last week, our 4 year old son fell off the school bus when he got to school – he suffered a minor concussion – but thankfully is okay. As parents, we have moments that we will always remember and images we will never forget. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad. But all of these moments make up who we are, they bond our family, they make us stronger, they make us one.

Last Friday is a day I will never forget, it was one of the biggest scares I’ve had as a parent – but what I will remember most about that day isn’t the fear and worry I felt – but the strength and bravery my son had, the way he rolled with the punches, trusted everything would be okay, and picked himself back up again. And, the way a community of friends, family, and especially strangers – showed us kindness and love, so extraordinary it made me smile on a tough day and left a mark on my heart that will never go away.

Look around you – there are so many things we can learn from others. Your children can remind you that strength will lift you back up again. Your community can remind you that kindness can be shown to any one, any where. Take advantage of the lessons others teach you – it happens every day – it will make you grow, it will make you thrive, it will make you embrace a life more beautiful than you ever imagined.

There is always a silver lining – it may be difficult to find or it may be shining right in front of your eyes – but find it! Be grateful – because, my God, we have so much to be grateful for!

 

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So, your little one is off to school….

It feels like just a few days ago you were bringing them home from the hospital – now they are off to face a new adventure – without you by their side. And whether it feels like it right now or not – you’ll both be okay – probably better than okay.

I may not be an expert – but I’ve been through this once (as my oldest started junior kindergarten 2 years ago). And for the purposes of this blog – we will pretend I know a thing or two about what this new adventure will bring for you and your little.

Let me start by saying – you have no doubt over prepared. You have likely researched every lunchbox, backpack and shoe brand out there. You have probably purchased a wardrobe for your 3-4 year old that is more stylish than ANYTHING you have ever bought for yourself. You have probably pinned so many lunch and snack ideas to ensure your child is well-nourished for their long day of learning. And, you have most definitely labelled every single thing you are sending with them to school.

So I will break it to you gently….

Kindergarteners don’t care who has the “best” lunchbox, backpack or shoes – brand names do not matter. Most of their classmates will usually love their stuff if it’s a colour they like, a beloved character, and for sure if it lights up when they run. I bet if you ask any 4 year old what brand name lunch box or shoes their friends wear they won’t know the answer.  But, they sure will remember if someone has cool shoes that light up when they walk – I learned that one the hard way. So take some stress off yourself. Buy what your child likes and what you can afford. It’s kindergarten for pete sakes – not high school.

Wardrobe is a complicated one and it doesn’t really matter what you buy them or how much you spend – I give it 2 weeks tops and most of their clothes will end up with some unremovable mystery stain. Don’t stress – Kindergarteners also don’t care about stains so don’t run out to buy them new clothes – they can continue to wear those mystery stained clothes to school – no one will notice. But beware – there will be something labelled “uncool” by a classmate or two that your child will then refuse to wear ever again. For my daughter it was blue jeans – it took one time for a class mate to inform her that jeans were not cool for her to never wear them again. And yes – that does start in Kindergarten. But take a breather – your child isn’t stepping off the runway. If they dress themselves in clothes that don’t match with their shirt on backwards – at least they did it themselves.

Lunches, lunches, lunches. You will all have good intentions. The first week your fridge will be organized – snacks prepacked, homemade muffins, everything organic. You will spend precious time cutting their sandwiches into dinosaurs and their cucumbers into hearts. You will pack a lunch that is Pinterest worthy and that you are very proud of. Then you’ll notice that your kids don’t care if their lunch looks fancy – in fact they weren’t even aware you were cutting things into shapes. Your evenings will get more chaotic with extra curricular activities, “homework”, school forms, running around to grab socks for crazy sock day – that things will begin to slide. You will throw whatever you can together in the morning – still a balanced lunch but for sure a prepackaged processed snack every day and cute shapes – they are gone too. And you know what – your child will be just fine. They will survive. And they will either eat or not eat the same way they did when you invested way too much time in packing their food while grabbing yourself an apple and granola bar for lunch.

And labels. Yes, label some of your stuff – backpack, shoes, coat, snow pants – but don’t go crazy. I am a recovering over labeller and I will tell you one thing – it doesn’t matter how much you label – they will still lose things that never resurface – even with the label. So, don’t make yourself go insane with labelling every little thing – if it was meant to get lost – it still will.

So, as you prepare this weekend – for a new chapter for you and your little one – here are a few tips:

  1. Bring sunglasses the first day – these are to cover up any tears that may leak out so your little one doesn’t panic when they see you cry. Try to keep it together until you walk out the door from dropping them off – this will be the best for both of you.
  2. Take a couple hours off of work – maybe even the whole day. School is a big adjustment for both of you – but more you than them. Us moms tend to get a bit sappy on the first day. So, take part of the day to reminisce, enjoy a hot coffee, vent with other moms, and cry if you need to. And then pull it together for when the school bell rings. Because that child of yours is going to have a lot of great things to tell you!
  3.  Do NOT and I mean do NOT watch baby videos or look at their baby clothes. This will only turn you or your spouse into a blubbering mess instead of being excited for them and their first day of school.
  4. Be easy on yourself. School is tough. There is a lot of pressure on parents to make it a perfect experience (*future post*). Just breathe. Do what you can. Don’t over-stress. Your child and yourself will be OKAY. You’ve got this, Mama!

And most of all – enjoy. It is a new and wonderful experience. You have done your best and will continue to do your best to raise your child into a lovely human being. They will make friends, they will learn more than you ever expected, they will come into their own and they will flourish. There will be tough times and challenges – but guess what? You’ve got that too! Just breathe, breathe, breathe and embrace this new journey you’re both on – it is unbelievable.

Enjoy your long weekend – and good luck on the first day! You’ll rock it!

 

P.S. If you’re looking for a great read – “The Kissing Hand” is one of our favourites for preparing for school.

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Storybook Gardens – Bucket List #5

Storybook Gardens is not the same as Storybook Park – and there is an ongoing debate about which one is the “best”. We have yet to go to Storybook Park (it is on our list for next year) so I can’t really comment on its greatness. But…I can tell you what our family loves about Storybook Gardens – we’ve been 3 times!

IMG_8082Storybook Gardens is located in London, Ontario. It is a park aimed at young children. I would say it is most suitable for 6 and under but children a little older could find fun there too. The park focuses on classic nursery rhymes/fairy tales and is a decent size for little legs to walk (it’s not too small or too large).

core-1534724535082762-30One of the best things about this park is cost. Admission is totally reasonable – $27.00 for a family of 4 – or if you have a coupon like we did it was only $20.00. Rides are extra and parking is free. Storybook Gardens also lets you bring in your own food – so you can save money by packing a picnic lunch – and there are a lot of beautiful park locations to enjoy your lunch. They also do have little food kiosks, if you prefer, with your typical type food – fries, burgers etc.

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The rides are limited. They have a Ferris wheel, carousel, large slide, flying elephants, swings and train. We don’t go on many of the rides but our children have to go on the train every time!

IMG_8101The playgrounds – there are so many! They have a playground just for toddlers, they have a pirate ship and several large climbing structures and slides. There is also a giant “jumping pillow” (name likely not accurate), that our children have consistently loved and is a must! This was definitely the year my children enjoyed the playground area the most (aged 4 and 6). If your children love their neighbourhood park – this will blow their minds :).

IMG_8105The splash pad area is large (there were a lot of kids there so I didn’t want to take pictures to post of that area) and there is a water slide – which is a lot of fun. For your convenience, there are washrooms and changerooms right at the splash pad. It is a great place to cool off if you are there on a hot day. Make sure to pack bathing suits and towels!

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The village is an area of the park that looks like a little town – where children can play and explore. Our children are slowly outgrowing this area but it is a big hit with the younger children and even has a large shoe they can play in (“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe”). Definitely check it out!

The park also puts on daily plays/musicals and shows themed around fairy tales. We skipped them this time but have sat and watched them on our past two visits. When you enter the park they will give you a schedule of show times and what is going on that day. Make sure to check their website as they also have themed days in the summer (Princesses, Star Wars etc.).

core-1534724536847140-38This park has been around for a long time – I went several times as a child. In the words of my daughter “and it’s still here??”. It’s still there for a reason – it’s a fun day trip with your family without breaking the bank. Check out their website for hours this year or add it to your summer list for next year – it is definitely a classic!

Enjoy your last “summer” weekend before the start of school.

Until next time….

 

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