Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Empathy vs Sympathy

Never realized there was a significant difference between the two.  I'm sure they each have their place (...hmm... is there ever a time for sympathy?) but this animated video/talk makes it very clear that empathy is the approach of choice when you want to be with someone.  Christmas is a good time for that.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Magic in the Mundane

The past three and a half years have involved a serious learning curve - motherhood.  I am beginning to realize that I have resisted the major changes that have been going on in and around me and it is a slow process of coming to accept what my life looks like now.  I always planned to be a mother, always said that my worst fear was not being able to have children.  I have always loved kids and never thought twice about my plans to have "at least five".  Oh the bliss of ignorance!  It's not that I was particularly wrong - I do love children, I love my children and I do hope to have more of them.  It's just that I thought I would be able to just continue living my life.  Or that somehow my life would flow seamlessly into their life.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that after a significant breakdown this week, this is what came to me:

You are the gift, and calling
given to me
the day I became a mother.

I cried and cried, why can't I accept that being a mother is a legitimate and worthwhile way to spend a life?  And so that became my goal for the next year.  To put my whole self into mothering.  To use my brilliant mind (now that's confidence), my creativity, my problem solving skills, my love for reading and research...all of my gifts, into being a mother.  Is it possible?  Don't know.  Am I going to fail?  Probably.  Does that mean I shouldn't do it?  Definitely not.  Who has tried to change the world without knowing that their attempts are almost certainly doomed to failure?  I would say very few.

Well, how's that for a blog post?  A little out of the ordinary I guess.  What I really wanted to share was a most incredible video that expresses all of this in a beautiful and inspiring and, for me, heart-wrenching two-and-a-half minutes.  It makes beautiful the mundane work of mothering.

Thank you, friend, for sharing that with me.  Someone remind me to watch this video on a regular basis this year to remind me of the magic of this time of my life.  I don't see it now, but I know it's there.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Words to the Wise"

I was definitely in the perfect mood to read this article so I did laugh a LOT.  If you have had children in the recent past, you will probably laugh too.  How can kids be simultaneously so adorable and so infuriating? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


As a parent there are always an infinite number of ideas that you wish you could implement for your kids that you know just aren't ever going to happen...Dinovember is probably one of them - but it rocks.  It reminds me of Elf on the Shelf, which is a fun idea too (though I'm not totally comfortable with the conditional approval it entails).  I just love the creativity of Dinovember and the imagination, wonder and curiosity it promotes.  Another one to store away for some day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Custom Built-In Luxury

I have started to dream of a house where there is tons of storage strategically built in to the house that is perfectly accessible but also HIDES all of our CRAP.  I walk around my house and all I see so much stuff!  I am being reminded that that's not what I really want in my heart of hearts, but I still find homes like this very inspiring.  Magic closets and beds that fold away seem so dreamy at this point in my life! 

Love is With Us

I wouldn't usually post this type of thing on here, but I can't let myself forget about this.  Brene Brown is a very inspirational person who I first heard about through her TedTalk on vulnerability and another one by her on shame.  I was very surprised when someone sent me a link to an interview with her on a religious topic.  Knowing she was an academic, I assumed she was not religious.  Wow.  I was blown away by her simple but incredible thoughts in this short interviewGod is love, and God is with us, are the two foundational concepts that I have been relying on for the past several years in the midst of major upheaval when it comes to my basic beliefs.  To have someone articulate those ideas in a clear, understandable, but also incredibly intelligent way was so meaningful to me. 

Winter Story Telling

As I've mentioned before, I have dreams of a library appearing in my house some day.  Before that, a reading nook would be lovely.  Before that, a decent book shelf would be great...

In the meantime, I will collect inspiration.  This is a post full of great ideas.  They require some prep and thought (I think I'm doing well when we get to the library once a month) but the ideas are just so rich and so inviting.  Especially for the coming season.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Good Job"

As a parent I try to consider very seriously the words I use when I'm talking to my kids.  Gender issues and boundary issues are probably at the forefront of my mind most of the time - encouraging them to be themselves, make their own choices.  Towards that end, I try to avoid saying "good girl" when I want to affirm their behaviour.  I thought "good job" was a better choice since it was less about their identity as an acceptable person and more about the action or behaviour.  This article takes that idea to a whole new level and I love it.  I think it is a very important reminder to consider what it is, exactly, that you are trying to encourage in your child and then find a way to articulate that in a way they can understand. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

disposable culture

It gets really frustrating that when something breaks, it is almost impossible to fix it anymore.  Instead you are just supposed to throw it out and get a new one.  Cost, convenience, and culture tell us that it is not important to do or make things that last.  Here is someone, something, that is trying to work against that - a phone that doesn't become out-of-date five minutes after you buy it.  How cool?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Growing up with kids

In our adventures in parenting there has been nothing better than to have people walking the same path beside us.  A few people have shared some great resources lately that are good to have on hand when it seems like nothing is working.

This is a great article on understanding your toddler's behaviour and this is a good one for older children - again, reminding us to focus on empathy, trust and discipline (as opposed to punishment). 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Doing Nothing

My dear friend sent me this quote from this amazing blog post and I thought it needed to be shared with every new mom.  So I'm storing it here in the hopes that when someone I know has a new baby, I'll remember it and send it to them.  If you're a new mom, read the post.  Here's the quote:
So the next time you find yourself wondering how another day is gone and nothing is done, stop. Hold your baby—feel the way that tiny body strains to contain this giant soul—complete, and full of potential all at the same time. Take a deep, slow breath. Close your eyes and measure your day not as tasks, but as feelings, as sounds, as colors. Exhaustion is part of it. And it’s true, you will get “nothing” done. But the hard parts will fade. The intense, burning love is what remains, and it is yours to keep forever.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Home and Art

Over at good old Apartment Therapy, I came across this "House Call" and love it.  I really like the look of lots of little things nicely organized and each in their place.  "So much to look at" as someone once said about our place.  For some reason that just feels good to me.  Turns out the people who live in that house are artists and have done so many very interesting projects.  They state their purpose as  creating objects and projects that are discreet invitations to explore, collaborate and play.  They are called "Dear Human".  This type of thing is right up my ally.  In my other life where I'm an artist.  ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Forward Facing Book Display

Let's face it - I have a TON of kids' books.  I've been collecting them since I was a kid and now that I have kids of my own, the collection is growing even faster than usual.  The thing about books though, is that it seems totally criminal to have them all piled on top of each other, crammed into a bookshelf where you can't even see the beautiful art on each cover.  And though I try to avoid judging a book by its cover, I do get sucked in by beautiful artwork.  So, it seems inevitable that some day I will have to do this.  It looks awesome, doesn't let the beauty of books go to waste on a bookshelf, and it allows kids to see which book they want - hopefully avoiding the same-book-every-stinkin-night syndrome.  Now, where to find that much wall space....

Friday, July 12, 2013

Eclectic Inspiration in a Minimalist Collector?

At first glance I found this apartment tour really inspiring.  I got further into and lost interest a bit as some areas are quite bare-bones.  But looking over it again I realized that the way he puts together a minimalist approach with a repurposed, eclectic, collectors eye results in a very interesting and inspiring esthetic.  In the bathroom for example, bare conduit and light bulbs are curved and positioned in a creative way that makes it look like a light fixture, rather than purely functional materials.  That, combined with the non-existent faucet, stands as an intriguing contrast to the fabulously colourful and lively tiles and concrete blocks that make up the shower surround.  Of course this is a bachelor pad where the ever challenging practicality of children doesn't come into consideration and where each object is carefully curated and controlled.  I have to remind myself of that.  But inspiration is good, even if it just adds a little piece to the puzzle in my mind of what it is that I love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Colours of Gorgeous

I'm so inspired by the gorgeous colours in this table setting.  Where this could be applied, beyond a party, is not something I've thought of but I just wanted to make a note of this really beautiful arrangement.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not JUST a girl

If you want to be inspired and filled with determination to do right by the girls in your life, check this out.  I don't deny that I'm slightly anti-princess and I dress my girls in boyish clothing from time to time.  I'm trying desperately to find the balance between embracing femininity and all that it entails, and smashing our cultural idea of femininity to bits so that my daughters can find their own way and be who they really are deep down inside.  I really have no idea what I'm doing, but this type of project is encouraging and makes me feel like I might be on the right track.  Wow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

White with Colour

Someone once told me to find a place to live that was an expression of myself, rather than meeting up to a list of requirements I had in my head.  This house tour exemplifies that, I think.  I'm inspired by how much of themselves the owners have put into it, but also by the clean, white surfaces that help you breath and feel relaxed, combined with the colour and detail that is everywhere.  It's not overwhelming (in my opinion) but it feels homey and inviting.  Love it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Beautiful

Dove is a bit of an enigma in my mind - I can't quite decide if I admire them or not.  Nonetheless, I think this video is quite thought provoking and a really interested glimpse into the minds of women.  Whether they provide definitive proof or not, they do bring home the truth - you are more beautiful than you think.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Textile Recycling

I am hoping to one day have a corner of my house filled with pillows, just for reading with kids.  A part of the dream that often gets overlooked is making all of the amazing pillows that will fill the corner.  This is a great resource for finding really interesting sources of materials.  They repurpose all sorts of materials to make way more than just pillows.  Very cool.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pinterest Posts

If you are someone who actually cares to follow this blog, please note that I do now keep track of many of my ideas over on Pinterest.  You can find my stuff here.  I'm sad to be giving the blog less attention but Pinterest has proved itself to be a very convenient way of doing exactly what I want to do...See you there!

The Sweet Outdoors

This post  points you in the direction of four very short videos of forts being built.  I love the sweetness that is portrayed - picking up a worm, cooking an egg.  I love this portrayal of men doing something typically "manly" (building something) but in a very child-like, understated way.  And the forts are pretty cool too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is an email my sister forwarded to me and I would really love to keep track of.  A few ideas on how to foster curiosity and endless learning in your kids at home.  This type of teaching is something that comes naturally to some parents, but can always be encouraged and expanded.

“Why, why, why?”: Embracing and encouraging curiosity

Link to Simple Kids

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 02:44 AM PST
Encouraging Creativity
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
One of my favorite parts of being a teacher, and that I now love as a parent, is spending time with little ones who approach life with wondering, questioning, and exploring. Curiosity truly is a gift, and kids have it in abundance.
I strive to keep a zest for learning in my own life, and I also want to nourish that love of learning in my girls as they grow. Here are some of the ways we’re keeping the spark of curiosity in our daily life:

1. Slow down.

This one goes first, because I think it’s the most important. Kids need space in their day when there is no plan or structure. They need time to dawdle, daydream, and doodle. They need to follow their own interests and make their own observations. They should be bored sometimes and work their way out of it.
Keeping screen time in check is a good way to protect your child’s unstructured play time.
And, guess what? Grown-ups need all of this, too, which is probably why I only seem to have interesting ideas when I’m showering or trying to fall asleep at night. I’m trying to give myself more of this kind of time during the day – even if it’s just 15 minutes of letting my mind wander.

2. Write down questions and wonderings.

When my girls were toddlers and preschoolers, I used to jot down their funny questions and observations in my journal. When they got a little older, we would make posters or lists together of things we were interested in. We’ve kept a pad of sticky notes by our sliding glass door, and covered the window with our questions about the world.
Kids’ questions can come fast and furious sometimes. Validate their inquisitiveness by writing down their questions. Look together for the answers sometimes. It’s good to keep a list of all the things your family is interested in; you never know what may become a passion later on.
Our current record-keeping for questions is a stack of index cards on a ring. Sometimes, we bring our cards with us to the library and choose a question to research. Every once in a while, a question sparks a deeper interest, and we lug home a big stack of books on the topic for further research. It’s a wonderful chain-reaction of curiosity.

3. Read lots of great books.

After reading The Penderwicks, my girls wanted to learn Latin and become botanists. Frindle inspired their love for the dictionary and creating silly new words. There are so many rich and inviting books to transport you and your kids to different places and times. Reading great books fuels the imagination, builds vocabulary, and sparks interest. Read, read, read!

4. Curate a kid-friendly reference book shelf at home.

My girls love to read the dictionary. And, lately, they have been spinning the globe, landing on a country, and looking it up in the atlas. I recently rounded-up all our kid-friendly reference books from various spots around the house, and now find the girls using them a lot more. Plus, it’s fun to say “Check the reference shelf.” Ha!
Here are some books you might include on your reference shelf:
  • Children’s dictionary and thesaurus
  • Rhyming dictionary
  • World atlas
  • Foreign language books
  • Field guides for trees, insects, mammals, etc.
  • Star chart
  • Animal encyclopedia
  • How-to books (drawing, writing poetry, cooking, science experiments)

5. Be data-collectors.

There are all kinds of things to observe, count, record, and graph. We’ve made weather charts, tallied the various birds in our backyard, drawn moon phases for a whole month, and surveyed our friends and family about favorite foods and movies. This is meaningful work for kids, not to mention the math and thinking skills they’re building.

6. Provide access to creative materials and real tools (and junk, too).

Kids don’t need a ton of materials to inspire creativity and exploration. In fact, I would argue that less is more. However, it is nice to have some kid-friendly art materials available, a sketch book or journal, and a few real tools to try out. My girls enjoy using magnifying glasses, binoculars, a compass, and a student microscope. (Here’s the microscope we have – it’s affordable and awesome!)
Don’t throw all your egg cartons and cardboard tubes in the recycling. Whether you call it a junk box or an invention kit, kids will have a great time creating all kinds of crazy contraptions. Don’t forget the tape! We go through rolls and rolls of tape

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cleaning Up Kids' Stuff

There are a lot of good ideas for reducing the take-over factor of your kids' stuff.  I think this is pretty clever if you have the wall space.  You certainly don't have to do anything quite that expansive - even just a long line around the wall (like a chair rail?) would be cool.  And this is a smart one too - not the most attractive idea I've ever seen, but very practical and easy to pull out, set on a table and go.

frame gallery wall

I am starting to think about ways to make my daughter's art work stand out.  Sticking it to the fridge isn't quite cutting it.  If I had endless space, I'd love to do something like this.  Even with the limited space I do have, I'd love to make it happen in her room, perhaps on a smaller scale.  Let's keep this one on the top of the to-do pile...