Summer Reading Club

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Tomorrow is Topher’s last day of preschool.  That means a lot of things , most of which I don’t really want to think about (My little boy is growing up!  Hold me!) – but one thing is means that I’m actually looking forward to?

Summer Reading Club!  

I’m not a huge fan of the way the EPL runs their summer reading club – no weekly programming,  just random “events” at different branches throughout the city that you’re supposed to attend to earn badges.  Each badge you earn gives you points towards entries in a draw for the Big Prize – usually a computer game of some sort.  How does that support literacy?

(I worked as the Summer Reading Club Coordinator at our local library when I was in university so I have much higher standards!)

So I made up my own Summer Reading Club:  I take the kids to Storytime once a week and made a logbook for Topher to keep track of the books he reads as well as the time he spends reading.  With the “real” reading club he earns one badge for every hour he spends reading; with Mommy’s reading club he earns one sticker for every five books he reads.

He’s more excited about the stickers.  Take that, Big City Library, with your fancy schmancy computerized reading club!

This is Topher’s third year participating and he’s set the goal of reading 100 books!

Here are a few of his favourites:

Topher’s Top 10

  1. The Runaway Hug
  2. Zoe Gets Ready
  3. The Book With No Pictures 
  4. Just One Goal (though he loves anything by Robert Munsch!)
  5. Anything Curious George
  6. Pete the Cat
  7. The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair
  8. The Gruffalo
  9. Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake
  10. I Spy books

Ellie hates to be left out of anything her brother is involved in, so she’s participating in Mommy’s Summer Reading Club this year too.  (Topher is in both.  Shhh, don’t tell Ellie!)

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Here are her go-to books when it’s time to snuggle up on the couch and read:

Ellie’s Top 10 

  1. Anything Caillou
  2. Beautiful Oops!
  3. Yoo-hoo, Ladybug!
  4. Who’s Making That Noise?
  5. Hide and Seek Harry (Around the House, At the Beach, etc.)
  6. Clifford the Big Red Dog
  7. Hug
  8. Where’s the Poop?
  9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  10. Peek-A-Moo

If you have kids, what are their favourite books?  If you don’t have kids, what were your favourite books as a child?  

*FYI: None of the links shared above are affiliates, I just wanted to show you where to buy the books if you’re interested.

Picnic Party Invitations

I’ve always been a bit of a stationery nerd.  My family owned a printing business so I spent hours poring over paper catalogues when I was growing up.

True story:  When Nathan and I got engaged, I had absolutely no idea what kind of wedding dress I wanted to buy but I had our invitations planned out in my head long before he popped the question!

The same is true of Topher’s 5th birthday party:  I picked out the invitations before I decided who we were going to invite and what activities we were going to do!

I knew we were going to have the party in the park – and these invitations from Anastasia at Pink Texas Print were perfect!
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I purchased the item from her Etsy shop on a Sunday and received the personalized digital file on Wednesday.  I sent it to be developed at Costco and had the invitations in my hands later that day.

They turned out beautifully, don’t you think?

I highly recommend Pink Texas Print for invitations designs:  Excellent customer service, quick turnaround, and high quality work!

* Stay tuned for my follow-up post later this week:  When Things Don’t Go As Planned (or, “When Your Son Breaks Out in a Rash That Could Be Chicken Pox the Day of His Birthday Party and It Starts Pouring Rain Two Hours Before the Outdoor Party Begins and You Have Absolutely Nothing Planned as Backup”).

A Letter for Cindy

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I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spent more time at the barn than at home when I was growing up.  Some days it felt like the barn was my home.

My mom was in and out of the hospital  when I was a kid.  She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after I was born, then with schizophrenia when I was a teenager. She was a different person each time she was released from the hospital:  There were some aspects of the Mom I remembered, but it was like getting to know an entirely new person.

I love my mom, and over the years we have been able to develop a close relationship – but when I was growing up, the woman who taught me about life wasn’t my mom, it was Cindy.

This letter is for her.

Dear Cindy: 

You taught me how to ride a horse, but over the years you’ve taught me so much more than that.

You taught me to put others first.

You taught me that having fun is more important than bringing home ribbons.

You taught me that words of encouragement go a long way.

You taught me that kids come first.

You taught me that sometimes distraction is the best way to get through hard times – and that’s okay.

You taught me that what’s in the past is in the past; to cheer for others and be happy for them even when they’re hurt you.

You taught me responsibility.

You taught me that details matter.

You taught me to stand up for myself.

You taught  me to treat others with kindness and respect.

You taught me to be positive.

You taught me to work hard for what I want, that dreams may take time but they’re worth it.

You taught me to let a horse be a horse. 

You taught me to be myself.

 

I don’t know if you realize what an impact you’ve had on my life.   My mom was in and out of the hospital when I was young, so you became my role model.

It may have been a long time ago, and I may live thousands of miles away, with a family of my own – but I’m the woman I am today – the mother I am today – because of you.

Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Goats & Growing Up

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Yesterday was busy, as Sundays typically are in our household.  We had to be at church early for Topher’s preschool concert, then rushed home to call our realtor to request a second look at the absolutely perfect house we toured on Saturday.   Both kids have been sick all week so there was an extra dose of grumpiness and whining thrown into the mix.  I really wanted to put together a quick lunch and tuck both kids in for much needed naps (so I could nap myself!) – but then I glanced over at the couch.  Topher was curled up under his blankie, watching Special Agent Oso and sucking his fingers.

I remember when we used to swaddle him in that blanket – now that he’s almost five, his feet stick out and get cold unless he wears socks!  He has the same blankie, the same special stuffies, and gets the same comfort from sucking his index and middle finger –  but in his mind, he’s all grown up.

“Hey, buddy,” I called into the living room.  “Wanna go on a date?”

We started the tradition of regular Mommy and Topher dates two days after Ellie was born.  She was getting so much one on one time with me that I worried he would feel neglected.  Sometimes we go to Waves and order Belgian hot chocolates and pastries, sometimes we take the dog for a long walk, sometimes we wander the mall and tell knock-knock jokes.  It doesn’t really seem to matter to Topher what we do, as long as it’s just the two of us.

He threw his babies to the ground and leapt off the couch.  “Now?  Can we go now?”

Why the heck not?

We put on our sunscreen and our sneakers and headed out the door while Ellie climbed into  Nathan’s lap to watch hockey.

We had no sooner set foot on the sidewalk than Topher reached up to hold my hand.  “Where are we going on our hot date, Mommy?”

I squeezed his hand.  “How about the farmer’s market?”

He wrinkled his nose.  “Do they have bouncy castles?”

“They might today.”

“Okay!  Let’s go!”  He skipped beside me, chatting the entire way.  “Is that an owl?  I like owls.  Wow, did you see that ant?  I think ants are beautiful, Mommy.  Why do they call them dandelions?  They’re yellow like lions but they don’t roar!”

The first thing we saw as we entered the market was the bouncy castle.  Of course.  Topher wouldn’t budge until he’d had a turn, so we waited in line while the attendant let five kids go in at a time for as long as they wanted.  I’m glad I was wearing comfortable sneakers!  Topher bounced and fell and squealed in delight – until he noticed the petting zoo.

“Can we go, Mommy? Can we? Can we?” He scrambled out of the castle and dove for his shoes.

The petting zoo was packed but Topher had one goal: “I want to hold something, Mommy!”

“Do you mean like a rabbit?” I asked, reaching for the fluffy brown furball under the chair he was sitting on.  “We-ell … okay.  But I really want to hold one of those.”

I looked where he was pointing, expecting to see a puppy or a kitten or something equally cuddly.

But no.

It was a goat.  

I didn’t think that was such a good idea but one of the attendants plopped the thing on Topher’s lap – and it actually seemed quite content to sit there!  Topher wrapped his arms around his new friend and gave it a big kiss on its hairy little head.  “Ooh,  you’re such a cute little goaty goat!  I just love you!  Aren’t you just the cutest little thing?

Clearly he’s heard me talk to puppies.

He gave that goat some serious snuggles before it got bored and jumped off his lap.   His lower lip was staring to quiver (“Mommy!  The goat doesn’t love me anymore!“)  but two of his friends from school showed up at just the right time!

As a mom who works from home, I’m with my kids all day, every day.  When Topher whines for me to spend time with him, my first instinct is to say “I spend time with you ALL THE TIME.”  What more do you need, child?  But it’s become increasingly clear that one of Topher’s love languages is quality time.  Mommy and Topher dates are the highlight of his week!

But the truth is, sometimes I don’t feel like going out.  Sometimes I have work to do, or things to get done around the house – sometimes I really just want to take a nap!  But yesterday I was reminded that it really doesn’t take much effort on my part to make a huge impact on my little man.  (Seriously, give him a castle to bounce in and a goat to cuddle and his day is made!)

And last night it hit me:  It won’t be long before he’ll be reaching for a different girl’s hand, squeezing it three times to say “I. Love. You.” And it won’t be long before that lower lip will start quivering – over a girl instead of a goat.

In his mind, he’s already all grown up – but it won’t be long before that’s the reality.

I wish he could stay little forever.

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

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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!