Family History

f88b6b8ca8f68ecb7d088b9c1ccbe947

I just finished reading Boston Girl by Anita Diamant and now find myself deep into Between Gods by Alison Pick. Both books have much in common: Judiasm, harrowing war stories and gutsy women trying to make sense of their personal unrest; albeit Diamant’s story is a fictional novel whereas Pick’s is a revealing memoir.

What I find most compelling, perhaps because I’m an Ancestry.ca junkie, is that both books tell a family’s history.

The theme for this month is exactly that – Family History. We will be delving into our pasts, exploring connections between then and now, and sharing tips for unearthing and organizing your own family history.

Dads play a central role in the family, and we’re grateful for the loving fathers in our lives. To honour these men, we will publish our annual Father’s Day Gift Guide that you will want to bookmark for next month’s celebration.

We are finally seeing the signs of spring! After a grueling winter with record-breaking stretches of extreme cold weather, we are thankful for the blossoms and buds. Nathalie takes beautiful photos on her daily walk that remind us to be mindful of the little joys in life. To see her pictures, follow us on Instagram.

June 28, 1988: The Mystery of the Murdered Kid

I wrote this for creative writing when I was in grade 2.  There are no illustrations, simply text because I was going for “novel” and not “picture book”.   I am surprised that psychological services were never called after I wrote this story.IMG_5742

June 28, 1988 Grade 2

The Mystery of the Murdered Kid

 Once in a land called Monster Berry-Chew, there was a monster called Monster Berry-Chew.

He liked to murder and to pick out the brains and cut off heads. When he cut his nails he didn’t use ordinary scissors. He cut his nails with huge chompers. Now let’s get on with the story.

A very long time ago there was a girl who was hiking. Her name was Sue. She found a cave, a big cave, a big big big cave. Inside the BIG cave was a coffin. She opened it and there was Monster Berry-Chew.

Then he murdered Sue. He got loose and murdered three girls he loved.

When he found out he had murdered the girls he loved, he was very upset because now he was all alone.

Then he found one poor family. He brought everybody back to life, with his powers.

One night the townspeople went to check on Monster Berry-Chew. The monster was not there. They searched and searched.

Then somebody said “He is not here and he won’t be murdering people anymore.”

“You are right,” said the townspeople.

The End.

 

Things We Wrote As Kids

i0rtniakXIz4Yn0zps01Rx1J8xM7l7geaPh2-3XLONs,FQ9NRKqjIe22hF7vnq2XzlIEjdb_1PtO710mORX8Ru0,4Vr5y7S3YzwLfvPnUcSvmWymSFPZpE57x_9J-3fiN64Podcasts are my new favourite thing. Nathalie and I lost hours of our life to Serial and I listen to Meditation Oasis on my walks back from school drop-off and tune into Ted Talks for inspiration. But when I need a laugh, I stream Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids.

The 60-minute podcasts are exactly what the title states. Grownups read excerpts of their journals, diaries, letters, stories and homework assignments they wrote when they were kids. In front of a live audience. Kudos to them! I don’t know if I would have the courage for public embarrassment.

Rather coincidently my mother dropped off a box of my school days treasures and among the folders are a considerable number of humiliating stories that I wrote while in elementary school. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly name my mother the GREATEST MOTHER EVER because not only did she keep a straight face when I read these aloud to her, she actually wrote supportive notes in the comments section. Bless her.

Without further ado, this week we pay homage to Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids and share with you, a piece of writing from our childhood.

If listening to people embarrass themselves is your thing, Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids is coming live to Detroit, Windsor and Toronto in May. Be sure to check their website for tour dates.

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:

71080

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)

live-love-teach-necklace-in-silver11391920

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)

unnamed

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!

IMG_2937

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)

IMG_2909

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.

ste anne's

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.

IMG_4923

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

5trug2_medium

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.

greenbeehouse_medium

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.

SAMSUNG

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)

10429273_889876057691715_8798051250950949403_n

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!

10447623_889876037691717_7810748484809864550_n

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.

10457511_889875967691724_9137887517705993396_n

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.

485545_889876074358380_2125708397105945422_n

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.

a lake

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?

img56c

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.

813701013381_hi

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

882709010937_hi

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.

img72o

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.

879674020603_hi

 

879674019669_hi

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.

879674005068_hi

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.