Posts Tagged "holidays"

Quintessential Childhood Gifts

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 2 comments

Quintessential Childhood Gifts

My son Rain, having recently turned seven, received some classic gifts that inspired my sister and I to brainstorm a list of the quintessential childhood gifts. Here is our suggested list of gifts for every boy and girl up to the age of ten. These items have been proven to inspire and delight and it is our feeling that they awaken the curious mind of the child to all types of creativity, without pretense and without self-consciousness. In every case, a real working item should be gifted, not a toy version. In addition, I’ve listed a classic book to be read aloud at each age. A hardcover edition of each of the suggested books would also make lovely gifts.   One Year Old A ball to encourage give and take, and laughter. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown               Two Year Old A set of wooden blocks to awaken the builder, planner, dreamer. A Baby’s Catalogue by Janet & Allan Ahlberg               Three Year Old An apron (for kitchen and workshop) and a small tape measure to share the joy of creating, working with our hands, and accomplishing tasks around the home and to teach that everyone, no matter how small, can lend a helping hand. The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne               Four Year Old An instrument (smallest size djembe drum, a harmonica, a recorder, or a small ukelele) to kindle a love of music and introduce the idea that music can come from anyone. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White               Five Year Old A hardcover 4×6 inch sketch pad, travel set of pencils or crayons in a proper tin, wooden box or case, a flashlight to encourage freedom of expression without limits (on paper consumption or seeing in the dark). Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl                 Six Year Old A magnifying glass and a compass to encourage exploring the world with an open heart. Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie               Seven Year Old Binoculars and the classic Swiss Army Knife, a small messenger-style bag for excursions (over the shoulder, many pockets, preferably used) to facilitate adventures. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder                 Eight Year Old A watercolour paint set and a pad of watercolour paper to delight in colour, shape, and light, and to instill a love of making art. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis                 Nine Year Old A game set with more than one game such as chess, checkers, backgammon (preferably in a wooden case) to teach strategy, sportsmanship, companionship, and the care and appreciation of all things finely crafted. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien                 Ten Year Old A hammock to embrace one’s inner world, inspire imagination, and to while away the lazy days of childhood. Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling             Tell me – what would you...

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Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off?

Posted on May 12, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 0 comments

Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off?

…{This is a draft from a couple of years ago and I wanted to run it because tomorrow I anticipate one of those Mother’s Days that doesn’t quite measure up. When your kids are young, the success of Mother’s Day often depends on the planning of your partner/co-parent and this year Aaron has a lot going on. Our business is busier than it’s ever been, we’re building a cabin, Aaron’s looking at buying some new equipment for our business this week. There’s a pretty good possibility that there will be no gift, no card and no relaxing day given that Aaron hasn’t had a free moment to shop, we have no groceries in the house and we’ll probably spend the day at our building site. And still, I don’t hate Mother’s Day. I still think it’s a good idea. Have a read below if you want to know why.}…   In case you somehow missed it, yesterday was Mother’s Day. I had a really great day and surprisingly, after 5 years of Mother’s Days it was the first time I had an open conversation with Aaron about what I want for Mother’s Day. Hopefully, that will mean that future Mother’s Days will be just as enjoyable. What do I want? I want to sleep in a bit. I want someone to say Happy Mother’s Day when I wake up. I want to spend the day together as a family, maybe go for a walk, maybe garden, maybe go for lunch. I don’t want a day focused on getting stuff done.  I don’t want to be solely responsible for child care for large portions of the day. I don’t need a gift. I don’t mind making dinner. I just want to spend a nice day together. And maybe every few years it might be nice to be surprised with a pedicure or massage. This seems pretty simple in the wants department. That’s pretty much how yesterday went and that’s why I loved it. It was simple but it was still an acknowledgement that I am appreciated. Over the weekend I read a lot of blog posts about Mother’s Day. Most were along the lines of “I hate Mother’s Day. It’s too much pressure. It’s fake. It’s a Hallmark Holiday. It never measures up. I don’t want to be given corny poetry and flowers telling me that I am good at cleaning the house and washing laundry. I don’t want all this built-up fuss over ONE day when my family should do nice things for me all year, should appreciate me every day.” You know what? I get that. I’ve had crappy Mother’s Days. I’ve had days where my family forgot. They sucked. And it’s true, we should appreciate our moms and dads every day of the year. We should randomly do nice things for people for no reason all year long. But know what else? The truth is we don’t. We forget. We get busy living our lives. We take each other for granted. We take relationships for granted. We think of picking up a gift just because but we don’t end up acting on it. It seems extravagant or we’re in a hurry or we don’t have the money. How often do you sit down with the kids and draw I love daddy cards, just because? I don’t do it as much as I should. It’s sad, but it’s true. That’s why we have birthdays. That’s why we have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. That’s why every day of the year is an acknowledgment of something. This week is Nurses Week. Should we abolish Nurses Week because we should appreciate nurses every day? May 5 was International Day of the Midwife. Should we not go to the effort of thanking our midwives and spreading word about the job they do just because it’s an arbitrary day on the calendar that has nothing to do with anything? I realise that often these honorary days come across pretty phony and I agree with a lot of the Mother’s Day...

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Stocking Stuffer Idea

Posted on Dec 20, 2010 in Reading | 0 comments

Stocking Stuffer Idea

I have to preface this by saying that I do not represent Usborne and I did not receive free product or compensation in return for this review. If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer for the 5 year old in your life, I highly recommend Usborne’s 100 Things for Little Children to do on a Journey. My son received this as an early Christmas gift from his grandparents and we love it! This little gem consists of 50 double-sided activity cards and a pen. The cards are laminated so the marker wipes off and the activities can be done over and over again (move over colouring/activity books!). When the pen runs out, any old dry erase pen works just as good and the cards are easily wiped clean with a tissue or paper towel. There are a whole series of these activity cards and I’m sure the other sets are just as fun. Some of the other sets are more clearly geared towards travel, with activities like spotting things out the window, or older kids like the brain teaser set. Though this particular set is supposed to be things to do on a journey, there’s nothing about it that makes it only a travel game. In fact, we haven’t been on a journey yet and our cards are getting heavy use at home every afternoon. This lovely portable little box has also been brought along every time we’ve eaten out at a restaurant since we received them. The cards themselves have a range of activities with everything from drawing prompts (similar to the Taro Gomi colouring/drawing books which we also love, by the way) to simple crossword puzzles. Because Rain is pre-literate right now that means the cards will have longevity. It should be quite a while before the cards are too simple for him. Other activities include mazes, spotting the errors in a picture, connect-the-dots and more. Even our 2 year old loves them. We call them black out cards because she loves to colour every item on the card until it’s completely blacked out and then wipe the card clean and start again. She will do this for sometimes half an hour at a time! I’ve seen these cards for between $10 and $12 CAD everywhere from amazon.ca to Costco to our local toy store. They shouldn’t be hard to find near...

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Mindfully Creating Family Traditions

Posted on Dec 14, 2010 in Featured, Parenting | 19 comments

Mindfully Creating Family Traditions

When we first got together in our mid-twenties, we (and our friends) were in the habit of celebrating about 3 holidays: Thanksgiving (big potluck), Halloween (costume parties) and Christmas. Beyond the required family Christmas, we also often did things with our friends, especially during the years when I had no family close by (potluck dinners, staff parties, secret Santa gift exchanges). When we had kids, it became more fun to revisit old traditions and holidays that had fallen by the wayside. Over the years we’ve added more and more (starting with Easter), and in the last year we decided to make a specific effort to focus on traditions and festivals in a mindful way. Rhythm This decision was precipitated by some of the things we learned about Waldorf school when we began to investigate Rain’s options for Kindergarten earlier this year. According to Waldorf educational philosophy, rhythm is an important aspect of human life: When more people depended directly upon nature for their living, their lives were, of necessity, more rhythmic. They recognized that the rhythms of their days, their weeks, and even the seasons of the year supported them by yielding to them what they needed to live. Beyond the Rainbow Bridge – Nurturing our Children From Birth to Seven For young children marking the seasons and festivals throughout the year is an important way to incorporate rhythm into their lives. This becomes increasingly important as we live in a society that is more and more cut off from the natural world. Though we chose not to pursue Waldorf education, the focus on rhythm throughout the year has enriched our family and homeschool life. We’ve made this a priority year round, but today I will just mention a couple that come to mind immediately. Birthdays One of our cherished birthday traditions began the day my oldest was born. We had made a blueberry pie to cook during our homebirth with the intention of sharing it with our midwives before they went home. Rain was born at 7:00 am. Every year, my husband takes the morning off work so that we can begin Rain’s birthday with blueberry pie for breakfast. Valentine’s Day Two years ago, I made a deliberate decision to start celebrating Valentine’s Day with my then 3.5 year old son.  It was a reaction against the glut of commercial, trademarked characters (Dora, Spiderman, Sponge Bob, etc.) on store bought, throw away cards that was coming home from preschool. It was a reaction against the fact that cartoons aimed at children seem to often contain love interests when 4 and 5 year olds don’t need to be obsessed with having a girlfriend or boyfriend. It was even a reaction against all the people who hate Valentine’s Day for the way it makes single people feel and for the fact that it is so commercialized.  I thought that at least while Rain is young I would like to teach him that Valentine’s Day is a day set aside to tell or show people in your life that they are special to you, whether that’s a good friend or a family member or your mate. I also wanted him to understand that Valentine’s Day can be about chocolate and cards but that it can also be about a thoughtful gift, or ideally using creativity and imagination. Rather than buy cards for his friends, we gave out pictures of Rain. We also celebrate as a family: heart shaped pancakes for breakfast or making jam sweetheart cookies together. We’ve also done things like hang dozens of hearts from the ceiling on strings or leave a trail of hearts on the floor leading to a hiding spot with a gift. Christmas Christmas can be pretty tricky to work out as a couple. We have had to figure out how to incorporate each of our individual traditions to try to create a meaningful holiday for our kids. Thankfully, Santa didn’t figure too prominently for either of our families so we don’t really do Santa for our kids (other than as a fun story). We...

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Briefly October

Posted on Nov 1, 2010 in Featured | 1 comment

Briefly October

The things I learned in October: Despite my best intentions, I can’t seem to get my butt in gear to blog as often as I’d like while also juggling a 2 year old, homeschooling a 5 year old, doing the books for our family business, re-designing the website for the family business and being pregnant. I don’t manage to stay nice Mommy when 2 year old has a melt down and doesn’t want to wear the costume that I fretted over for weeks and finally pulled together the week of Halloween. Challenge for future learning posts: Learn how to keep my own stress from infiltrating the holidays for the whole family. I really love making our own pickles. We made our first batch in August (dill pickles) and finally got to test them this month. So yummy. We also did beet pickles and pickled carrots over the weekend, bringing the total count to 19 quarts of dills (cukes), 12 quarts of pickled beets and 11 pints of pickled carrots. We also just got a canner as a gift from my in-laws and look forward to doing jams, sauces (apple, tomato, pear) and fruits & veggies (peaches, pears, tomatoes). Aaron and I have gotten into this as a joint hobby and find that it’s a nice way to spend some time together despite that it means that the kids either watch too many movies or rip the house apart jumping on every surface and spreading bedding and pillows far and wide. We drown our sorrows while cleaning the mess by eating pickles. I should mention that this is a surprise because I hated canning as a kid, partly because it was forced labour and partly because my mom would get really stressed out (file this under legitimate reasons for #2 above). Pregnancy related nausea likes to stay longer and longer with each of my pregnancies – another reason why this will be our last baby! With Rain I was feeling better by 12 weeks, with Noa it was somewhere between 14 and 16 weeks. This time, while I’m definitely over the all day sickness and exhaustion of the first trimester, nausea in the morning is still persisting at 24 weeks. Bummer! I may also have to accept that pregnancy seems to be increasing my allergies too as I sneeze my head off every day this fall (never having suffered from fall allergies before). Anticipating the births of friends’ babies and seeing the newborn photos afterward works very well as means to get me excited about our own little surprise baby—until the middle of the night when I can still be struck with intense panic at the thought of grocery shopping or bedtime with three kids. What I Learned This Month posts are inspired by Amber of Strocel.com. View this month’s link-up on her site to see what she and her participants learned in October...

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