Posts By: Julie Cole

Sleepaway camp: The best way to decide if your kids are ready.

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

I’m no stranger to sending kids to sleep away camp. My “biggie” kids have been going for several years  and the benefits are countless.

This year, I have a new crop of kids who are great ages for sleep away camp, so for the first time in a few years, I found myself revisiting the age old question of “ARE THEY READY?” Of course, I’m not sure I’m ready, but as a wise Camp Director once told me, “Sorry Julie, this isn’t about YOU!”  Fine thing.

After setting my personal anxieties aside, I looked at my two little darlings and asked myself the following:

Do they want to go to camp?  If they want to go, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re ready. Of course, kids can be indecisive – one minute they want to go and another minute they don’t. When they say they don’t want to go, it’s likely that they’re worried about homesickness. So, I remind my kids that it’s completely normal and they likely will be homesick at some point. But it usually passes and doesn’t interfere with the overall camp experience. Besides, camp staff are trained to deal with this issue. A homesick kid is the biggest and most common issue they deal with.

As the parent, our job is to consider how severe the homesickness will be. So when trying to determine whether they’re ready or not, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • When at home, does your kid stay in their own bed every night? If you wake up every morning having discovered a little visitor migrated into your bed during the night, the kiddo might not quite be ready
  • Does your child feel comfortable having a sleepover with extended family or close friends? If they’d rather be glued to you than have a fun sleepover at Grandma’s house, this could be a sign that the kiddo is not ready for camp
  • Can you get a little friend to go too?  My kids like going to camp with siblings, but kids are put in cabins according to age so siblings don’t usually get to stay together. A familiar friend from home or school can sometimes help a kiddo feel more comfortable.
  • Have your kiddos had the chance to see camp for themselves?  My two kids that are up for camp consideration this summer have been able to visit their siblings at camp, which has familiarized them with the camp setting. This can be helpful.

 

After putting kids #4 and #5 through this little test, these were the results:

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

YES, this kid is ready camp! She’s signed up and ready to go!

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

Sorry buddy, maybe next year!

How do you decide if your little ones are ready for this experience? Do you have anyone heading off to sleep-away camp this season?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

 

Spring Happenings!

It has been a long, harsh winter in these parts. Although, there are a few signs that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s how I know that spring is near or almost here:

1) Spring Fling
We welcome spring with our annual Irish Dancing performances. My kids don’t do competitive dancing and have no dreams of making it to the World Championships in Dublin. They don’t wear wigs or tan their legs. I put their hair in rags to get curls and off they go to tour countless Seniors Homes to help our elderly community celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The best part? After they dance, the children chat with the residents. Even the shy children are encouraged to give it a try. They learn so much from speaking with the elderly, who are so delighted to have a close look at the beautiful costumes and happy young faces.

 

2) Spring Sap
The tapping of the trees. We are lucky enough to have a ravine full of trees in our backyard. Daddy-o and the children go off and tap the trees, collect the sap, boil it down, leaving us with the most delicious maple syrup. I now have a houseful of syrup snobs who now turn their noses up at the store bought stuff.

3) Spring has sprung – literally.
This year we are adding something special to our yard. Over the years, we have gone through, destroyed and bounced to death SEVERAL trampolines. I have been on a hunt for one that is big enough, strong enough and bouncy enough to deal with my six children, and the countless friends and neighbourhood kids who put it to the test. My search ended with the Jumbo Square Springfree trampoline. The more research I did, the more I realized that if I had bought this one originally, I would have saved myself from buying, setting up and destroying the four other trampolines we’ve ripped through.

Has spring arrived where you are? What cheery spring happenings are going on in your family?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

The Birth of a Superstar

In celebration of Mabel’s birthday, Julie Cole reflects on a birthday post about one of her favourite people – her very special Aunt Joan. Do you celebrate someone special in your family?

50 years ago my Aunt Joan was born. Hers has not been an average life. She arrived prematurely, possibly having an unfortunate run-in with the umbilical cord on the way out. Regardless of the cause, she has had a special place in our family because she did not develop in a typical manner.

From all accounts, it was not easy in those early years. The doctors made grim predictions about Joan’s future based on what they thought her IQ was. Grandma once threw a social worker out of her house for suggesting that Joan should be removed from the family and raised elsewhere.

She was the seventh born in a big Irish family and everyone rallied around their baby Joan, sharing feeding responsibilities and surrounding her with love and support. Joan was a part of that family and although it was a family forever changed, from their enlightened perspective, they were better for it. To this very day she lives with my grandparents who are in their mid-nineties.

Joan is a remarkable person. Embraced by a supportive school and staff, she has spent the last 25 years working as a classroom helper in a centre for children with special needs and who are medically fragile. Joan has a special place at Mabel’s Labels as well. She helps out when brochures need to be stickered, she decorates posters and cards for special events and contributes her famous brownies for staff functions. Most of all, she is our biggest fan. If you’ve ever been on a city bus and had the woman next to you ask if you have Mabel’s Labels, chances are it was Aunt Joan. She hands out her Mabel’s Labels business card to anyone and everyone – a business card which appropriately lists her job title as “Superstar”.

To get the full picture of the positive impact Joan has on those around her, let me tell you how her 50th birthday was celebrated:

- The school board threw a surprise party for her. 50 staff members and retired staff were in attendance to celebrate;
- Our family had a surprise dance party/open house. More people than I could count were in attendance;
- Of those people at the dance party, a ridiculous number of us were wearing t-shirts featuring Joan’s picture and the words ‘Joan is a Superstar’;
- Even the babies in the family got involved. They all wore custom-made shirts that said “Great-Aunt Joan is a Superstar”.

I know when we all have babies we want them to be perfect in every way. However, Joan has taught me that sometimes it’s only when they are not “perfect” that they are able to become Superstars.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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