Monday, 26 January 2009

Our Thrift Store Score

The boys and I found ourselves roaming the isles of our local Value Village thrift store this afternoon. I was in search of some reasonably priced ceramic pitchers to add to the family’s “Montessori Cupboard”. Chi-Chi currently attends the most wonderful Montessori preschool two mornings a week. We designated a small section of kitchen cupboards to house a handful of Montessori materials and exercises. This special collection of activities acts as a nice contrast to the family’s toy collection which focuses heavily on imaginative and pretend play.

Muffy, who will be joining big brother at preschool in the fall, has demonstrated a particular interest in this special cupboard. He contemplates and reviews his options ever so carefully before selecting materials to work with. Time and time again, Muffy is drawn to the water pouring exercise I’ve set up with a pitcher and child-size teapot. At just two years old, I’m certainly not ready to trust the little guy with the fine china! I’ve picked up some great deals at the second hand shops on cups, pitchers, plates and glasses for the children to use. They enjoy using “real” objects and are learning to respect the limits when handling breakable and fragile items. As a bonus, I’m not overly devastated when they are reduced to a million pieces on my hardwood floors!

After choosing a sturdy little pitcher in the house wares department, I somehow found myself being steered to the sporting goods section. The new pitcher, which had been the center of much excitement and discussion, was “pitched” aside when the boys set their sights on all the used hockey equipment. Chi-Chi’s keen eye quickly spotted a set of kiddie goalie pads for $1.99. Despite my “question every purchase” mantra for 2009, I will admit that very little convincing was required and I caved pretty quickly. Chi-Chi has exhibited such a strong enthusiasm for goal tending, I felt the joy and entertainment value of these pads was worth the mere toonie I dug out of my change purse.

Chi-Chi was in his glory for the remainder of the afternoon. I was happy to see him incorporate creativity and resourcefulness into the game. Check out the goalie stick. It bears a striking resemblance to those hobbyhorses I made last summer. That blocker reminds me a little of the tissue box I set out in the bathroom on Friday. My only question is…what happened to all the tissues?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

My Little Bookworms

Chi-Chi and Muffy shocked and impressed me the other day. In need of a change of scenery, I planned a small outing for the boys in the morning. They were given two clear choices - skating at the rink or a trip to the local library. Both little guys eagerly shouted "Library!" in unison. Ah, music to my ears... They made their mama proud with their wise choice. I'm happy to see that the novelty of hockey is not overshadowing other important interests in their lives.

Chi-Chi and Muffy don't watch TV so their ever growing collection of books is something we call upon regularly when in need of "downtime". We do have one TV in our home, but it is kept out of the main living area, tucked away in the attic space above our garage. The children and I rarely venture up there during the day as it is not really a kid friendly space. This was by design. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. Keeping the temptation of the TV out of our daily space is something Hubby and I are pretty adamant about for all members of the family! Since Chi-Chi has most of his favorites memorized, he's actually starting to "read" the stories to Muffy. He's providing Mommy with a valuable opportunity to pull supper together while he "babysits" little brother. I love it!

My latest stint in the workshop was inspired by Chi-Chi's fascination with The Gruffalo. I decided to add a fun little twist to story time by creating a set of characters - Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo of course. For those familiar with this story, I've even got a "good nut" on hand for the finale! What fun Chi-Chi and Muffy are having as they watch their favorite characters come to life in action. This endearing monster was definitely my most challenging wooden figure to date. I think I did a decent job by taking a "keep it simple" approach.

Chi-Chi's fourth birthday is over two months away, but he has already placed his order for a "banana, blueberry, strawberry, Gruffalo cake". Perhaps I should close up the workshop and get busy in the kitchen. This looks like a fairly tall order!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Picking up the Pieces

I had every intention of taking Chi-Chi and Muffy to the local pre-school free skate this morning. Marking this on my agenda definitely involves mustering up a lot of energy on my part. It is no small feat for one sleep-deprived mama. Getting all three of us to the rink, laced up and one the ice almost compares to embarking on an arctic expedition in my mind... Unfortunately, my ambitious plans where shattered by icy road conditions this morning.

I found myself in desperate need of something pretty exciting to distract from the disappointment of our skating cancellation. When looking for an activity to catch the little ones' attention, I usually pull out the craft supplies, which are always stored handy in a kitchen cupboard. It was Mommy who found inspiration in the art cupboard this morning as I shook the tin of crayon fragments. I'm always frustrated to discover a brand new box of wax crayons diminished to a mere heap of broken bits in no time. Last year on Earth Day, Chi-Chi came home from art class with his own set of recycled crayons. The children made these recycled crayons by melting old crayons and creating "new" crayons. Finding creative uses for old wax crayons was always a favorite activity of mine as a child as well. It was sure to be a colorful hit on this dreary day!

Chi-Chi and Muffy filled up our mini muffin tin with their crayon fragments and we popped them in the oven at 350 degrees until they were fully melted. Because I used a silicon pan, the crayons were super easy to remove once cool.

Of course, I used this as an opportunity to throw in some discussion on recycling. The kids love their new "rainbow crayons" and Mommy feels a sense of satisfaction in doing something productive and educational with those crazy crayon bits!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Hooked on Hockey

What do rug hooking and hockey have in common one might ask? Well, in our household, there’s quite a bit of both going on these days.

The unbearably cold weather we’re experiencing has definitely put a damper on our outdoor endeavors this past week. Being cooped up in the house doesn’t sit well with my two boys who absolutely, definitely, positively need to burn off their bubbling energy each day. As a result, we’ve banished ourselves to the basement in order to get in a good dose of active play. Certainly, Daddy is the hockey fan in our house, but I do have one season of girls’ high school hockey under my belt (as pathetic as I was). I was game for getting out my stick and participating until I was shot down by my three year old Chi-Chi. “Mommy, your shots aren’t hard enough. You go work on your rug hooking and Muffy and I will play hockey!” Ouch! That hurt! I trudged away to lick my wounds. In no time, however, I found myself excited about the opportunity to get back at my frame, which sadly has been sitting in the basement, collecting dust.

Gone are the days of lazy Sunday afternoons, sipping tea and hooking at a leisurely pace for hours on end. Completely consumed by a project, I would lose myself in a rug, easily spending an entire weekend at the frame. My hooking this week was sporadic to say the least, interrupted by numerous boo boo kisses, potty breaks, snack times, safety interventions… Knowing this would be the case, I drew up a couple of small and simple patterns to pick away at. The little grey-shingled cottage is inspired by Puddingpan Bay Cottage in West Berlin, Nova Scotia. In our pre-kiddie days Hubby and I vacationed in this spot. Time and time again, we refer back to that simple no-frills vacation as the best ever. Hands down, it easily wins this title despite competing against trips to Southern France and the California/Oregon coast. We spent our days reading, antiquing, admiring architecture and planning our dream home. It was nice to spend a bit of time this week hooking and reminiscing about this special time.

Not sure what my plan is for these two little rugs. Being made of wool, they may find their way to The Wool Fairy's Etsy shop. Chi-Chi and Muffy both enjoy and admire their personal hooked rug collections that adorn their bedroom walls and floors. "Tell me a story about a lighthouse....." is often what comes from Chi-Chi's lips at bedtime. Who would have thought that the household hockey obsession would open the door to my rug hooking!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Winter Bliss

It’s one c-c-c-cold and snowy day in our neck of the woods. In my view, this is what a Canadian winter should be! I guess my childhood winters spent in Northern New Brunswick have me a bit spoiled. Despite my past grumblings about our long winters on the North Shore, I have to admit, I miss my reliable winter weather. Snow and frigid temperatures were a constant all winter long. Skating at the outdoor rink, sliding, snowshoeing, downhill skiing – all of these activities were available every day for at least five months straight.

Winters in Nova Scotia are a little more unpredictable I’ve learned. The thermometer spikes and dives regularly so one has to be ready to jump at the opportunity to take advantage of a “good thing” when it presents itself. This is exactly what my family did during the holiday break when the mercury took a nose-dive. Nature offered my definition of simple, pure winter bliss – pond skating. A short jaunt from our house is a small pond overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. What a magical time we all had during those few days when the stars aligned and skating conditions were simply perfect! Our afternoons were spent with the sun and wind on our faces, enjoying our private outdoor rink in the company of a handful a good friends. Rosy-cheeked Chi-Chi was simply glowing from the moment he stepped on the ice. As he laced up his little black skates and began gliding across the smooth ice for the very first time, the smile on his face extended from ear to ear. Before long, he was confidently and independently tearing around the ice surface with his support stool. Every now and then he would look my way and shout, “I love you Mommy!” I believe he was so filled with awe and joy over this magical experience that those were the best words he could find to express his emotion. Melt my heart (:

So, my little pond skater is now completely obsessed with the sport of hockey. Yesterday he wore his helmet for twelve hours straight. He ingeniously figured out a way to pass food through the face mask, but I simply insisted it be removed during mealtime. He would have slept in it had I allowed it! Perhaps it is simply a phase, or perhaps it is only the beginning of one boy’s love of this popular game. Only time will tell I suppose. I’ve heard the horror stories of the crazy and hectic schedules young hockey players are subject to these days. I will admit that my potential future as a “Hockey Mom” scares me!

In the meantime, I’m simply happy to see my little ones enjoying the fun physical activities winter has to offer. The helmet obsession is actually a bonus for this “safety obsessed” mom. With two little boys in the house, who I often mistake for wrestling tiger cubs, a little extra head protection is always welcome!!