World Cup Fever: At-home activities

World Cup fever has made an appearance at our house.  The boys (eldest and middlest) have immersed themselves entirely in all things “football”.  I was surprised how much they actually know about the sport.  Sure, they play soccer every Sunday morning, but as far as I understood that was the extent of it.

The symptoms of World Cup fever are evident in their clothing choices (football jerseys gifted from travels afar by generous relatives), their outdoor playtime (baseball has taken a backseat) and even their Sunday morning friends are joining in the antics of swooping arms, praying hands and bent knees while chanting that now familiar word: Ole!

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Because I have an unnecessary compulsion to turn the everyday into teachable moments, my unsuspecting boys have been the recipients of an on-going geography lesson.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Flag Match

We searched the official FIFA website for all of the teams playing in the 2014 World Cup.  We wrote out each country on half an index card and glued a print out of the corresponding flag on the other half.

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We then cut the cards in half to make our own “World Cup Match Game”.  If you want to make it easier on yourself, a printable version (along with other World Cup activities suitable for kids) is available here.

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Flag Tally

Our neighbourhood is ripe with flags.  They are visible everywhere from car windows, to front porches and store windows.  We counted the flags while making the walk to and from school each day, but after that grew tiresome and school finished-up for the summer, we made a tally sheet to document the most popular teams in our neighbourhood (and on a few very long car rides).

We created our tally book by printing a simple three-column table (flag, country name, tally).  We printed the 2014 World Cup country flags, cut them out and glued them into our tally book.  This is an easy way to involve younger siblings.  Cutting and pasting are great ways to build fine motor skills.

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We used our World Flag sticker book as a resource to correctly identify the flags.  This task could have easily been accomplished by using a website, but I wanted the boys to look up the flags using the geographical index and matching each flag with the correct country.  Real books, people.  Remember those?

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There were some snags.  Many flags have similar colours.  Belgium and Germany can be easily confused, but after taking a few minutes to identify the direction of the stripes, the boys learned to be more careful in both their gluing and their matching.  Remember to stretch the sounds while spelling out the country name and look for phonetic patterns.  For example, the “y” at the end of Italy, Ivory Coast and Germany all make the same sound.  Colombia, Algeria, Nigeria, and Australia all end in “ia” and together those vowels sound like “ee-ah”.

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Countries are proper nouns.  Remind the writer that all proper nouns begin with uppercase letters.

Keep talking -while working together we discussed the various countries.  I asked them the following questions:

What language is spoken in that country?

Do you know anyone who has travelled to that country?

What continent is the country located on and what is the climate like?

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Want to take it a step further?  Consider making culinary connections by serving up a traditional dish from a winning country.

 

Happy Blogoversary!

9BeuK0uZSDAnexbwvP3ZdHXRKOoCdJ3ArjMKmFQdIcLY23OQ6G0UalNV7QS3R4TzHappy Blogoversary to us!  4Mothers turns 4 today and to mark the anniversary, we’ve updated our look.

A few weeks ago the three of us met on campus at the University of Toronto.  The lush greenery and historic buildings provided the perfect backdrop for our photo shoot by photographer Sara Beasley.

What did we learn?  That modeling is hard work!  That there is a knack to knowing how to hold your head just so, and position your body in just the right way to avoid triple chins and arm fat, but we sure did have a lot of laughs.  Our cheeks were aching by the end of the session!

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For almost a year now, we have been blogging as three mothers and inviting special guests to join in for our regular theme and at issue weeks.  We said a sad farewell to one of our founding members.  We’ve been fortunate to have made our writing foursome up with such talented guest writers.  We love how they have expanded the boundaries of our conversation and our community.

We are so grateful that you have made us part of your day and of your on-line community.  We are thankful for your comments, your social media shares and likes, your word of mouth sharing and your nominations for blogging awards.  We love to write, and hearing back from you makes that process come alive in ways that keep us energized and enthusiastic about this place we call home.

We started 4Mothers with the intention of creating a corner of the blogosphere for mothers to share their feelings about motherhood, relationships, and everything in between without judgment.  Through our personal reflections on motherhood, we wanted to show how women with different opinions and “ways of doing it” could still be supportive of each other, learn from each other and feel connected with each other regardless of any differences.

We are about to start our fifth year of blogging and during this time we have never received any financial compensation for any product or event we’ve featured on 4Mothers.  We get a lot of requests to promote products and causes, and we decline a large majority of those requests.  We only feature products and events that we like on our blog or think that our readers would like to know about.  When we do promote a product, we try to do so in the way we would tell our friends about a great new discovery; it’s something we genuinely like and can recommend.  There may be a time when we decide to accept advertising or financial compensation, but the right format for that has not appeared yet.

Thanks again to all of you for keeping us going and growing.  Please continue to leave comments, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, and please do say a virtual “hello.”  We love to hear from you!

Sincerely,

Beth-Anne, Carol and Nathalie

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The Household Chores Debate: Don’t Keep Score

Having kids will automatically lower your standards for cleanliness.

Having kids will automatically lower your cleanliness standards.

In his op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Case for Filth, Stephen Marche suggests the solution to the division of household chores is to simply do less and be happier.  Jessica Grose responded with the argument that men shouldn’t get to “punk out” when it comes to housework.

Oh, the housework debate.  For me, this is filed alongside the breastfeeding debate in the “Who Gives a Shit?” folder.

What do I mean by that?  It’s simple.  Whenever these studies come out about what our neighbours are doing, whether it’s how much sex they are having or how the chores are divided, we start to question our normal.  Is it normal that I do the majority of the day-to-day housekeeping and my husband does more of the “labor” jobs around the house?  Does that make me: subservient, a fool or a doormat? Is he boorish, a stereotype or a misogynist?

Questioning what’s normal is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s often the impetus for change – and in this case Grose wants us to challenge what’s normal and put a broom in the hands of more men – but a quick informal survey of my friends reveals that “normal” varies from household to household.  Anything goes from dads doing laundry to moms cleaning out the eaves troughs.  Even the idea of cleanliness differs from household to household and so long as everyone’s on board, who cares what other people think?

Marches writes about the intimate drudgery that is housekeeping and marriage.  So true.  On my worst days, I will always make the bed.  Everything is right with the world when I can pull back the covers and get inside.  My husband has made the bed about the same number of times he has ironed a shirt – less than 10.  But don’t ask me to change the furnace filter.

Marche recalls that steamy scene in Mad Men when Meghan and Don pull off to the side of the road to have sex after leaving a dinner party gone awry where Don stripped off his shirt to fix a leaky sink.

I am reminded of the time we visited friends at their rental cottage.  While toasting another picture-perfect summer evening and waiting for dinner to be served, it was discovered that there was no longer running water indoors.  A small group of us stood around puzzled, not sure how to solve this problem, but my husband disappeared only to return wearing his bathing suit and with some tools he’d rummaged up.  Within minutes he was submerged in the lake affixing some thing-a-ma-jiggy pipe to some sort of doohickey.

While there was no Meghan Draper moment on the way home, I admit to feeling turned on and not because it was all macho-like, “Me man.  Me fix water pipe.  You woman.  You do the dishes.”

It was more a feeling of gratitude, or phew! someone on my team can fix water pipes!

The same way that I hope he feels about being married to someone who gets her thrills from organizing the mudroom.

Housekeeping can be a metaphor for marriage.  It’s messy, hard work, and everyone has their own way of doing it.

I beg to differ with both Marche and Grose.  It’s not about doing less or doing more, it’s about not keeping score.

 

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You could WIN!

This week, 4Mothers will discuss gender and housework and how things look to us.  We love it when you join in, whether to offer your own perspective or to simply say that you enjoyed a read.  Don’t be shy; drop us a line.  Leave a comment on one or more posts this week and you could WIN a home detox kit from Seventh Generation valued at $50!  (Canadian residents only)

What’s In My Car? A Whole Lot.

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I drive a mini-van.  I love it!  For real.  Like an evangelical preacher, I praise the mini-van – I have got the converts to prove it!

For starters, it’s roomy.  My three boys can spread out and there is no touching.  None.  Secondly, I can make a Costco run or make out at IKEA like a bandit and never worry how I am going to get everything home.  Open the hatch and pile it in.  No finessing required. Thirdly, I never feel cramped when we are driving all together and I always feel cramped.  No one can touch me when they are belted into their seats.  No one can encroach on my space.

Unlike Nathalie, I spend a lot of timing driving the boys around to activities, school, their grandparents, the grocery store . . . pretty much everywhere.  I gave up feeling guilty about this in the throes of the polar vortex.

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Like Nathalie, we’re never far from sporting equipment.  Spring marked the transition from skis and toboggans to baseball gloves and balls.  My boys will toss the ball around any chance they get; when they are waiting for their brother to finish an activity, waiting for a school bell, waiting for me to finish yapping with my friends.

Before children we used to switch out the winter mats of our car.  After children, we NEVER switch out the winter mats of our van.  Why?  If you are asking, then you clearly don’t have children.

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I always have juice boxes.  You’d think my kids are in a constant state of dehydration based on how often they ask for something to drink.  Since we pepper our day with outdoor play at any opportunity, I usually have a sweaty crew of boys.  Juice boxes store nicely in the side compartment because the million cup holders that come with the van are always in use, holding anything and everything but cups. (See above picture)

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This CD saved my sanity more times than I care to admit.   Even though my boys have long outgrown listening to the story, I can’t bring myself to remove it from the van because for so many years I needed to have it at arm’s length.  There may or may not have been times when I drove around the city childless with this playing in the background.

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I will never be without the following essentials:

-       Ziploc baggies (the uses are too numerous to list, but barf bag tops the list)

-       Kleenex

-       Wet wipes (every parent knows why)

-       Umbrella

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Here is what I like to call The Abyss of Crap.  It’s a bit like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag: a complete mash-up of random things.  Math flashcards, sunscreen, CDs, hand sanitizer, earpieces, sunglasses, more Kleenex, crumbled crackers, stale Goldfish . . .

 

What We’re Reading: Kids Edition

From Beth-Anne

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Di Camillo

I wish that I read aloud to my kids more often but time always seems to get away from me.  I tried making it a part of the bedtime ritual but putting three kids to bed at night with varying bedtimes, and a strong-willed son begging to watch his beloved sports teams, slowly chipped away at this precious time.  Whenever I do get the chance to snuggle in bed with the boys and read, I find it peaceful.  Our latest family read aloud has been the 2001 Newbery Honor Book, Because of Winn-Dixie.  Opal is a young girl, recently transplanted to a new town, struggling to find her footing.  She forms a lasting bond with a stray mutt she rescues from the local supermarket.  Winn-Dixie is more than just a furry companion; Winn-Dixie helps Opal to rediscover her confidence.

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Mercy Watson series by Kate Di-Camillo

Middlest is an avid reader (one out of three ain’t bad!) but at 5 years old he was stuck in an in-between stage.  Picture books weren’t holding his attention long enough and many of the early readers, while fun, they lacked any sense of “literature”.  Feel free to insert your eye-roll here, but it bothers me that so many books marketed towards kids are gender-biased and lack both a creative storyline and complex characters.  So I was thrilled when we discovered the Mercy Watson series about a precocious pig adopted by a delightful couple.  Mercy gets up to all sorts of shenanigans much to the chagrin of her neighbour Eugenia.  The chapters while short are the perfect length for emerging chapter readers and each storybook is chock-full of imaginative plots and expressive dialogue that make read-alouds lots of fun too!

From Nathalie

untitledSo, I am basically of the opinion that Mo Willems should be king of the world.  I believe this as a matter of course, but my conviction is strengthened each and every time Youngest (6) and I read his Elephant and Piggie books.  The Elephant and Piggie books are the funniest, most durable learn-to-read books you will ever encounter.  We currently have I am a Frog and I Will Surprise My Friend on high rotation.  By “high rotation” I mean I’ve read these books 50 times.  And each and every time they get a belly laugh.  Youngest reads them all himself, whether he has them memorized or not I don’t care because what these books teach is that reading is some of the most fun you will have all day.  We are the proud owners of every last book in the series, and I think they are the best value for book money I’ve ever spent (or had spent on me–some were very gratefully received gifts).

Middlest (9) and I are currently on book two of Kevin Crossley Holland’s Arthurian trilogy.  We are in it for the long haul with this series, and I rather like the very slow pace at which we are reading.  (He has to wait for a night when I can read to him alone and when his dad is not home and reading The Bobbsey Twins to him and Youngest.)  The books are lush with detail about medieval life, and the protagonist narrator is a boy who graduates from page to squire to knight.  All the while, he is able to follow the story of King Arthur in a seeing stone provided to him by Merlin.  The book tackles difficult issues of illegitimate children, infidelity, and some of the cruelties and inequities of the feudal system.  It’s a good book to read at a slow pace because the action stops and starts a lot, but we are both enjoying the pace.

2114086I am also reading Lois Lowry’s The Willoughbys to Youngest and Middlest.  It’s a hilarious and rather dark send-up of children’s books, including the Bobbsey Twins.  (The kids gasped aloud tonight when we got to the part where the Willoughby children reference them!  Hey!  Books talking to each other!)  The Willoughby children do not like their parents and make plans to become orphans.  The parents feel much the same about their kids and are greatly inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel.  Nefarious plots ensue.  One of the best bits is the author’s bio on the back flap:

Influenced in her childhood by a mother who insisted on surrounding her with books instead of roller skates and jump ropes, Lois Lowry grew up lacking fresh air and exercise but with a keen understanding of plot, character, and setting.  [And Oxford commas.  Ed.]  … Today she is a wizened, reclusive old woman who sits hunched over her desk thinking obsessively about the placement of commas.

Eldest (13) just finished school for the summer today.  He is not reading anything.  When he is finished not reading anything (I’ll give him until Monday), I have a fun summer read lined up for him: Itch and its sequel Itch Rocks.  Itchingham Lofte is a child hero much like Alex Rider (in fact, Anthony Horowitz is a big fan of the books), who is an element hunter: he collects elements from the Periodic Table, sometimes by doing experiments to isolate them.  The first book opens with him burning his eyebrows off, but his mother’s ire is nothing to compare to the danger he gets into when he discovers a new element.   The publishers sent me a copy of both books, and I think they will be the perfect summer read.

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Be Green and Detox Your Home

images-1Carol is my go-to green expert.  She’s most likely cringing right now because she considers herself anything but an expert on the topic.  She is, however, the most environmentally conscious person whom I know and instead of wanting to stick my fingers in my ears and ride out the guilt wave whenever she talks about her latest greening project, I am inspired!  That’s right folks, inspired!

This woman makes her own soap, grows her own mushrooms and boarded the eco-train long before it became mainstream yet she is anything but a green snob.  Her quiet enthusiasm spurs me to try new things and step way out of my comfort zone.

A few weeks ago, Seventh Generation sent over a home detox kit and I figured why not give it a try?  I have made strides to introduce more organic, whole foods in to our every day diet but I have been neglectful on the home front.

I am not easily impressed when it comes to “green” cleaners.  The few that I have tried have delivered lacklustre results that left me wondering how clean the toilet/counter/floor really is?

I was pleasantly surprised with Seventh Generation’s granite counter cleaner and dishwashing detergent but the laundry detergent made me a convert!  images

I do laundry like it’s my job.  Well, it kinda is my job.  I easily push through 10 loads a week of grimy, sweaty, stained clothes running the gamut from sporting uniforms to my beloved skinnies and EVERYTHING CAME OUT SPOTLESS with no soapy residue.

Thinking of “leaning-in” to become more green conscious when it comes to your home?  Here are some easy-to-do tips from Seventh Generation:

  1. Open The Windows – avoid synthetic air fresheners and sprays.
  2. Leave Shoes At The Door – and wash those welcome mats!
  3. Plant More Indoor Plants – they help purify the air.
  4. Clean With Plant-Based or DIY Cleaners – or choose a brand that lists all of their ingredients so you can make an informed choice.
  5. Sleep On Organic And/Or Natural Fibres
  6. Detox Your Home From The Outside In – spray your lawn with white vinegar to combat those pesky weeds!
  7. Choose Toys Made From Natural Materials – and wash them with natural detergents.

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Dads can be tricky people to shop for because they always seem to have everything that they need because they buy it for themselves with little fanfare.  I am forever suggesting with a wink and smile that maybe someone can buy that apple tv/squash racquet/shirt and lo and behold, I find said item in the house a few days later.  Dads can also be the easiest people to shop for.  Food is almost always a home-run and so, come to think of it, are sporting events and experiences.  And every dad, no matter how macho, is a sucker for a painted handprint and a simple “I love you” scrawled across the page.

Here’s a round of up of some gifts that may make dad extra happy on his special day.

From Beth-Anne

I know that the hipster dads are rockin’ the beards but there are still plenty of guys (and their gals) out there who love a close shave.  Son of a Sailor makes these beautiful, stained wood shave kits ($72) that may just make some hipsters rethink their look.

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And because every daddy has their admirers, there is Harry’s father and son shave set ($36)

B3361_EF0490I know quite a few dads who can vouch for having seen every episode of Seinfeld, but that doesn’t mean they have to show solidarity and sport a Constanza-esque wallet.  Thin card holders are the way to go and XO Bruno’s ($35) are simple, no-fuss and all that’s needed.

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It’s a bummer when your phone or mobile device runs out of juice.  Nomad, a company of spry young smartypants (seriously, I could have babysat these kids!) have come up with a simple, easy-to-use solution.  The CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD are sleek portable smart phone cables ($29) that either fit nicely onto a standard key ring or in a card holder (see above).  It works by plugging one end into a USB port and the other end into your mobile device.

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A guy that I went to high school, and whom I am friends with on Facebook, is dapper.  There really is no other word for his style.  His look is unique, well-put together and he appreciates the quality of fine craftsmanship.  I love seeing how his little guy is following in his footsteps.  When I saw this book, Vintage Menswear: A collection from the vintage showroom, ($58) I thought of him.  Happy Father’s Day, J.G.!

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Along the same lines, whatever happened to money clips?  Are they making a comeback along with the pocket-square and slim-cut pants?  I do love a nice money clip, so if the thin-card holder isn’t your guy’s thing, maybe a money clip ($262) is just what he needs.  Besides a cash diet is a good thing, right?

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My boys are baseball obsessed!  Any chance they can get to a game, they are thrilled beyond belief.  It would make their day to see their dad wearing this fan t-shirt ($38).

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Or maybe he will rock an old-school look ($38).

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It’s not just moms that have a lot to tote around.  Dads have things too.  Like their workout clothes and . . . .um . . . I am not sure what else, but this sailor bag ($79) would be an easy bag to toss workout clothes into.

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Cufflinked out?  This simple, leather ID bracelet ($42) is an alternative.

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Have a dad that likes sipping on a drink on the back patio?  Check out these glasses made from recycled beer bottles ($19).  The artists have several to choose from – I bet your dad’s favourite brand is available too.

heinekenHere’s something that is on MY list (for me!) so I may just have to get it for him.  Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton is based on his popular blog of the same name.  He has 4 million followers.  Wow!

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Did this list not spark your interest?  Why not try Urban Moms?  Sonya has some great ideas for the hard-to-buy-for dad.

From Nathalie

I love the messaging that has been coming from Kerry Clare at the 49th Shelf about their Father’s Day book recommendations: not all dads are only about golf, barbecue and beer.  If you are looking for some great books to gift that go beyond the usual father’s day stuff, this is your list.

A while back, we were sent a label making kit from Epson.  The first person I thought about when I got it was my husband!  The custom label makers for wires is perfect for him!  (Available only in the US.)

kt_c51cb70190-4_396x264For Mother’s Day, my husband gave me a t-shirt that says, “I am silently correcting you’re grammar.”  I wore it out today for the first time and was overwhelmed by how many laughs and comments I got.  The shirt also comes in me’ns.  From Arrant Pedantry.

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Experiences.  What does the dad in your life like to do?  What does he like to do with the kids?  Last year, my Father’s Day gift to Ted was a family chess night.  We didn’t actually manage to host it until winter, but no matter.  It was such a hit, we did it twice, the second time I also included my dad!  Three generations learned and laughed together.  It’s one of my favourite gifts ever.

Yakos plays three against one.

Yakos plays three against one.

Finally, another experience-based idea is to be a tourist in your own city.  The rules: plan a family day out and about without going anywhere you have gone before.  New parks, new attractions, new restaurants, food trucks or grocery stores for a picnic.

 

 

 

 

Summer To-Do

imgresBeing a contributor to this blog has given me the opportunity to meet fearless women charting new paths for themselves.  I am always slightly envious of these women who jump into passion projects where they are pushed out of their comfort zones, learn new skills and ultimately carve out a business.  The Doodle Post, Playjamas, Baby Robin’s Nest and Mail A Tale have all been recently feature on 4Mothers.

Last week I met with two mothers who for years would joke with each other while passing in the schoolyard about starting up a business together when their kids started school full-time.  Much more quickly than they thought, reality was upon them and they were faced with a much quieter house during the hours of 9 am – 3 pm.

Armed with coffee and a notebook they sat down one morning to cultivate one of their ideas: pre-made care packages for kids at camp.

Notably absent in the Canadian market, Sarah Barbour and Josie Bohm set out to check one thing off mom’s busy summer to-do list.  With a few clicks of the mouse, a personalized care package can be en route to camp; eliminating the hours spent traversing from store to store looking for just the right items that are also approved by the camp’s sometimes-strict rules.  What’s even better? No more standing in the line-up at Canada Post while struggling with the hassle of packing the loot into the best-fit box.  A busy mother-of-a-camper’s dream come true!

Parcelled with Love is a project of love.  Barbour and Bohm have logged countless hours scouting toy shows and researching suppliers to ensure the best quality items fill their care packages.  And their kids have given their picks a stamp of approval!

Having grown-up spending their summers at camp, both women value the experience of being campers: forging friendships, building confidence, testing limits and trying new things.  Their experiences have meant so much to them, that Parcelled with Love has partnered with Amici Camping Charity, a charity committed to sending children to camp year after year until they are too old to be a camper or until the financial need longer exists.  With every care package purchased through Parcelled with Love, a percentage of the proceeds are donated to Amici Camping making Barbour and Bohm’s dream to make a child a life-long camper a reality.

Visit Parcelled with Love and pre-order your summer care package today and make a Canadian kid a real happy camper!

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Ways To Store Sporting Equipment

imgresIt’s springtime.  Every springtime mothers in my neighbourhood groan about what a pain it is to pack away the winter sporting equipment and retrieve the soccer, baseball, tennis, golf and basketball paraphernalia.  The switch-over isn’t what causes fits of swearing, it’s the storage of said items, or more accurately the lack thereof.

If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes about “first world problems”, I couldn’t agree with you more.

Now, onto solving my dilemma.

Thankfully, I do not have to contend with hockey equipment like my friend, Nathalie, but I do have skis and toboggans and some skates that need storing and a plethora of balls of all types, racquets – badminton, tennis and squash for every member of the family, golf clubs galore, soccer nets, scooters, bikes and trikes, helmets, bubble machines, “lawn mowers”, sprinklers, bases and cleats that need to be at the ready.  My God, the cleats!

I grew up in the suburbs were space was never an issue.   Everyone had ample room in their garages for two cars AND all of their stuff but now I live in the city where space is at a premium. My friends drool over closet space like it’s porn.

I have been researching all sorts of storage ideas and basically, unless you have cash to burn or LOTS of space to start with, many of these ideas are useless.   You can see my feeble attempt at solving this problem on our Pinterest board, click here.

Most likely I will resort to the method that is tried and true: the clear plastic bin.

Please share!  What are your equipment storing tips?

Motherhood is Like a See-Saw

10267762_10154070721210014_6298337845483811914_nI met Nathalie more than 4 years ago. At our first meeting sitting across from each other at the Momoir writing class, she described her feelings of ambivalence about motherhood to the circle of six women.

I remember the woman sitting across from me had a shocked look on her face and while there were no words, her message was clear: how can you feel so-so about being a mom!?

Nathalie went on to explain that ambivalence doesn’t mean, “take it or leave it”. It means having contradictory feelings about something or someone.

That evening, sitting on a plush couch in a darkened Forest Hill basement, I found my way. Nathalie gave a name to the feelings that had taunted me for the past three years. I was finally moored.

For me, motherhood is a constant state of contradiction. My opposing feelings struggle to take center-stage, demanding to be heard. Parenting isn’t about attachment or a helicopter, a tiger or a presence of mind; it’s a harrowing see-saw ride with such soaring highs that it can shock the breath right out of you and thud-to-the-ground lows that will diminish you, gut you, scare-the-shit-out-of -you.

The essayists featured in The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood, narrate ambivalence thoughtfully – with reflection, humility and honesty. Heather Birrell’s Truth, Dare, Double Dare, starts off the compilation and immediately I felt the same sense of kinship that I did years ago when I first met Nathalie.

I have re-read Heidi Reimer’s The Post-Maia World several times, each time gleaning more from her intimate narrative. Like Reimer, I am baffled, completely flummoxed by the contradictions that make up motherhood.

My emotions alone, and the intensity in which I feel them and express them, are like two sides of a coin. Reimer writes about emotion after becoming a mother:

“I yelled more, cursed more, became gripped with stronger rage . . .I smashed objects against of the floor and pounded my fists into walls.”The Post-Maia World

It’s what keeps me awake at night. Are my children going to grow up and their dominant childhood memories include me screeching at them, an ugly snarl on my face, to hurry-up, get dressed, stop fighting and get to school. Are they going to remember the time I smashed the truck plate in two jagged melamine pieces because I could not bear to listen to yet another squabble over whose turn it was to eat a grilled cheese off of it? Is the time, when in a rage of impatience I regrettably zipped-up a winter coat and a lip in one angry jerk, going to be what they remember of me?

I hope not.

I want them to think back on their childhood and recall all the times that I tried to kiss them a million times in a row, when I traced letters on their back, and squeezed our hands together in a cryptic code.

Of course they will never know how intensely I love them, how I have never loved anything with every fiber of my being, the way that I love them. The connection that I feel to them is visceral, so powerful that words could never suffice but Reimer is able to describe the initial feelings that overwhelmed me those early days with such uncanny accuracy.

“ . . .our connection to each other was primeval, animal, beyond rationality; it grew through nine months’ gestation, an umbilical cord between us, a birth canal, a mouth on my breast, hormones clamouring, “You are mine and I have never loved anyone before you!”The Post-Maia World

The emotional extremes that I experience are just one of the contrasting aspects that, for me, define motherhood.

Motherhood is just hard. As Julie Booker writes, “It’s really fucking hard.” Twin Selves.