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


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.



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.




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.


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.”

“what day is it?”

Tv-television-clipart-free-clipart-imagesBesides wondering if it’s a school day or a stay-home day, there’s only one reason I’m asked “what day is it?” It’s usually the wee one (though now he often already knows what day it is because he’s learning these things in Primary) and he’s asking because he wants to know if it’s a screen day.

In our home, the only screen days are Friday and Saturday. It’s not just video games, but it includes TV, too. Five days per week are completely screen free. (And by completely, I mean while the kids are awake because tired parents need their Netflix, amiright?)

On Friday, we have Pizza Friday Family Movie Night religiously. (Like one time I dared to suggest we barbecue instead of pizza and I faced a three-man revolt. Lesson learned.) And the kids often like to play Wii together on Saturdays.

When we first started the screen rules, the kids would make a beeline to the Wii as soon as we got home on Friday and often first-thing in the morning on Saturday. But over time, their feeling of urgency about maximizing screen time has faded. In fact, on a recent Saturday, when the kids had spent all morning colouring, playing Lego and adventuring outside, Mike mentioned quietly, “I kinda feel bad that they’ve forgotten that they can play video games today.”

They admittedly get joy from playing Wii or watching a show, but here’s the thing. The kids are cranky when they’ve had too much screen time. They argue with each other (and us) more, they listen less, they forget their manners more and they’re generally irritable. It took us a long time to realize the cause, but once we did, we made a big change.

It was inspired initially by my brother- and sister-in-law who had a screen-free day for their teens on weekends, which is a pretty big deal when you’re dealing with teens. At the time, we were completely inspired and quickly implemented that in our house.

And you know what happened? Those days became our favourite days. Making a big weekend breakfast became a family affair, we all spent more time together, we did things we wouldn’t normally have experienced and we were all in (relatively) good moods. (I wrote about those first blissful screen-free days here, which was almost two years ago to the day).

We stuck with the one-day-per-week plan for many months, but we started to slack on the rules from time to time and inevitably, our screen-free day went by the wayside. Shortly thereafter, Mike and I were struggling with some of the kids’ behaviours and we had a bit of an ah-ha moment. We quickly did a 180 on our screen laxity and decided to try a more intense method by turning it around to be two screen-allowed days per week.

This is where I need to stop and clarify that our kids can be cranky and pick on each other and lose their manners and forget some of their best virtues on any day and at any time. I’m not, by any means, suggesting that screens are the sole culprit. Also, what works for our family may not work for yours and vice versa, of course.

That said, this really does works for our family. Even the kids see it and feel it now. When we gently suggest that they’ve had enough, they quickly agree rather than getting upset or fighting with us as we hit the power button.

It freaks me out a little, if I’m honest, to know what a hold my screen can have on me, let alone thinking about what kind of impact it has on the kids. I read an article (yes, on a screen) in which they talked to a teen who spends 30% of her day on her phone (we’re not even talking about TV time), which would equate to 9.5 years of her lifetime.

So, with a lifetime of screen time ahead, if we can spend a few more days without screens at this juncture without too much protest, I think we’ll go with that.

homemade halloween

You’d be wrong if you’re assuming that, for Halloween, Jacob will be Luigi (the taller one) and Isaac will be Mario (the shorter one). It’ll be the other way around. Why? Because we bought thrift-store hats for their DIY costumes and the green one fit the wee one better, so that’s how they decided. The best part of the hats, at $0.99 each on 50% off day, I scored them both for a buck.

When they told me that they’d like to be Mario and Luigi, I thought it’d be they’d be the simplest costumes to make. Overalls, red and green shirts and caps, a little crafty monogramming, gloves and stick-on moustaches. But I soon realized that is no longer 1995 and finding overalls to fit a seven year old is easier said than done. After a few thrift-store stops, I found a pair for Isaac, that are actually size 3T because he really is the wee one, even though he’s nearly five. It took an extra week or two, a few unfruitful Facebook pleas and finally a miracle thrift-shop find to get a pair for J. They’re size 10 so I had to cut about six inches off the legs and for my skinny-jeans-loving kid, we had to pin the legs to make them feel a little less like parachute pants. In the end, it worked out perfectly.

They’re using red and green shirts they already had, just worn backward to hide the patterns. For the best hold on the monogrammed Ls and Ms, I used my hot glue gun with fun foam, which means the parts of these overalls are now permanent costumes and will be put into the costume closet for future dress-up fun. Then, it all came together in a neat little bow when Miss Allie scored the gloves at Party City.


Total out-of-pocket expense: ~$10
Difficulty: Easy
Satisfaction mom feels with these super easy homemade costumes: Priceless