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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The other night

It came out of nowhere, and now it's practically all I can think about.

Longtime readers may remember that back before I was pregnant with D -- when I was just a mild-mannered reporter, er, producer/project manager, I had this dream of writing and publishing a novel.

I got up early every day before work, so I could spend an hour or an hour and a half writing and editing. I finished my novel. I went to work every day at a job I enjoyed, but one that sometimes left me feeling like I wasn't writing enough -- that I wasn't using this spark inside of me. I pitched publishers and got rejected again and again.

Then I got pregnant with D, and literally the exact same day I peed on the stick, I stopped. I turned 100 per cent of my energy into preparing for motherhood, and just basically let my dream of being a published author fade away.

I continued to write on a freelance basis, of course, and now I write professionally. It feels amazing! I'm completely grateful and pleased to have this career, and usually very satisfied with my work. 

I haven't thought too much about getting a book in bookstores over the last four (almost FIVE, wow) years of this pregnant / nursing / pregnant / raising two kids whirlwind. Occasionally I feel a pang, and then it goes away ... stifled by sippy-cups and Lego and the need to make another batch of pancakes "wif syrups" for the kids.

I'm too damn busy to write another book, I told myself sometimes. I no longer wanted to get the original novel published, because it felt embarrassingly amateur. I thought it was so good at the time, but now ... ugh. 

But then, the other night, inspiration struck. I was lying in bed, with my mind racing -- I totally drank a Diet Coke WITH CAFFEINE earlier in the day, which messes with me big-time -- and suddenly I had an idea. Not just a little blib of an idea, but chapter ideas -- hell, COMPLETE SENTENCES -- were rushing through my bloodstream.

I grabbed the notebook and pen I keep in my nightstand, and discovered almost all of the pages were filled with scribbles of dress ideas, Christmas present lists, and lists of things to organize -- I'm the lamest. I found ONE blank page at the end, used my iPhone as a flashlight, and wrote as fast as I could.

My notes -- which I will share one day, because they're hilariously wobbly and confusing -- are the basis for the book I'm going to write. You know, like SOON. NOW?

I have such a good feeling about this, guys. I can SEE it on the shelves at Chapters. It's a very exciting feeling. I haven't felt like this in years. A book! A chance! Another kick at the old publishing can. It's like five years ago, again, only ... better. I'm more experienced, I'm a better writer -- years of writing professionally, hello! -- and I feel I have a much stronger concept.

I promise to share more soon, but I just had to tell you I'm going for it again. And this time? I'm not stopping until I take it all the way.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DIY Lego birthday party

I wrote yesterday about how we made a Lego storage/play table for D's fourth birthday earlier this month.

Well, we also threw TWO Lego-themed parties for him!

We held his "friend" party at a local gymnastics club, and it actually ended up being the easiest party I've done so far. The decor was really simple, and I didn't have to do much cleaning up or decorating. 

Pop over to "The Mom Scene" to read about how I made the decor, cake, invites, and a special "punchbox" to hold candy prizes.