friday favourites

The Bay Road is open! The Bay Road is open! Which means diddly squat to anyone who does live or work in close proximity to the Armdale Roundabout, but HOLY. The construction started in July and was supposed to wrap up at Thanksgiving (Canadian, not American). Waiting an extra six weeks makes this day feel extra exciting. Hooray for fewer traffic headaches (in theory)!

Report cards: I know this makes me an uber-nerd, but I am so excited when report cards come out! I love that extra insight into how the kids are doing when I’m no with them. We were very pleased with the feedback we received — lots of things they’re both excelling at (Jacob got an A in math, which he completely gets from Dad, and the wee one is a super duper routine and rule follower — who knew?!) and things to work on, too (Jacob says it’s especially hard to raise his hand on Mondays during sharing time because he always has so much to say about his weekend, which he completely gets from Mama).

You’ve already heard it all but: Yay, royal wedding! I was at home with my mudder when Prince William married Princess Kate. We also watched Princess Diana’s funeral together. Looks like I may need to make a special trip in N.B. in spring 2018. Bring on the fascinators!

It’s December 1 … and I don’t do Elf on the Shelf. And if you do, that’s totally cool. I however, feel relieved that I do not have to remember that daily. I would surely have a nervous breakdown.

222688_A_STYLSmells of the season: Have I ever told you how much I love my Saje diffuser? I got a small one as an entry-level investment, but I’m definitely going to invest in a bigger one eventually because love it so much. After the Rain is my favourite scent so far, but I just picked up a seasonal pack of oils with pine, peppermint and cinnamon that I can’t wait to fire up this weekend now that it’s officially December.

Happy Friday! xo

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a picture’s worth a thousand words ..

… but I’m sorry, it’s not worth a thousand boxes in my basement.

A while back, I shared our DIY hallway art gallery project, which prompted a message from a friend (Hi, Pari!) who wanted to know how we then archive all of that artwork. If you asked the kids, they’d want a shrine built for every single piece. I get it. They’ve put their little hearts into each creative piece and they’d never want to see it hit the blue bag.

Here are three cardinal rules: 

  1. Don’t discard any artwork during daytime hours. You will get caught.
  2. Don’t put it in the recycling bag. When you’re taking out the recycling, you will get caught.
  3. When you get caught, lie. Practice your genuine “Oh my goodness, how did that get in there?!” face. You will need it.

And I don’t mean to sound heartless. I truly love their creations. But my kids are hard-core artists. In an hour of crafting on my dining room table, I can be gifted with six or eight original works. That’s not even counting all that comes home from school.

Here five curated conditions for what stays and what goes:

  1. Have they ever made something else just like this? Is it a coloured picture ripped out of colouring book that looks more or less the same as the last 391 pictures coloured ripped from a colouring book? Buh-bye. By the same token, if it’s super cool or unique, keep it (like Sidney Crosby’s dented dryer).
  2. Does this reflect their best work? For example, did they start to do something quite creative, but quit half-way through and move onto another project? Anything unfinished gets pitched.
  3. Did your child actually create this or was it gifted to them at their after-school program and brought home in his backpack? This is important as no one has room to store other kids’ stuff.
  4. Is it 3D? Is it going to be smushed to oblivion and therefore unrecognizable the next time you look at it? I’m not saying you can’t keep anything that isn’t flat (like my epic paper-mache plant cell from Grade 9, on which I was the only one to earn 100%, but both of my parents had to help me finish it the night before, and, let’s be real, the teacher probably STILL has it in his classroom 18 years later because it was awesome), but consider the storing logistics. If there’s macaroni glued to it, that macaroni is going to fall off, guaranteed.
  5. Does it give you the feels? If your kid presents you with something that doesn’t seem so awesome, but says something that makes you want to cry when he hands it to you. Keep that.

Which leads me to a little piece of advice: date everything. Include the kids’ ages too because you may not want to do the mental math in 25 years’ time to figure out how old they were when they created such a masterpiece. And if something super sweet happened when it was created or given, take a minute to write a note on the back to remind yourself later. When we were new parents, we thought we’d remember all of those moments forever, but we’re tired and absent minded and our perfect children do 8,000 amazing things a day and then cover over half of those memories by doing 4,000 infuriating things a day. You won’t remember, so write it down.

How we store it

We have four matching totes in our basement storage room. These totes are clear on the bottom so we can easily see what’s inside and each is labeled with one of our names. These are our memory boxes. M and I don’t tend to make additions to ours, but they are basically full anyway with yearbooks, diplomas and other mementos from our academic years, cards and romantic tokens from the early stages of our relationship (did I mention we haven’t added much in recent years? ha!), photos and the odd cassette tape. That sort of thing.

The kids’ boxes are lined with their baby items — the outfit they wore on their way home from the hospital, their first favourite story books, their birth announcements and some of their earliest photos. From there, we start the pile of artwork. This is also intermingled with certificates (Congratulations on successful completion of the school bus safety course!) and some sports participation medals.

When I sort through the artwork that is hung in the hallway, the pile first goes to a purgatory-style place I like to call “the junk drawer.” It goes here because I am often too lazy to go down to the basement and open the bin and deposit said pile. When the drawer starts to jam, I’m forced to go get the bin. Another tip: bring the bin to a comfy spot like the couch because you’ll never just dump and run — you’ll open it and remember all of the goodness of the baby days and dig through that whole tub of nostalgia. Plan at least 30 minutes. Oh, and one more tip: while you’re there, if you discover anything that makes you think, “Why did I keep this?” chuck it. If you don’t know why it’s there now, you’ll never know in 25 years.

I hope this is helpful — thanks for asking, Pari! If you need me, I’ll be sniffing a onesie and reading Kisses Kisses Baby O by heart.

the wee one turned five

It came as no surprise when Isaac asked for a rock themed birthday party. The kid is a life-long collector. There are piles and pockets of rocks (and gems and shells and other various treasures) throughout our house. He used to bring so many rocks home from daycare that I used to joke that he was going to disturb the equilibrium of the earth if he transferred any more weight from Halifax to Beaver Bank.

While it may have been a bigger deal to me than to him, this was his first real birthday party and I felt that it needed to be perfect. In past years, we’ve taken him out with one friend for a day of fun or we’ve hosted family-friend-centric gatherings, but he’s never had a big group of friends to invite. Now that he’s in primary, we got to invite – and meet – several of his new classmates. Which, again, was probably more of a novelty for his mother than for him. Regardless, I was elated. His only request? A volcano cake. Boy, does this kid know his audience. Challenge accepted.

We started the day with a Smithsonian rock and gem/dinosaur dig kit. He all but refused breakfast in favour of the tap tap tap of his new dowel and mallet.

We decorated, cleaned, frosted, planned and chopped all morning for the big event.

It was a mid-afternoon party so we didn’t require lunch, but we still put out a spread of some of Isaac’s favourite snack plate supplies, as requested.

And what would a rock party be without DIY pet rocks? Should I choose to have kids paint in my house again, I’ll line everything with garbage bags, including the children. Their finished products were pretty cool and, admittedly, worth the mess.

Dad broke out his best science-teacher self and wowed the kids with some lava-shooting volcano demonstrations.

And then, of course, the cake.

And as if the day couldn’t be any better, and because Isaac and I have a strict no-Christmas-before-our-birthdays rule, and technically his birthday was pretty much over, we piled in the Mazda two of the kids’ buddies and hit The Chronicle Herald Holiday Parade of Lights.

The only question that remains is, what will we do when he turns six?

isaac turns 5

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My wee one,

You’re not, in fact, so wee anymore. You may be the smallest in your class (or maybe even the whole school), but your larger-than-life personality precedes you wherever you go.

You’ve impressed us with how seamlessly you’ve transitioned to being a school kid. Your teachers have so many glowing things to say about you as a student and it makes us ooze with pride and sigh with relief that, so far, you feel great about jumping on the bus each day.

You plan to be a chief of police when you grow up (a fact that you often remind Jacob of when you threaten to put him in jail). I love that you don’t want to be just a cop, but you want to be the boss. You will inevitably be a leader, regardless of the job you pursue.

You’re methodical and organized. You can spend hours quietly playing alone, lining up cars and racing them down the hallway, working on a Lego or Play-doh project or reorganizing all of the treasures you’ve stashed on your book-shelf headboard. I especially love it when I hear you chatting quietly to yourself; I wish I had just half of your wild imagination.

Kid, you’re awesome. We three wouldn’t be the same without you as our fourth.

XO

 

trusting my instincts (and my eyeballs)

A galvanized “happy” sign used to hang above my sink. Then Mike painted and I decided to give it a new home. I used to have a framed print above the stove that read “but first, coffee” which is still entirely my motto, but the oily steamy goodness of my cooking stained the print so I decided I needed something heartier in that spot.

A few nights after M painted, he was still at work in the evening and I worked to put some finishing touches on the room on my own.

Hanging a sign isn’t rocket science … measure the distance you require between your nails, centre that on the wall in question, mark with pencil, hammer nails, hang.

Until you flip it over to find this:

The nail holes were not centered on the backside of the sign.

I would not be a math-teacher’s wife if I didn’t know that there is some kind of math that would’ve helped me figure out how to hang this in the right spot, but I’m way too much of a writer for that.

So, I did what my instincts told me to do. Let’s be clear, my instincts also tell me not to bother to measure spices when I cook and to not use patterns when I sew.

I only needed something to show me where to put my nails, so I picked something I felt relatively confident would not stain our new paint — the kids’ toothpaste. I blobbed it on and then, in a very un-mathematical way, I did what I do best. I eyeballed it.

And you know what? It worked like a charm.

Gotta go. HGTV is calling to give me my own show.

friday favourites

Om nom nom: Just in time for American Thanksgiving (AKA ma birthday. Well, not technically my birthday this year, but throughout my childhood the alignment almost always meant celebrating with a turkey dinner with my American fam. And then I married a dude with two U.S.-born parents so turkey day in November is kinda in our blood.), the New York Times posted this ridiculous roundup of vegetarian dishes for your turkey table and omg I’m going to make them all. Share this with all of your favourite vegetarians.

HTGAWM: This is how I text about what I’m watching because who wants to use their thumbs to type out How to Get Away with Murder? Mike and I are half-way into season two and it’s reallyyy hard not to say “just one more episode.” Damn you, Shonda.

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When-You-Know-About-Meredith-Dark-Side

earn-me

Speaking of screens: I love it when the book club read is set to become a movie so we can not only get together to gab about it, but then we get to make a movie date, too. We’re starting Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews now, which will be a Jennifer Lawrence movie in the spring.

Fa la la la la: Speaking of food, I’m knee deep in holiday baking plans. I’m getting together my fave baker-in-crime in a few weeks to do our day-long Christmas-prep extravaganza. I’ve got some ideas of new options I want to try this year, sprinkled in with old favourites like Hello Dollies, of course. What are your go-to sweets for the season? Comment to the class over on FB.

Happy Friday!

i heart a good before and after

When we moved into our house, I would’ve called our kitchen yellow.

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Then we actually painted it yellow.

Nearly six years later, the colour (and the paint) were getting a little old. And while we’ve been talking about making a change for a while, we finally had a free afternoon to browse the paint chips at Home Depot recently. Though the kids suggestions of “orange” and “rainbow” were thoroughly considered, we opted for a Behr colour called frozen pond (Yes, the name matters and, as names go, this one felt good to me. No, there’s no actual, explainable rhyme or reason as to which names are acceptable. Some just are and some just aren’t.)

So Mike donned his painting paints, and sent me away because my painting skills don’t suit his insane, type-A particular sensibilities.

The results feel like such a breath of fresh air that I might call Behr and suggest they rename this colour “fresh air.”