Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who says plastic kiddie furniture has to be ugly?

I've ranted before about how plastic kiddie playhouses, vehicles, and furniture often come in really ugly colours. I have no idea why this happens, but perhaps the manufacturers are in cahoots with the makers of plastic-safe spray paint?

 This little teal, red, and beige desk — a hand-me-down from our nieces — was no exception. But the kids adored sitting there to colour and work on their letters, so I knew I had to make it look a little prettier.

Since I planned to spray-paint the desk a few different colours, I decided to take it apart — rather than just taping off certain areas. So I started by dragging the whole thing out to the backyard, and attacking it with a screwdriver. There were little white plastic caps over all of the screws, so I did my best to not lose them in the grass.

It was a really hot day, the screws were stubborn, and there was possibly (definitely) some complaining happening. I’m not really into manual labour — I just like results.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Homemade Home ... 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stumbling out of the ‘Mommy haze’

I constantly feel overwhelmed about how much my kids need me, until the moment when it seems they don’t need me at all.

The other night, the kids and I came in from the backyard — sandy, grassy and wet with pool-water — and they ran ahead of me upstairs. I stayed back for a minute, clearing off the counters, and then headed upstairs after them. But the door to my daughter’s room was shut, and they were happily playing inside with her dollhouse.

I almost went in and told them it was time for a bath, but I decided to go back downstairs. They were playing nicely together — sharing, even! — so who I was to interrupt that?

I swept the entire main level, watered my hanging baskets, and checked Instagram. Then I just sat on the bottom step, and listened to the giggling from upstairs. Our son was a year and a half when our daughter was born, and now they are two and four. I have been in a near-constant state of frenzy for four years now.

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

P is for pollen

Hey there, hay fever.

There’s nothing like a hot, dry summer day to bring out the itchy, watery eyes — and the sneezing, sniffling, and dry cough that can go along with it.

If your child has a pollen allergy, you’re no doubt going through a rough time right now. This might be the time of year when you’re first noticing the symptoms, actually. Many parents first mistake environmental allergies for a common cold ...

Continue reading my post over at Scratch or Sniff ... 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lighting exersaucers on fire, and other things parents dream about ...

’Tis the season for getting rid of plastic kiddie gear! We have been yard sale-ing a few times so far this summer, and seeing all of those bulky items lined up along the curbs makes me glad we are (almost) rid of all of ours.

Honestly, you don’t realize how much STUFF babies have today until you get rid of it. The swing, the bouncy chair, the activity mat, the high chair, the exersaucer (a.k.a. Circle of Neglect), the Bumbo, the Jumperoo, the Jolly Jumper, the playpen, the crib, the ride-on cars, the learn-to-walk push thingys — and that’s not even counting the actual toys!

People who don’t have kids will walk into a house of baby crap and think ‘Wow, what a lot of baby crap.’ Parents who have babies are fully aware that they’re wading through mountains of baby crap — literally and figuratively — but they also know a bouncy chair allows them to shower in peace for five minutes is priceless.

As your babies get older, your hatred for every piece of once-valuable baby gear gets more and more intense. I used to dream about lighting the ugly exersaucer on fire and watching it melt, but no, I wasn’t going to give it up until my kids could no longer squeeze into it ...

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I had eight mamas and 14 kids in my little house this morning! It sounds chaotic, and I suppose it was here and there, but mostly it was really great.

How did it end up being so many? IDK, really. I made casual plans with a few girls, and then told a few more girls as I saw them/talked to them, and then there was 22 of us, somehow. (And yes, we are girls, not women. My mom is a woman. I think think of myself as a girl.)

It was definitely the biggest playdate I have ever hosted. A few people joked it was like a birthday party, but it felt MUCH more chill than that to me. Yes, there was a lot of food, but not the level of detail/pressure/etc. that comes with a birthday party.

I share a lot of pics over on Instagram -- it's rad, right?
I was nervous when I woke up to dark skies, but the weather cleared and we were able to get outside for part of the morning -- even shooed most of the kids outside to eat their snack, which was great. Thank God for gated-off decks!

I always say I'm not a natural hostess -- I'm really not -- because I often get stressed out about events and worry about having too many people crowded into my little house, or running out of food. But after everyone had left today, I felt good about the playdate.

Sure, there were loud moments (with kids ranging from eight months to four years, that's expected), but it was awesome to see everyone. It was a good reminder that I don't need to be stressed out about having people over.

And any excuse to eat cookies at 10 a.m. is good, right?

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Five things that are making me cranky today

  1. D started the day by sneaking the iPad, and watching shows in bed. We only discovered this because Darling Husband spotted him when he got up for work at 2 a.m. He may have been awake watching shows for five minutes, or ... two hours?
  2. Neither child napped yesterday, so they spent a good chunk of the morning being whiny and/or screamy at each other (and me).
  3. I'm tired. I worked on a special project all last week (putting out a 17-page newspaper each night, basically) that meant I couldn't go to bed until 1:30 or 2 a.m. Now my schedule is all out of whack. 
  4. My darling daughter soiled herself at naptime, and proceeded to take off her diaper and one-piece outfit -- getting poo all over herself -- and then getting a whole LOT of poo smashed into her (formerly) cream-coloured carpet.
  5. The UPS guy delivered a new battery for the PowerWheels, BUT he did his trademark thing of dumping the package on my doorstep, RINGING THE DOORBELL AT NAPTIME, and then running back to his truck. Are you freaking kidding me? Every time? Even though I tweet nasty thoughts about it every time? If I don't need to sign something, then why are you ringing the doorbell?!?!? I'LL FIGURE OUT THERE'S A PACKAGE THERE. I DO LEAVE MY HOUSE OCCASIONALLY. OH, AND I CAN ALSO SEE IT THROUGH THE WINDOW. BUT THANKS FOR WAKING UP MY KIDS, THAT'S GOING TO MAKE IT REALLY EASY FOR ME TO FINISH MY WORK AUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ridin' Dirty: PowerWheels edition

We have an exciting new addition to our family. Nope, it's not a puppy -- and NO, it's definitely not a baby!

It's a secondhand PowerWheels Cadillac Escalade (Barbie Edition), and D and C are over the moon with joy over this thing.

So, of course, every time they drive it around, I have a certain song in my head ... and I had to make a video about it! ...

Ridin' Dirty: PowerWheels edition from Heather Clarke on Vimeo.

We have all fallen head over heels for this hunk of plastic-and-a-battery. I'm dreaming about giving it a new paint job (it's currently a faded pink with touches of purple), and Darling Husband is dreaming about modding it with real headlights and a better stereo system. We're totally grown-ups, I think?


P.S. If you're interested, here are a few things I've been writing (elsewhere) lately ... 

Surviving and thriving in indoor playplaces

The house that spray paint built

Adventures in babysitting

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Confessions of a first-time soccer mom

I felt like a true soccer mom while I registered my son for soccer. I mean, I already had the minivan! It was finally time to turn it into a true Mom-mobile.

Maybe I could hand out orange slices or something? Or bring one of those giant containers full of sticky McDonalds orange drink, and set up a little refreshment table?

 But then the coordinators started describing the kinds of cleats, shin-pads, and athletic socks I should buy — who knew soccer balls came in SIZES? — and my eyes started to glaze over.

What had I gotten myself into? More importantly, was it too late to back out?

Read more over at The Mom Scene ... 

Read the full story over at The Mom Scene, my weekly parenting column