Saturday, March 9, 2013

Past Deadline: A Super Awesome Snow Fort

Here’s the latest “Past Deadline,” published in The Perth Courier on March 7/13.

A super awesome snow fort

I have been a pretty good sport about winter, I think.

When it snows I shovel and then have some exercise to share with my fitness buddies on Facebook. I cheerfully look out the window and think, “How wonderful! More snow for the kids to enjoy!”

Last week, though, I kind of hit the wall with winter. I think it was a February thing.

That big storm that featured shovelfuls of 11-tonne goopy snow was just…unappealing. And wet. (When I was a kid I used to call it “applesauce snow.” I didn’t eat it. I also didn’t have to shovel the horrible, heavy stuff.)

When my kids come home from school and peel off their snowpants, they leave a soggy, gritty mess on my kitchen floor. No matter how much I try to pretend that I am walking on a beach, it just doesn’t work. There are no margaritas to be seen.

The kids’ gloves and mittens are getting worn out. The boots are getting religious (holey).
Replacements at this time of year take a lot of searching, and we loathe buying things now when we know everyone will grow a bunch by next season.

I’m tired of snow days and the chorus of “Maaaaaaaawm…do we have to goooooo? No one will be there! Are you working at home today? Maaaaaawm!!!!!”

And that part about there being more snow for the kids to enjoy? That’s just bullpucky. Everyone knows, because I told them in this here space, that I practically have to pry my kids out of the house with a crowbar to get them to play outside in the winter.

Back in January I waxed poetic about how I forced (with threats about screen removal) my kids to go outside one beautiful winter day and they reveled in the joy of building forts and climbing snowbanks. Why go around a snowbank when you can go over it? They had snowball wars. In fact, for a couple of weeks, they actually went outside on their own accord several times!


That silliness didn’t last long and soon we were back to screen addiction.

A few years back I helped organized some outdoor programs with the Friends of Murphys Point Park called Super Kids In Parks. They are designed to get children outside to have fun and learn something – to battle the nature deficit. Basically I got involved with it because of kids like mine.

Anyway, we’ve been running some this winter, starting with snowshoeing, then ice fishing. This past Sunday we did one on campfires, outdoor cooking and building a shelter.

You guys. We built a quinzhee. It was so cool! (Check it out here.)

Quinzhees are shelters made by piling up snow, letting it settle for a period of time and then hollowing it out. They have ventilation holes and an entrance.

They are a totally fancypants snow fort. (You just have to make sure to do it properly so that it is safe.)

It was awesome. The kids got totally into it. We also learned about building campfires and cooked some maple popcorn. When it was time to go, I had to call and call and call for my daughter and her friend to get out of the quinzhee and come home.

THAT is what it’s all about. That’s what I remember about childhood – staying outside all the time, ignoring our mothers calling us until our fathers “roared” for us to come home (and then we knew we’d better get moving).

I figure if Mother Nature dumps on us again before spring, I can probably make a quinzhee for the kids in the backyard. And maybe I’ll make a margarita for myself.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Past Deadline: Losing Sleep Over It

Here’s the latest Past Deadline, published Feb. 28/13 in The Perth Courier.

Losing sleep over it

Sleep, or the potential lack of it, was on my mind last weekend.

See, both children had sleepovers on the weekend. My hairdresser calls them “stay overs,” since not much sleeping takes place.

Boychild was off at a friend’s house for his late-night adventure and came home a little bleary eyed.

Girlchild’s event was at our house. It was the first time a friend has stayed over, and it was the first non-family sleepover for Girlchild’s friend, so it was a Momentous Occasion™.

Since the girls amassed more than eight solid hours’ sleep, which is several hours more than I’d counted on, I am going to call it a success.

As usual, I got less. I think I subconsciously anticipated being awakened at all hours, so I stayed up later than I should have reading a good book. Staying up late didn’t stop my silly busy brain from waking me up too early in order to toss and turn.

What is UP with that? I mean, as parents we survive the sleepless years of feedings and diaper changes and bad dreams and barfies and cats doing stupid things (Buster, may he rest in peace, was famous for yowling around the house, while MacGregor loves to rattle metal window blinds) – and for what?

Just when the kids can find the bathroom on their own in the night and no one needs to be fed at 3 a.m., the adult brain decides to start goofing around and preventing sleep. Frustrating!

I have always preferred to get things done before going to bed rather than getting up early to finish a task. I always figured my alarm wouldn’t go off or I would hit snooze too many times. Now it seems I have finally developed an internal alarm clock that I kind of wish I didn’t have.

It appears I am turning into my parents. I could never understand why, even when my brother and I were teenagers and slept in on weekends, my parents would be up at the crack of dawn as usual – like any other regular work day.

It’s not that I want to sleep in until all hours. Sleeping too long feels like a waste of the day and then I have trouble sleeping the next night. But waking up two hours before the alarm goes off is just…well…annoying, especially when I already stay up too late. I shudder to think of what time I would be up if I went to bed earlier.

Sure, as a “grown up” there are lots of things to “lose sleep over.” I mean, we probably all think about money and work and kids and volunteering and things that could go wrong and falling pianos and committee meetings and the elderly cat and that thing you did when you were 17 and genetic mutations and funny sounds and where the lost things went and so on. Right?

(Have you seen that TV commercial for the nighttime pain reliever? “What if the hokey pokey really IS what it’s all about?” Hehehe.)

Most of the topics that wake me up seem so much worse before the sun rises and the first coffee is had, but sometimes it’s just too darned early to get up despite the fact tossing and turning is unproductive.

Once I am upright, mobile and caffeinated, however, the world seems much more manageable. Well mostly. At least I can start doing something about it instead of lying around fretting.

For now I will gladly take whatever sleep comes and will seek inspiration from peeking at the kids and the elderly cat when they are blissfully snoozing. Some herbal tea probably wouldn’t hurt….