Saturday, May 3, 2014

Memory Lane

Two things this week have brought back some fond memories of when my kids were little. The first was my weekly trip to Hofstede's Country Barn in nearby Chilliwack. I was surprised to see a bin of fiddleheads along with the more regular vegetable offerings like eggplant, broccoli and carrots.


Even more surprising than seeing the fiddleheads for sale was seeing what they cost. (I'm going to refrain from going off topic and discussing that apostrophe.)


Who would pay this for something you can go out and pick for free in the local woods? I took some pictures and texted them to Karsten and Kellen, telling them they had missed out on a business opportunity when they were younger.

For the best part of their childhood years, the ones where they were old enough to be outside on their own but not yet so old I had to force them out the door for fresh air, we lived in a log house in the woods. It was a truly amazing property, and if you asked the boys where their best childhood memories are based this is the place they would name. (The girls were too young when we lived there to remember very much about it, and we hadn't yet adopted David.)

And if you asked them what their favourite activity was when we lived there I'm pretty sure they would both say Fiddlehead Wars. It was one of those elaborately concocted childhood schemes that had spoken and unspoken rules. It basically boiled down to flinging the ferns at each other in such a way that they would sting when they hit the other person. Early spring was the best time for the game because the stick part of the newly sprouted ferns packed way more punch than the later full grown ones. The reason I told the boys they had missed a business opportunity is because they would pop off the curled heads like the ones you see in the picture above - the ones they are charging $14.99/lb for - and throw them on the forest floor since the ferns launched better without them.

The second thing that brought back a flood of memories has to do with pandas. When Karsten was little he had a stuffed panda that he loved. It went everywhere with him, and by the time he outgrew it, it was a rather pathetic looking creature. Over the years I sewed numerous eyes back on and replaced the mouth multiple times. It had matted fur, and the stuffing had congealed into oddly placed lumps dotted around the bear's body. His feelings for Panda were very much a case of love being blind.

Just before last Christmas I was in IKEA and saw they had some panda bears. Now, I had made a vow to myself that I wouldn't buy Lucy a bazillion stuffed animals, but I couldn't seem to stop myself. This panda was soft and cute and, best of all, washable. I thought of Karsten as a little boy and how much he loved his Panda and thought he would appreciate the gesture if I bought one for Lucy. Now I didn't for a minute think Lucy would take to this panda the way Karsten had taken to his. It turns out I was wrong.


She loves her Panda every bit as much as her dad loved his. In fact, she loves it so much that she won't go to sleep without it. A decision was made. Spare pandas needed to be purchased as back-ups. Yesterday I came home from IKEA with an embarrassment of pandas. There's one to stay here, one for their car, and two "just in case."


Here they are, joined by the Panda that started it all.


Panda has been given a bath and as soon as he is dry I will put him back in the drawer where he now lives.


But before I do that I think I'll look for some black felt and sew on a new nose. :-)

55 comments:

  1. How lovely that Lucy loves her Panda so much!! Great idea to have some spares as those soft toy stresses can be pretty upsetting can't they. I hope that all of the pandas have long and happy lives! xx

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    1. Yes, there's nothing worse than thinking your child's comfort toy or blanket has been lost. These pandas at IKEA were only $3.99 each, so it seemed like fairly cheap insurance. :-)

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  2. We once were flying through Ohare Airport in Chicago, and our pre-school daughter discovered she had left home without a bear. Oh, the agony! We therefore purchased "Ohare Bear", who was loved for years.

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    1. I'm glad you were able to provide a replacement that your daughter liked. More than once on the drive from Nelson to Vancouver for medical appointments, a nine hour journey over three mountain passes, Alexandra discovered she had left her blankie at home. Usually we weren't too far down the road when she made the discovery, but still, to have to turn around and drive back when we knew we had so many miles ahead of us used to be so frustrating. But there was no way we could do the trip without it. :-)

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  3. The Panda tradition is adorable. I have never eaten a fiddlehead....what do they taste like?

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    1. I've never eaten one either, but I think they are supposed to taste a bit like asparagus. If you click on the link for fiddleheads at the beginning of the post it will take you to a Canadian Living article on how to cook them. Let me know if you get brave and try them out!

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  4. That's is just so sweet that she loves here panda just as much, I love the look of the old love panda.

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    1. I know, I couldn't believe it when Karsten texted me that picture of her asleep with it. And I have to admit I have a soft spot for that old, original panda too.

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  5. My girls had their favourite, for Beck it was Eddy a "rabbit" made by a colleague of my father. He got a spare for her which never really was accepted. Eddy has been repaired and patched over the years and still sits on her bed. Rachel's favourite was a tasselled pram blanket "Bally" who has remained a firm favourite over the years, she has been travelling all over the world with her, until the fear of losing her became so great that she was allowed to stay with us for safe keeping. This also lives on her pillow and she still takes it to bed. She's 32!

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    1. That's so funny, Sue! My 23 year old daughter still sleeps with her blankie too! I can't wait to tell her she's not alone. And, like Rachel, Alexandra used to take her blanket with her when she went places, but now she leaves hers at home too out of fear of it going missing. It's a good idea, since it looks like a rag and if she left it anywhere someone who found it would immediately throw it in the garbage.

      That's interesting that your other daughter never accepted the spare rabbit. I wondered if the same thing could happen with the spare pandas, so suggested to Diana that she switch them out frequently so they all get the same amount of wear.

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  6. I have never seen or eaten a fiddlehead but will look out for them next time I go for a walk. Maybe this fern grows in my part of the world, too. We had puppies, monkeys and rabbits instead of pandas but you are so right, best to have a few spare ones. Sam lost his puppy when he was four and luckily I had a spare one (introduced as MY puppy), which I offered to "share" with him. He still has it, and little puppy. He is 13. For the little boys, I knitted monkeys and I can make cousins if I need to. Lucy is adorable! And Karsten's panda reminds me of Richard's teddy, Gung.

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    1. You were very fortunate that Sam accepted the spare puppy. If you read Sue's comment above yours you will see it doesn't always work that way!

      I'm not sure if the same fern grows in Scotland. It might. You need to find it at just the right moment. They only stay curled up like that for a couple days. If you click on the link for fiddleheads in the post it will take you to a site that tells you how to cook them. Good luck fiddlehead hunting!

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  7. Oh this post just warmed my heart. My oldest was in love with Elmo, but it was a particular Elmo, I ended up buying three of them, they all look pretty ratty and he was able to tell if I switched them out. My youngest loved Laa-Laa the teletubby, again many were purchased and loved to bits.
    Such sweet memories. Lucy is darling hugging her bear.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. Isn't that amazing that he could tell when you switched them out? I suggested to Diana that she start switching them out now so they all get the same amount of wear. We definitely think alike, having bought multiples of the toy we could see them attaching themselves to. Does Little Buddy have a favourite?

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  8. My childhood teddy was also a panda, called Charlie. I still have him and he was my daughter's in turn. He's still in her room somewhere, along with Kanga and Roo (based on Winnie the Pooh). Her absolute favourite was "Narney", one of the Bananas in Pyjamas. Many was the time we turned around to retrieve him, from home outward bound, or from my Mum's on the return journey.

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    1. I can sure empathize with the frustration of having to turn around to retrieve Narney. Karsten was very good about his panda, but my daughter Alexandra was a nightmare about her blankie. Many, many times we turned back to get it. We were usually only a few miles down the road when the discovery was made that it didn't get packed, but it could be so frustrating when we had a nine hour drive ahead of us. I love it that you also had a panda!

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  9. My son was a panda boy and had had his from the day he was born. When he got married I rummaged around in our loft, found him, washed him, pegged him out to dry, gave him a nice bright new ribbon and left him on the back seat of my son and daughter in law's wedding car as a good luck charm for their marriage.
    Your panda army is brilliant and such a great idea to keep a spare, there's nothing sadder than when a child leaves his precious bear behind.
    I have never heard of fiddleheads so really enjoyed reading about them.

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    1. That was such a great idea to do with his panda on his wedding day! I bet he was surprised when he found it in the back seat! :-)

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  10. That much loved old Panda, what a heart breaker! And ditto the much loved new Panda and her sweet little owner.

    Bobbie was a hedgehog girl, took her hedgehog everywhere, until one day he was lost, left in a shop we think. I didn't have a spare to smuggle in, that never worked for me - you do realise that Lucy will recognise the interlopers, they'll smell different - anyway, we expected a complete breakdown on Bobbie's part, sleepless nights, the lot. But when she realised that Hedgehog was lost in town she said, 'Oh, he was probably flatted by a car' - she was three - and that was the last time Hedgehog was ever mentioned. Nothing so complex as kids!

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    1. Okay, I just choked on my tea. I can't believe she said he had probably been flattened! You're right, there's nothing so complex as kids.

      Diana will have to take measures to outsmart Lucy so she accepts the spare bears. I suggested switching them out frequently right at the start.

      By the way, the only hedgehog I have seen in the wild was a flattened one on a road in the Scottish Highlands. I even have a picture. :-)

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  11. I didn't realise that you could eat those fern heads.....there were plenty in both Scotland and France, but I don't know if they were the same variety...onto the internet to check it out...
    You'd like hedgehogs...we had plenty in the garden...but the noise they make n the mating season is something else!

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    1. It would be interested in hearing if they are the same ferns. If so, you missed a culinary opportunity! Hedgehogs are adorable. I have wanted to spot a wild one when I've been in the UK, but so far no luck. The only one I have seen was flat as a pancake on the road.

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  12. Holy cats! That's an outrageous price for fiddleheads! Time to take better care of those I have growing wild around here - might make a good second income if that is what people are paying for them! I usually blanche and freeze several pounds of them about this time of year.
    The Panda reminds me of Pooh. My son had a Winnie the Pooh toy that he received when he was born. Pooh went everywhere with us. When he was three, we moved to China. Pooh came with us and traveled through Asia, and made a trip to Australia and back too. But one day, we took a short trip to Hong Kong and my son "put Pooh to bed" in a shoe box while we were packing everything for the flight home. We figure Pooh was tossed out with the shoebox.....needless to say, there were tears and sleepless nights until family in Canada could ship him a new Pooh bear. So glad to know that Lucy likes her Panda - the photo is adorable.

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    1. That's what I thought, Alison. I couldn't believe it when I saw what they were charging. I can't believe anyone would buy them at that price. What do you do with the frozen fiddleheads - do they go into soups and stews, or do you have them as a stand alone vegetable?

      That must have been an awful moment when you realized Pooh was gone. I'm glad your family was able to send him a new Pooh bear. :-)

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    2. I usually have fiddleheads as a standalone vegetable. They could certainly be added to soup or stew but treat them as you would green beans or asparagus I.e. don't cook them too long or they get mushy. As for taste, they are like a cross between asparagus and brocolli. If you ever find some at a more reasonable price give them a try.

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    3. It sounds like I have been missing out on a great vegetable! I love both asparagus and broccoli.

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  13. Darn - I was in Ottawa on Friday - if I'd known about those pandas at Ikea I would have been seriously tempted! I had a wee panda when I was little, too, which I had forgotten all about until I read this post. He was threadbare and missing half an ear (he was probably a hand-me-down from two elder sisters) but was well-loved nonetheless. Thanks for sparking a fond memory!

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    1. Hopefully they will still have them next time you go to Ottawa. They are unbelievably nice bears, especially considering they only cost $3.99. I'm glad I was able to bring back some cherished memories from your childhood. :-)

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  14. Fiddlehead Wars! I remember you mentioning them on my post about weeds we used as spears. Bringing Fiddleheads to market must be pretty labor intensive, considering the price.

    Pandas are so cute, the perfect side-kick for Lucy. Keep an eye on the one at the far left in the pictures--he looks like he's up to something! :)

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    1. Ha! I thought that panda looked a bit sketchy too. :-)

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  15. Big smile on my face seeing that old intrepid panda next to his quadruplet cousins!!

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    1. He made me smile too when I got him out for the picture. He might not be as handsome as the others, but he definitely has a lot of character. :-)

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  16. Good thinking on the multiple pandas. Ikea cuddlies are so good, and I wonder why babies are so drawn to pandas in particular - could it be the black and white sketchy face?
    We had a similar problem in grandaughter's babyhood with a giraffe called Gerald - she ended up with three, after one got lost in the street, and wasn't found for some time - it was propped up in a shop window, hoping to be claimed. Now she knows there are three. and it doesn't really matter too much, since she is a big girl starting school in the autumn.

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    1. This is the first IKEA toy I've bought and I'm very impressed! Who would have thought being the experts at flat packs would translate into being able to make such great stuffed animals! :-)

      That's interesting that your granddaughter knows there are three Geralds. I was wondering whether or not we should keep the spare pandas a secret. I'm afraid Lucy would want to play with all of them at the same time if she knew they existed. Does your granddaughter play with all three of her stuffed giraffes at the same time?

      And your theory about the black and white face being the reason pandas are so popular with children sounds good to me. :-)

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    1. This makes me smile! There are so many of us who have saved our children's favourite stuffed animal or blanket, and a fair number of the animals seem to be pandas. :-)

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  18. What a nice post, Kristie. I have never eaten fiddleheads but I hear they're good in salads. Your boys could have done a land-office business. Maybe it's not too late, if that's the going price for them! It's wonderful to read about your memories of the past. I often stop myself and make myself try to remember things I'm doing with my children. Photos help, and blogging helps too, but I think the feelings are the most important thing to capture. I love the pandas! How sweet. The old guy looks terrific. My husband and I both have some of our childhood stuffed animals around the house and the kids have always enjoyed playing with them. I'm glad we held onto them all this time because they're happy and our kids like them too.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! It's hard to stop and take the time to really "enjoy the moment" when you have young children. Life is so busy - you are very wise to be aware that it's important to capture some of the feelings as they are growing up. Your blog does a wonderful job of doing just that!

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  19. I have never heard of fiddleheads before, did you used to eat them too? How lovely to see Lucy has followed her Dad's love of Panda's. That's a good idea having some back up's. When I was young I lost my teddy bear on a bus my sister told me that they had dreadful problems finding a replacement! Sarah x

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    1. I've never actually eaten them, Sarah. Now I want to give them a try. If they cost that much, they have to be good, right? :-)

      Were you old enough to remember losing the teddy bear? It must have been traumatic for everyone involved.

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  20. I only recently found out why my peonies never had many blooms on them when my boys were young--they used the buds as missiles to throw at each other! You are a terrific grandma to make sure Lucy is well-stocked in Pandas! I just bought a very large lamb for my granddaughter--the kind you can lie on top of--but she won't be able to use it at least for a year since she's not ever a month old yet! If I waited to buy it, I'm sure I'd never see one like it again....so you were very smart to buy 4 more pandas. I just dug up and transplanted about 2 dozen ferns, but I don't think they are Ostrich ferns. Is that the only kind that are edible?

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    1. That's hilarious, Cathy! Although, had you known at the time that was why they didn't have any blooms I'm sure you wouldn't have found it very funny. I love how these stories of our children's escapades come out as they get older. :-)

      I hope you post a picture of the lamb on your blog. I would love to see it! I'm sure your'e right. Had you waited until she was old enough, you probably wouldn't have found it again. You're a smart grandma!

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    2. My son sees my Blog so if I do post it I'll not say who it's for. :-) I'll have to think of some clever way to work it into one of my posts.

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  21. It's surprising what triggers off memories isn't it. I've never heard of fiddle heads before either. I love those pandas and so nice to see Lucy loves her pandas as her dad did. Lovely post Kristie.
    Patricia x

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    1. Thanks Patricia! I have to admit I'm really happy she loves her panda so much!

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  22. The picture of the well loved panda with the new ones is a perfect example of the Velveteen Rabbit principle. The old one is alive! Lucy's will become so as well. Better start swapping them out soon though, maybe it is the smell or the texture, but children are very discerning.

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    1. Great suggestion, Sarah! I will tell Diana to be sure to start trading them off frequently so Lucy doesn't get suspicious. :-)

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  23. What a cute panda story.
    And I didn't know you could eat fiddleheads... Hmmm, need to check that out ;)

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    1. I hope you are able to find some local fiddleheads where you live, Hege. You are a bit behind us in the arrival of spring, so you would still have time to harvest some. Here it is too late already. The ferns have opened up.

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  24. Boy, that is one well-loved panda, both the new one and the old one. :-) A lovely post, Kristie, which conjured up some very happy memories of beloved soft toys, both small and very large. I'm another who had never heard of fiddleheads and I share your shock at the price charged for something which just grows wild. I suppose those people who are cash-rich but time-poor don't mind paying.

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    1. I'm glad I was able to bring back some happy memories for you, Perpetua. :-)

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  25. I had to laugh at the buying of the backup pandas! When my daughter was little, she took to a "Baby Puffalump" that she dragged everywhere and refused to sleep without. We only had one until the night we couldn't find "Puffy" and she cried and cried and no one slept. The original was never found but one of the backups did disappear for at least a year. To this day, I don't know where she had it hidden, but eventually, I found her sitting on the floor with two of them instead of one. Good memories!

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    1. That's funny! You must have been very surprised when you saw her sitting there with both Puffalumps. :-)

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  26. Oh what a cute bunch of panda's, I love that the collective term is "an embarrassment"!
    I had to google fiddleheads, I've never heard of them, so I've learnt something today.

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    1. I liked that name too, and it seemed very fitting since I was rather embarrassed when I went through the check-out at IKEA with four of them in my cart!

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