Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

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This Spring we will be welcoming baby #3 into our family! I could write and write about this pregnancy because it has been so different than my other pregnancies. Actually, now that we’ve shared our secret I’m sure I will write and write about this pregnancy. What kind of maternity nurse doesn’t like to talk pregnancy and birth? I’m nearing 18 weeks and starting to feel the baby move, that feeling never gets old.

I’m so excited to be sharing this guest post by fellow Vancouver blogger Harriet Fancott. I asked her  if she could tell her story about bringing her baby home following an open adoption at birth. Get the tissue box ready because Harriet tells a wonderful and honest story. Harriet blogs at See Theo Run and has written extensively about her experience with open adoption. A seriously big thank you to Harriet for this blog post.

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When people adopt a baby, phrases like “over the moon!” “love at first sight” or “meant to be,” are flung about, but meeting your new baby for the first time is emotionally complicated. At least it was for us. When my husband and I adopted our son at birth, we come face-to-face with love and loss, joy and sadness and our hearts burst and shattered all at once.

We met Theo’s beautiful and oh so young birthparents (and their parents) about two months prior to his birth, and then we waited in a fog of excitement and anxiety for “the call.” My mind reeled with thoughts and questions during those months: “Should we prepare the room?” “What if they change their minds?” “Look at those adorable onesies?” “Let’s choose a name!” “What if they want to name him?” “I can’t wait to be a mom!” “Shouldn’t I at least TRY to breastfeed?” “Help I need more time; I’m not ready!”

The day I received the call that Theo had been born, the mercury hit 36 degrees, and I was holed up in an air-conditioned packed movie theatre waiting for the “500 Days of Summer” to begin. When my cell phone beeped, I ran out into a crowded lobby to take the call. The birthgrama told me excitedly that our son was born, that his birthmom was fine, and we could come and take him home the following day. They wanted time to be with him. I was frantic, giddy, worried, ecstatic, and in shock. I called my husband and then in a confused haze, reentered the theatre to watch the movie! I have no idea what I was thinking.

Then, my husband and I got into high gear to ready ourselves to meet and pick up our new son. We had baby diapers, a car seat, a special baby outfit, a gift for birthmom and flowers for birth grama. We arrived at the hospital hearts hammering through our chests, sweat dripping down our backs, arms full of stuff, jittery with nerves and excitement.

We arrived to a room full of people: a nurse, a social worker, and birthfamily. Oh and a baby. The birthparents were seated on the bed. She was sobbing, and Theo was lying in the middle of the bed in a pair of oversized baby booties. I can’t adequately describe the awkwardness and pain of the moment. We felt strange and tongue-tied. We had no idea whether we should pick up the baby or let him lie there. He was so tiny, and we didn’t know him at all. Every so often, he’d emit a tiny cry and then fall asleep. We finally picked up this featherweight being who was our new son, and placed him gently into his new outfit. Then we exchanged presents and mementoes to mark the occasion.

We have photos of everyone with baby Theo, and in every shot the birthmom is crying. Witnessing her grief was almost unbearable, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was a birth, but it felt like a funeral. There was no reasonable thing to say or do. After an hour-and-a-half of photos and odd snippets of conversation, the family went home and left us with Theo.

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We saw a lot of the birthfamily in the weeks following placement. We juggled caring for a new baby, who was up every couple of hours, with caring for ourselves and the birthfamily. It was very deep, emotional and tiring. Amid all of this, we had a steady stream of visitors dropping in to meet Theo and drop off meals and gifts. I’m eternally grateful for the support we got from friends and family. A couple of months later, our friends hosted a rip roaring Welcome Party for Theo, a kind of after shower with food and gifts that reminded us of life outside our bubble.

In terms of caring for Theo, we bottle-fed him, and he had no issues with formula, which he guzzled like a champ. Both his dad (who is a teacher so had a month off with Theo) and I spent time feeding and bonding with him. If we were going to miss out on the foundational experience of pregnancy and breastfeeding, we were going to spend as much time with him as possible. Love blossomed quickly between all of us, and to this day, I worry about over-loving him! He wasn’t a good sleeper but once he started smiling, he proved to be an extremely happy baby. To this day, aged 5, he is quick with a smile and a laugh, a great eater and still a terrible sleeper!

I wasn’t sensitive about not giving birth, so I joined the local moms group at the Mid-Main clinic and met a group of wonderful straight shooting moms who all had babies in July or August of the same year. Other than feeding, our issues were exactly the same and they were a lifeline. I also connected with a group of adoptive mothers with same aged children. I had a ton of support during that first year. Five years later, I am very good friends with the same group of adoptive mothers and keep in occasional contact with the moms group as well.

Theo knows his birthparents pretty well now. He talks to regularly in-person and on Skype. They are both pursuing their athletic and academic passions but maintain a deep commitment to being in his life. Meeting Theo that sweltering summer day wasn’t easy, but it really was just the beginning of our lives together.

 

I was tagged by the lovely Gwen over at Left Coast Mama for this old school blog post meme and thought what better to do on Friday morning than blog. I’m suppose to tell you 5 random things about me, so here we go!

5randomthing1.  Back when I was 18-20 I did nude art modeling for the Fine Arts department at my university. The real reason I picked this gig was that it paid $18 an hour, which back in 1998 was a huge chunk of change. I did  3 hour classes and it was easy work and the students and professors always gave me mega respect. There was no oddness or weirdness at any of the classes I did, except for that one time a student left the classroom door open and a very conservative young man was walking by and got an eyeful. Usually the professor turned on a little space heater for me and mostly I got to sit or lay down.

 2. I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic when I was 19 years old and a first year nursing student. The funny thing was, I was in the middle of studying pathophysiology in school and we were just at the section on diabetes. All the symptoms  (dry mouth, fatigue, needing to pee A LOT, etc) that I was reading about in my text book, applied to me but I didn’t put it together. I thought it was so odd but I actually didn’t connect the dots until after the fact when I went to the GP thinking I had a UTI. No lady, you have type 1 diabetes.

3. I met my husband on the internet, before it was a legit thing to talk openly about. This was back in  2001 and people did not openly meet people on the internet and talk about it. It was much more acceptable to say you met your fellow at a club or a bar than on line. We will have been married for 9 years next month, so I am guessing this would make it an ‘internet dating success’.

4. I have a very small extended family because both of my parents are only children and so we grew up with no first cousins, aunts/uncles, etc. My grandparents were older and 3/4 died while I was still in my childhood, so I don’t really have many memories of growing up with them in my life. I have 2 sisters and we were a family of 5 with usually 2 cats. I love that my kids have lots of cousins that they can see on a somewhat regular basis and that they get to celebrate birthdays/holidays together.

5. I have one black tattoo that is a symbol for ‘health’ that I got back when I was 18 and heading into nursing school. While I don’t regret it, I don’t love it anymore. It’s on my right shoulder and most of the time I forget I have it until someone points it out. My husband told me to go and get it revamped into something I really love but I am still debating what I would really love to cover it up with.

 

In usual blog meme fashion, I tag the following 5 bloggers to complete this challenge: Mitzi from East Van Baby,  Alicia from A Grateful Disaster, Jenny from Ruminating Mommy, Laura from Navigating The Mothership and Helen from Loquacious Family . So ladies, blog away and tell us 5 random things about yourself!

I never set an end date to when I would stop nursing my youngest. I had set a previous goal of 2 years and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could nurse her till 2!’. Then she turned 2 and we just kept on going one day at a time. Right from the very first latch  back in January 2012, we were so fortunate to never have a breastfeeding mountain to climb. No cracked nipples, no bouts of mastitis, no nursing strikes or stressful challenges. We had an easy uneventful nursing relationship for 2 years and 8 months.

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In the 2 years and 8 months that I nursed Josephine I never had a negative experience with the outside world. People would find out we were still going strong in the breastfeeding department and never said an unkind word. I am SURE that some people might have thought it, ‘oh wow..that kid is sure old to be breastfeeding!’, but no one ever challenged me or made me feel weird. Maybe because they knew that I would have some statistic or research study to toss their way or that I’d write a blog post about my negative experience.

I always wondered how it would work to wean a toddler. As many people know, breastfeeding is not just about getting milk and filling up tummies. It is so much more and that ‘so much more’ is a huge part of breastfeeding a toddler. The comfort, the routine, the meditation that comes from those quiet moments together. That is what we were weaning from, not the actual milk. I knew that eventually she would stop breastfeeding and so I never felt rushed or pressured to cut her off.

Back in the summer when we hit our 2.5 year mark, I talked with some lactation consultant friends and hummed and hawed about how we would finish off our nursing relationship. I really had a hard time thinking that she would just choose to end it because it really was such a big part of her world and our everyday life. We had this lovely dream like set up where each morning she’d come into my room, climb into my warm bed and we would cuddle and nurse and I’d half doze and we were in a little bubble together.

Back in October my husband started taking Josie out in the mornings to go walk the dog. Often they would walk to the local coffee shop and share some fun moments over hot chocolate. Soon she started to choose her daddy dog walks over coming into nurse and the process of weaning began. There was no force, no negativity and if she chose to nurse, it still happened. Soon, each time she chose to nurse started getting further and further apart. Until one day I realized it had been over a week, then it was 2 weeks and then I realized we were done. Just like that.

Recently I took the kids out of town to go and visit my parents. Most of the time when we have slept over, Josie would end up coming into the big bed with me at some point in the night and nurse herself back to sleep and cuddle and nurse. This time around, she called out, like she always does when we stay over night there, and came into my big bed. In her mostly sleepy mode she tried to go into to nurse but a half a second later she realized what she was doing (old habits!) and snuggled into the warmth of my body and fell back to sleep.josiesmiling

I feel proud that we had a nursing relationship for her first 2 years and 8 months. I am so happy that it was a positive experience and that breastfeeding is a normal thing in our household. I’m positive that when I’m 80 years old I will have these bliss like memories of nursing my babies and I love that.

 

Sweater Weather

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November 5, 2014 // Pure Mama

Did you hear? There will be no gingerbread latte from Starbucks for us West Coasters this year. The lack of ginger and molasses will be disappointing but I’m sure I’ll get over it or at least replace it with something else. Maybe I’ll get my hands on of those soft chunky knit sweaters that scream It’s FALLLLLL!’?  Recently I saw a lady out walking in my neighbourhood and she was wearing this gorgeous light grey sweater and she looked so perfectly cozy and instantly I had sweater envy.

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I definitely need to get into the spirit of sweater weather and find a few new pull overs to add to my wardrobe. I have plenty of button up or layering sweaters, but I’m lacking in that comfy pull over sweater category and I definitely need to resolve this problem soon! The perfect moment is when it is dry enough outside that you can just wear your cozy knits without having to layer on a waterproof jacket or other big layers to keep warm. I am sure there is a limited amount of days like this left for us Vancouverites, so I’m choosing to just roll with it and take what I can get.

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Yesterday I was out walking the dog along the seawall and realized it was a seriously authentic Fall day out there. Massive piles of dried leaves crossed our paths wherever we went and the smell of a certain earthy/smokey/crisp fresh air scent followed us around on our walk. It wasn’t too cold and there were no rain drops to dodge, which was awesome after our recent down pour. It lead me to have a total moment where I realized this might just be the last awesome Fall day of 2014 and I was feeling so glad to be able to go for a walk with our silly dog.

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Stove top scents!

Most recently I tried to find my inner Pinterest self and found myself chopping up lemons and mixing it with cinnamon sticks in a pot of water on the stove top.  Turns out this is actually a fun little thing to do and works especially well in an apartment. However, everyone was majorly disappointed when I told them I was not in fact baking an apple crumble or some other type of dessert.

Hoping you are also embracing sweater weather and all that comes along with it!

 

 

 

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to attend Vancouver’s Circle Craft Christmas Market. It’s located right downtown at our Convention Centre and is a seriously great way to gently kick start the Christmas season. I always go with the same girlfriend and sometimes we make it a bit of a girls afternoon and add on lunch or dinner to keep the festivities flowing.

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This years market runs from November 11 to 16th and is a definite must to include on your list of Vancouver events to go to. In the past I’ve picked up lovely handmade Christmas ornaments that I got personalized. I’ve found these to be a really nice gift for anyone who had a baby celebrating their first Christmas or even for a newly married couple who are celebrating as a married couple together for the first time. I’m definitely excited to check out Zoolu Organics for their sustainable baby and kids wear. I bought Josie the sweetest purple printed owl onesie about two years ago and we loved it so much.

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I’ve got 2 tickets to give to one reader! Winner will be drawn via Rafflecopter November 6th. If you don’t win and still want to go, you can buy tickets on line at www.circlecraft.net  and before November 11th you get a $2 discount.

 

 

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I get a kick out of looking back at old Halloween photos of my kids dressed up in their costumes. Seeing them so little and growing up all while wearing cute costumes, I kind of love that sort of thing. I usually let the kids pick what kind of costume they want, which makes looking back all the more cool.

Seeing what they were passionate about and interested in at the time is awesome.  Ben was super big into Batman when he was 4 and he wore his Halloween Batman costume so much he literally wore it out. This year Ben decided on a few different costumes before he felt really passionate about being a blue Power Ranger and our little Josie chose to be DJ Lance from the show Yo Gabba Gabba. We totally went with their picks and loved that Josie chose a dude.

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On the morning of the big day we had already had a fun time dressing up for Ben’s school costume party and local trick or treat with his class. We used some dress up clothes from our bin and for our first go around Ben was a knight and Josie wore his old hamburger costume. Apparently a 2 year old in a hamburger costume is hilarious and cute as we got stopped by almost all of the grade 6 and  7 girls at the school. However, they all thought Josie was a boy but she didn’t care!

This afternoon, while it was still light out, my kids joined many other little city kids and went around the Yaletown shops and collected candy and treats. They were thrilled about their haul and came home and dumped out all the candy and made trades accordingly. I let them indulge in a bunch of treats and they handed off a few select treats to their dad.

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By the evening both of them were already talking about what they were going to be next year! Apparently Halloween is a big event in their young lives and I totally love that. Lucky for me, the 2 big trick or treat walks around the city tired out my kids and both of them were fast asleep before 7:30 PM. Crazy and amazing.

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Happy Halloween! How many treats did you secretly sneak from your kids stash so far?!

I love getting personal mail from my readers and I recently got an email asking me about gestational diabetes and pregnancy. So, why ask a blogger? I’m not just a blogger but I’m also an experienced labour and delivery nurse AND a type 1 diabetic who has had babies, so  I’ve got a bit of street cred on the topic.

During a woman’s pregnancy she will be screened for gestational diabetes. Pregnant women can ultimately choose to decline the testing for diabetes in pregnancy, however, I am FOR the screening of diabetes in pregnancy. Despite the yucky drink that all you ladies have to chug, I feel that knowing if you have diabetes in your pregnancy is vital for your own health and the health of the baby you are growing.
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The letter was from a lady whose ‘surrogate’ daughter  was pregnant and recently found out she screened positive for gestational diabetes:

Dear Mama in the City,

We support a lady who is struggling with gestational diabetes for the first time. She is in her 3rd pregnancy but this is the first time she has had diabetes. She attended a group session at the diabetes clinic the other day, and is starting to track her blood sugar levels but has so many questions! My question is, could you give her some practical advice about maintaining her sugar levels and not feeling hungry all the time?

Truthfully, I could write at length about living with type 1 diabetes and being pregnant but for this topic I decided to reach out to 3 different mamas who all had gestational diabetes in their own pregnancies (PS. all 3 of them are also maternity nurses). The reality of getting a new disease diagnosed while pregnant can really rattle you and challenge your every day.

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When I was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes I struggled with the thoughts that my body had failed me.  I won’t lie, I cried for the first week after my diagnosis. Everything seemed very overwhelming but within a few weeks I was testing my blood sugar 6 times a day and giving myself insulin twice a day. I ate what they told me to and walked after every meal like the education clinic recommended.  After tracking things, it did not take long to see what foods/meals spiked my sugars and which did I not.

I felt that the endocrinologist and the diabetic clinic I went to were excellent. They explained how diet and exercise effected my diabetes, how to do blood sugar readings, and then later how use my insulin pen. The nurse was a kind and understanding women and made a difference with how I accepted my new diagnosis. Although I am also a nurse and I give a lot of  needles at work, I would still break out in a sweat whenever I had to poke my finger or give myself an insulin injection!

As the size of my belly increased so did my insulin requirements. My brain understood that increasing insulin meant that my placenta was working well, but I could never seem to stop cringing when my endocrinologist said I needed to increase my insulin dose again.

My biggest tip would be….Peanut Butter!  I love peanut butter on a good day but nothing was better than a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a glass of cold milk as a bed time snack.  A perfect protein/carb that would keep me feeling full and keep my sugars level.

-Cheri, mom to 1 year old Katie

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The biggest challenge with being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was having to accept that I actually had diabetes! I was an athlete who did professional level competitions, I ate healthy foods, and never even considered that  I was at risk for diabetes in my pregnancy. I spent most of the pregnancy in denial and I even argued with my doctor over the validity of the diagnosis. How could I be a diabetic?

It took awhile but I eventually accepted that I had gestational diabetes. Initially I blamed myself that it was something I had done, or maybe something I had not done.

For my pregnancy, despite doing what I needed to do with blood sugar testing, my sugars never stabilized during the pregnancy. I really felt like I was doing everything I was “supposed to” be doing but I never really  felt like I really figured it all out. I struggled with my diabetes until the birth of my son. Once the placenta was delivered, my gestational diabetes story was over.

For me, I felt like the only thing that really helped was seeing my sweet baby boy born healthy and well. He was also not the 10+lbs they predicted!

-Krista, mom to 11 month old Westley

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I was very surprised when I first got diagnosed with diabetes in my pregnancy. I actually  did the test twice because I just did not believe the first results. However, the second bloood test was even higher so it was true. I had gestational diabetes.

I had already healthy eating habits before pregnancy and I also exercised regularly, so when I was diagnosed I just did more of the same. The only thing I wasn’t used to was the snacking that my diabetes nurse recommended to help me stabilize my blood sugars. For me, the finger pokes were not as bad as I imagined! However, cutting out sweets was really hard as I was craving so many sweet things after I was diagnosed.

In my pregnancy I controlled my diabetes just with diet and exercise, so it wasn’t too bad. What really helped me stabilize my blood sugars was the snacking between meals, cutting out the white carbs and going for a walk after meals help keep my sugars normal. What helped me survive having diabetes during pregnancy was meal planning and making sure to have lots of healthy snacks on hand so I didn’t reach for the sugary stuff I was craving. It was hard for me as I never had to watch what I eat before and I ended up really sympathizing with everyone that has diabetes after my experience.

-Aye, mom to Kianna 1 year old

I hope that these personal stories will help someone out there who is learning how to cope with their own gestational diabetes. Bottom line, support is important when it comes to diabetes and all you can do is your best. A big thank you to the three mothers who shared their personal stories!

Did you have gestational diabetes in your pregnancy?

M.I.T.C is MIA??

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October 27, 2014 // Pure Mama

Well, hello old friend! I’m dusting off the blog and I’m getting those creative writing juices flowing. I’ve seriously missed you all and while my ‘Mama in the City’ Facebook page is fantastic at keeping our interactions close and connected, it’s not the same as having you read my words over here. The thing is I’ve had a bit of writers block and every time I went to sit down and write out an amazing blog post, it would crumble and turn into nothing worth sharing. Instead of pushing it and churning out crap (just because I wanted a new post) I decided I deserved to take a break and so I did.

I think after 5 plus years of blogging it’s normal to get a bit of a creativity block and feel a lack of inspiration when it comes to writing. I’ve been looking through some of my old posts and I’m really enjoying reading through them and seeing what a then 2 year old Ben got up to in the city and what our baby Josie was like when she was just teeny tiny. This blog is seriously their modern day baby books and I love that so much.

I’ve also really missed writing about the topics that get me feeling excited like birth and breastfeeding and babies. On some nights when insomnia found me I’d create the most amazing posts about these topics, but they were all in my head and when it was time for morning to come they had dissolved and were mere one liners in my memory.

I want to write. I’ve missed it and I feel like the juices are starting to simmer and flow and I’m ready. I just hope you are still around to read!

I totally get that sensory play is important for kids and it’s also really fun! We’ve made homemade play dough, bought store bought play dough and tried out those little tiny sticky balls that stick together and hold shapes.  I started hearing about this newish product that was suppose to be ah-mazing and a really great substitute for play dough/rice/sand tables.

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Apparently this stuff didn’t dry up and it was non toxic and super easy to clean up. People raved about how easy it was to clean up! I was hooked and went on line and searched for a set of Sands Alive and bought the biggest set possible for the kids. Here is the excerpt from Sands Alive that I totally ate up.

“Bring all the fun of the sandbox indoors with Sands Alive! Easily make and mould shapes, patterns or creative sculptures with this unique indoor play sand. The texture of Sands Alive is similar to cookie dough, but completely dry to the touch. Mould it into hard durable shapes and with a soft touch, it will break apart and appear to move! This product a parent tested, parent approved award winner, and is water-soluble, 100% non-toxic and anti-bacterial”.

Let me tell you the truth, Sands Alive is what it promises in the above description. It does feel like cookie dough, it does mould into shapes and it is completely dry. However, it also tracks all through your home and onto the tiny feet of the children playing with it. After the first couple play sessions with Sands Alive I was cursing it and the tiny white splotches that I found everywhere. Ground into the carpet, mushed into the grooves of the hardwood floor, slathered onto the clothing of the kids. Heaven forbid if they wore cords while playing with it! Just imagine tiny white stuff melded into each groove of the cords.

My kids do love playing with it but I absolutely hate the clean up and the mess that comes with it. I would much rather make a batch of homemade play dough than clean up Sands Alive from the entire apartment. It’s pretty amazing how a short play session can track so much Sands Alive through out the entire 1200 sqf of our condo.

Yesterday morning I foolishly decided to take it out from the storage room for the kids to play with. They were all ready for school and we had a bit of time to play before we had to leave for school. They loved it and were playing so nicely together. In that moment, I didn’t care about the bits of white fluffy stuff that I saw landing at their feet!

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Fast forward about 5 minutes and I soon realized the school boy needed a completely new outfit and I had a mega mess to clean up. It also got on the bottoms of Josie’s feet and she walked about the dark wood floor leaving tiny little foot prints and a Hansel and Gretel type of trail from the area they had played in, into the bathroom, into the bedroom and then back down the hall.

I  am officially done with the stuff! I’ve packed it up and, since it isn’t suppose to dry out or go bad, I think it will sit in the storage room until I have a moment of insanity and drag it out for a total gong show of a sensory play time. Do I think you should run out and buy a case of this stuff…no, not really. However, if you find out a friend has some then definitely go over and let your kids have fun mushing it through their fingers and tracking it through their home. Your kids will absolutely love it and your friend will remember why they too had put it away.