Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Because you're the oldest...

This is a sentence I find myself saying more and more often to my dear oldest daugther...

"you're the big sister...you need to set an example."

"because you're the oldest...we expect you to know better."

"you should know that you can't do things like that...you're the big sister after all"

I'm starting to bore myself with this rhetoric...I can only imagine what she is thinking. It is for sure a weight on the shoulders of the oldest in the family...whether you are the oldest of 2 or of 10 there will never be anyone else that can take your place as the "example".

I don't remember feeling the pressure of needing to set a good example when I was growing up. For one thing I was a little sister but also much like an only child because of the custody agreement. But also - I think I just never felt it because I was always way too mature for my own good and pretty much acted like everyone's mother from a very young age.

I'm not  saying I was a total bore but when I was 12 I spent my Saturdays sorting out my closets and bagging up clothes for charity donation.  Sooooo...there's that.

And I don't want either of my girls to feel like they have to be a parent. Or that they have to act grown up. That they can't be kids or act like kids or be stupid like kids are supposed to be.

They are - after all - just kids.  Personally - I think the younger children get away with a lot of crap because of the they "just don't know any better" theory.

This is something I'm becoming more aware of and watching for as they get older. Because my youngest knows how to play the "what?!? don't blame me I'm just a sweet, adorable, clueless little kid" card to perfection.

Right down to the double eyebrow raise of innocence...it's impressive to behold.

So while being the oldest child will always come with the perception of setting a good example I think it should also come with a few perks.

Like staying up later. Or getting that extra cookie. And little perks like that.

Just don't tell your sister.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Harry Potter Party Planning - Invite and Activities

This year I was not going to do a big birthday party for the girls. I was determined to make it easier on myself and throw the party somewhere where all we had to do was show up and write a cheque.

That all went out the window when I came across the Young Wizards Academy website:

As soon as I saw it I knew I had to throw the girls the most AMAZING Harry Potter party EVER!

So I sent an email to Marty at the Young Wizards Academy and crossed my fingers he would reply quickly and be available on my date.

He replied within hours and was available! We exchanged a few emails regarding details and the deal was done. Marty's passion for what he does comes across even through an email. And if you take a browse through the website - which you totally should do...you can see all the other amazing party options he offers.

I think we might be doing some Jedi training next year. No wait...no more parties right?!

When I told the girls about the party and showed them the website they were over the moon excited and it was time to get started on the invitation. The party was in less than a month and Spring Break was in the middle of that. We needed to get these invitations done before all the kids left for 2 weeks.

After a brief discussion we all agreed the invitations should look like the acceptance letter for Hogwarts. After another browse through Pinterest - we had confirmed the wording. It was a hybrid of some awesome examples found online and our own wording.

You can download a copy of the invitation in Word format HERE.

We printed them on "parchment paper" to keep it authentic. The paper was actually taken out of a scrapbook that I bought at the dollar store. The pages were thinner and longer than normal letter size paper and it was perfect.

I blanked out the personal info like address, phone number and email. but you get the idea...
My oldest daugther had received a feather quill and ink for Christmas so we used that to write the names of each child at the top of the invite.

If I could do one thing differently it would be to put a To ______: line in the letter and have written the child's name there. It would have made the invites a little more authentic in my mind.

I used Monotype Corsiva for the body text - I believe it's free on most computers. And downloaded a free font called LUMOS for the header. 

We then rolled up the parchments and tied them with ribbon. The girls handed them out to their friends on the last day of school before spring break and we were a go.

One element done...757 more to go. I'm going to need a vacation after this party.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Being Humble - a parenting a-ha moment

As parents we want to raise our kids to be confident and self-aware. We are proud of their accomplishments and lavish praise on them constantly.

I think this is ingrained in our DNA because the need to praise starts early on. From the first time they pick up a cheerio with their own fingers - "Who's a clever girl then?" to taking their first steps "Mummy is so proud of you!" to using the toilet on their own "Aren't you a big girl using the potty all by yourself!"

And so on and so forth...

My oldest daughter is almost 9 and I realized recently that she really didn't know how to be humble. She had no idea that many of her comments made her sound arrogant and egotisitcal. She didn't know how to balance her pride with humility.

I thought to myself..."wow...someone really needs to teach this kid how to be humble..."

The a-ha moment was when I realized that abstract "someone" I was referring to...was me.


It turns out parenting isn't just about keeping them alive...it's about shaping them into real functioning members of society.

I often reflect back on when my girls were babies and how hard everything seemed. I couldn't leave the house without diapers and wipes and snacks and bottles...but often forgot my sanity. Lack of sleep made me grumpy and impatient. And baby brain made me stupid.

Now I realize that those first few years of parenting - when the focus in solely on the physiological needs like food and sleep and poop - were the easy ones.  Because as they get older the focus shifts to emotional and mental well being.

I'd take a poopy diaper over a moody 9 year old any day.

But I digress...well really I distract...because faced with the task in front of me I'd rather be distracted.

How do I teach my kids to be humble while still making sure they are confident? How do I teach a balance of humility and pride?

In the end, I think the answer is simple. It is all about leading by example. And isn't that easier said than done...

And so I move forward as a parent knowing that my children will not just mimic my behaviour or words for a moment...but for a lifetime. And that even though many others will have impact on their lives and their actions...I will have the biggest one.

It's up to me to make it a good one...

Monday, March 9, 2015

One Kid, Two Wheels

My youngest is so stubborn. Whenever there is an opportunity for her to be in control - no matter how small the matter - she takes it and runs with it.

During swimming lessons she flatly refuses to put her face in the water with her instructor. But will happily do it for us 5 minutes after lessons have ended. Grrr...

Bike riding? She loved it with her training wheels. As soon as they came off last summer...she refused to get back on and even attempt it.

There are benefits to kids getting older. Their drive to keep up with the other kids is greater than their determination to rebel.

And that is why - after just a few sunny days of practicing - we have liftoff...

The world is her oyster now...what have we done?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

Today is the first day of March...

Spring is on the horizon...and that means the exploring our beautiful city more often. We have had a stretch of amazingly warm and sunny weather here and that has just increased our appetite for being outdoors.

Today we decided it was time to take a hike in the mountains. It was peaceful and quiet and beautiful and energizing.

oh my heart...I do love this kid and her pigtails.

What is the deal with this bridge to nowhere?

The girls were so excited to find a real life "fairy house" in the woods...

How cute is this?

See the campfire on the right? SOOOO cute!

M decided this giant rock was the perfect place to mediate.

Little sister agreed for about 30 seconds and then she just couldn't help herself...

this photo sums up my children so perfectly.

hello family...

hello family from a more artsy angle.

lost in thought...

We found some awesome trees that were just begging to be climbed...and so they did. Until they were so far up that I couldn't watch anymore. I love how brave and adventurous they are. I just wish they could be that brave with their feet planted firmly on the ground.

can you see them?
2 hours of walking and climbing and breathing crisp mountain air tired all of us out.  Naps were enjoyed by all but the driver (me!) on the long way home.

See you again soon forest. Can't wait to see if they finally put in the swimming pool at the fairy house.