Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Yard of Dreams / The Kids Have a Skating Rink.

    Friday seemed like a normal enough day.  The kids had a snow day which pleased them immensely. I had promised to take Riley shopping for a birthday gift for a birthday party she would be attending on Saturday.  The roads by noon were fine, and so I decided that Riley and I would head out early.  When we were shopping I received a phone call from Grace, again not out of the ordinary.  "Can we make a skating rink in the back yard with Nana and Popa?"  It was an exceptionally mild day, the snow was all melting, our road was flooded when I had left.  "Sure" I said. To me it was pretty easy.  The kids would spend the day outside in the fresh air, having fun with their grandparents.  I could imagine them keeping up an interest.

    Two days later the weather became normal February temperature again... a.k.a. frigidly cold.  Mom and Dad came over dressed for warmth.  The kids all bundled up and ran out with them.  Together they hooked up the hose to the laundry room taps (the outside tap was drained and turned off for the winter).  For a few hours they were out "flooding" the rink.  I watched from the warmth of the bathroom window.  Still I was unconvinced.  I just didn't think that the kids would stick with it.  Again my thoughts were at least they are out in the fresh air, having fun with their grandparents.

    Mom and Dad came back later that night to flood the rink again, again the kids bundled up and went outside, again I watched from the warmth of the bathroom window.  All of their faces were glowing, not just with the cold, but with joy.  When I say "all" I mean children and grandparents alike.  They had a vision.

    At least twice a day every single day my parents or just my Dad have come over to flood and maintain the "rink".  The activity that I truly thought would be a short lived fad is not, and I am truly delighted to have been proven wrong.

    Every spare minute that there is daylight the kids have their skates on and are out on the rink.  They are delighting in it.  They have to be dragged in.  Their cheeks are that healthy pink, their faces alight with pure joy.  Their toes are frozen, but they seem to be willing to endure it for the joy of skating.  It's beautiful.

Riley and Rowan are pretending to bite gold metals, don't
ask me why. Apparently they saw the Olympians doing it.
    Usually I dislike being proven wrong, it makes me feel inferior.  In this case I am delighted to be proven wrong.  This is not a fleeting idea.  My parents are taking great joy in maintaining the rink and watching the kids enjoy it.  The kids are delighting in skating every single spare moment.

    I always feel blessed that my children have the opportunity to "know", truly know my parents.  I don't take this for granted.  In an age where families are often separated, I know what a gift I have.  People have to move where there is work for them, there is no choice in that if they are to prosper finacially.  Families are often separated by thousands of miles.  Children know their grandparents through the new and wonderful invention that is Skype, and through fleeting visits.  I know that I am one of the lucky ones.  More than the fact that I am the lucky one, my children are the luckiest of all.  They will grow up with a cherished childhood that has been filled with memories provided by their grandparents, Nana and Popa.

    Yes, I am very happy to have been proven wrong on the ice rink.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Our Home Made Hula Hoop

    Riley has decided that for the school talent show this year she is going to do a Hula Hoop act.  It has been a steep learning curve.  The thing that is most funny to me and my new Hula Hoop skills is that I stink at hula hoop.  My family will sometimes ask me to hula hoop just for the entertainment value.  My version of hula hooping is spinning the hula hoop, and then gyrating like a stripper (a stripper who was fired after her first performance).   

    Our Hula Hoop adventure began when the snow melted enough for Riley to dig her hula hoop out of the ice.  We placed it over the register to defrost.  Those first attempts were interesting.  Riley has a real gift for that hoop, BUT, unknown to us, they had filled the hula hoop with water to weight it.  Apparently the winter had caused it to develop small holes.  This meant that we were showered with water as we watched her practice.  The more she practiced, the more the water sprayed out, the lighter her hula hoop became, the harder it was for her to keep up.
    I went to Toys R Us, looking for hula hoops.  It honestly seemed funny going in for summer toys in the throws of winter.  There was not a one to be seen.  I walked up to the register and asked if they could possibly check in the back.  Ten minutes later, a lady came up to the front of the store, plastic encased hula hoops in hand.  SCORE!  I bought two.  I thought that I was for sure going to get Mother of the year on this one.  I had selected a hula hoop that lights up.  As usual I was wrong.  Apparently although cool, they were both too light.  Back to the drawing board.
    I began to search online for hula hoops.  WOW they are expensive.  I thought that I had spent too much on the $10.00 each hula hoops at Toys R Us!  I was wrong, these magical hoops cost $60.00 and up.  I stumbled upon a website that had make your own hula hoop instructions.... light bulb!

    I made a trip to the hardware store.  I searched the isles for clear PVC pipe.  There is only flexible clear tubing.  I had this amazing plan that I would buy clear PVC pipe and fill it with battery operated lights, oh it would bring the WOW factor.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  No battery operated lights to be found after Christmas.  Plan B.  I purchased white PVC for only $3.50 for 10 feet.  I also purchased a 1/2 " coupling to attach the two ends, oh and purple duct tape.

    I would like to pretend that I am a genius and put out an amazing product the first time, but no I did not.  It took several tries.  To begin with I had a heck of a time getting the circle to be a circle and not a birds beak.  That was where the coupling came in.  I filled the hoop with rice (not an easy task) to weight it.  The coupling was the hero of this process.  I covered the PVC piping with purple duct tape (Riley's favourite colour).  After it was completely purple I carefully wound glittery ribbon (that I purchased at Michael's for $1.50 a roll).  The finishing touch was adhesive rhinestones that I put around the outside of the hoop.

   So now I have the creative bug.  I want to make hundreds of hula hoops now that I know how.  I'm not sure how many hula hoops one kid needs, but I plan to make tons.  It's pretty fun, and cost me well under $10.00 to make.

Pizza Tarts

    School lunches... oh they get boring.  I keep trying to liven them up.  I hate to admit it, but my fun lunches have gone the way side.  I know I need to bring them back, but I'm not sure when.  The problem with my kids is that no one seems to like the same things.  I think that they have conspired to make me a lunatic. 

   You can't go wrong with pizza anything.  I am pretty sure that if you put pizza sauce and cheese on a cardboard box the kids would eat it (I am pretty sure that's what the frozen pizza's actually are).
I find myself wanting to get creative.  I tried a pizza experiment.

   I made my pizza dough.  I then rolled it out and cut it like I would for biscuits.  I then put them in cupcake liners the same as I would for tarts.

    After I had made my "tart shells", I put pizza sauce in the bottom of each, then diced green pepper, pineapple, pepperoni, and finally finely grated mozzarella cheese.

    I popped those bad boys in a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 12 minutes.

    The kids taste tested them, and they were deemed a success, so much so that I had to wrestle the pizza tarts off of them.  I now have some interesting lunch items.  I put them in the freezer so that they will stay as fresh as when I made them.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Paper Doll Fairies

    Sometimes life throws you for a loop.  This year my loop has been a weird virus.  It seems to have triggered some auto-immune responses, meaning that I got an infection in my lymph nodes, followed a week later by rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  It has been awful.  I am however a glass half full type of a girl, and so I sought out the bright side.  The bright side was hours of crafts with and for the kids.  My favourite craft from that not so wonderful time was the paper doll fairies.

    I had spotted a Disney Fairies template on  It is a great go to site for kids crafts.  It did not let me down this time.  I have posted the link to the doll templates.  I had so much fun with the different and varied ways of decorating these dolls.

    I made so many paper dolls that I began cutting out the doll template and putting them into a clear container.  I had dozens of naked pink silhouettes just waiting to be adorned.  My girls loved stealing the naked dolls to decorate.  They also loved stealing my finished dolls to play with.  Each doll became named and each had it's own personality.

    With each doll I varied my approach.  Most of them I would outline their dress with crayon.  I then made them either three dimensional dresses from folded card stock, or painstakingly cut out bits of tissue paper for their dresses and hair.  I have to admit that the tissue paper ones were my favourites.

    The pain my body was providing me with became dulled with the enjoyment I was having creating these paper dolls.  I took great delight in the delight that my girls took.  Even Rowan got into the fun asking me to make him a Peter Pan doll.  Peter Pan soon flew off for an adventure with the fairies.

    The house was filled with the animated chatter of the children playing with paper dolls.  There were no high tech gadgets, no video games, ipods, no t.v., just the old fashioned fun of play.  Who knew that my being laid up could bring so much pleasure for us all?  Christopher made a joke the one day that he was becoming afraid to come home because soon there would be more paper dolls than space.  
    That is the thing that I most treasure about being a glass half full girl, you see the beauty in the most unusual places.  A time that I was popping Tylenol 3's like they were going out of style should have been a time where I was miserable, and yet I wasn't (well not completely).  My glass was half full, and it allowed me the time to play with my kids, the time I don't usually have or rather take to spare.  I do not thank that mystery virus, nor do I wish it's return, but it made me realize how much I enjoy doing crafts.  It made me realize how very little it takes to entertain a child.  It reminded me of a fact that I am already keenly aware of, I am blessed.  I am blessed to have a husband who takes care of me, when I need taking care of.  I am blessed to have such beautiful and wonderful children.  My life is full of wonder and joy. 

Violet, Poppy and Daisy

Sunday, 16 February 2014

My Little Girl is Growing Up / Semi- Formal

    My little girl is growing up.  I have to admit I have mixed emotions about this.  She is entering that new territory that I cannot protect her from.  She will fall in love with boys only to have them break her heart.  She will agonize about her appearance.  She will also have those amazing highs that a cute boy bring when he looks at you.  Part of me wants her to stay my little girl and never grow up, but part of me is excited for the new and exciting road she is now on.
   Last week was a big milestone for Grace.  She had her very first semi- formal dance at school.  She was so excited.  We went out to buy her dress.  The first dress she tried on was "her" dress.  She tried on others, but that first one was "hers".  Out of the store she walked, carrying that garment bag, a glowing big smile on her face.  When we got into the car I thought that Christopher was going to cry.  "I don't want my baby girl to grow up." he said mournfully under his breath.  I think that was the first time that it had occurred to him that our little girl was growing up.

    Thursday night was "THE NIGHT".  We did her hair, put on a little make-up.  She looked so beautiful, so grown up.  She was excited for an amazing night out with her friends.  Her friend's mothers and myself had collaborated to surprise the three of them.  One of the perks of working for a funeral home that owns its own limousine is that you can borrow it.  We kept it a secret until Christopher pulled up in the limo.  The other mothers and I had told the girls that they were meeting at our house so that we could get pictures of the three of them together.  They radiated excitement as those three big girls climbed into the back of that big car.  They drove off into the winter night.
    That night I thought about Grace the whole time that she was gone.  I prayed that she was having a wonderful time.  I prayed that she had not written her own script for the evening only to be devastated if it did not play out.  She had gone into it with an amazing attitude. She was going to have a dressed up night out with her best friends.  There was never any talk of boys.  Please don't let her get her heart broken.  That was my mantra as I went about my evening chores.
    I thought back to myself at her age.  How I wish that I had had her attitude.  I always felt like such an ugly duckling.  I looked in the mirror and saw a pretty girl, but that was never reflected back to me by the boys that I so desperately wanted to notice me.  My self worth came not from myself, by from outside of myself.  If no boys thought I was pretty, then I must be worthless.  I remember writing that internal script for dances.  My script saw that cute boy I had a crush on asking me to dance.  I spent my every spare moment emotionally investing in that script, willing him to come over and ask me to dance.  When I would come home, script unfulfilled, my heart would ache like an open wound.  Again and again I would repeat the same process, reaping the same results, never learning.  
    The hours that Grace was away seemed to stretch on forever.  Please don't let her come home with a broken heart.  She sailed in through the door that night, floating on air.  "I had the most fun night!"  Her  little face shone brightly with joy.  She had spent the night dancing and having fun with her friends.  She had not written some stupid internal script, other than that she was going to have a fun night with her very best friends.  She had slow danced with a boy, and that made her happy.  She did not have them dating, getting married, creating some ridiculous romantic fantasy.  She was just happy that a boy had asked her to dance and that she had an amazing night with her friends.
    I know the day will come that some little jerk boy will break my baby's heart, it happens to the best of us.  I now think that she has a good head on her shoulders and that she will take it for what it is, growth.  Maybe I have protected my baby after all.  Maybe we have fostered her sense of self, and maybe she is happy with who she is.  Maybe the best protection that I can give her is to foster her self-esteem and a healthy sense of self.  I guess that only time will tell.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Valentines Wall Art

    Don't say I didn't give you fair warning.  Until Valentines Day, you are going to have to see Valentines preparations every day!  I've been out of commission and have had lots of free time on my hands which means crafts!

    I have a huge box full of scrapbooking supplies.  For the last 12 years I have told myself that I am going to construct beautiful pages of our memories.  I have yet to do a single one.  All of that beautiful paper is just sitting there, well it "was".  This week I pulled that box out from under my bed.  I decided to put it to good use. 

    I picked up some shadow box picture frames at the Dollar Store for our project.

    I then took that prized scrapbooking paper of mine, and used the picture frame matting
 as a template for my Valentines background.

I used a plastic scrapbooking template, and cut traced out several 
hearts from card stock and pretty scrapbooking paper.

I glued the first heart down in the centre of my background.

I then layered several other hearts over the top of the first one.

Carefully I bent up the sides of the hearts to give it the 3-D look. 

When I was satisfied with my results, I set the kids at the same craft.

    The kids loved this craft!  I hung their pictures upstairs in the hallway.  They couldn't wait for Daddy to get home so that they could show him their art.  They really did do a great job.  It looks very pretty, and festive, and every time the kids walk past their art they feel pride.  Maybe having to slow down is not such a bad thing... I need to remember to do this more often when I feel well too!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Our Tissue Sun Catchers

    This last week has been a lethargic one.  I had two little girls home sick, both with different things (Elly had a nasty cough and weird rash, Riley was nauseous).  I myself had some mysterious illness.  It was a strange week.  Having said that I had kids home sick does not mean that they were super lethargic.  They were too sick to function at school.  Too sick to play their usual games, but not too sick to be board.  Crafts to the rescue!

    I have mentioned before but this year we have been feeding the birds.  The kids and Christopher and I are getting great enjoyment in watching our little feathered (and furred) friends come for their meals.  There is one drawback from this enjoyable sight, birds hitting the picture window.  I don't understand it because my window is filthy!  No sooner have I cleaned it, and there are grimy little face and hand prints all over it.

    The first craft we did was both for Valentines and to protect our little feathered friends.  We made sun catchers for the picture window.  I have to admit I think that they are quite pretty.  I am also pleased to report that since we made them and put them up in the window, we have not had anymore bird crashes.

    I cut tissue paper into small squares.  Honestly I used what I had around the house.  I then cut a fairly large heart shape out of waxed paper.  

    I poured some Elmer's School Glue into a small bowl and gave the girls each a paint brush.  They painted the waxed paper heart with the glue.

    When they had covered the heart in glue they placed the squares of tissue over their hearts.  When they had completely covered the wax paper in tissue, they put a coat of glue over top of the tissue paper, and then let that dry.

    The glue dried faster than I thought it would.  When the hearts were all dry, we carefully trimmed along the edges removing any stray bits of tissue.  The last thing that we did was to take a fine tipped permanent marker and trace each square of paper with a tiny "X".  The idea was to make it look like a patchwork quilt.  The girls thought it was fun, and I thought it made the hearts look cuter.

    The girls and I had lots of fun, but didn't waste any energy that we did not have.  We killed boredom and saved birds... a job well done!