What did I learn this week?

That is NOT safe…

Day before yesterday, I am upstairs doing something when I hear the cackling approach of W. Where is it coming from? The staircase. I see Corey standing behind him as W proceeds to climb up the 14 steps to our second floor. By himself. Did I mention he is only 8 months old? Hmmmm.

He is extraordinarily pleased with himself when he reaches his goal at the top of the stairs and lays claim to his prize – MUMMY!

Don’t worry, the bookcases and dresser drawers are already anchored to the walls (thanks Ikea for always including and recommending the use of the wall anchors). I think we have a climber on our hands.

I love it when that happens!

For the last month or so we have been talking about how to rearrange our limited kitchen space somewhat to better accommodate the arts and crafts supplies. We decided to ditch the Step 2 Art Master Activity Desk (a freebee with Lance’s Amex points) because it had almost no storage and kept getting piled up with stuff. I know that from the picture it looks like you can keep everything in the desk, but trust me, with little kids, that kind of organization only happens in a catalogue photo. Plust, most of the supplies that I did not want C getting into without advance notice to an adult (paints etc.) were being kept in a really inconvenient place – in a Rubbermaid tub on top of the Ikea Billy bookcase.

Also, I don’t know about your kids, but mine won’t sit at a little desk by herself and create stuff. So, I decided what I needed was a storage solution and an art easel. This should work better for C (and W, when the time comes). Being an Ikea fan, I knew that they would have a solution that worked for me, and they did! Unfortunately, since there is no Ikea here, I decided to break down and mail order the desired item – all the way from their home shopping centre in Montreal of all places. So now we have Trofast where the art desk used to be, with the Rubbermaid tub sitting on top – a lot more convenient for everyone. I ordered five of the small green and two of the medium sized red containers rather than the three large white ones shown in the photo, and it looks much more stylish – maybe because red and green are the colours in my kitchen?

After getting that sorted I thought, OK, now I just need an art easel…hmmmm. Then today I look outside to see my new neighbours moving into the rental house next door, and what do I see sitting on the boulevard, left by the previous tenant, for anyone who wants it? You got it, an Ikea Mala art easel! I love it when that happens!

Now, where to put this stuff…hmmm….OK, I turned the kitchen table the other way, which gave me some more width to work with, and put the easel next to Trofast, in front of Billy. Perfect. Now C won’t keep opening up the doors to Billy to press her face against the inside of the glass.

Tried out the new system today, and it works great. The only tweaking is that since I turned the table around, the track lighting is going the wrong way, so Corey is going to look into getting an extra piece to run some track the other way so we can move the light fixtures.

Now, to find a suitable new home for the old art desk…

Out of sight, out of mind…

I could also call this post “Give me what I really want, and I’ll forget about the other thing.” After pondering what to do about the Disney Princess pillow book – and, thank you Sarah, for your suggestion on this, it reminded me of my own mother’s Barbie-free policy lecture that she started to give me when I was about the same age as C – I did discover a way to truly avoid the issue AND make C happy at the same time.

When the pillow book arrived, C eagerly ripped open the package and then stared at the item. “What is it?”

Nana: “It’s a book! Look, you can sleep on it and read the stories. Isn’t it lovely?”

C: Pause. “I thought that you got me a dress…” Pause “Do you have anything else for me?” You gotta love the frankness of a 3 year old.

Then she went on to have Nana read the book many times over and C seemed to enjoy that. Hence my concern that I would have to actually keep this item AND read it to her.

That evening, I took the pillow book and hid it in her room on the bed under a stack of other pillows. There was no mention of it the next day, so I did not bring it up. When we went downtown that morning, I walked a bit ahead of Corey and C and headed into the local independent toystore. What should I see but a made in Canada princess/dancing dress – pink with a tulle skirt no less – and silver dress up shoes with pink feathers on the toes (not made in Canada unfortunately).

If I haven’t mentioned it before, C is a true girly-girl. She loves dress-up and has been asking for little dress up shoes forever, and it goes without saying that the dress was a huge hit. I can’t describe the look on her face when she opened it except to say it was pure joy – the look of someone who has just received a gift of exactly what they have been wishing and hoping for. If you have kids, you know the look I mean.

Now I know you are probably thinking that I just fixed the problem by buying her something else, but, the something else was an item that contributes to her creative play and can be used for a long time without any commercial baggage attached. I also got her what she really wanted, and it is something she will use for a long, long time, rather than it becoming yet another discarded item gathering dust in the corner.

Next stop for the pillow book: the attic. Just in case a sudden memory re-occurs and I really need it.

Disney Princesses keep coming at me

After my previous rant, Corey kindly found this article for me on the Disney Princesses. Clearly I am NOT the only one who has issues with the Disney Princesses.

Did I mention that this weekend’s visit by Corey’s mom was accompanied by a present for given to C (without warning) in the form of a GIANT Disney Princess Pillow Book? Since it is VERY large (pillow sized, in fact), and VERY pink, it will be nigh impossible to disappear it into that void (ie Daddy’s office closet) where other similar offenders have been banished to in the past.

Should I read it over and over in the hopes that she gets sick of it, or just refuse to read it on principle? Hmmmmm. Any thoughts?

Holy Hanna Andersson

So, when I see stuff like this, it makes me wonder why I even bother trying! Yikes, this is a first project for goodness sakes! Sarah is a total goddess, and I am so lucky to know her, but really, sometimes it just makes me want to scarf down some high-fructose corn syrup AND some vegan cupcakes (see, generally, the food blog). No, just kidding.

Seriously – as cute as the photo is, the dress is even more awesome in person (or should that be “in real life”?). Great work Sarah, you rock!

I want to live the glamorous life

Just kidding. I wouldn’t be a stay at home mom if that were actually true. The other day I was trying to remember what I thought I would be doing at 40, what my life would be like. I can’t actually remember what I thought because I don’t journal, and unlike some people, I don’t dwell too much in the past. Which got me thinking, maybe I should be keeping a journal? If W has taught me anything, its how much stuff I just can’t remember about what happened with C, even though at the time I DO clearly remember that I thought there was no way I could forget it (I know that sounds weird).

Anyway, I was thinking maybe a journal would be a fun way to keep track of little thoughts and things that happen, plus stuff I can’t or don’t want to write about here for whatever reason. However, I am wondering when I would possibly have time to journal, given that I still haven’t managed to finish knitting C’s poncho – possibly the easiest knitting “pattern” ever: two rectangular garter-stitched pieces sewn together – but I do know things will change.

But back to being 40. For the most part, I am feeling good about it and about my life. The one thing I am NOT thrilled about is having to renew my driver’s license. I am afraid that the mileage of the last 5 years and two kids is really going to show (particularly after this past week!). I think I have finally reached the point where I will look at the two photos and see two totally different people. I suppose everyone goes through this, and I am not saying that it makes me unhappy, just reflective – and that is never a bad thing.

Please add sugar

Maybe it is just me, but I have a thing about birthday cakes. Namely, they should have sugar in them. Call me crazy, but there is NO SUCH THING as a cake that tastes “just as good” without it. I would say that I probably feel as strongly about this burning issue as Sarah does about vegan cupcakes!

I know that kids should not eat a lot of refined sugar because it just isn’t good for them, and I certainly don’t advocate for crappy cakes, but a properly made birthday cake (like the carrot coconut cake in the Rebar Cookbook) made with actual sugar is a lovely treat that is not going to do any harm. I know also that there are lots of people who may disagree (one person recently referred to such a practice of serving cakes containing sugar as “damaging on a cellular level”), but there is nothing that will change my mind about this. Call me rigid, but I won’t eat tofurky either.

Hello Mr. Tooth

W got his first tooth today.  It wasn’t there this morning, but showed up late this afternoon!

Love, love, LOVE this book.

If you feel like being inspired, then check out The Creative Family by Amanda Soule.  I put a link to her blog on the roll.

Had too much princess?

If you are the parent of a young child, then you know about the Disney princesses. Love them or hate them, they are there – glassy eyed, small waisted, and big haired. What’s wrong with the Disney princesses? Well, I am sure that there are people out there who have devoted a ton of space to this question, so I’ll just give the short version of MY issues with them.

First off, the Disney princesses as a group don’t look like the originals from the movie – they have been hootchied up for lack of a better word. Second, the Disney princesses were never supposed to be a group! They are characters from completely different stories. Now they are all together, and they are EVERYWHERE! Third, there is no real diversity amongst these princesses (and I’m not just talking about ethnicity, there is no individuality period). It should go without saying that simply colouring the skin darker or lighter and changing the hair does not show any real diversity, but that is the only difference between these characters. The faces and bodies are all the same.

But really, for me, I that it is the homogenized aesthetic that is one of the biggest problems with the Disney princesses. If you believe that it is valuable for children to be exposed to different kinds of people and experiences, then included in that should be exposure to different types and styles of art. There is a certain style to Disney, which I think can be appreciated for what it is, but should never be the sole, or even dominant, style that surrounds and shapes the aesthetic sensibility of a child.

It is not like there aren’t any other options out there. There are some great princess books out there that combine terrific art with a wonderful story – my favourites are The Paper Princess and The Paper Princess Finds Her Way, both by Elisa Kleven. As for options for princess swag – does any child really need all that cheapo made in China garbage anyway? Be a bit more creative is what I say, and work hard to get the kids off the train that carries only the Disney princesses and on to one that includes a wider variety of characters.