Thursday, June 4, 2015

Change of heart.

6 year old B just pulled her bath towel into the tub with her.  A full sized bath sheet.  Got it totally waterlogged, and then pulled the drain.  While i was watching a TedX documentary in the next room.     It will take forever to dry.  And laundry day for towels was yesterday so we have a while to wait with soaky towel. My initial reaction?  Anger.  Frustration. Reprimands, and calls of "why oh why do you keep doing things like this to me?!!!"

To me.
Her response? "But it's MY towel!"
More arguing over the towel's 'owner'.
About who has to do laundry and who paid for the towel, etc etc. ....

And then it hit me.

To her, I was being the adult voice in those old Charlie brown cartoons -
"Wanh- Wanh-wanh. ...wanh-wanh-wanh ....wanh" 
She was learning nothing, gaining nothing, benefiting in no way from my ridiculous diatribe over a wet towel.
And really.  It was just a freaking towel.
I was yelling at my daughter for thinking outside the box.  I was yelling at my daughter for making ME think outside the box.
Me! Seasoned Pinterest hunter of new and creative and unusual ways to learn and have messy fun!
So I stopped. And looked.  Really looked.  And saw what she saw.  A medium for creativity.   Amidst the heavy folds of semi-submerged towel there were valleys.    And mountains.  And rivers.  And most interestingly,  a large dam, blocking the last of the water from descending down the drain.

And I regrouped.
So we talked a bit about the dam, and what it was doing, and how it worked. And we washed up B, no arguing over shampoo or soap, for the first time in ages, and made soap-sud mountain-peak snow...  and turned the shower on to replenish the reservoir (and rinsed her off)....and she happily played, and discovered, trying new ways to create a fountain or a waterfall,  or to connect rivers and lakes.....
cat assessing bathtub towel aftermath....verdict:  no biggie.

And when it was all done, I wrung out the towel and hung it to dry.
Later that night, putting B to bed, I shared my learning experience with her.  I told her about how frustrated I was at first when I saw only what she shouldn't have been doing, instead of what she was trying to do. 

And I thanked her.

For the learning experience. 

For teaching me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh Robin.....Mr. Williams.....good night.

Yesterday, the World lost a gem.  a truly unbelievable gem.  I know he was an important icon, because 4 out of every 5 posts in my Facebook feed are about him.

And I cried.  Yesterday in shock... on the inside.  Not where people can see me crying.  I'm good at that, have been doing it all my life.   

And then it hit me.  This morning.  With every post being about his death, and his life.  Only not his real life.....Just the life he put on camera.  His funny (now that's an understatement), outgoing, extroverted, "Stage" persona.  The person he let us all see. 

I watched tributes, and read quotes, and saw image after image used as a byline and tribute to the man.  The man that none of us really knew.  He is gone.  And we didn't get to know him.  No one did.  Not even his loved ones.  Okay, I'm sure they knew his fight, and they understood the idea of his suffering, but no one really gets "in" to a person with mental illness.  With Depression.  Even those of us who share, or shared, his "affliction"..... those of us who really understood what he was up against.  We don't get to be "on the inside"...."sharing his pain".....

And today I cried.  A little, only, on the outside....But this void of grief sits heavy in my throat, in my chest, threatening to leak out in the form of more tears, and heavy sobs, at any second....

It hit me today, talking to someone I cherish as a friend and admire as a professional.  That mask really works!  It is possible, easy even, to hide one's true feelings from the world.  Too easy.  What's harder is trying to make the pain make sense to someone who doesn't experience it day-to-day.  It made me realize that most people don't "get it"... and never possibly could.   This isn't an insult, or a fault, or their lacking in any way.  Mostly just another realization for myself....

The pain of depression is nothing like anything anyone else can understand.  Even others with depression.  Each person lives within their own little sphere.  Inside the smiles and funny,  the false armoured image of self-confidence, self assured-ness, the shield we present to the outside world, lives each individuals' prickly little a prickly little ball that bounces around inside us...poking us, chipping away at our insides as we ride our bumpy rides of life.... 

Sometimes that prickly little ball is in our head - obscuring our thoughts, confusing our intentions, our ability to read situations, exhausting our brains, giving us headaches, migraines, creating vertigo, dizziness...making the knowledge of how to interact with our day-to-day functions disappear as it vibrates away in there.....  

Sometimes that prickly little ball is in our limbs - making us too tired or in too much pain to move, making them too heavy to lug around, too conscious of our own inabilities to even attempt the abilities....

Sometimes that prickly little ball sits right behind our eyes - distorting our view of the world around us - creating tunnel vision, or wavy vision, or even blurred vision..making us look "too fat" or "too thin" or "too pale"  or just "too ugly" to exist in feel worthwhile.... bouncing and prickling us so that every smile from a friend or stranger seems distorted, insincere, making mole-hills look like mountains, every interaction needing to be and reread....

Sometimes that prickly little ball is in our guts - tearing us up inside, creating physical symptoms, physical pain, nausea digestion issues, the need to eat incessantly, or starve...messing with our ability to lead normal lives...

Often that prickly little ball is in our hearts - making our ability to show or receive love and affection, even in our interest or ability to have healthy sexual interactions......
My entire life....I have questioned intentions, questioned my worthiness, my attractiveness, my desirability, my competence as a friend, a lover, a partner, a parent, a child....every compliment received tempered by my own disbelief, every compliment given amplified by my own envy.... It is exhausting...It is defeating..

A friend of mine posted this quote:

"Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don't kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, "He fought so hard." And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong." - Sally Brampton

That Mr. Williams fought the good fight for 63 years is no less than a miracle.  Look at every image of him.  Almost every one.  Look at his smile, and look into his eyes.  His eyes belie his smile.  His torment was available for everyone to see, every day.  If you only knew how to look.



 The most fitting end to this post is a tribute by a friend - I will post it just as I saw it:

  Thank you.

Friday, May 16, 2014

my heart, divided

last lullaby ended
sounds of deep breathing
little breaths
i press your warm little fingers
to my lips

my heart fills
my throat closes and 
chokes on a 
and love
and regret

i'm sorry, little one
for raising my voice
despite knowing
as every day
that it won't be
the solution

that i'm not filled
every moment
with the wonder and marvel
that is parenthood

that i choose,
to miss out 
to give up opportunity
choose, occasionally,
time just for me

that i haven't perfected 
happily laughing through
each tantrum
each meltdown
each disagreement
each "accident"

despite each parent
each relative
each friend
each stranger
each book
each magazine
each poster
each advertisement
each website
each tv show 

telling me
reminding me 
scolding me
flaunting wisdom and 

reminding me
reminding me
reminding me

that these days will end
that they will be missed
opportunities dwindle
clock ticks by

reminding me
reminding me

that you will grow
and not want
the attention
that you now crave

now demand
now require
now expect
each minute
each hour
with every breath

reminding me

that you will one day
before i know it
leave me

and the middle-of-the-night calls
that wake me from my dreams
that tear me from soft warm bed

that we negotiate
will end

may actually 
do just that...

the cuddles
stolen in the single-digit 
early hours
1am, 2, 3....

whispers of
"I love you mommy"
 tight grasp of hands
tucking of tiny toes
into warm folds of flesh

my heart fills
my throat closes
and chokes
as i listen to you breathe

that every moment 
can not be perfection
can not be appreciated
for the miracle that it is
for the wonder
for the special

that my patience
is not limitless
that my temper
can not always hold at bay

this tearing of my heart
keeping myself
and losing myself in you
this conflict
needing my space
needing you

so many labels
so many words
so many emotions
so much of myself
given in the single word:


Friday, February 21, 2014

grateful for lip reading....

I took the big one to her gymnastics class last week.  I'd like to say that I do that every week, but more often than not C does it, or more recently, we have taken turns.  We both love to see Big doing her thing in the gym, but really, what it boils down to is 45 parents trying to cram into a viewing area made for like, 20, seeing out of a window that can realistically handle 10 averaged sized adults staring out of it.  And all of that crowding and vying for space for maybe 15 minutes of being able to actually see Big in the Gym, before she moves to an area obscured by other pieces of gym equipment or gymnasts....Add that to getting your socked feet soaked and salted by the bootprints of the parents who disregard the "wet boots off at the door" and wander around dripping slush everywhere.....well, let's just say it isn't our favourite activity as parents, even if it is hers.....

But I digress....

Enter the title of the post.  About the lipreading...

This past week at gymnastics Big and the other girls of her class went over to the bench under the viewing window to have a quick water break.  So I got to witness the 9-year-olds' version of "water cooler conversation".  From behind glass.  This is how it goes....

Gym-mate:  "where's your mom?"
Big:  "right there.." (points to me through the glass)
Gym-mate:  :"that's not your mom?!  Your mom looks different than that!" (speaking of my partner who had been to watch the last few classes)
Big:  "Oh....that's my other mom".
Gym-mate: "you have two moms?"
Big:  "yeah..."
Gym-mate: "do you have two dads too?"
Big:  "No?!?"
Gym-mate: "why do you have two moms?"
Big: "I dunno."
Gym-mate: "oh..."

....And off they went to continue with their handstands.
I could do a whole post on how the whole world should see things as simply as these two girls do:  It is what it is, and now I have the info, let's go play. 

Instead I'll tell you about the conversation she and I had afterwards...cuz it was fun.

While walking to the car after gymnastics:
Me:  "So your friend was confused about who I am, eh?"  (yes, I'm Canadian.  And yes, we say "eh".  Get over it.)
Big:  "how did you know?"
Me:  "I could see you talking through the window...I was curious, so I read your lips."(Trust me, at age 9 this isn't an invasion of privacy...she still shares everything happily......almost too much at times...)
Big:  "you can do that?  cool.  What did we say?"
I recounted the conversation to her....Needless to say, she was impressed.
Me:  "So, you don't know why you have two moms?"  "Well, I do, but not how to answer that question" "Do you get that question a lot?"  "Not really"

Then we conversed about ways to answer that question.  the "WHY?"  Question.  We talked about what she wanted to get out of answering the asker - if she wanted them to truly "get it", or just leave her alone, or realize that the question is stupid, or none of their business, or what.... Her answer?  All of the above.  Yes.  So we joked a bit, and came up with some really easy answers.  Even easy enough for a 9 year old:

Why do you have two moms?

The truthful, get some enlightenment into those kids answers:
  1. "Same reason you have a mom and a dad."
  2. "Because they love each other and wanted me."
  3. "Because I do."
  4. "Because that's how my family is made up."
 Then there are the smart-ass-yet-honest answers:
  1. "Why not?"
  2. "Because I'm just that awesome."
  3. "Because I'm lucky."
  4. "Because they're lucky."
  5. "Just because I do."
  6. "Cuz 2 moms are better than one!"
 And the "So-ridiculous-they'd-have-to-see-how-silly-their-question-is" answers - the ones that made us giggle the most in the car on the way home:
  1. "You Muggles just wouldn't understand."
  2. "Because Venus is in alignment with Mars."
  3. "Because the sky is blue and the grass is green."
  4. "To get people like you to start fascinating conversations."
Clearly, I'm screwing up my kids big time.  But only in the best and funniest ways possible.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog post from a 5 year old..

I'm humouring my 5 year old and transcribing an interview/story with and by her. Therefore, you all must humour her too.

B: shmoogalooga boot boot, shmoogalooga doo.

that's my song.

I love the Jonah.

Me:  How do you feel about school?

B:  tired. I am tired at school.I love school. I love my teacher.

Me: what things do you do at school that you love?

B: just school!!!!play, recess, play eat. play play eat.

Me: how is that different than at home?

B: i don't know i don't know.  what did you write? did you write i don't know?  B says go to school.  and that is my song with mommy writing it, and thank you to all who is going to see it.  giggle.  Can you write another?

Me: I'm still writing...

B: why why says the B..why why says the B...  Because the Mokey is walking down the street today.  Just because you have fish doesn't mean that you can go outside.  Fish only go in water, they only go in water which they love for their whole lives.  Even though you can see pants walking down the street by themselves....giggle. giggle hysterically.

Me:  tell me a real story!

B:  hmmm.. 1 2 3 walking down the street.....(repeatedly)

Me: a real story that i would tell you at bedtime.

B: once apon a time there was a little girl whose name was snake, she loved to dance everywhere.  she danced at home, she danced on the street and she loved you.  she loved you forever. 
space space a couple of spaces in your head.  she loved you and her family everyday, as you can see.  Did you write that is the end?

Me:  No I didn't.

B: Why not?  Write it.  Because that is the end.
Are you still writing?  Is that the end?  can you write another?

Me:  yup.  still writing.  go ahead.

B: really?  okay, but i'm not because...i' you can send it....

Me: this isn't an email to send, it's a blog.  for whoever wants to read it.

B: I want to do a blog.  a real blog.

Me: that's what we're doing.

B: I want to write it and you tell me what to say.  I want to write it like I am going to write it.  But you tell me what to say.

Me: This part is actually kinda hard, trying to write down quickly everything you are saying...

B:  okay, we are done.  I put my [water] cup in the freezer because I am really hot and want it to be really cold but it isn't a glass cup it is a plastic cup and I want it to be really cold.....okay now we're done.  Good bye.  Except I want a picture of a cute kitten.

And the parents that go to work wonder why the parents that stay home have totally lost their marbles after a day home with a 5 year old........Just record this post and press repeat ALL DAY.  that should give you an idea of why my mental capacity has shrunk....and why I crave adult conversation, but am not exactly sure how to handle it anymore....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

my love hate relationship with the smoothie...and it's affect on my sleep.

I love smoothies.  REALLY I do.  And I've convinced my girls to like them too, which is great, because I stuff all sorts of healthy things in them, that they otherwise wouldn't eat.  Spinach, Carrot, Cucumber hidden in yogurt, milk, juice, berries and dates....DELICIOUS.

However, my body can not handle the healthiness of it.  EVERY TIME I make one of these smoothies, no matter how much or little I drink, I end up with a stomach ache.  Too nutrient rich?  Who knows.  I can eat Doritos and chocolate chip cookies for dinner and be fine, (don't tell the kids), but one 14oz glass of smoothie while I am making dinner and I'm a wreck before I eat.  Does this stop me?  No.... I know they're good for me.

Enter yesterday.  I was in bed at 6:30 pm with smoothie-tummy...and out for the night.  Well, I thought it was for the night.  At about 2:45 am  the 9 year old wakes and calls out.  Apparently the last 12 times we have told her not to wake us unless it is an emergency haven't sunk in yet.  Either that, or to a 9 year old, her blankets being twisted is of paramount importance, and without an adult to immediately rectify the situation, she will self-combust.  Anyhow, after arguing in whispers with her briefly, I leave her to sort out her blankets and back to bed.....for about  45 seconds.  "MUMMY...MUMMMY!!!"...indignant yelling now, from the 9 year old's bedroom.  Apparently she can't fix blankets herself.  We have deprived her somehow of learning this skill in her short lifetime, and are now paying for it.  I send her to the bathroom, arrange her blankets while she's doing her business, and figure that will be the end of that...


"Mama.....mama..." from the other bedroom.  5 year old has been woken by the yelling and now wants to come to the moms' bed.  I tell her to stay put while I finish with Big Kid, and she listens.  
Big gets back into her bed, I tuck her in (she somehow won that argument....) and head to Little Kid's room to check that she has fallen back asleep.

Nope again.

She gets out of bed, we change her pull-up (a by-product of Sensory Processing Disorder is the inability to feel when she has to go until it's almost too late.  At night time, forget it.  She fills 2 pull-ups easily at night still, with no end in sight, pardon the pun), and she crawls in with us.  We have recently purchased a King Sized  bed with the realization that one kid or the other will be sleeping with us for the foreseeable future...
She gets in, and lies down, leaving me about 3" of bed, and the rest of my butt hanging off the bed.
"Move over, Little", I whisper, hopefully..
"I can't!  I'm all the way!"  She says.  I look over at my no-longer-sleeping-but-trying-to-get-back-there-as-soon-as-possible partner, miles away at the other end of the Gigantic Bed...and at the six FEET of space between her and my 5 year old daughter.  
I sigh, and push the girl over, crawl in, cover up, and hope that is the end.  I ignore the fact that MY blankets and sheets are a bundled up mess at my feet and within the duvet cover, in the hopes of falling asleep before my body realizes how much sleep it has already had and decides it's morning...

"MOMMY!!!! MOMMY!!!"...I trudge into Big Kid's room, daggers in my eyes (that she can't see, thankfully) and daggers in my voice (that she can hear, unfortunately), and ask her what the problem is NOW.   Apparently I've put her favourite crib blankie, that she still sleeps under, under her sheet and duvet, UPSIDE DOWN!  The tragedy.  What was I thinking?!! Not much at 3:30 am, obviously.  She can tell, in the dark, which is the right way up of her blankie.  She wouldn't want the lions' feet on the blankie to be up by her head, oh no, that would be horrid for the last 4 hours of sleep of the night.  I voice my displeasure once more at being woken up (though this is purely academic at this point, as I hadn't been asleep yet) to fix her covers...I mutter something about disrespect and rudeness and being unfair, but fix her covers, and return to bed.

Ahh, sleep, at last.....NOT.

Little is all awake and chatty, and Buster Cat has joined us in bed, so Little must pet her.
Seventeen loud "SSSSSSHHHHHHssshhh GO TO SLEEP"s later, and the cat is settled on my nicely-nestled-under-the-covers-butt for the night, the two girls are quiet, hopefully asleep, but I'm not checking.....

And now Mokey, the 2 year old cat, and the only boy in the house, starts antagonizing the poor old lady Buster.  Trampling herds of elephants, hissing yeowling, meowing and growling ensue for the next 15 minutes....I groan and start planning this blog post in my head, because there's NO WAY I'm getting back to sleep at this point, and it's better than planning a murder-suicide combo.....
I look up at the clock and whimper.  4:30am.  I curse my children silently, and the cats....
and I realize that I'm awake when no one else in the house is...because I already had 8 hours of sleep...
thanks to 

I love smoothies.  and hate them.

It's noon now.  And I'm REALLY TIRED.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

yeah...this happened.

MY 5-year-old kid is smart.  Too smart.  She is able to extract information from one situation and apply it in new ways.  Like when there's a green arrow in one video game to move to the next thing to do, she recognizes that in most other games, the same holds true.  Sometimes, however, this genius leads to some seriously funny lateral thinking.   For instance, today's stroke of brilliance:

I've been trying to teach the cats' body language to B, so that she understands when to be near them, when to leave them alone, and when to be offended by them....(grin). She usually gets mad at the cat when they put their butts in her face (who can blame her, really...), but her being mad at them often involves her yelling at them, or worse, hitting at them.  So I have been trying to explain to her that it's actually a cat's way of showing their friendship and trust - because cats and dogs sniff each others' butts to communicate. So this afternoon, as I am making lunch, Bis crawling around the floor, as she has been known to do. All of a sudden she puts her legs up in the air, points her butt at me and says "Hey mommy! You're my friend!"


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A little note about "making a deal"

Dear well-meaning bargain-hunting customer:

I appreciate that you are on a tight budget.  That you are single income, that you can't afford to spend the prices I may be asking for the products I create.  I hear you when you say you can buy a similar product at Walmart or Target or Macys for half that price.  I occasionally share your feelings when I see a beautiful piece of pottery that someone has handcrafted and know that I can't justify spending $60 on a mug..... here is where we differ.  When I see something beautiful that I can not afford, I do not ask the artisan to lower their price for me.  I do not ask them to sell me 3 or 4 or more at a significant discount.  I do not ask for them to give me things for free if I spend money on other things they make.Something that my potential customers may not understand:  When I set a price on something, I already take into consideration the cheap versions of my items out and about in discount stores, mass produced for a pittance by overworked underpaid production workers in China, India, Thailand, or wherever they've come from.  When I set a price for my work, I leave out the time it takes for me to source my materials (hours a month), or to come up with ideas and create prototypes (hours a month and dollars "wasted" on things that will never be sold).  I also leave out the cost of selling online, advertising online, the percentages taken by paypal and Etsy, or Visa, Mastercard, American Express.  I don't charge for the cost of my Market stall each week.  What is left is the actual cost of the materials being used, and what I value my hours of work at.  Generally, I work things out so that I am actually netting about $5 per hour.  FIVE DOLLARS PER HOUR.  Some things I make a little more on, some things a little less.  LESS than $5 per hour.  This is what I get paid to spend time making things for your little one, for your gifts, trinkets, toys...  That is less than half of current minimum wage here in Ontario.  My time away from my children, away from my housework, away from my own leisure time, television time, often even sleep time!!!

I justify this wage because sometimes I can work while doing things with the kids or watching television.  Sometimes. I justify it because I do enjoy it.  I get to create things I want, things you want.  I get to hear praise about my work, suggestions, ideas...I get to see your beautiful little ones...  

But mostly, I just swallow it.  I accept that crafters never make a living wage on their work.
Consider your own job.  Would you work for less than minimum wage?  Would you accept your boss asking you to work extra hours and offering to pay you less to do so?  You are a stay at home mom?  Guess what.  So am I.  This is what I do around my time with my girls.  One with special needs.  Working more for less means less time with my girls...  Less under the tree for my girls this time of year.. Less opportunity to support other crafters with my purchases...

So please.  I ask but one thing.  PLEASE, don't ask me for a discount.  Don't tell me you can get it cheaper somewhere else.  Don't ask for a better price if you buy more than one.  Selling two means exactly twice the work and twice the time.  Selling three, well, you get the idea.  Why should I make less money for doing more work?  Do you?

a very tired, and slightly overworked,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What a different world....

Being a parent in this era is frighteningly different than when we were kids.  I recently read an article about a Guelph family who is living a year like it's 1986.  I never really thought about the differences before, except when I get a question from D or B like "what's a cassette player?"  We now live in an era where "perfect" parenting ideals can be seen high and low, you can find infinite posts online about perfect school lunches, make-your-own crafts with kids, how to live free of television, how to use television to make smarter kids, how to spend more time with your kids, how not to yell at the kids, why not to vaccinate, why TO vaccinate, how to helicopter parent, how not to helicopter parent, how to spend more time outside, which baby groups to join, which books to read...Baby Einstein DVDs to make your kid smarter, Baby Einstein DVDs to make your kids dumber, teaching  your baby Sign Language, internet safety, viruses that have nothing to do with human illness, how and why to eat less junk food, the junk they put in your supposed "healthy food", GMOs, Dead honeybees......Knowledge that we were blissfully ignorant of while eating our neon orange, high salt Kraft Dinner or Chef Boyardee for lunch when we were kids...

I was born in 1976.  I lived happily without cell phones and blue tooth, data packages and Netflix, DVD players and MP3 players, I got my first CD player when I was 18!  I lived without cordless nightlights and clocks that light up when it's "OK to wake!", the INTERNET, digital cameras, cameras on your phone, instant upload, online social media, recipes for EVERYTHING online, there was no "app for that"....vaccines for chicken pox and the FLU, ...I walked to school alone in Toronto in elementary school, and took the subway with friends...went to the theatre and bought my tickets in person, didn't check seating charts and order online.....I remember the controversy that was the beginning of Sunday Shopping, Debit Cards, I remember using the bank of pay telephones in the mall to check in with my mom, or call friends in private...I remember the disbelief that one could now send photos and forms and letters by TELEPHONE on this amazing invention called a FAX machine.. I remember the amazement when they allowed more than one phone line in the house, probably to offset those fax machines... or more than one  phone number/ringtone for a single land line!  I was also around before the era of telemarketers.... I was around for the invention of the expression "landline", as well as "text me", "friend me", LOL, OMG, BFF...

I remember when Avent baby bottles were the best on the market, so different than the others.  I remember the controversy when Avent baby bottles were not taken OFF the market when it was discovered that they were laden with toxic BPA....I remember when no one wore their children in a sling, when snuggli was the only (albeit horrid) carrier around that people knew about...when strollers faced forward only, couldn't house your up-to-35lb child infant car seat, and didn't have interchangeable seats at all...I remember stainless steel and vinyl coated highchairs and booster seats, seats with fold out steps that made a satisfying "clang" when you played with the steps with your feet - no straps on those!  I remember the doctor's house-call service when my fever was over 40C at midnight, getting cold medication before the age of 6, sitting in the front seat of the car, no child safety seat, or in my dad's LAP when he was driving, under the age of 5....

I remember the isolation when friends couldn't or wouldn't play, when no one was around to talk on the phone, or the line was busy, because that was the ONLY social outlet at home, no chat rooms, or online forums.... I remember feeling like a loser or a geek because I liked things that the kids in my micro-universe didn't, and there were no "it gets better" projects back then.  I remember pretty stationary and pen-pals from another country, I remember singing highly inappropriate and racist kid-taunts and songs, not knowing their impact on the world, and remember being the butt of some of those remarks and songs...I remember singing "Free to be You and Me", and watching this gem on reel-to-reel and a projection screen in class:

I remember $2.00 Tuesdays at the movie theatre in the mall.  The small one, with 2 choices, and no Dolby-digital surround sound.  I remember when everything WASN'T produced in China, or other "less developed" countries where abuse and child labour were prevalent, as we are learning about in social media circles right now.....and a time before dollar stores....  I remember handing in hand written school assignments...double spaced, writing neatly to the right of the red line on our loose-leaf lined paper....and later the zip-zip screechy sound of the dot-matrix printer, and having to separate all of the perforated edges of the page guides.....I remember learning to properly touch-type with 10 fingers on a TYPEWRITER with no letters on the keys, either so we memorized them, or because they were so well-worn the letters were gone.....Changing the ink ribbon....spacing manually....going to the library to research school projects.... I even remember the Dewey-decimal system, and card-stock library tags in the backs of the library books where you put your name and the due date, rather than bar codes...stuffed animals and dolls that didn't come with their own websites, but were fun on their own...

I remember biking for hours, as far from home as I dared, on my own or with my friend...reading for hours when it was raining, Commander Tom's world when watching TV in the basement on Sunday Mornings while my parents slept...following the morning show schedule, WITH commercials, and not having a choice as to watch anything else...later playing cartridges or big black floppy discs on our Commodore 64...
Being allowed, at age 10 to invent cake recipes with my friend...and use the oven without supervision!

I remember when K-mart was the enemy, where no one wanted to admit to shop at because it was totally uncool, and before the invasion of Walmart and Target.....I remember fluorescent clothing the First time around, as well as Big hair and WAY too much makeup...Lip Smackers flavoured lip gloss...Plastic Hallowe'en costumes with plastic masks that were impossible to see through, and got all sweaty or broke before the end of trick-or-treating...

What will my kids remember?  What will stick out for them as important?  Exciting?  New?  Different?  How will they value themselves and judge themselves in an era where every possible bit of information to compare themselves against is out there, in your pocket, on the computer, on digital bill-boards....when every child's private life, and every teens' love life is posted with photographs online...when library research is replaced with online research...when you can self-diagnose online without going to a doctor...

I'm scared for my children.  There's so much more to navigate than when we were young.  But I'm also excited for them....and their children....

" ..They'll learn much more...than I'll ever know..."


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

kindergartener in love....

Okay, so thanks to a fever-induced lack of good judgement by C several months ago, B was introduced to the Never Say Never documentary about young Justin Bieber.  And, as all 4 year olds do, we have watched this documentary a gagillion times.  If it was a good old VHS, it'd be worn out by now.  Thank goodness for Netflix (or curse them, for making this documentary available in the first place...).  When her sister finally completely objected to watching it for the thousandth time, B pitched a fit, of course, but then silently swore to herself she'd watch him every time D was away from the house.  The less-than-secret love affair could continue.  Now, any time D gets to go somewhere that B can't, like a play date with a school friend, B consoles herself with the sweet peppy music of mini-Bieber.

Aaah, young love....

Needless to say, she's a bit obsessed with him now.  

But only with the 14 year old Justin.  She doesn't want anything to do with the adult version.  Thankfully.  And because she is only 4, and time makes no real sense to her, this apparent contradiction in reality does not yet pose a problem for her.  She's even decided that when she's an adult (age 14 in her mind) she's going to adopt a baby, and if it's a boy, she's calling it Justin, and if it is a girl, she's calling it Joostin!  

We went back to school clothes shopping at Value Village yesterday, and she's beside herself with glee because we relented and let her get 2 JB shirts... she was in love, and they were only $2 bucks each.... D rolled her eyes, and B's response was an indignant "What?!!  I NEEEEEEDED them!  Of COURSE I did!"

The BEST JB story happens today though -  going through  B's clothes drawers to pull out the old stuff she doesn't wear or that doesn't fit anymore... I pulled out a few shirts that just have never made the cut.  She agrees that she's not going to wear them, but to console either herself, or me (I'm not sure which) she says to me, in complete seriousness "That's okay, we'll save them for [baby] Justin - he'll need them when he does his rock concerts".  She was DEAD SERIOUS!!!!!

HOW do you keep a straight face when hit with that?!! seriously?!! 

gawd having kids is awesome.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Duct Tape Lunch Bags Tutorial

In the excitement of summer holidays approaching an end, and school shopping lists getting closer and checked off bit by bit each day, I thought I'd offer this fun activity that both acts as something to keep your kids entertained, creative, and happy for one more day of the break, while creating something unique and useful, that the munchkins will get use out of, rather than being on display.  I present to you: 

The Insulated Duct Tape Lunch Bag!

 So, I was looking for a way to use some of the super amazing new patterns of Duck Brand Tape that we sell where I work.  Originally, I was just going to duct tape over a couple of the girls' old lunch bags, but then I figured; "Hey! I can sew, I can make things outta duct tape, SOMEONE on the interweb has to have made a lunch bag out of duct tape before, and put up a tutorial?  Turns out Nope.  So, after some researching on other types of hand-made lunch bags, and doing some material-choice substitutions, THIS is what I came up with.  I was so impressed with the outcome, that I decided to do a tutorial on how they're made, so that you too, can enjoy this fun alternative to a store-bought lunch bag.

 Materials You Will Need:

Tools you will need...

  • Duct Tape, in whatever colours you like.  You can probably do the whole thing in one roll of 9.1m Tape, but there are so many fun styles and patterns out there, I doubt you will be able to buy just one!
  • Foiled Windshield Screen/Visor from the dollar store - the ones that accordion closed and are Styrofoam and reflective foil.  These ones were $1.50 each. This is the insulation and inside wall of your lunch bag.
  • Large piece of paper (I'm using that brown roll of paper, it's huge, and designed for protecting floors during construction)
  • a ruler, pencil and pen, scissors
  • a front fastener - I used plastic snaps because I have a snap press, but Velcro or sewn on buttons/snaps would work too
  • some of your regular lunch containers and beverage containers to make sure you're making your lunch bag big enough to hold them! 
The Process:
Template - see end of post for scale drawing
  •  Use the Large Paper to draw yourself a template (in pencil so you can erase mistakes instead of starting over).  Make sure to place your lunch containers against the various "walls" of your bag, to ensure proper fit.  I made mine a rectangular prism - as such: 

This is a flattened 3-D shape, like we did in elementary school geography.. The base centered, with the back, front, and two sides attached to the base.  I made my base 13cm X 22cm, the back and front 22cm X 23cm, and the sides 13cm X 23cm.
I made the top and front flap as one separate piece, because making it all as one piece would not have fit on my window reflector - I taped them together afterward.  You can see here the cross shape of the template, with the base in the centre, and the 4 sides.  The lid/flap is the piece to the side, already partly cut out - I made it 22cm X 22cm - size enough to cover the top and fold over the front to fasten.  Label each square so that you know what is what.
No seam Allowance! Cut right on the lines.
  • Cut out the template right on the line.  Because this isn't being sewn, we don't need to have a seam allowance!  Don't cut the lines where the sides meet the base - those are folding lines.  The fewer pieces to attach together, the easier this project is.  
  • Fold up your template, and make sure all of your lines meet up where they should.  Put your top where it would go, make sure where it would fasten to the back "wall" is even as well, and folds over nicely.  Adjust your template until you are sure you are happy with it before continuing to the next step.

The Helpers!

  • Trace your template onto the "wrong" side of your insulation piece (the sun visor).  Mine was foil on one side, and just plain white foam on the other, so I used ball-point pen, so it wouldn't rip or smudge all over the foam.  Cut it out, just like the paper, and fold to make sure all of your seams and edges line up where they should.

  • If you did this using the same template as me, you should now have a very shiny X shape, and another little piece as the lid.
  • Now comes the taping - the fun part!  Fold your sides and backs up, and tape them in place with small bits of duct tape near the top open edges of the bag, so that the bag sort of holds it's shape (image A):

Image A - 4 corners taped at tops, lid shown.
Image B - lengthwise strip of tape on both sides of lid.
  • Tape the lid piece to the top of the back piece, using a long strip of duct tape - do this on both sides of the lid piece, so that there's tape inside AND outside of the bag (image B).
  • Tape the 4 edges of the bag lengthwise from top to bottom of the bag.  I found it easiest to flatten the two sides against each other and fold the tape over the edges (image C).  Press the tape down firmly.
Image C - tape edge lengthwise.

  Now  you have what looks like a very plain lunch bag.  Time to decorate!  You can tape any way you choose, just make sure that in the end,  every part of the white foam/outside of the bag is covered with strips.  Here's how we did ours:
  • Tape bag in lengthwise strips, starting at edge of lid (fold a tiny bit over to inside), down the back, under the bottom, around and up the front, and fold a tiny bit of tape over to the inside of the front of the bag.  Make sure you have pressed the tape down firmly everywhere, and that there are no air pockets, and as few wrinkles, as possible in your tape.
Push tape down firmly!
Happy creator!

  When lid, front, bottom, and back are covered, do the same down from one side top, over the already taped bottom, and up the other side, folding a tiny bit over the edge.  Doubling up tape on the bottom makes it a bit stronger, and makes for fewer cut tape lines on your work. 
  • Next, fold a strip of tape over the top edge of the bag, covering up all of the raggedy edges of tape folded in there previously.  Do the same around the edges of the lid/flap.  This tidies up all of the rough edges, as well as hides and protects the top edges of visible white Styrofoam.

    Fold a piece of tape over the whole edge.

Inside top edge - all covered neatly.

    Taped over foam handle, taped in place!
    Scrap of foam folded lengthwise for handle.

  • To make a handle in the top, I used a scrap of the foam/foil insulator, a bit longer than the  top of the bag.  I folded it in half and taped it over, and then taped it to the top of the bag on each side of the handle, using a longer stretch of tape.

  • I used my plastic snaps and snap press to fasten the front of the flap to the bag, but this is where sticky or sewn on Velcro would work, a zipper if you're handy with zippers (I bet they could be taped on too, rather than sewn, as long as you taped both from top and bottom of the zipper), buckle, or sew on snaps or buttons!  To make a buttonhole in the lid, I would snip a small rectangle, and then cover the edges of the rectangle with tape again, to keep the sticky raw edges off of the button.   
  • You can also use permanent marker, or cut out shapes from duct tape, or a combination of the two, as I did to make the monograms on the fronts, to decorate in any way you'd like!

 Voila!  Your very own creation!  I welcome comments and feedback, questions for clarification, etc.  It's been a while since I've done a tutorial, and I'm a bit rusty!

Monday, August 5, 2013

let the CRAZIES begin....what are you doing with YOUR summer so far?!

So, it's not completely insane around here right now.   For this minute.  We can only go a minute at a time, right?  So far, we've been camping with extended family twice, once for a week with the cousins (totally great - the kids biked around the sites and pretty much entertained each other most of the time), and once with even more family members for a weekend.  Somewhere in between there was my 37th birthday, and my  all time COOLEST birthday party of all time.  I had a CONCERT in my backyard for my birthday!  REALLY!!!  A fantastic musician named Ember Swift just happened to be in town, and just happens to be a Facebook friend of mine....well, we chatted, and voila!  A concert in my backyard.

 I tried to take more videos of her music, but every time I did, a certain 4.5 year old would jump in my lap and altogether ruin the video....ah well, there're the memories... oh, and her entire CD collection that she gave me as a gift....

Hillside Music Festival was next, my first big venue as a crafter/artisan, an ENTIRE WEEKEND of selling a whole 10x10 booth's worth of merchandise...that I made!!!  Sad and happy that it is over, it was awesome, although somewhat WET.... and exhausting. My first big show, as a vendor, and I'm totally hooked!  Here's a gratuitous pic of my booth, which I have to say, was awesome (if I do say so myself).... I enjoyed everything about it.....except, maybe that B was so starved for my attention that she felt the need to repeatedly head-butt me with a running start from across the field, and roll around on the mat in the tent.... even when customers were trying to look around.
The baBaZOoBee! Tent at Hillside
I especially loved the freedom that 8.5 year old D felt for the first time, wandering the festival with her friends, who were plentiful, at all hours of the day, until 11pm!  And how little B tried to excercise the same freedoms, in her own little way... I loved my neighbours, the lovely family in charge of Bee Kind Organics, and the goofy guys (and girl) running Civic Trust... though I'm certain my girls experienced their first second-hand-smoke high from all the weed that was prevalent near our tents over the weekend.  Aah, folk music festivals.... ;)
the Toronto Zoo
After a day of recovery, we headed to Toronto to visit my parents, and go on some great adventures to the Toronto Zoo, which was super, albeit exhausting, and the Ontario Science Centre with my parents, which was so crowded it made me rethink ever spending time in a Toronto attraction again....though by the end we enjoyed ourselves so much that I ate my words and we upgraded to an annual membership.  Out-voted by the children, we spent an extra day in the T-dot, and then it was back to the Farmer's Market on Saturday...well, you can see why I'm semi-comatose on the couch right now....
 Crazy faces at the  Ontario Science Centre with my folks
Add 2 trips to Ikea while visiting my parents, and a new bench and kitchen chairs, and it's been one hell of a week.

So, as I said, (smirk), it's not too busy around here right now.  No, really!  Those things all were busy, but now it's the day after.  And I'm sitting on the couch, semi-comatose, with the burnt edges of a migraine peeking through the caffeine-Tylenol combo.....and a cat purring in my ear.  Life is good.

**Post-note.  We spent all of TODAY at Andrew's Scenic Acres picking blueberries and raspberries, riding ponies and feeding goats, playing on old wooden and steel playground equipment (you know, the GOOD stuff, from OUR childhoods) and riding the's a pic of most of this evening's dinner:
homemade waffles with blueberry/raspberry sauce and thick sliced farmer's market local cucumbers were added to the plate after the fact......

I repeat.  Life is good!!