Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sweet treats and spoiling

I’m years away from having grandchildren of my own — at least 15 years, minimum, and even that would give me a heart attack.

But somehow, the other day, I was chatting with my four-year-old daughter about her someday-children. Specifically, how I must act when I’m in charge of these someday-children.

As I write this, our kids are having a sleepover with my mother. It’s the kiddie-equivalent of going to a rave, I think.

They spend their time hopped up on miniature chocolate bars, Pop-Tarts, Lunchables and bagels with cinnamon sugar. The apple juice is always flowing. There are treats and little surprises around every corner. It’s Willy Wonka’s factory, basically.

That’s why it was so hilarious when my daughter started talking about how I was encouraged — no, expected — to care for the children she might have in 20-odd years.

(Their names change each time she talks about them, but they always rhyme. Millie and Tillie, Dahlia and Ball-ia, Lonnie and Talauni.)

“When I’m a grown-up and I go to a wedding,” she began conversationally, “you can ‘babysitter’ my kids.”

(Apparently weddings are the most common reason a parent would need to go out of town for the night? I think I’ve only been to one or two in her lifetime, but oh well.)

“Oh, thank you!” I said graciously. “I’ll always want to take care of my little grandbabies.”

She nodded triumphantly.

“And I’m going to give them so many treats,” I continued. “I’m going to give them lots of chocolate bars and juice and pop and Rockets! And they’re going to come home all sugared-up and be really hyper for you.”

I thought she’d laugh and play along, but — to my surprise — she was angry ...

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene, to see exactly why C was angry!

Monday, February 20, 2017

(Even more) board game wall art

 One of my most popular DIYs to date has been the board game wall in our basement family room.

Hooray for popular pins!

It’s undergone some changes since I first shared it with you back in 2014, and I’ve gotten reader questions about how some of the games are hanging up there, so let’s dive in!

The arrangement itself is pretty much the same — just larger — and it’s been such a fun addition to a window-less room that has many purposes: playing, watching TV and hosting guests on our hand-made daybed.

We received a couple of new games for Christmas which prompted me to switch things up a little. There were still quite a few games not on the wall and I decided to get them off the shelves into a place of honour. Of course, this is easier said than done for some of the oddly-shaped games.

Here’s a rundown on how I updated our cheerful gallery wall of board games that we can actually take down and play:

Standard board games: 

The typical board-with-pieces games like Monopoly (er, Dogopoly), Careers and Cranium are the easiest to hang. I just build a simple wooden rectangle or square for the back and then screw through the board into the wood to secure it.

This way the game board stays flat against the wall (without folding up) and there’s room to hide a baggie of playing pieces in the empty space.

Certain games, like Scrabble and Othello, already have hard plastic boards so they don’t need wooden bases.

3D board games: 

For Christmas my sister bought me my old favourite game, Mall Madness. It talks and you get to swipe credit cards as you buy things, so the kids think it’s fantastic too.

The trouble was that the box was enormous and there were a ton of loose cardboard and plastic pieces that needed to be set up every time we played.

So I set up the ‘mall’ and then hot glued both levels of ‘stores’ to the board. The talking console can still slip out when it needs new batteries, but the glued cardboard surrounding it keeps it in place the rest of the time.

Board-less games: 

Our pieces-only games, like Dominos, Animal Upon Animal and Jenga were still sitting on shelves in their original boxes.

So I added a small wooden shelf to the board game collage and stored their pieces in clear jars and bins instead.

At some point I’d like to upgrade to a set of large matching jars, but right now they’re in everything from rinsed-out pasta sauce jars to old cookie jars ...

Continue reading how I store trivia games, "ugly" games and freestanding games in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...

Friday, February 17, 2017

The girl at the art show

There was a call for submissions for an art show. 

It was the first post I've seen like this, and I decided -- on a whim -- that yeah, OK, I would paint something. I would give it a try. 

The theme was "escape," and we were encouraged to submit paintings that would make people feel warm (during a cold Canadian February).

I painted two pieces. 

I entered them. 

And this one (of a sunset at Advocate Harbour) was selected for the show.

So now my painting is part of a real art show -- up for sale with REAL DOLLARS -- and it's awesome.

It's real.

My grandmother was an incredible oil-painter. She taught me when I was little, but I hadn't done any oils without her help until last year.

Seeing my painting next to the fabulous other entries is really intimidating. THEY ARE ALL SO GOOD! I'm not at "good" yet, but maybe I will be someday.

But it's there, hanging on the wall of a super-cool spot downtown. I drank hot chocolate sitting below it, and stole bites of D's cinnamon bun.

I tried not to take too many pictures of it and look like a weirdo. But, hey, I was proud.

And so is this guy.

Remember my art desk from this office tour back in 2013? It's been sitting in a closet, collapsed, for a couple of years now.

But this weekend I'm going to set it up again.

Hey, old friend.
I have some painting to do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why I hooked my kids on Little House on the Prairie

There’s been a lot of sickness in our house lately, and that means the TV has been on more than usual. One of our house rules is that the sickest person gets to choose the show, and sometimes that’s me.

The kids know better than to complain about my choices and, admittedly, I think they’d watch anything just for the sake of watching something. It’s through this system that I’ve gotten to expose them to some obscure favourites, and sometimes they end up really liking something new.

They were both skeptical when I first turned on an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The colours were dull and the picture was kind of grainy, compared to the crispness of the new HD shows they watch. But all it took was the river-fording scene — with the wagon being thrashed around on the choppy waters — to pique their interest.

Pioneer dramz.

From there, I kept pointing out the differences in the way the Ingalls family lived. There was no running water! They cooked their food in that fireplace! There were no bathrooms!

(The kids once got confused and called an outhouse an “in-house,” but I refuse to correct them because it’s too cute. So if they ask, the Ingalls family uses an in-house.)

We slowly worked our way through the first season here and there when I was sick (or just tired). It had been years since I’d watched the show, and even then I’d only see a smattering of episodes. (It’s the books I know by heart.)

It made me smile to see how much the kids loved the famous “town party/country party” scenes I remembered from On the Banks of Plum Creek, when mean Nellie Olsen wouldn’t let Laura play with her doll and Laura got even by tricking Nellie into the muddy creek full of leeches ...

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene ...