Every Parent’s Nightmare; Lost Child

So the unthinkable happened to me this week; I actually lost one of my children. Rest assured, within a few minutes she was back with.

A little background; we were in Burnaby on the SFU campus for a work related thing I was doing and because my kids enjoy being on the SFU campus, I decided to have them come along on the trip with me. 

We stopped for a snack and after we were done, I told the girls I was going to the washroom (located about 20 feet away) to wash my hands. Brown Bear came with me. And I realize now, Blonde Bear somehow didn’t hear me say we were going to wash up. So I went into the washroom with one kid and left the other sitting at the table where we had all been sitting. Or so I thought.

We have spoken to our children any number of times about what to do in the very unlikely event that they do get separated from us while we are out of the house with the key message for them to stay where they are; don’t wander off looking for us.

The bad news is that in spite of all the training we have done, all the talking about what to do in case you get lost, none of that worked in this case.

Even though we have reinforced this message countless times, in this instance rather than staying put, she didn’t stay put, in fact she wandered off. And she didn’t just wander a little way, she wandered way off.

Key point to remember – do not assume anything with children!!

Looking back at the situation it is very interesting to think about how I reacted. As the gravity of the situation settled on me I could feel my stomach tightening and my head start spinning. I felt the panic and fear that probably any parent would feel if their child had gone missing.

Key point #2 – stay calm!! You MUST fight the urge to panic and STAY CALM!!

However, in spite of the fear and panic that I could feel inside of me, I knew that I had to remain calm and deal with the situation absolutely logically and clinically in order to make sure that I got my kid back in my arms as soon as possible.

The very first thing I did was think about what my best strategy for recovering my daughter was. Seeing as I had my other other daughter with me at the time, I decided that she would probably get more help and positive attention if she was moving around yelling her sister’s name.

Key point #3 – you MUST very quickly develop a flexible plan!!

I figured that a little kid would probably be more of a sympathetic character to other people nearby rather than if it was just me yelling a girls name.

So I made sure she understood where our meeting place was and that we were to remain in eye contact of one another and then I sent her off to search for her sister, while calling her sisters name.

At the same time I went and looked at the possible routes that did my other daughter could have disappeared down.

Key point #4 – establish a perimeter.

Essentially I was creating a perimeter of sight in each direction to see if I could see her.

My strategy of having my other daughter calling her sisters name paid off almost immediately. Another young person noticed her and asked if she was looking for a little girl. My daughter said yes and then the other person said she had seen a little girl walking alone.

Now we had a confirmed siting point to work from.

We knew the directions that she had most likely travelled and so we went with that as our most reliable point to follow. Interestingly, the direction we were told she was moving was in a direction that I would not have assumed that she would have traveled.

Key point #5 – stay flexible and continually assess the situation.

Here’s where I made another assumption; I assumed my daughter had wandered off and was not abducted. We were in a university setting where the vast majority of people are students or staff so I went forward with the assumption that she had wandered off looking for me.

We continued our strategy of having my daughter moving forward calling her sister’s name and getting attention from people around her. Again this paid off as we moved forward through the building.

Within two or three minutes (which seemed like hours at the time) of us searching in the direction we had chosen, a young man and a woman approached us with my daughter at her side.

My daughter was obviously in distress. Her eyes were very misty but she was holding herself together very stoically. Unfortunately for her when she saw me her stoic attitude melted and she turned into a sobbing weeping mess.

Key point #6 – you MUST be the rock your kid will need. Suppress the urge to PANIC.

Luckily for me, I didn’t turn into the sobbing weeping mess that I wanted to.

I simply reached out and took my daughters hand and said “hey there you are! I’m glad we found you so quickly.”

Me remaining calm even in that instance in spite of all the feelings that I was experiencing helped her cope with what I can only imagine what was an incredibly stressful moment for her.

Lost Child

Interestingly, another thing I frequently do before entering a busy place with my kids is I get them to stand together and I snap a quick picture of them.

I’m always snapping pics of them so this is just another normal, “oh Dad hurry up and get your picture” sort of thing. But in the back of my mind, the pic is so that in the unlikely case they get separated from me and I do need to get help locating them, I’ve got a picture of what they look like with what they are wearing that day.

I’m not sure how else to approach the situation any differently other than to keep talking to kids about the right thing to do in “emergency” situations. Maybe having a real life practice session is also helpful?

The bottom line is that both my kids are safe. We have talked about what we learned and what we could do differently if this ever happened again. And we are almost ready to laugh about the scare we all had.

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Corn on the Cob – “Packed Fresh”

I was in a dollar-type store yesterday looking for playing cards when I stumbled across corn on the cob. Corn on the cob – vacuum packed.

Corn on the Cob

Ready to eat, corn on the cob. Corn on the cob vacuum packed. Corn on the cob in a plastic wrapper, sitting out on a shelf in a dollar store. Not refrigerated.

Seriously? I understand we have the technology to actually do this, but should we do this?

Would you buy a vacuum pack of fresh corn on the cob? Even more importantly, would you eat it?

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Manning Park; Lightning Lakes Air Quality

If you are thinking of going camping in the southern part of the province, like I just did in Manning Park, you should know that the air quality is just fine, especially down through the Okanagan-Similkameen area.

Manning Park

Go out and enjoy yourself. But be careful with any burning material!! And if you want to check the air quality before you go, check the government of Canada website.

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Camp Cooking Essentials

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I survived a camping trip to the Lightning Lakes campground in Manning Park with my wife and kids. Part of my survival is based on what I took along for camp cooking essential tools.

I like to be thoughtful and organized when I go camping, or even if I am going to the cabin. Being thoughtful and organized makes for a lot more good times and a lot less stress when out in the wilderness.

Camp Cooking Essentials

To hold all our camp cooking essentials I have purchased two large Rubbermaid style bins. That way I have all the camp kitchen tools in one place.

And typically, most campsites require you to be “bear aware” meaning you have to pack up all your cooking tools and food supplies each night. Having a couple large plastic bins makes it easier for loading all the gear back into the vehicle at the end of the day.

But what do I put in those bins? Here is a partial list:

  • 2 quality non-stick fry pan. One is a deep-wok style pan.
  • Two decent quality, stainless steel pots
  • Dinner plates, bowls, stainless mugs, cutlery (I pack the same number of plates, bowls and cutlery as there are people in my group)
  • Cutting board and tinfoil
  • Butcher knife, paring knife, tongs, slotted spoon, and a spatula for flipping eggs.
  • Coffee drip cone and filters – always bring extra coffee filters!!

That is a pretty basic list of what you need for cooking and eating. I say I typically bring the same number of plates or bowls as there people on the trip because if you bring extra, you get more things dirty requiring you to wash more dishes. And who wants to be washing dishes while you are out camping? If you only have a few, you are forced to think about what you are doing.

Camp Cooking Essentials

Another item I mentioned bringing along was a quality non-stick pan.

Okay, okay. I am the cast iron pan guy. I have dozens of them in every shape, size, and condition. But when I go camping I like to take a relatively new non-stick pan (I am still testing out a Gotham Steel ceramic pan so that is one of the pans we brought along for this trip).

Honestly, if anything goes wrong, wiping out a non-stick pan is much easier than trying to clean-up a beloved cast iron pan.

Camp Cooking Essentials

Another consideration about the pan is that you should choose a deep pan so it can do double duty as a pot if you need to.

Of course there are some other important camp cooking essentials that play a supporting role but still are important to halp make a camping trip that much easier:

  • Garbage bags (even the plastic bags you get when doing your last minute shopping trip will work).
  • Kitchen scrubber things – super useful!
  • Leather gloves – I actually have a pair of inexpensive welding gloves that I keep in my camping essentials bin.
  • Two small plastic water containers (4l size)
  • Large water container (30l size)
  • 2 wash basins

The garbage bags are great for keeping your garbage in one place. If you can have a camp fire it is great to burn all your kitchen scraps and paper products, but if there is a campfire ban, well, the garbage bags sure come in handy.

The leather welding gloves are useful for so many things! Reaching into the campfire to retrieve things, roasting marshmallows, moving hot pots or pans, or what-have-you.

Water containers are essentials. The small containers are great so that you can add a splash of water to something you are cooking without having to heave the big container up.

And the wash basins…well they are essential. You just load your dirty dishes into them for clean up and there you be.

And of course the most important thing for your Camp Cooking Essentials – something to cook on. DO NOT count on being able to cook on a fire. First off, you may not be as smart as you think you are and you may not be able to light a fire. Or there may be no wood. Or it may be pouring rain. Or, there may be a campfire ban.

So bring a camp stove or a propane fuelled grill to cook with. I like my Coleman cookstove that runs off propane. It heats up quickly and is easy to work with.

That’s about it for camp cooking essentials. If I have missed any important items, feel free to add a comment below.

Posted in In the Kitchen | Tagged | 2 Comments

We Survived Camping at Lightning Lakes Campground in Manning Park!

Yes, we are home again from our trip to Manning Park and yes, we survived our first family camping trip. Just barely.

I will update this blog post with my advice for other campers once I get back into my more regular routine. In the update I will add a list of what I believe to be the essential items to take with you when you go car-camping.

Posted in On the Road | Tagged | 2 Comments

Words to Live By; Advice for Parents

A friend of mine posted a comment on Facebook saying how he felt like a bit of a failure as a dad after reading about and seeing images of all the fun and interesting things that other people were doing with their children this summer.

A blogger friend, Don Smith of the Personal Growth Channel blog commented with some words to live by;

“Don’t compare your blooper reel to everyone else’s highlight reel that they share on Facebook”.

How wise are those words! I’ll be honest, for every amazing, delicious, and photogenic meal I photograph and share images of, there are probably ten meals (or more!) that simply did not work.

For every moment captured of me with my happily smiling kids, there are endless hours of them screaming at each other about some real or perceived harm inflicted on one or the other.

“Don’t compare your blooper reel to everyone else’s highlight reel.” Words to live by.

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Video Review of the NutSac Satchel Pro

Disclosure: Although I did purchase a used NutSac satchel from a friend, the folks at NutSac were kind enough to send me the NutSac Satchel Pro that I used to create this video. As always, editorial control of what I say remains under my control.

I encourage you to learn more about the back story of the NutSac company by visiting their webpage. It is an interesting story. But I still struggle with the name. Just saying.

Okay…so I recorded this video while at my cabin and I did not have access to an indoor toilet nor the internet so I couldn’t check the NutSac website to read up on their back story. Now that I am back to the land of indoor plumbing, I have checked their website for info on how they came to be called NutSac – here’s what I found:

NutSac was named because the founders realized that you’d have to be a little bit nuts to manufacture in America and compete against cheap products. You’d also have to be a bit nuts to try to source American-made materials. And you’d have to be really nuts to trust that your customers will value your commitment to fair business practices and quality design.

We’ve heard that some unscrupulous people make rude double-entendres on our name, but we disavow all such behavior.

So there you go.

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My Mini Rant on the Evils of Reply All

I recorded this little video in which I explain a little technology stuff, primarily around the evils of the reply all.

Although I didn’t mention this in my video, just like if you subscribe to my blog, it also helps if you subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free and it is easy to do.

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Help a Blogger; Please Subscribe 

You may have noticed that I changed the appearance of my blog … again. This time my changes were only cosmetic; the look of the blog has changed but not much else.

Not like the last time I made a big change to the blog where I moved everything around. That big blog move destroyed my email list – all you readers who I had cajoled into subscribing to my blog – all that cajoling – and my email list was vaporized. Gone.

Yep, a few of you have subscribed again, but nothing compared to what I had before.

Subscribe

So if you want to help me and my blog, go ahead and subscribe again. Do like the messy picture above shows:

  • First – enter your email address.
  • Second – click “subscribe”

That’s it. And then whenever I post something brilliant you will receive an email with an excerpt from the new blog post and a link so that you can read the rest of it. Actually, even if it is not a brilliant piece of writing you will receive an email.

And if you already subscribe? Thanks!!

As a bonus help to me and the blog, you can also click and like the Facebook page I have set up for the blog. That’s on the side just below the Subscribe option.

Thanks again!!

 

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Thanks Baby; We’ve Come A Long Way

Father’s Day – it is difficult to imagine, but the reality is, this is my 8th Father’s Day as a dad and I have been thinking about what it means to be a dad. So many wonderful  memories. So many wonderful feelings.

Thanks Baby

Although I was pretty mature, well, maybe not mature, but older than the average dude in the maternity ward, I figured I would have an advantage over the other, younger guys as we all became dads.

The reality is, nothing could have prepared me for twin daughters who were born 6 weeks early and weighing in a couple of ounces over four pounds each.

Thanks Baby

Take a good long look at the picture above.

I have pretty regular sized hands so you can imagine how tiny my daughter’s little hand really was. For obvious reasons, one of the first lessons that my daughters taught me was how to be gentle. #ThanksBaby.

Thanks Baby

But they grew. My daughters did grow. And they found their voices. Oh have they ever found their voices. And you know, I grew too because the reality is, when a baby is born, a dad is born.

When my daughters were born, I began to better understand my own dad. I began to understand the difficult choices my dad had to make around balancing being a supportive dad to me and at the same time be able to respect his paid work responsibilities.

I guess I have my daughters to thank for helping me better understand my dad. #ThanksBaby

Thanks Baby

And just like my dad did, I had to learn to balance being a dad with my work responsibilities. So I was often sitting at my desk doing work while holding my daughters in my arms.

Even now, when I am at home sitting at my desk doing my work, and my daughters call me to join them for a tea party or to visit and “shop” in the store that they have built in our living room, I inwardly grimace knowing that leaving my work will mean a longer evening of work after they go to sleep, but I get up out of my chair and I go to “shop” in their stores. And their smiles. Yes. Those smiles. #ThanksBaby.

Thanks Baby

My daughters are a blessing in so many ways. Yep, there have been days when I go to sleep knowing that I may never win the “dad of the year” award, but there are far more days when I am tucking my daughters in to sleep and they reach up with their little arms to hug me and I hear their sleepy little voice say, “I love you papa”. Those are the times that make everything worthwhile. #ThanksBaby.

Thanks Baby

And while my daughters no longer need diapers, I think back to the times when we did use diapers and how for more than 50 years, moms and dads, like my wife and I did, we all trusted Pampers complete range of diapers, wipes, and training pants to help us care for our babies as they grew from infants to toddlers.

To learn more about Pampers products, to join the Pampers Rewards program, and to find ideas and information to help your baby get the most out of love, sleep, and play, you can visit www.pampers.com.

Disclosure: Although I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion, my thoughts on parenthood and all the warm fuzzy memories I have discussed in this blog post are my own. As always, editorial control remains under my control.

 

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