Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up.  It’s Sunday, May 10, and we’ve complied a go-to gift guide for mom whether she’s a glamorous grandma or green thumb, a book lover or a foodie . . . or maybe she’s everything all rolled in to one! Do you see something that catches your eye? Forward along to Dad or the kids . . .or better yet, wait for no one and treat yourself!

From Beth-Anne:

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Mist & Fix from Make Up For Ever is now part of my morning beauty routine. It’s a professional grade alcohol-free setting spray with the texture of water that improves your makeup’s staying power. It’s easy to use – hold it about 40 cm from your face and mist continuously for a few seconds and allow to dry. It smells glorious and leaves my face looking fresh and dewy. (starting at $14)

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This handmade pewter pendant is plated in silver and its message, Live Love Teach by Foxy Originals is the perfect way to describe and thank mom. ($20)

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Alex and Ani create and design eco-conscious jewelery. Their latest collection, Persephone is available at select Hudson’s Bay stores and features bracelets and charms with special meaning. My favourite is Guardian of Answers because aren’t moms the keeper of them?

from Nathalie:

I’m going to depart from my usual “Please don’t buy mothers anything with which to cook or clean” rule and say that I’d love to receive these sets of ombre bowls from President’s Choice and Real Canadian Superstore.  They have them in cool blues and hot reds and oranges, and the colours are just so juicy!

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Ombre mixing bowls from PC $25

Ombre mixing bowls from PC $25

And, now that patio season is finally, finally here, you could gift a mother with this awesome retro cooler chest for the back yard or the beach.

Cooler chest from Tera Gear $149

Cooler chest from Tera Gear $149 at Real Canadian Superstore

One of my favourite things to do in the yard with the kids is to roast marshmallows on the fire.  Somehow, spending an evening that way feels like the most luxurious kind of family time.   No hockey, homework or housework to attend to, just sharing the fire.  We saw this great Hampton Bay fire pit at The Home Depot spring preview.  ($79.98)

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I am asking for a gift of experience this Mother’s Day.  I want us all to go to the McMichael Gallery and look at art and hike the trails around the gallery.  I’d also recommend trips to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Emily Carr and Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibits, and to the Royal Ontario Museum.  If you think you will visit a museum multiple times, a membership is a wonderful gift.  (For our family of five, a membership costs what we’d pay for just two visits.)  We have family memberships at both museums, and, honestly, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.  I get so much use and value out of our memberships.  It feels like true luxury to be able to just pop into the museum for a quick visit, and to see the exhibits multiple times makes me feel like royalty.  I have taken the kids to see the Basquiat twice already.  The first time we sketched, and the second time we used the play dough that all kids can get in a loot bag from the front desk when they go in.  I got to really attend to the art, and the kids kept busy with their interpretations.  Time spent together is the gift I love best.

Youngest's sketch of a Basquiat self-portrait.

Youngest’s sketch of a Basquiat self-portrait.

Middlest's interpretation in play dough.

Middlest’s interpretation in play dough.

 

From Carol

Almost four months ago, noticing I was depleted and in need of a recharge, my husband offered to hold the fort at home while I visit with favourite cousins in California this week.  In what goes down as good old fashioned mistake-making, I did not take him up on this.  At the time, I almost felt too tired to plan for this, and now I’m sitting here in Toronto feeling rather foolish.

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Most of the moms of young kids I know would really relish some free time.  Sometimes with their spouses, or their friends, or alone.  The best gift ever would be sorting out which of these the mom in questions needs most, and try to make it happen.  I bought a Buytopia getaway to Ste. Anne’s Spa in Ontario with this in mind, and Groupon-type offers make short jaunts like this more affordable.

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But the truth is brunch at favourite local haunt (mine is Lady Marmalade on Queen Street East) would be perfectly splendid too.

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May is also the season of growing… if you know a mother who likes to garden, the handmade offerings at Spade and Feather are simple, well made, and gorgeous.  This handmade trug is my favourite: elegant and functional, a treat that will lift the spirits of anyone collecting the bounty of her plantings.

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And to boost that greenery along, Spade and Feather’s Wild Bee and Insect Houses translate the essential work of pollination into functional beauty for any garden.  I love them.

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Maximizing space is always on the minds of urban gardeners in particular, and these Felt Wall Planter Envelopes from Spade and Feather are a great option.  They’re eco-friendly (made from Eco-Felt, 100% recycled plastic), easy to hang, and make vertical gardening accessible to everyone.

 

Gerry Dee’s Tour: You Gotta See It!

About a year ago, I saw my first stand-up comedy show in Las Vegas and I loved it.   To celebrate my birthday, I asked my husband to forgo the fancy dinner out and take me to the local comedy club. We still did the dinner, courtesy of my brother and his wife, and the four of us made our way to the 11 pm show at Absolute Comedy.

Seeing live performances, be it Shakespeare in the park, a big-budget flashy musical or a lone comic standing at a mic, is electrifying. The performers have logged many hours honing their craft and their moment of truth is when they take the stage.

When it feels off, like the marks are missed or cadence wavers, my stomach usually knots and I feel a mixture of anxiety, embarrassment and disappointment for the performers. But with that, I always feel admiration. They put themselves out there to be judged, albeit harshly when the price of a ticket is attached, and I simply don’t have the chutzpah to do that.

But last night, the four of us went to see homegrown comedian, challenger on Last Comic Standing and star of his own eponymous CBC show, Gerry Dee and everything clicked.

Gerry Dee took the stage at historic Massey Hall and after being introduced by his solid opener Graham Chinden, his 90-minute set was an enjoyable ride!

Dee’s bits are taken from his life as a former teacher, dad to three young children and husband to a levelheaded, east coaster who is the perfect yin to his yang.

His banter is relatable; relationships are universal and if you’re not a parent, you’ve been a kid.

When you see a consummate performer like Dee, whose polished routine fails to falter, the energy in the room becomes exhilarating. A good performance brings about a high for the audience, and in the case of last night with 2,600 people united by laughter the room buzzed.

It’s no wonder it feels so good to experience a release of energy through laughter. The Mayo Clinic sites the short-term benefits as endorphin enriching, stress reducing and muscle relaxing. Need proof? The elevated people exiting from the crowded theatre did so with nary a kerfuffle.

Laughing Canadians = very gracious folk.

Gerry Dee is on a national tour and you’ve gotta see it!  Check if he’s coming to your city by clicking here.

And I leave you with my favourite bit from the night.

Attention Toronto Parents: The Great Kids Stuff Sale is coming!

10407575_889876101025044_7323590842128034865_nIt’s that time again!  The North Toronto MOMS Group is hosting their bi-annual Great Kids Stuff Sale.  This large-scale mom-to-mom consignment sale benefits several charities in the Greater Toronto Area which is just one of the reasons that make this a must-check-out event.

In the past, I have picked up two bikes for $20, a pair of all-leather, never worn shoes for a baby for $5, an almost new GAP coat for $8 as well as a bag of clothes for less than $50.

It’s the perfect place to pick up baby gear for a fraction of the price.  Bumbos for $10, Bjorns for $20, strollers for a less than a third of the retail value!  There are mounds of clothing, stacks of books and so many toys that it could easily take hours to sort through it all.

Here are my insider tips for you:

–        Arrive early.  The doors open at 9 am and there is always a line-up.

–        Bring a large bag to carry around your finds.

–        Have a plan of what you are looking for.  The sale can be overwhelming so it’s better to know what you’re looking for before you get lost in the piles.

–        If you can, leave babies and kids at home as the sale can get crowded

–        Become a vendor!  Clear out the outgrown clothing and never played with toys that are cluttering up your home.  It’s not uncommon for vendors to make hundreds of dollars!

SATURDAY, APRIL 25 from 9:00 am – Noon @ St. Clement’s Church (70 St. Clements Avenue, at Duplex)

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Just check out the rows and rows of clothes!  Everything is organized by gender and size so finding what fits your little ones is much easier.  Shoes, formal wear, and outer wear are also separated so make sure you know what sizes you’re looking for!

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It really is a sea of clothing!  The first two rows have bedding, receiving blankets and room decor.  It’s not uncommon to find the original price tags still on sheet sets.

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Need a bouncy chair?  How about an extra one for the upstairs or grandma’s house?  For $15 or less, it’s hard to say no.

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And you thought your toy room had lots of stuff!  Toys run the gamut from baby to six years old.  Games, puzzles, books, DVDs, – if your kid wants it, it’s here!

Best of The Blogosphere

We’ve scoured the Internet and brought you some of our favourite posts from the blogosphere. Do you have something to share? A must-see blog, a must-read article or a must-share video clip? Let us know about it! Send us an email or leave a message in the comment section.

From Beth-Anne:

My life with my three boys can best be described as a whirlwind. They never stop moving. They’re loud. They’re physical. Someone bleeds every day. I once visited the emergency room three times in one month (one visit per boy) and by coincidence had the same doctor twice. He informed me that I should have purchased a monthly parking pass. I would have saved myself money. Holly Pevzner wrote 10 things I wish I’d known about raising a boy but my heady first-time pregnant self would’ve never heeded the advice. Sometimes you just have to live it.

Last year I discovered What If Famous Paintings Were Photoshopped to Look Like Fashion Models? Lauren Wade took iconic paintings featuring nude females and morphed their bodies to reflect the current body image en vogue. My reaction surprised me – what do you think?

And while we are talking women’s bodies, Christine Burke writes about a hilarious conversation she had with her toddler about her naked body. Oh, from the mouths of babes!

To finish off my round up, in the spirit of humour month, here’s Jerry Seinfeld’s take on trying to sleep with kids in your bed.

From Nathalie:

If, like me, you cannot get enough of children’s books, check out this list of 100 Great Children’s Books from The Guardian.  There were many on here I’d never seen.

If you are a mother of a teen or nearly teen, I can’t recommend this article on parenting teens by Rachel Cusk enough.  Her memoir of early motherhood, A Life’s Work, is one of my all-time favourite reads.

Be forewarned, there is adult content in this next link, which takes “book lover” to its literal extreme.  An animated felt short film set in the famed Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company in which books come to life.

April is Poetry Month, and if you live in Toronto, you can locate yourself poetically with this poetry map from the Toronto Public Library.

And here’s a poem about motherhood by Chantel Lavoie that’s not yet on the map: “The Lane.”  It riffs on this poem by bpNichol that’s inscribed into the pavement on bpNichol Lane.

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It’s Shower Season! Top Baby Gifts You Need To Give.

Last week I wrote about my nephew’s impending arrival. Thank you to everyone who gave their two cents on which print to buy for his nursery. I am close to deciding, so if you haven’t had the chance to weigh-in, click here. The print I decide on will be posted to our Instagram page in about 10 days.

Having a baby in the springtime seems poetic. Birth and renewal of life are everywhere in nature and evident among us humans too, as mothers and young children reclaim the parks and sidewalks. I had my middle son on April 1, and fully appreciated the warmer weather and the longer days.

In anticipation of the newest addition to our family, I am co-hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law. In just a few short years the number of products for baby has exploded exponentially! I know that there are many gimmicky products promising mothers everything from easy diaper changes to silent nights and as a seasoned mom, I tend to roll my eyes at many of them. There are products that all moms claim they couldn’t have survived the baby years without. For me, it was the bouncy chair. I wish that I had the foresight to put one on every floor of the house. I always thought that I would carry my babies in slings and carriers but alas, my dream was shattered when not one of them liked being carried in such a way. Go figure, they had distinct likes and dislikes from the very beginning!

Moms, what would you add to the “must-have” list for baby’s arrival?  Leave a comment.

I have rounded up a few of my favourite baby gifts from the tried and tested to the shiny and new.

When I buy a baby gift, I often stick to the registry for the basics: things everyone needs and everyone has a strong opinion about. Glass bottles vs. plastic? Sippy cups? Pacifiers? Better stick to what mom-to-be wants. No new mama wants to be returning anything in the days after baby is born.

I also like to splurge on fun things that parents aren’t necessarily going to buy for themselves. This “bear skin” rug from Pottery Barn Kids is a perfect example of a play mat that can be plopped down anywhere in the house for little one’s tummy time, and it’s just really cute, right?

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I was shocked by the amount of laundry baby produced when I was a new mom. In particular, it was the mountainous number of receiving blankets covered in throw-up and spilled milk. I like these Aden & Anais classic swaddle blankets that are 100% natural cotton muslin.

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Sophie the Giraffe. Need I say more? Worth every cent of her $30.00.

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Hooded towels are undeniably cute, but I prefer classic monogrammed towels that can be used for many years. These towels from Pottery Barn Kids, were gifted to me at my baby shower more than 8 years ago, and they are still in rotation.

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Speaking of gifts that grow, Skip Hop makes diaper bags that are stylish, functional and will be used long after baby is out of diapers.   The Duet 2-in-1 Diaper Tote and the Out & About are perfect examples of bags that work for storing diapers, quick changes and extra bottles, but their sleek design and sophisticated colours will transition nicely to a carry-on, an overnight bag or a gym tote. In celebration of baby shower season and Skip Hop’s new must-have diaper bags, from April 6-13, buy any Skip Hop item from Indigo and get a Skip Hop accessory at 25% off.

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It seems impossible that baby, who is so tiny, will soon be eating foods at the table. Also by Skip Hop is a collection of colourful melamine plates, utensils and food storage containers.

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Books. Books. Books. I love giving books. Recently as a baptismal gift, I bought 20 of my favourite childhood books. Inside each book I wrote a note. For example, I bought Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and inside the book I wrote, My Dearest Katherine: Because we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Just remember that you are so very loved!

I also bought Fancy Nancy and wrote: My Dearest Katherine: Because sometimes being fancy is fun!

It’s my favourite gift that I have ever given and I hope to give it again very soon.

There are also gifts to be treasured. Among my most precious are handmade blankets and clothing. I wish that I had the skill to craft something for my nephew because it’s these gifts that I am most moved by. Somethings can’t be bought; if you have the skill, use it!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for snaps from the baby shower. You’re not going to want to miss it!

For Your Calendar: The Baby Time Show Prenatal to Preschool comes to Mississauga’s International Centre, Hall 5 from April 24-26. For more information, including ticket prices, visit their website.

Children’s Artwork from Minted: Help Me Choose!

I love stationery and pretty paper products. In fact, one time I was in an elevator and met a stationery buyer for Indigo and it was akin to my son meeting the garbage collector. I peppered her with questions and basked in envy the entire 8 flights down. A stationery buyer, I thought that was a job of lore.

I spend hours searching out the perfect invitation, be it for a baby shower or a birthday party, and I love every minute of it. If I am in a store, I handle each card with care, weighing the paper in my hand, my fingers taking in the texture of embossed letters or fine linen grids. But I can’t always make it to a store, and the boys don’t seem to share my passion for loitering among note cards so, on-line must suffice.

My newest obsession is Minted. Minted is an on-line stationery and paper art store that allows artists to share their designs, all of which can be customized, to fellow paperphiles. The site is a visual delight tempting me to throw a party, get in touch with long lost friends and update my wall décor. It’s a beautiful rabbit hole to fall down and I recommend that you get lost!

My first order from Minted was my Christmas card for 2014. I was able to play around with various colours and tweaks to the design before settling on my favourite. An easy to use spreadsheet allowed for me to upload all of the addresses and when the cards arrived, all I had to do was stuff and seal.

My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby early next month and needless to say the entire family is very excited. My sister-in-law has spent the past few months agonizing over every detail of his nursery. She chose a gender-neutral palate of grey and white and the walls are decked out with these adorable animal prints. All that remains to do is find the perfect print to add to one remaining wall.

Aly has agreed to let me choose the final piece of art, and Minted is where I intend to find it. Perhaps you can help me to narrow it down?  The pictures that I pulled are a bit small, so I have include the links if you want to look at the artwork in closer detail just click on the title, or click here for the entire art collection.

An alphabet print is always a safe and classic option that can work for many years.

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Paper Cut ABCs by Ampersand Design Studio

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Animals Alphabet by Alethea and Ruth

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Another colourful print, is Colour Your World by Ann Gardner. The grey background would work well with the rest of the room.

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These hearts by InkDot are precious and will serve as a reminder of how much he’s loved.

I completed an extensive family tree and the idea of incorporating his ancestry into his room décor tugs at my heartstrings. A few of my favourites:

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Family of Oranges by Heritage and Joy

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Folk Family Tree by Heather Francisco

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The baby will be the second addition to their family. Molly, a yellow lab, was their first and this print It’s a dog’s world by Sheila Sunaryo would probably be her pick.

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Dogs may not be the best choice since the other animals featured are decidedly more exotic than domestic. This map of the animal world by Jessie Steury would tie everything together nicely.

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If only this was goodnight Toronto instead of goodnight New York.

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Since he remains to be named, this one may have to wait for his first birthday. The other prints allow for customization with his name that I have to forgo.

The selection of frames is swoon-worthy and the preview option allows for a complete once-over before committing. The turnaround time is 5-7 days, enough time for it to arrive before the baby shower.

Help me decide! Sound off in the comments and let me know your vote. Follow us on Instagram for the big reveal.

Tickle Your Funny Bone!

I just spent a four-hour flight re-reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I laughed out loud and it felt great. I felt great.

There is considerable scientific proof that laughing actually increases hormones that alleviate depression and help boost immunity while simultaneously decreasing cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. In fact, this study by the American Physiological Society says that even anticipating a laugh can decrease our stress hormones. This is probably why just being in the company of some of my quick-witted friends that I feel more relaxed and overall happiness.

I discovered there is such a thing as laughter yoga where instructors facilitate laughter workshops and participants learn deep breathing and stretching while busting a gut! The pictures alone make me want to try it and the benefits touted are impressive: increased energy levels, decreased stress, increased motivation, and better problem-solving abilities, to name a few.

This month we are dedicated to making you chuckle, giggle, snicker and hopefully even elicit a howl or two with a line-up of posts including a some science-y humour, a curated list of funnies circulating the Blogosphere and a week of back-to-back posts that are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.

Maybe because it’s spring which tends to connote re-birth or the fact that my nephew is scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, but babies has been on my brain. I will be sharing some of my favourite nursery artwork courtesy of Minted and posting images to Instagram from the DIY baby shower I helped to plan.  If you’re not already following us, you’re missing out.  Last week Nathalie shared some great finds from the One of a Kind Show and the snaps of her daily walks really are stunning.

We didn’t forget about moms! Be sure to bookmark our round up of Mother’s Day gifts on April 17th that include everything from luxe goods to the simple and sweet.

Before signing off, It seems only fitting that I share my middlest’s favourite joke on this, his 7th birthday.

Happy birthday Cakes . . . I love you soooooo much, to bits and pieces.

DIY Gallery Wall and Jewelry Display

While I am not much of a DIYer, I am all about creating a living space that reflects my family and the people and things that we love. Have you heard of man-caves? Well, in this house of 5, I am the sole female. The lone wolf. A man-cave we don’t need but a mom-cave? Yes. That I do need!

My office is a small room in our basement that houses my favourite treasures, mostly books among a few knick-knacks and a beloved chandelier. I have slowly added to the room over the years, taking advice from Nate Berkus to only add things that I love and “tell my story”.

This one wall remained a blank space for years, but I finally decided to take wedding photos of my parents, in-laws, grandparents and grandparent in-laws (is that a term?) and create a gallery wall. The first step was deciding on frames that would fit nicely on the wall in a cluster of six. I am what some may call a traditionalist, and others may call boring, so black frames won out.

I then visited Blacks with the original photos, a few more than 60 years old, and spent some time with one of their photo technicians. They helped me to digitally restore and resize the photos. Their expertise proved invaluable and regardless of how tech savvy you may be, ask them for input. No need to DIY it all.

I would like to preface this by saying that a gallery wall is a lot harder to hang than it looks. First off, it involves math. A lot of it. And measuring. A lot of it. I can hold my own when it comes to math, but I wanted to limit the number of holes made in the wall. Needless to say the adage “measure twice, cut once” was running through my mind while I wielded my hammer.

My thorough research suggested that I tape off the gallery before actually hammering in the nails, and this worked out well for me. I was able to rearrange the photos and modify the spacing to my liking without puncturing the wall. Overall, I am happy with my handiwork (one is slightly off, but I can obsessed about that another day) but more so, this DIY project fills my space with people I love, and tells quite the story.

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Next up on my DIY project list was to arranging my collection of costume jewelry.

My pretty necklaces and chunky bracelets were stored away in boxes and drawers, not allowing for admiration or ready-to-wear. My favourite style blogger and interior designer, Erin Gates, provided inspiration with this picture from her recent best seller.

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This is a photo from Erin’s Pinterest board, showcasing elements of her master bedroom.

Here’s my take. Thank you, Erin for showing us that it’s okay to have fun with our girly accessories!

 

I sourced a collection of inexpensive display vessels from Home Sense.  The trays were less than $30, the cake stand was $6.99, the butter dish $6.99 and the small vase $3.99.  The mug was from my kitchen.

I sourced a collection of inexpensive display vessels from Home Sense. The trays were less than $30, the cake stand was $6.99, the butter dish $6.99 and the small vase $3.99. The mug was from my kitchen.

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I have two of these guys flanking the display.  My husband thinks it's weird but the boys like looking at them.  My youngest calls them "the treasure men".  I like that.

I have two of these guys flanking the display. My youngest calls them “the treasure men”.  I like that.

What My Graveyard of DIY Projects Taught Me About Parenting

Behold the graveyard of DIY projects.

There is a box of papers, colorful scissors with various edges, a hodgepodge of stickers, stamps and decals residing on a shelf in my office closet.  Last year I discarded a two-inch stack of recipes torn from magazines promising mouth-watering delicacies.  A clear, plastic, zippered pouch that contains two spools of soft, chocolatey brown yarn and a partially completed scarf resting on needles has followed us to two homes and remains under my bed.

I had never given much thought to the DIY culture until I became a mom and then I couldn’t escape it.  Personalized Valentine’s Day cards, hand-stitched Halloween costumes, laboured over meals, ornately designed snack foods, and play dates requiring more scheduling and production than a low-budget highschool musical seemed to be the norm. I mean, WTF ever happened to just knocking on someone’s door and playing with a Skip-it in the yard while eating FunDip?  And then just when I thought I had it somewhat figured out, Pinterest came along and upped the game.

I spent years on that hamster wheel trying to do it all and do it “right”, but the years have brought me three busy boys, and an acceptance that “good enough” is really good enough.  I learned to identify, appreciate and accept my limitations.

This year I did make my son’s skeleton costume for Halloween but it was the process more than the end product that proved to be “pin-worthy”.  My son and I worked together to turn my son’s vision into reality.  He learned the importance of communication and teamwork.  I learned there are no perfect skeletons but there are happy kids.

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Being honest with myself is difficult.  I used to feel that doing everything for myself was somehow a reflection of my worth as a mother.  If the Valentine’s Day cards were perfect, than somehow this meant that I was a good mother, a kind mother, a patient mother, the mother that we are all supposed to be.  Never mind that it was a grueling process with me snatching the scissors from my boy’s hand while muttering with exasperation, “I’ll do it”.  Never mind that while eating a store-bought birthday cake at little Jimmy’s party or surveying the parade of made in China Buzz Light Year costumes knocking on my door, it never once crossed my mind that these mothers were “bad” mothers, lazy mothers or not the mothers that we are all supposed to be.

I thought that people were judging but it was really me who was doing the judging.

There is a part of me that does long for DIY projects.  I am nostalgic for the lost arts that generations before were commonplace.  I am amazed when my husband fixes things around the house without consulting You Tube.  It’s his confidence that I admire as much as the skill.  Now when I find myself lost in a chosen project, it’s the sense of calm and the absence of expectations that I find as rewarding as the final project.

My experience with parenting and DIY projects is very similar.  At first I was lured by the glossy images promising picture perfection but it’s the fails: the shattered glass, the burnt dough, the botched hemline – that’s when the real learning occurs.  It’s often the most basic projects, the ones that are the least glamorous or fun, that most need mastering and bring about the greatest sense of accomplishment.

Easy DIY Hand-Painted Glasses

 

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I am not much of a DIYer.  Instead I prefer to think of myself as a COOPTer.  Celebrator Of Other People’s Talents.  I am under no delusions that I can do everything well enough to meet my exceedingly high expectations, so I graciously turn to experts and pay them for their talents.  I only try what I know I can execute but retile my bathroom floor? Sew Halloween costumes? Hook my own rug?  No.  Not for me.

Since the theme of this week is DIY activities with kids, I have quite craftily I think, repurposed a previous post.  Here’s one attempt at a DIY that turned out nicely.  And fetched $140 for the boys’ school at silent auction.

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My boys’ school hosts a silent auction every two years to raise funds for the school’s various programs.  This year they asked that each class contribute a collaborative piece of art to be auctioned off.

I like this idea because it involves the children in working towards a common goal, which ultimately benefits them.

I volunteered to head up the project in my eldest’s grade 2 class.  I scoured Pinterest for age appropriate ideas and finally decided on these hand-painted tumblers and I followed the instructions outlined by Savvy Sugar.

It was a good choice.  The project was easy to manage, required few supplies and was completely child-driven.  I didn’t want the project to require adult participation.  I wanted the students to feel a sense of accomplishment working together, creating something beautiful, and contributing to the school’s silent auction without the micro-managing help from an adult.

Gathering the materials was easy:

The hardware store for quality, sturdy glass tumblers ($10.00 for a package of 4)

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The craft store for enamel acrylic paint in the primary colours plus white ($20.00 for four bottles of paint)

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A Styrofoam plate for mixing colours (recycled from my veggie drawer)

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Two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

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Cotton swabs (1 package from the dollar store)

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Before we got started, I reviewed with the students all of the instructions, outlining why it’s a good idea to read through the step-by-steps before starting any project.

Since we would be mixing the colours to create unique blends, I had the students refresh my memory of what colours are created by mixing the primary colours.

After breaking into groups of two (and two groups of three), the students discussed with their partner what colours they planned to dot their tumbler.  It’s recommended not to use more than 4 colours, or else the colours start to muddle together and lose their vibrancy.

Step 1:

Mix your colours.  It’s a nice idea to decide on a palate but not necessary.  What I enjoyed was listening to the partners decide what colours they wanted to paint the tumblers and the reason for it.  The best answer I overheard was, “let’s make it look like a sunrise!”

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Step 2:

Lightly dab a cotton swab into the paint and then dab the glass tumbler.  One dab goes a long way – about 5-7 dots.  It’s important that the dots are not too goopy or else the texture of the glass feels funny, not to mention caring for the glass is more challenging when the surface is raised.

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Step 3:

Continue dabbing until satisfied, about halfway to 2/3 way up the glass.  There’s a fraction lesson here!

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Step 4:

Allow the glasses to dry upside down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  After about 1 hour the glasses are ready for the oven.

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Step 5:

Yes, I said oven.  I know, I was worried too!  Place the glasses into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.  After 30 minutes turn off the heat and allow the glasses to stay in the heated oven for 1 hour.

Step 6:

Once the hour is up, your glasses are ready for use.  Be careful when washing – use warm water and soap, hand-wash and air dry.

The finished product turned out pretty fantastic!  Bookmark this idea if you’re looking for an easy to do homemade gift.  I think grandparents would love these!

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* Take it a step further: try hand-dotting a glass platter or glass plates.  The possibilities are endless!