What to say to your kids when a pet dies

We recently lost our pet cat of 13 years. Our cat was the first pet my nine-year-old daughter knew and loved, and we considered him a member of our family. He was so good with my daughter when she would dress him up, spontaneously pick him up for cuddles, or attempt to teach him tricks for treats. He was her “bud.” He was a buddy to all of us.

What to say to your child when a pet dies

Our hearts broke when we suddenly lost him. Who knew one little bundle of fur could have such an impact on our lives and our hearts!?

As soon as I suspected something was wrong with our cat, I brought him to the vet. It was a school day, but before my daughter left that morning I made it clear that our cat was sick and was going to see his vet. I told her because our cat was not eating or drinking and generally wasn’t himself, and in case the worst case scenario happened while my daughter was at school, I felt honesty was the best policy. Had she been younger, I may have simplified it a bit by saying he was going to the “doctor” because he wasn’t feeling well, but she is older and recognized he had not been eating or drinking.

When the vet told me it was cancer and the outlook was grim, my immediate thoughts went to my daughter – how was I going to tell her that her “bud” would never get better? Within 24 hours of that diagnosis, we said goodbye to our beloved family cat.

My daughter had yet to lose a close family member and I wanted to make sure I could help her understand death as best I could. At first, I struggled with how to talk to my daughter about when a pet dies. I found this discussion especially hard because I was emotional too.

What to say to your kids when a pet dies

Firstly, I let her know that it is common for pet owners to feel as though they’ve lost a member of the family when their pet dies. Not all family members are human. Our cat was a member of our family for 13 years!

Show emotion

I also let her know that is okay (and good) to feel sad and show emotion. We cuddled and cried a lot together that first couple of days.

Share special memories

Amidst the tears we each shared special memories, funny stories and looked through old pictures of our cat.

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Answer questions the best you can

When questions arose regarding why it happened so quickly, I assured her the veterinarians did everything they could to try and help our cat and were very kind. I also reassured her that our cat is no longer in pain or is scared.

Be honest

One thing I wanted to make sure of was that my daughter understood that our cat died. I wanted her to understand death and not think our cat was at a fictional farm – even if she were younger I would still make sure she understood this on whatever level she would have been comfortable with. I let my daughter guide me about how much information she needed, but remained truthful.

My daughter believes our cat is in “pet heaven” now. She often tells our dog, who continues to look for her furry friend, to look up at the sky – because the cat is probably up there telling her to not eat his treats. When I hear this it makes me sad all over again, but I don’t hide my sadness. I want her to know that it’s okay to cry when you are feeling sad.

Keep the conversation going

We continue to talk about our cat and have discussed adopting another cat… but not as a replacement, and not right away. Our hearts need to mend first before we welcome another cat into our family.

My daughter has handled our cat's death very well - better than me, I think! She has asked lots of questions regarding what we're going to do with his stuff, where his spirit is, and if it feels weird to expect to see him all the time. And I answer each question as best and as honestly as I can.

When considering a pet for your family, always keep in mind how you will handle it when your pet passes away. Losing a pet is the one thing my husband dreads the most when it comes to owning a pet, and unfortunately love and loss go hand-in-hand.

5 Halloween Books for Young Kids

Halloween doesn’t have to be frightening for young kids. When my daughter was young I remember how afraid she was of going into any store that had larger-than-life Halloween decorations. Luckily, at the age of nine, she now loves Halloween. We recently cleaned out her bookshelf and re-discovered some of her favourite Halloween reads that were a bedtime staple when she was in preschool and kindergarten. So, I thought I would share our love for these 5 Halloween books for young kids (you can click on the title of each book for more information):

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Clifford's Halloween

By Norman Bridwell

Clifford makes Halloween cute. He’s a classic beloved character and this story humorously shows how Clifford loves Halloween and reminds adults of how excited kids get when it comes to showing off their costumes to their friends.

The Spooky Old Tree

By Stan And Jan Berenstain

What’s Halloween without the Berenstain Bears? This book is about exploring a spooky old tree and is short enough to read out loud without losing your voice, and it's fun to do it in a creepy, scary voice – and for your kids to participate too.

Slinky Malinky

By Lynley Dodd

This book isn’t really a Halloween book, but it’s about a sneaky black cat and is a fun read. My daughter received this book years ago from a friend and refuses to part with it. The story is told in fun rhyme. It’s a simple adventure that captivates young minds – especially at Halloween when black cats may otherwise seem scary.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

By Steven Kroll

This book is a classic story about two mice caring for a pumpkin, each without the other's knowledge. The pumpkin ends up growing phenomenally large because of the extra care it receives. It’s a sweet story about how taking care for something can really make a difference – perfect for children who prefer stories that don’t have any ghosts or goblins in them.

Bone Soup

By Cambria Evans

This story may seem scary, but it’s more cute than scary.  It’s a Halloween take on Stone Soup. A cute little skeleton with a very big appetite manages to get all sorts of ghastly ingredients from the ghouls to make a magic "bone soup". His ingredients will have kids laughing and saying “ewwwww!” So, if you have young kids that like to be grossed out – this book is perfect for them.

Do your kids have a favourite Halloween Book? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

2017 Santa Claus Parades in Ottawa

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It may seem early, but it's time to start getting into the holiday spirit! Many Ottawa communities have already set a date for their Santa Claus parades and we want to make sure you don't miss out on this popular festive event!

2017 Ottawa Santa Claus Parades

Help Santa Toy Parade
http://toyparade.ca/
Saturday, November 18th at 11 a.m.

This is popular Ottawa Santa Claus parade takes place downtown and is favoured by many in the National Capital Region. Firefighters collect new toys and cash donations along the route. Can’t bring your toy donation? They will also accept new toys at any Ottawa Fire Station until mid-December. Depending on your spot along the route it can get busy, so keep this in mind if your family doesn’t like crowds.

Horses at Santa Claus parade

Santa’s Parade of Lights
paradeoflights.org
Saturday, December 2nd at 6 p.m.

Also hosted by the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association, this parade takes place on St-Joseph, Blvd. in Orleans. Toys and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Stittsville Parade of Lights

Stittsville Parade of Lights
stittsvilleva.com/parade-of-lights
Saturday, December 2nd at 6 p.m.

This parade is a favourite community event. The parade proceeds south down Main Street to Village Square. Parade goers are welcome to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park and to warm up with some hot chocolate.

Kanata Hazeldean Mall Santa Claus Parade
http://khlions.com/?p=864
Sunday, November 19th at 1:30 p.m.

The Kanata parade (a.k.a the Hazeldean Mall Santa Claus Parade) is presented by the Kanata-Hazeldean Lions Club in cooperation with the Kanata Sports Club. The parade starts at Terry Fox and Castlefrank, moves along Castlefrank to Abbeyhill and then on to the Hazeldean Mall. Nonperishable food donations to the Kanata Food Cupboard are appreciated.

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Barrhaven Lions Santa Parade
santaclausbarrhaven.com
Saturday, November 18th at 5:30 p.m.

The annual Barrhaven Lions Club Santa Claus Parade runs down Strandherd Drive. Forgot to pack snacks? There will be food vendors along the route.

Richmond Village Santa Claus Parade
http://richmondvillage.ca/event/santa-parade/
Saturday, December 2nd 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 9th 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Parade route starts at The Diefenbunker, 3911 Carp Road, and follows Carp Road.

Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade
http://downtowncarletonplace.com/the-downtown-carleton-place-santa-claus-parade/ 
Saturday, November 25th at 5 p.m. Canada 150 themed

Santa Claus Parades in Ottawa

Other Christmas Activities in Ottawa

Besides parades, there are many Christmas activities in Ottawa, including:

Alight the Night
http://www.uppercanadavillage.com/events/alight-at-night/
December 1st to January 6th
Upper Canada Village

Step back in time while walking around the beautifully lit heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village. There are festive activities and a chance to meet Santa Claus all throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas.

Almonte’s Light Up the Night!
lightupthenightalmonte.com
Friday, December 1st at 7 p.m.

Bundle up, this is an open-air concert and fireworks display on Main Street in Almonte. Now in its 27th year this night is full of music and memorable outdoor festivities.

Manotick - Olde Fashioned Christmas
http://manotickvillage.com/event/olde-fashioned-christmas/
Saturday, December 2nd and Sunday, December 3rd

Horse drawn wagon rides with Father and Mary Christmas to sunset carolling, this wonderful weekend is full of traditional events not to be missed. 

Merrickville - Breakfast with Santa
christmasinmerrickville.ca
Saturday, December 2nd from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Sponsored by the Merrickville Royal Canadian Legion this is one of the most popular Christmas-in-Merrickville events. You and your family can enjoy a hearty, home-style breakfast with Santa at the Royal Canadian Legion. After breakfast, your children can share their wish list with Santa, or you can enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride as a family. The wagon stop is right outside the Legion’s door. Donations for the horse drawn wagon rides are appreciated. Breakfast with Santa costs $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 12 and under; children ages 6 and under are free.

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum Vintage Village of Lights ottawa.ca/en/liveculture/museums/cumberlandmuseum

30,000 Christmas lights, decorations everywhere, a gigantic reindeer and sleigh and – of course – a visit with Santa Claus in his workshop! Kids will have fun sledding, playing broomball or street hockey, making a snow globe, decorating gingerbread, and sending your Christmas wish list to Santa via telegram. Regular admission applies. 

A Nepean Christmas
https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/arts-heritage-and-culture/museums-and-historic-sites/nepean-museum#upcoming-events-and-programs

Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10:00 am  to 4:00 pm

Bring the whole family and get into the Christmas spirit by coming to the museum for a Nepean Christmas Celebration!  There will be Christmas crafts, treats, and of course Santa! Cost: $6.30/adult, $10.45/pair, $16.75/family

Proulx Maple & Berry Farm Winterfest
http://proulxberryfarm.com/ 
Opens December 2nd

Drop by Proulx Maple & Berry Farm in Cumberland for a beautiful display of Christmas lights, a photo booth, wagon rides and more! Visit their website for more information. 

The CP Holiday Train
http://www.cpr.ca/holiday-train/schedule-canada

Merrickville - Monday, November 27th starting at 4:45 p.m.
Smiths Falls - Monday, November 27th starting at 6:20 p.m.
Perth - Monday, November 27th starting at 7:40 p.m.

You may not see Santa here, but this is a great holiday event all the same. The CP Holiday Train started in 1999 and raises money and food for the Food Bank. Over the three weeks of the program, musicians will play more than 150 concerts from a boxcar that’s been turned into a travelling stage.

3 EASY tips to create birthday magic

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Am I the only one who sees all the posts from friends on Facebook where they've decorated their kids door on their birthday with balloons and streamers and prepared special breakfasts and birthday thrones, and then feels a bit guilty about my own lack of birthday magic?

My inability to to coordinate one more thing into my seems to trump my desire to do something special for my kids on their birthday.

I remember to get them a present, and I remember to ask them where they'd like to go for dinner to celebrate. Sometimes I remember to plan a birthday party, though I'm not going to lie - I don't remember every year and sometimes it doesn't happen at all...and sometimes it happens a month late. (I'm here to make parents feel better about themselves ;)

So I put my thinking cap on and came up with 3 ways to make birthdays more magical even if you completely forgot to plan anything, and it's 11pm and you're about to go to bed. You're welcome!!

Birthday door magic with items you can find in your home!

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I see these online all the time - the magical doorways decorated with balloons and banners and streamers after the kids have gone to sleep. I don't have any of that stuff in the house, though - so what can you do if you forgot to prep? You can work with what I know EVERY family has - TOILET PAPER AND STUFFIES!!

My kids think this is just as special (and more hilarious) than balloons - at least the first time :) 

Tiny hanging stuffies work especially well, and fortunately for me, our house is full of every size and variety of stuffie you can think of.

Birthday magic in 5 minutes at no cost!

Birthday messages from their favourite characters

Netflix has put together a series of birthday messages from kids' favourite characters. Turn on the TV and have the gang from My Little Pony, King Julien, Beat Bugs, Pokemon, Skylanders Academy, Project Mc2, Dreamworks Trollhunters and Dinotrux, Barbie, LEGO Ninjago and Friends and more say Happy Birthday!

It's a fun and simple way to kickoff a birthday morning - plus they get a little Netflix, and they always love a little Netflix :)

Get their name on the radio or tv

So this one may take a bit more pre-planning but it's simple and totally exciting for kids.

Have their birthday announced on air on their favourite radio or tv station. Most sites have easy to fill out forms on their web sites and I've gathered a few for you. You'll need up to four weeks notice in some cases, but you can also put a calendar reminder in your phone right now with the link to do it, and it'll take you under two minutes to submit it when the time is right! (Psst: Do it now, I'll wait.)

CBC Kids

CTV Morning

Hot 89.9

106.9 Capital

You may know how simple this was to achieve, but your kids will be incredibly impressed THEIR name and birthday was on air!

Birthdays are magical no matter what. But if you're hoping to up your game a little bit - but know your bandwidth is low for extra effort - that these ideas helped.

Have any SIMPLE ideas to add to my list? Put them in the comments!

disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and receive perks as part of my partnership. All opinions are my own.