Friday, April 28, 2017

Weekly wrap-up: Playmobil + birthday fun + photo day at dance


I shared a fun selfie with my mom and sis from cosmic bowling in Halifax. It was decidedly un-cosmic, which was disappointing since we'd worn black and white with the hopes it would look really cool, but we had a great time.

Oh, and the kids left me feeling bitterly disappointed when I woke up to find they had used all of the milk in their cereal. #thestruggleisreal

:( :( :(

I had to resort to things I'm not proud of ...


It was the big reveal for the HUGE shelving system we built to organize our Playmobil collection. The secret sauce is the wooden "play platforms" that the kids can stage and move around, or take down to the floor to spread out.

DIY Playmobil storage

(We also learned that C gets really, really excited about bubble wrap.)

Oh, and over on Instagram I did a fun Boomerang of the $2 lunchbox I bought at a thrift store. #LEGOlife


In my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene, I talked about why EVERYONE is talking about those happy, happy Dutch kids. Seriously -- they're that happy. More importantly, what can we learn about Dutch parenting so we can shamelessly copy it?

Dutch kids are happy, so let's copy what their parents do!

I also shared an article I wrote about Neptune Theatre's new season, which is going to feature Mamma Mia! and I'm insanely excited about that. #musicalobsessed


Our baby girl turned FIVE on Wednesday! FIVE YEARS OLD! (It doesn't feel that long ago that I was having her, does it?) It was happy and actually not that emotional -- possibly since she's already seemed five for so long.

She opened all of her gifts before 7 a.m. because she was so excited (we're not picky about waiting until a certain time of day for that). There's actually a video of it on YouTube if you're interested in the blind bag phenomenon.

She got to pick all of the meals, as per birthday tradition, so we had a very nice breakfast with friends at Smitty's, she sweet-talked her daddy into getting her a HappyMeal for lunch, and then we ate ice cream for dinner at our favourite local spot, Molly's Dairy Bar.

(Then we went home and had nachos -- another C favourite -- so it was a pretty delicious day.)

I shared a simple DIY project that has made our UNO games sooo much easier.

DIY card-holders

We use these things constantly and I can't EVER go back to the hassle of playing cards without them. I kind of want one for myself.

Oh, and I shared a cute shot of C and her best friend, J, at their dance school for PHOTO DAY, YAYYYYY! (I love Photo Day. It's the cutest to see them all dressed up in their recital costumes for the first time.)

A post shared by Heather Laura Clarke (@hfxheather) on

Last year's picture was SO FREAKING CUTE so I'm excited to see how this year's photos turn out.

Over on Facebook, I shared an interview I did with Olympic figure skater Jeffrey Buttle about the Stars on Ice tour that kicks off TONIGHT in Halifax.


Yesterday, as promised, I broke down the steps for executing the really (REALLY) easy hairstyles we did a few weeks earlier for Crazy Hair Day at D's school.
The three of us were "Lego Head," "Pop-Bottle Head," and "Cupcake Head," according to the giggling kids who came to see us at the breakfast program.

Oh, and over on Twitter I shared a weird lunch photo. Darling Husband never fails to keep things interesting!

I also re-shared my post about Why We Should All Quit Loot Bags because UGH THEY ARE THE WORST. It needed to be said again.

Here's why we should all just quit loot bags

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Is it supposed to rain or be nice? I never have any idea, as I am primarily an indoor person.

We're having a double-dose of birthday fun tomorrow (a family birthday dinner for C, as well as a small I'm-not-calling-it-a-party-party with a few of her close friends. More on that soon!)


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Five-minute, no-fuss styles for Crazy Hair Day

Our son's elementary school had Spirit Week leading up to Easter, and one of the days was Crazy Hair Day. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I had been waiting my ENTIRE PARENTING LIFE for it.

I was even MORE excited when I realized it fell on a Wednesday, which is the day C and I take him to school early and volunteer at the breakfast program (serving cereal, toasting waffles, and occasionally wrecking oatmeal). 

Which meant we could participate, too. OMGGGGGG!!!

Of course, we already get up at the crack of crow-pee for school, and we get up even earlier on Wednesdays so we can get to school by 7:25 to start making breakfast for the students. That meant we needed EASY Crazy Hair Day styles that I could execute on all three of us very quickly.

Here's what we came up with ... 

Crazy Hair Day Cupcake Hair

1. Make a high ponytail. (I gelled C's hair but in the end, I realized it would have been fine without the gel.)

2. Cut a hole/square in the middle of a paper plate.

3. Slip the ponytail through the hole in the plate, and then cut another hole in the middle of a cupcake liner.

4. Slip the ponytail through the hole in the cupcake liner, twist the ponytail into a bun, and wrap it with an elastic.

5. Decorate your cupcake with sparkly clips or stick a candle in the middle to make it a birthday cupcake.

It's almost like a little fascinator! We saw a couple of other girls with this hairstyle -- some with just the liners and not the plate.

This next picture cracks me up because it looks like swirly chocolate icing!

Next up, I needed a simple Crazy Hair Day idea for D, who is in Grade 1. He's Lego-obsessed, so of course we wanted to make ...

Crazy Hair Day Lego Hair

1. Round up some plain barrettes or clips (I bought a bunch of these double-prong alligator clips years ago for making clips for C) and some pieces of brightly-coloured Lego.

Don't worry, it won't be harmed.

2. Hot-glue the Lego to the clips and stick them haphazardly all over your kid's hair. I gelled D's first to make it look like a Lego tornado.

I was surprised that he didn't see a single other kid at school with Crazy Lego Hair. It was such an easy one to do!

Finally, I needed a hairstyle for myself. I looked all over Pinterest and I had lots of options since my hair is long. BUT I wasn't going to mess around with dyes or sprays, especially at 6 a.m., and a lot of the styles involved colouring your hair or attacking it with glitter. (Fun, but ... not at 6 a.m.)

When I saw the pop-bottle hairstyles, I knew it was the perfect one for this Diet Coke-lovin' Mama ...

Crazy Hair Day Pop Bottle Hair

1. Take an empty pop bottle that's sized appropriately for the amount of hair you have.

I have tons of long, thick (too-thick) hair, so I needed a 2L bottle. If I'd been doing C's hair, I would have used one of those tiny 355ml bottles.

2. Put your hair in a really high ponytail.

3. Cut a hole between the middle and the bottom of the bottle. It should be approximately the diameter of your ponytail so that it stays nicely in place.

4. Twirl your ponytail into a long swirl (just to make it more compact) and cram it into the hole you cut in the bottle.

Shake the bottle slightly to get your hair to fall down to the neck of the bottle, and grab the strands to pull them through (I could only get some of mine through) so it looks like your hair is pop pouring out of the bottle.


I didn't even need bobby pins to get the bottle to stay in place -- it gripped the elastic of my ponytail and stayed on for hours.

I saw quite a few girls at school with this style, and some even had a paper cup affixed to the side of their head to "catch" the pop.

Driving to and from school, though? Not easy. I had to duck my head to keep the bottle from whacking the ceiling every time I moved.

A small price to pay for Diet Coke Hair, though. ;)
Pin these ideas to remember them for your next Crazy Hair Day!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Easy DIY card holders for kids

We've been playing a lot of UNO lately, and I've been meaning to share the DIY contraption that's been making it soooo much easier: a wooden card-holder.

Before I made these, let's just say people were leaning their cards against anything they could find -- or just spreading their cards on the table for everyone to see -- and it wasn't exactly working.

When we were kids, my sister had some kind of plastic circle to hold her Go Fish cards. But I thought an oversized Scrabble tile-holder would do the trick. Lord knows we always have lots of wood around here. 

Want to make your own? Here's what you'll need ...

Best birthday present EVER
2. A drill/driver (and a couple of screws)
This girl does everything.

3. Scraps of wood! 

My wood pile is in constant need of tidying

4. Acrylic paint (optional)

Using "Mommy's paint" is a treat for my kids AND it keeps them busy/happy, so I definitely wanted to paint ours.


I started by cutting my main pieces -- a "back" roughly the size of a hand of cards, and a smaller piece for the ledge -- for each card holder. 

Then I pre-drilled little holes along the bottom of the back pieces, since this wood splits easily.

I used 1" screws and screwed them through the back of the big pieces, straight into their little ledges to connect them. Now I had L-shaped contraptions, but they couldn't stand up on their own yet. (They're leaning against something in this picture.)

Now I'm JUST starting to play around with cutting on an angle, and it was especially fun for this project because it didn't matter WHAT kind of angle I cut -- anything that propped up the card-holders would work.

I grabbed a scrap piece of 2x2 (nice and chunky), cut it into four little pieces, clicked my saw over to a 45-degree angle, and nipped one end off each piece.

Then I just positioned the angled doodads (as I started calling them in my head) against the back of the card-holders and screwed into them from the front. It didn't matter where they were, exactly, as long as they lined up.

(Yes, this lumber was once used for something in my daughter's room. Hence the crayon and stickers.)

It took less than 10 minutes to cut and assemble these card-holders (while the kids were having breakfast one morning), and then I covered the kitchen table and let them go wild with the paints.

C picked pretty pastels and mixed them together, and it was looking really dreamy and etherial. Then she painted her brother's name on hers, for reasons I couldn't quite understand.

D was very intentional about painting some kind of Power Rangers logo involving two snakes. I got a long explanation.

They dried overnight (very. drippy. paint. jobs.) and were ready to roll the next day. They made our UNO games so much easier, and now I'm wondering why I'm stuck holding my own cards like some kind of sucker? Maybe I need my own?

Also, word of advice: teach your kids how to deal, and then they can plan UNO by themselves once you've had enough. 

It's like that wise old adage: "Give your kids an UNO game, and they're happy for 10 minutes. Teach your kids to play UNO without you and they'll leave you alone for an hour."


Pin this idea for later!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why I’ve decided to try Dutch parenting

The internet’s been buzzing over the news that Dutch children are apparently the happiest in the world.

They’re independent, smart, healthy, fit and report a high level of life satisfaction, whereas American children (and likely Canadian children) were at the bottom of the pack and feeling miserable and frustrated.

Naturally, everyone is curious about what’s so different about parenting in the Netherlands, as well as what we can learn from them.

From chocolate-y breakfasts to forced fresh air, here are five tips I want to borrow from Dutch parents:

1. Give them boundaries, but lots of freedom. 

Dutch parents might set a strict schedule that includes a nap — even for older children — but they give their children lots of unstructured time to do what they want. Kids are expected to entertain themselves during a playdate.

They also believe that giving a child whatever they want actually leads to unhappiness because they feel the world owes them everything and there’s always something else they want. So Dutch parents teach their kids the value of money and hard work at a young age.

2. Take the pressure off. 

Dutch kids don’t start school officially until they’re six or seven and don’t have homework until they’re teenagers, but they still score at the top of the educational achievement charts.

No one pressures them to be the best or get straight As. They’re encouraged to play outside, enjoy a 45-minute recess and learn about things that interest them.

3. Shoo them outside more. 

Dutch kids play outside constantly without supervision — climbing trees, getting muddy, making up games, whatever they want. They also walk or bike to school by themselves from a young age ...

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

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

Pin this idea for later!