Winter Survival 2.0

A couple of weeks ago I shared how I survive winter with two littles:  Every non-school day, we have a specific activity.  Mondays are for baking, Wednesdays are for crafts, and Fridays are for adventures.   In that post I shared one of our favourite recipes for cold winter days – today I’m going to share one of our favourite crafts!

Sun Catchers


You need:

  • Scissors
  • Contact paper
  • Construction paper
  •  Tissue paper

Cut a the outline of a heart out of construction paper and apply it to the contact paper.   Cut  out small squares of different colours of tissue paper.  Your child will do the rest!

* I’ve done this in a class setting with a group of 0-3-year-olds I teach at church and for littler ones I recommend taping the project to the table to make it a little bit easier for them.

Topher loves to use his safety scissors so he spends a lot of time cutting out squares of construction paper and tissue paper and Ellie will stick anything within reach on her project.  (Kleenex, post-it notes, the phone bill …) The construction paper entirely defeats the purpose of a sun catcher, but it keeps her entertained so I don’t interrupt!



There are some things I believe without a shadow of a doubt:  Life is better with a dog, Coke is far superior to Pepsi, and birthdays are special.  On your birthday you should feel like the coolest person on the face of the planet.

We celebrated Ellie’s birthday last week.  I thought about having a party for about a millisecond before I changed my mind:  She’s going through a frustrating possessive phase and I couldn’t bear the thought of a house full of small children trying to play with Ellie’s toys while she hovered over them, glaring and yelling “MINE!  NO, MINE!

So I let Topher stay home from school and we had a Family Fun Day instead!  We spent the morning at a nearby rec centre with an enormous indoor playground, had a pre-lunch ice cream cone and smoothie, and played balloon baseball when Ellie woke up from her afternoon nap. Once Nathan got home from work it was time for presents (which Ellie opened very slowly and very carefully – finally, a form of destruction she doesn’t seem to enjoy!) and Ellie’s special birthday dinner: Mush (of course!) followed by an Angry Bird cupcake.

I still can’t believe I no longer have a baby, but a fiercely independent (and fearless!) toddler.


Related:  Dear Ellie.

The Voice in my Head


In the past two months I’ve mastered the art of not writing.

First I was sick.  Then the kids were sick, then Nathan was sick, then I was sick again.  (I call it the “Preschool Effect”.)

I’ve been working six days a week since January – the last thing I want to do when I have a rare hour or two to myself is put fingers to keyboard.

But the longer I avoid writing, the harder it is to start again.

I mean well.  I sit down at the computer and even log into WordPress before my mind starts to wander.  The voice in my head begins its incessant chatter:

What’s the point?  

Nobody cares.  

That’s a dumb idea.  

So I open a new tab and scroll through my Facebook feed.  I’ll look at my sister’s pictures, see if Julie got back to me about that playdate, maybe upload a few pictures from Ellie’s birthday so my mom can see them.

I mean well, but the voice in my head is louder than my good intentions.

Look at Hayley!  She was gorgeous in high school, and she looks like a model now – even after she had a baby!

And Lindsay – she has two kids, and she always looks so put together.  

You?  You look frumpy.  You’ve never had any sense of style.  

Delete that picture Mom posted.  Ew!

So I open yet another tab and type Lindsay’s name into the search bar in Pinterest.  I’ll just check her style board, maybe re-pin a few things for inspiration.  I’m sure I can convince Nathan to make some wiggle room in the budget for a few new outfits!

I mean well, but then I hear that pesky voice again.

That won’t look good on you.  

You’re too short.

You have no bum.

You’re as flat as a pancake. 

And who are you to think you can ask Nathan to adjust the budget for something as silly as new clothes, when the ones you have are perfectly fine?  You’re so close to having enough money for a down payment!  Don’t screw that up! 

So I open another tab and enter a few search parameters into MLS.  I’ll just see if there are any new listings.  Maybe I should check the neighbourhood around Topher’s kindergarten?  It would be nice if I could just walk him to school.

I mean well.

But the voice in my head is relentless.

That one’s nice, but it needs a lot of work.  And you’re not remotely handy.

What do you know about decorating?  You’ve lived here for eight years and the only room you’ve “finished” is the half bath.  That you never use.  

You’re too afraid to take risks.  

Frustrated, I quit Safari and push back from the desk.

I need something to numb my brain.  A run with the dog?  An hour with the Gilmores?  Maybe I should make banana bread.

I flop onto the couch.  “I thought you were writing tonight,” Nathan says, looking up from his video game.  “Are you done?”

“No,” I snort.  “I haven’t even started yet.”

“Oh,” he says, turning back to his game.  He knows better than to try to have a conversation with me when I’m in one of my moods.

I watch in silence for a few minutes, silently seething over the fact that my husband can escape so easily into something as mindless as a video game when I don’t seem to possess the ability to turn my brain off at any time, for any reason.

But then I realize something:  Maybe I don’t need to numb my brain in order to write, maybe I need to deal with it.

Maybe I need to tell the voice in my head to shut up.   

Winter Survival


I used to be a big fan of winter.  Then I  moved to Edmonton.

Winters in Edmonton seem to last forever, and surviving the cold, wind, snow and ice in a tiny condo with two busy children and a hyperactive dog is no easy feat!

So this year I came up with a plan.

Every non-school day, we have a specific activity:  Mondays are for baking, Wednesdays are for crafts, and Fridays are for adventures.

So far so good!  The littles seem to like having a plan for the morning, though it really throws Topher off if I switch the activities around on him!

Here’s what we’re baking today:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • chocolate chips (I usually eyeball it, but I’m guessing it’s about a cup.)

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl, set aside.  Beat eggs, bananas, oil and milk in rage bowl with wire whisk until well blended.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir until just moistened.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Scoop into lined muffin tins (about 2/3 full).   Bake 24 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Topher in particular enjoys mashing the bananas.  He does them one at a time in an enormous mixing bowl with a potato masher in one hand and a fork in the other, and I have never seen anyone do a more thorough mashing job in my entire life.  Not only does it entertain him for at least fifteen minutes, it also makes for amazingly moist muffins!

Weekends Are For …


  • Catching up on laundry
  • Skating lessons at the Ice Palace
  • Art projects
  • Sleepovers at Grandma & Grandpa’s
  • Hot dates
  • Creating menus (and a multipage grocery list!)
  • Shopping for a big girl bed
  • Playdates
  • Late bedtimes
  • Blankets, cuddles, and the Gilmore Girls

What were you up to this weekend?  

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