If you’re the parent of a Canadian tween or teen, this is likely the soundtrack of your life right now.
If your kids are still young, you’ve probably heard this repetitive thumping somewhere off in the distance—it’s the sound of plastic water bottles landing on the ground... or the table, or kitchen counter, or rim of the basketball net, or hood of the car, or roof of the shed, or windowsill (we currently have four bottles languishing in our eaves trough).
Kids are obsessed with mastering the bottle flip—made famous by (what else) a viral You Tube video.
It’s a simple concept. A non-concept really. Just empty about half the water from an ordinary water bottle and tighten the cap. Hold from the cap end and flip the bottle in the air 360 degrees and attempt to land it upright; the more impossible the landing, the better. Or should I say, the more “totally epic.”
It’s an annoying sound to say the least. I despise repetitive noises. Especially tapping or clicking or wrapper crinkling or god help us all, food chewing. Misophonia my friends, it’s real and it’s a pain.
Last Sunday as I attempted to sleep in (past 7AM... is that too much to ask??) I was awoken but the sound of my son hurling a water bottle into the air over and over. With each thud I was all, “Seriously?? How is this even a thing?” It’s like he’s training for the bottle flipping Olympic team. If only such dedication was reserved for guitar practice or putting away his laundry.
Water bottle flipping has been banned in some schools. During math class or an English lesson, I can see how it would be distracting. And at recess I suppose there are concerns about kids getting klunked in the head with water bottle missiles falling from the sky.
Bottle flipping is irritating. We can all agree. However…
The kids LOVE it. How can we deny them a little innocent childhood fun?
Not to mention, it’s free and IT’S NOT TECH. How novel. It requires strategy and math (Or is it science? Which one’s trajectory?). Plus it improves hand-eye coordination and collaboration skills.
My son and his friends work together to set up elaborate flip scenarios and take turns filming each other's attempts. The end game is to capture the ultimate landing on video and share it with the world. Okay, that part's tech but still. Better than hours of video games in my opinion.
As annoying and misophonia-inflaming as it is, I decided to try it.
And guess what? It’s a hoot. And not to sound too braggy, but I kick ass at water bottle flipping.
A seemingly effortless landing tacked on to the end of a sentence as you walk away, is my signature move.
Mom: “Put your bowl in the dishwasher please.”
Flip… land… walks away.
Mom: "No, you can’t have the last slice of pizza.”
Flip… land… takes the last slice for herself and walks away.
Mom: “Do you find it humbling that your mother is such an awesome flipper?”
Flip… misses the landing and says, “I meant to do that. You know, for your self-esteem.”
The bottle flipping ability gene runs predominantly on the female side of our family.
As aforementioned, I rule. But so does my daughter. The kiddo has significant fine and gross motor delays, yet she can flip it like it’s hot. Check out one of her most epic landings.
Mind you, she meant to land it on the table but, wow. 10,000 bonus points for a chandelier landing (and an additional 500 mommy gratitude points for not smashing the decorative bowl on the table in the process). It’s a shame nobody was filming at the time. That sh*t would’ve gone viral. Usually one of my kids is filming the other with the iPad. It’s the cutest flippin' thing.
Side note: I made my daughter wear her bicycle helmet last time they were practicing in case a bottle landed on her head. I can’t decide if that was smart or completely over-the-top bubble wrappy.
Anyway fellow parents, before you condemn this trend, take the challenge. You'll be surprised by how much fun it is.
Warning: It’s addictive.
P.S. When my first epic landing goes viral, I’ll be sure to let you know.
As temperatures begin to drop and #leafyboots becomes a trending hashtag, our thoughts turn to cozy nights in with friends and family. Fall is the perfect time to host a dinner party. It's the culinary sweet spot nestled quietly between busy summer days and the falalala-frenzy of the holiday season.
The theme of this dinner party is wine!! It's a guaranteed winner. Or dare I say, wine-ner? Sorry, I went ahead and said it and now I'm blushing like a Zinfandel. Let me make amends by sharing an easy (it really is simple and quick to prepare!) and unique menu (there's a hint of wine in every course!) perfect for a casual dinner party.
But first, let me ask you this...
Do you switch out your summer white for a winter red with the changing of the clocks? You really don't have to! There's room for both a crisp Pinot Grigio and an aromatic Cabernet Sauvignon this fall and right through the winter!
Wine is wonderful to drink, but do you cook with it? I don't mean simply adding a splash to a sauce or a marinade. Wine can be added to every course! And it's pretty dazzling. So while you prepare this delicious party menu, sip some wine, but save some for these wine-infused recipes to follow. Here's the menu:
Greet your guests with a warm smile and a winey welcome cocktail! Try this Woodbridge Winter White Cranberry Sangria (Take note, this punch would be perfect during the holiday season, too!)
Serve some assorted cheeses to enjoy while guests sip their sangria. A cheese tray is one of my favourite appies. It's easy to assemble and I've never met a person who doesn't enjoy a wedge of Applewood Smoked Cheddar with their wine.
Toss mixed greens with shaved Parmesan for a no fuss, fresh, and tasty salad. Serve with this delicious vinaigrette. Mind you, it's made with white wine, so I'm calling it a vino-grette!
Tip: The dressing separates quickly, so shake well and often if serving on the side.
This main course sounds odd, but try this red wine spaghetti and you'll soon be adding it to your "faves list." I spotted the recipe in my Facebook feed and I immediately wanted to feed it to myself. The sweetness of the wine gives the noodles a unique layer of flavour. Add the salty Parmesan and, wow! The alcohol burns off so it's safe to serve the left-overs to the kids (if there are any!) Admittedly, the noodles look like worms. However, these are some mighty delicious worms. Get the Red Wine Spaghetti recipe here and watch the video below to see how to make it!
I kept the recipe as is, but added a cup of chopped toasted walnuts for some next level flavour and crunch!
Confession...the thought of draining the extra "wine water" made me sad. It seemed wasteful to pour wine down the drain on purpose. I planned to strain the liquid into a bowl and to save to add to a soup. However, the noodles absorbed almost all of the liquid (hence the amazing flavour!) so there was actually nothing to drain.
Serve your favourite fresh bread on the side and make this Cabernet Sauvignon Garlic Butter! (It's a party, so carbs don't count.)
These Cabernet Dark Chocolate Brownies served with homemade banana “ice cream" will do the trick. The decadence of the brownies is off-set by the healthy fruit-only ice cream. I soaked my cherries in Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon over night. I could make a joke here, but I won't. That would be in poor taste. And this post is all about GREAT taste! And wine soaked cherries?? T-A-S-T-Y!
Admittedly, I'm a horrible baker. If you tasted the cookies I baked for my last cookie exchange or witnessed the gluten-free cookies I made that melted into one colossal cookie, this will come as no surprise. The "rules" of baking are a drag. I prefer to eyeball measurements and make substitutions. Apparently, that doesn't fly with baked goods. Though you might choose to eat the fake gourds in the bowl over my not-so-great-looking brownies, I assure you they taste delicious! The wine soaked tart cherries (I used frozen since fresh are out of season and they worked great!) are an amazing addition to chocolatey brownies.
Side Note: When the weather gets cooler, I'm making this Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon Hot Chocolate. Ooh, mental note, a perfect thermos drink for parents to sip on rinkside while outdoors.
Visit the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi website to find more wine related tips and recipes!
When you get there, you'll likely land on the image below.
I added a few notes :)
Bonus Tip: If you live in the GTA and have access to Grocery Gateway delivery, you can have Woodbridge chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and White Zinfandel delivered. Don't ask how I know. I just do.
Fall means the dark days of winter are on their way. But there's no need to whine about it. Let's wine about it instead! Yay, fall!
Despite the doctors who told us there was nothing wrong, we knew. Parents always know. We feel it in our gut. Mother’s instinct—it’s real and it’s powerful.
Though her birth was remarkably unremarkable, when she was a few months old, we started having concerns. Our already tiny baby girl was losing weight and the milestones that mark healthy development were never achieved.
True fear kicked in when our daughter stopped feeding. We were losing her and we fought to make doctors listen. By the time they did, our baby was in full “failure to thrive” mode.
It was at this time, when Avery was eight months old and living full-time in the hospital, that we got a diagnosis. We heard the words, “Chromosomal Translocation Disorder” and “Rare Syndrome” and “We are so sorry.”
We fed her through a nasal gastric tube and she began to gain weight. The colour came back to her cheeks and the sparkle returned to her eyes. With her health and growth on track, we turned our attention to her development. What would a disorder like this mean for our child? What would her future look like?
Every specialist we met with agreed—the loss of genetic material was catastrophic. By all accounts, it meant our child’s cognitive and physical development would be significantly affected. “She may never speak, so start signing with her as soon as possible. It's unlikely that she will be fully mobile without assistance. Also, nearly every documented case we’ve seen with a similar deletion is somewhere on the autism spectrum.”
Those words were like a kick to the stomach. I remember physically losing my breath.
But I also remember thinking, “No!! This can’t be right! That sparkle in her eye is so bright. She understands and she feels love. We’ll do everything we can to give her the best possible chance at a full and beautiful life.”
Avery was scheduled for gastric tube (G-Tube) insertion surgery just before her first birthday. She would be fed via a tube in her stomach for years to come. It was the right choice at the time. The nasal gastric tube was uncomfortable and difficult and not a long-term solution. But, she came down with a cold the day before the surgery and it was cancelled.
We continued using the nasal gastric tube, but also introduced some solids by mouth. There was no pressure. She got the bulk of her nutrition and hydration via the tube, so we played with food and let her go at her own pace.
When the date of the rescheduled surgery came, she had a fever and the surgery was cancelled once again.
In the meantime, we continued oral feeding and slowly but surely, she got the hang of it. I knew in my gut that she could do it. She just needed time. The more she fed, the stronger she got and the motor skills necessary to eat and drink by mouth improved. We thickened fluids to make them easier to manage. And we tried an anti-reflux medication that made a world of difference. We saw progress and felt hope for the first time in a long time.
At our next occupational therapy session, I told our Occupational Therapist that we decided to cancel the G-Tube surgery. I expected her to be as excited as we were. I wasn’t prepared for her harsh words. She told me I was wrong—that Avery would never feed well enough on her own and I was a negligent parent for cancelling the surgery.
I don’t remember what I said in response. I know I cried and mumbled something about knowing what is best for my child. We never went back to see her again. The trust between our family and that therapist was destroyed.
That’s the thing about therapists—physical, speech, occupational, and behavioural. They support us and hold our hands and teach us what to do and cheer the loudest when our kids achieve a goal. It’s vital to find a therapist you click with—somebody who celebrates with you and supports your child.
We found our support early on and I credit that early intervention for much of my daughter’s current success. I’m writing this post in the waiting room at her gymnastics class. Not only is she walking on her own without assistance, she’s walking across a narrow balance beam and climbing to the top of the rope and ringing the bell at the ceiling. And yes, I cry every damn time.
Avery’s physical therapist helped her learn to walk up and down stairs safely and suggested special knee high orthotics called AFOs that helped support her ankles when they were too weak to support her properly. She helped us wean her off those “magic boots” and she celebrated with us as we threw them away with great ceremony into the trash can.
My daughter's new occupational therapist taught her to fasten zippers and sit tall in her special chair and so many other important things. As Avery moves through school, we continue to rely on Occupational Therapist suggestions—they keep Avery safe, ease frustration, and help her function to the best of her ability.
In the early days, my daughter struggled to speak. She communicated in one syllable squawks and grunts and coos and some ASL hand signs. When she was around two, she had yet to speak a word. During a speech session with Sarah, Avery’s speech therapist, she spoke. Just one word and it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard.
Sarah had her playing with toy that Avery loved—a ramp with a little red ball. Avery wanted the ball, so with the proper prompting she asked for it. “Baw.” She said ball.
And of course I cried. Pretty hard, actually. And you know what, Sarah cried too. Both of us had worked so hard to get to this point and we cried happy proud tears together. Imagine somebody caring enough about my child to feel so much?
Avery continues to struggle with speech. She has what is called a “profound speech delay.”
Now that she’s older, we no longer qualify for funded speech therapy. The speech and language support she receives at school is minimal, at best. So, we sought private therapy. It’s expensive, but it’s an investment in the most important thing in the world. Her.
I know her speech will improve if we do the work. Mother’s intuition hasn’t failed me yet.
Recently Avery and I visited our local Monarch House, an organization that improves access, coordinates treatment, and focuses on results for those with developmental delays and disabilities. We took a tour of the centre and Avery did not want to leave. In fact, she’s been asking to go back to “play” as soon as possible. Our minds were blown.
Monarch House works with individuals of all ages and abilities. They provide evidence-based treatment in the areas of speech, language, communication, motor skills, recreation, vocational skills, daily living skills, social skills, and overall learning.
Their services are delivered in the setting that is most convenient to the client – their home, community or one of their clinics. Their team of clinicians are all under one roof in order to provide easy and timely access to the professional that best meets your needs when you need the service.
One of their main focuses is parent education. This is key in my experience. Monarch House helps families understand developmental milestones, and teaches parents the steps to take if they have concerns.
When Avery was first diagnosed, we were totally lost. We knew we had to do something to help our daughter, but we didn’t know where to start. Having support early on and as your child's needs change and develop, is life changing. Literally.
Check out the Monarch House Parent Resource Handbook for information on identifying developmental delays/difficulties, and what to do next. There's also information on their website about wait times for programs and how to apply for funding.
Monarch House obviously supports parents of children with special needs, however parents of typically developing children can also benefit from many of the support services they provide. There's a variety of programming for children of all abilities. For example, the 'Homework Helpers Program' which is designed to help children with their usual school homework assignments. This is for any child who just needs a little extra help in understanding concepts or needs help learning how to focus and organize.
If you have concerns or just want to ask the experts a question, you can visit Monarch House online to search their website and their blog for answers or to book a visit to chat. Also, and this is great.. pop into to one of their many FREE workshops, info sessions, or developmental screenings. Whether you decide Monarch House is right for you or not, they can help point you in the right direction.
Raising a child can be tricky. Get the support you need. You're not alone.