Category Archives: Parenting

Teething cures under campfire lights: natural tips and not-so natural tips for your teething baby now


Do you have a teether in your family? Anyone under the age of 3 perhaps?

Is your normally smiling, happy, cuddly baby/child noticeably more irritated these days? Does she/he  experience any or all of the following symptoms: drooling, gum swelling, red cheeks, ear pulling, putting fingers in mouth, elevated body temperature, skin rash, tummy upset, sharp cries of pain, decreased appetite, loose stools, inability to sleep for long periods of a time, biting, swatting or pushing others away, and flailing?

Check, check, check!! Welcome to our world.

We made it to the last week of the school year before Miss G (our 3rd daughter), who is now almost 11 months, was struck with a serious bout of teething. It was so incredibly timed that it perfectly coincided with our long-awaited camping trip last weekend.

After setting up our six-person tent in the dark, not five minutes went by as we lay in our newly aired-out sleep sacks, when a large rumble from the interior of the tent was heard. In fact, it came from the little belly of Miss G. She was in serious trouble. And after two very smelly diaper changes in quick succession, we were well on our way to experiencing the full force of her pain. Her piercing cries were heard in sharp contrast to the quiet crackles of the campfires and calling loons…sounds more typical of a summer night spent camping by the lake and woods.

As she had had a few smaller bouts the week before, I brought all the ammunition I could to make sure our little lady was going to sleep peacefully. The first night we tried an infant pain reliever. Not much help. The next morning we went for a more homeopathic approach with Camillia Sinensis. This did bring some temporary relief but was not long lasting and I found it difficult to get her to take the vial when she was writhing in pain. Finally, the next evening when the teething monsters came out, I brought out my tried and true pediatric teething drops from a Chinese herbal medicine supplier. It was prepared with a sweetened base so Miss G didn’t have to contend with bitter tasting herbs. Followed by a proper nurse. Instant success.

Her pain relief lasted though the night and all I had to do was nurse her back to sleep once in the night. I myself woke up an additional two times when I heard the resident raccoon come by and sniff out our site.

I’m not sure why I sometimes question the effectiveness and efficiency of my chosen profession. Perhaps we all do this at times. Maybe it is healthy to second guess at times, so as to really make sure you are not biased to your own preferences or tendencies. Or maybe it’s just because pharmaceutical and even other natural drugs are that much more convincing with their gorilla marketing that even a herbalist questions her number one method of pain relief for teething infants!

In any case, the good news is that there are a range of remedies that you can choose from to get you through this seemingly endless phase in your child’s development when you’re right in the middle of it.

Here are some additional soothing options for teethers:

-a frozen terry cloth or toy such as a Ringley

-a mango pit to chew on (this advice was generously given to me by a friendly neighbour with Guyanese roots who mentioned that this is what they do in Guyana…what a brilliant idea!)

-cold water popsicles or fruit sweetened popsicles (Miss G can confirm that this is helpful and she would like more offered in future)

-frozen fruit such as strawberries (this is also a helpful treat for non-teethers)

-massaging your child’s gums with clean fingers (watch out for biters though!)

-a nontoxic rubber toy (the popular S. the Giraffe comes to mind…a friend of mine has noted that in Germany, only the new batches of S. the Giraffe are approved for use so you may want to investigate this further)

Happy trails, happy summer.

-m.

Magical Fairy Dust to Brighten your Days: A Fairy Garden, Part 3


Just like the first spring blooms that have craned their necks out a little later this year due to the lengthy winter we have endured here in Ontario, we are slowly doing the same and beginning to stretch out a bit once again and unfurl. The last nine months have been spent adjusting to life with a newborn again.

While caring for a newborn is the most intense and rewarding experience I have the pleasure to share with my family, it takes a toll on all of us as we try to get back to some semblance of normal.

Gardening with our three girls is one of the ways we connect to our surroundings and each other. Not surprisingly, it feels very ‘grounding’. Having the sun warm your back and children giggling by your side, while you dig, and prepare the soil and plant the seeds, is very comforting and therapeutic and somehow sets everything in perspective. Stick with the basics, hold on to those close to you, do the work, reap the rewards. The answers are all there in nature.

I had posted about how you can make your own fairy garden last spring: http://faymeling.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/magical-fairy-dust-to-brighten-your-days-a-fairy-garden-28/ and also here http://faymeling.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/magical-fairy-dust-to-brighten-your-days-a-fairy-garden-part-2/. My children were thrilled with the final product, but alas, by the time I had a camera in hand to take pictures of it, it was nearing the end of summer and our magical fairy garden (though still magical!) was no longer in its prime. This year, we’ve started fresh with a beautiful Gerbera daisy, a full white blossomed Dahlia and a lovely purple Salvia. Once the moss is in season we will plant some Irish and Scottish moss as well for a nice soft carpeting.

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Happy Mother’s Day! 10 Things I Learned From My Mother


As I make my way through the adventure of parenting, I am often reminded that it is not meant to be figured out all on one’s own. There are several key players who will influence the way in which we parent. And since it’s Mother’s Day today, I want to take a moment to reflect on my mum. All the things I know as a mother, a wife, a friend, a colleague, are reflections of what my mother has taught me…by example, by persistence, and sometimes even by mistake. While we have very different personalities in many ways, we both share a love for helping others, a commitment to our family, and a desire for social justice. What I love most about my mother is her passion for lifting others into a higher vision of themselves.

While the following advice from my mom (aka “nana” to my girls), may or may not agree with you, here are the ones that come to the forefront in my mind and many of which have slowly niggled their way into my life and become some of my own beliefs.

Mama Nana’s 10 Rules for Success in Life:

On Being A Friend

There are good friends and bad ones. Take the time to get to know your good friends. Trust your instincts. If you don’t trust them, ask your mother. (She’ll tell you what she thinks. Over and over and over again.)

On Being A Partner

Your husband deserves your love and attention. Don’t take the love you share for granted. Go out once a week. The kids can stay overnight at nana’s. They can even stay for a week. Just go out!!!

On Caring for Yourself

Take care of yourself: drink lots of water, rest, eat well, make yourself feel pretty, get outside for 2-3 hours each day, and change the filters in your house and car to ensure you get clean, fresh air at all times. Treat yourself like a Rolls Royce and the rest will follow. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to drink lots of water. And did you open the windows in your home? Change those air filters!!

On Health

There are only three essentials aside from water, berries, vegetables, fish, rice porridge and lentil soup: apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic. Do you have garlic? That will solve everything. Honey for your throat. Heart condition? Where’s your apple cider vinegar? Are you sick? Again? Belladonna will do the trick! Just had a baby? Boost your iron! Tired from work? You need Ginseng!! And take your Chinese herbal medicine and multivitamins to boost your energy!! Poor memory? Lecithin!!! Poor vision? You need lutein from your egg yolks!

Sad? Depressed? Eat chocolate!! Eat ice cream. Then stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get outside. Help others. Sit in the sun. Walk the dogs. And eat chocolate.

On Parenting

Your children are your most prized possession. Teach them, joke with them, sing to them, hug them, and always be there for them. The time you put in now when they are young will serve you and your children well for the future.

If you want to know what you should do, become a child again and remember what children do and like.

Children are born geniuses, don’t insult their intelligence. Go put that kid on the potty from birth just like the previous generations in China did with their kids. And use the organic cotton cloth diapers that I used to use that soak right through. I’m German but I like listening to old Chinese ladies’ advice. Rash anywhere on face or bum? Penaten!!

And remember: We are blessed with the children we are given. We do not own them, but are entrusted with their care.

On Education

You are your children’s best education. Nature provides the learning resources. Go outside, explore, observe, experience nature and learn. When they are ready for more formal education, and if homeschooling is not feasible, a Waldorf school presents a good, solid foundation from which to grow and learn how to appreciate one’s own abilities and work in harmony with one’s community and environment.

Don’t feel stuck to your studies. You are not a slave to previous decisions. Drop out of college if you need to. Drop out!! Start fresh. Know what really makes you passionate and do that instead. Go out and find what really makes you happy.

On Work

Being self-employed awards you opportunities that you may not otherwise have come across. Don’t follow the masses or become a victim of someone else. Be willing to take a leap of faith and take a chance. Work hard, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn from these mistakes and also become much stronger in the end. Be your own success story.

On Investing

Don’t feel the pressure to buy a home. Don’t invest in banks. Invest in your kids. Invest in property you can enjoy. Cash good, Visa bad. Don’t trust the banks. Hide your money. Spend your money. Just don’t put it all in the bank.

On Keeping House

Clean when the kids are asleep. Or awake. Or never. You decide. The main thing is that you need to have a plan everyday for how to keep the house tidy and clean. But how much is it costing you for the cleaning lady? No more than $10 right? What? $100 you say? Are you insane! That’s far too much to spend on cleaning!

(On a sidenote, if you need some direction on cleaning and sorting schedules, I am a big fan of the Fly Lady http://www.flylady.net and also A Bowl Full of Lemons http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net)

Less is more. When possible, stick to the most natural cleaning products, and buy used and practical items.

On Faith

We are put on this earth for a reason. The most important thing is love. Religion in its healthiest state can provide a solid grounding from which one can go forth and meet life’s challenges. It doesn’t matter what religion you do or don’t subscribe to. Find the good in it and learn from those who have walked before you, and those that walk with you. If you are lost, find your faith. You are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day! What are some of your favourite quotes from your mom?

Kids’ Summertime Fun with Inukshuks and Rock Art


Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect day to spend doing an indoor activity with the girls. The rain finally came down in thick sheets after weeks of a heat wave and dry spell.

With our bag full of rocks which we recently collected at our local ‘Cherry Beach’, we decided to create our very own miniature Inukshuks (also known as Inuksuk and Inuksuit (pl.) by the Nunavut and Government of Canada through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).  To be culturally respectful, I will refer to them as Inuksuk (singular) and Inuksuit (plural) from here on in.

According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk, an inukshuk, for those who are not already familiar is a:

‘..stone landmark or cairn built by humans… used by the Inuit…. and other people fo the Artic regions of North America for [the purposes] of navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache… The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”. ‘

For more intorductory info on the Inuit usage of Inukshuks/Inuksuit, you can check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk as well as http://www.inukshukgallery.com/inukshuk.html.

J’s kindergarten teacher introduced her class to the ‘Inukshuk’ and other rock art in the last few days of school, after they had gone to the beach for some fun in the sun and sand. Here is a piece of J’s personal rock art that she created with some of the collected rocks.

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Unfortunately, we missed the original ‘Inukshuk’ building activity as we were returning from a camping trip in Killbear (more on this later!) with the family around that time. However, we did happen to see a lot of examples of ‘Inukshuks’ along the driving route, and were eager to make our own when we returned.

Here are some examples of Inunnguat (pl.) or Inunnguag (sing.), which is essentially a rock sculpture depicting a human figure and that is commonly mistaken as an ‘Inukshuk’:

Inukshuk, 95. Photo credit: www.cbantlerart.com

 

Inukshuk - Kuujjuaraapik January, Inuksuk in the vicinity of Kuujjuarapik, Canada. Photo credit: Nicolas M. Perrault

Before we started creating our own ‘Inukshuks’, I was not aware of all the potential types of rock sculptures that are often misrepresented as Inuksuit (e.g. the Inunnguat pictured above). For a more complete appreciation of Inuit rock creations that the Inuit of North America have created and used as markers for thousands of years and what the Inukshuks are, you can watch this short clip by Peter Irniq, an Inuit cultural activist, which explains the meaning of an Inukshuk in What is an Inukshuk here: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKQ97rOwBH0&feature=related 

 

Here are some photos of the miniature Inuksuit we created:

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If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to build your own Inuksuit , I also found this clip 2010 – How to build an Inukshuk (@hofstadlyceum.nl) quite enjoyable to watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf25KoI6CnY&feature=related

Happy Inuksuk building!

- “You are on the right path.” (Traditional meaning of Inuksuk.)

 

 

Singing Our Way Through the Day


Hands up if you like to sing throughout the day (e.g. in the shower, in your car during your commute to or from work, school, etc.) If not, here let me get you started – Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ has been playing on our XM radio 80′s station quite a bit lately and J, R, and I enjoy boppin’ to the beat of the tune in our car:

“Material Girl” – Madonna

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re O.K.
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away
They can beg and they can plead
But they can’t see the light, that’s right
‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right, ’cause we are
[Chorus:]
Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl…[continued]

Note: the lyrics leave much to be desired so feel free to pop another tune in your head!

Great!! And do you also have a song or rhyme for a special part of each day? Well, it seems one of my daughters has recently decided to make this a daily practice for our family. Not only will she insist on rhyming everyone’s names (e.g. Alex Balex, Rosie Posie, Silly Lily) but she delights in listening to all sorts of rhymes throughout the day that we manage to create (I will spare you these particular rhymes as they are probably only funny to us, potentially embarassing, and therefore best kept in the family).

I have to admit, singing and rhyming more regularly has been a pretty fun experience for us all. When J and R were just a toddler and infant respectively, I did come up with a few of my own made up rhymes or short songs just to giggle our way though transitions such as a diaper change, meal, bath, or attempt to get out the door. On days where I was less light-hearted and didn’t, things always seemed to be that much more challenging and my patience with the children would be lost that much faster. In fact, this is still the case even now!

At the end of the day, the girls will often request that I say a special verse, song and/or prayer (especially just after turning the lights out). A favourite verse is Star Light, Star Bright ever since we put up some glow in the dark stars just above their beds.

Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.

Comet Lovejoy

Photo credit courtesy of Jia Hao, TWAN

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/pictures/120515-best-earth-sky-pictures-2012-comet-milky-way-space/

For the different seasons and weather there are some great rhymes as well. We have a lovely resident robin who visits our front lawn each day and sings ever so sweetly at just a bit before 5am. This is naturally a time when most of the family should still be asleep, but I may or may not be (depending on how the pregnancy insomnia is going that night or on which kid decides to pile into our bed before sunrise).

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turdus-migratorius-002.jpg

So in honour of our friendly, little Robin (and courtesy of J’s wonderful teacher who reminded us of this song in her song and poetry reading book), here’s what we’ve been singing lately:

Robin in the rain,
Such a saucy fellow.
Robin in the rain,
Mind your socks of yellow.
Running in the garden on your nimble feet,
Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak.

Robin in the rain,
You don’t mind the weather
Showers always make you gay.
Bet the worms are wishing you would stay at home,
Robin on a rainy day — don’t get your feet wet,
Robin on a rainy day!

Lyrics can be found here as well: http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/sing-alongs/article/robin-in-the-rain.html#ixzz20CANeDUz

What about songs inspired by what you do or see that day? On an expedition to the local bank machine the other day, we came across a bunch of cyclists riding bicycles built for two, which of course brought the following song Daisy Bell by Henry Dacre in 1892 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_Bell) to mind:

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daisybell.jpg

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage –
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
-Henry Dacre, 1892

Singing and rhyming with your children throughout the day may not only provide you with laughter and enjoyment, but may actually improve your health and well-being according to this article by Alice Wignall:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/26/healthandwellbeing.fitness

Singing can also increase your children’s language development, academic performance and emotional well being. According to an article by Amelia Hill published in the Guardian (May 08, 2011):

Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing”, argues Blythe in a book. “Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.” Blythe says in her book, The Genius of Natural Childhood, to be published by Hawthorn Press, that traditional songs aid a child’s ability to think in words. She also claims that listening to, and singing along with rhymes and songs uses and develops both sides of the brain. “Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides,” she said.

For the full article click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Here’s to more sing-song, and carrying on thoughout your day today!

Magical Fairy Dust to Brighten Your Days: A Fairy Garden, Part 2


We have been experiencing quite the heat wave here the last few weeks! School has finally let out and the girls are eager to start our summer vacation in the city.

For the most part, we’ve been keeping the schedule simple: a good breakfast, some water colour painting for J and R while I prepare the lunch we will bring with us on our outing, and then a visit to one of our local parks and wading pool/ splash pad. We go home early afternoon, run some errands and then have some down time to sleep, or do quiet activities or chores around the house. Late afternoon is usually reserved for gardening or sprinkler fun for the girls, then a bit of free play (these days it’s dress up and/ pretend grocery shopping) while I prepare dinner.

Speaking of gardening, we have finally set up our fairy garden. I mentioned in an earlier post back in February (when the weather fooled us into believing spring had begun and was there to stay!) that we had grand plans for a garden that the girls could call their very own, complete with their own garden fairies.

How to make a fairy garden:

Materials:
- nice dark topsoil or potting soil
- medium to large sized whiskey barrel/ planter/ container
- 2-3 small budded annuals/ perennials
- Scottish or Irish moss
- small vessel for water/pond
- some pebbles/ small rocks
- miniature figurines or DIY felt fairies/ gnomes etc.
- miniature furniture

Directions:
- together with your kids, sketch a plan of how you would like your fairy garden to look like. Include type and colour of flowers/plants, fairy house, pond, pathway, furniture, figurines, etc.
- choose a suitable location for the fairy garden where it will get enough sunlight and shade if necessary, as well as be easy for the children to play and for all of you to access with a watering can or hose.
- Make sure there is a hole at the bottom before you fill the barrel for proper drainage. For better water drainage and soil aeration you can also put a layer of gravel or small rocks on the bottom of planter as well.
- fill barrel/ planter up to 2/3 level with soil.
- plant chosen flowers/ plants/ moss according to your sketch.
- include the figurines and any other accessories.
- water and prune accordingly, play daily!

For more info please visit Donni Weber’s the Magic Onions blog:

http://themagiconions.blogspot.ca/

Donni has some great tips and even a fairy garden contest you can enter to win some great prizes!

We are also really quite taken with this amazing natural parenting and toystore that is run by a local mompreneur and friend: http://www.avasappletree.ca/

Ava’s Appletree has some really great products and was where we purchased our fairy house and fairy kit. You can easily create two beautiful felted fairies with the kit.  

Here are a few pictures of our little fairy garden so you can get an idea of how to make your own. Our fairy garden is of course still a work in progress but we are quite pleased with it so far!

Note: We now have a little house and a pond and pathway (will add photos of this in future) but alas I waited too long to take a picture of the completed project so the plants have overgrown somewhat and hidden the pathway and fairy house so some pruning needs to be done first!

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International May Day Celebrations Renewed


Well here we are. May 1st. Some exciting things are happening this month! While typically here in Canada we think of Mother’s Day and Victoria Day celebrations as the highlights of May, it seems that there has been a resurgence in the popularity of celebrating the very first day of this bright and cheerful month all over the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day

May Blossoms from the May tree. Photo Credit: ceridwen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Queen_of_the_May,_in_June_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1346819.jpg

May Day, also known as the Gaelic festival of Beltane (May 1st) and the German Walpurgis Night http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night (which is celebrated on the night of April 30 – and leads into May 1st),  is  typically observed in areas such as England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, France, and even Hawaii (where it is more commonly referred to as “Lei Day”).

Historically, May 1st was considered the first day of summer in some pre-Christian pagan cultures.  This day was celebrated in pre-Christian times as the festival of Flora in honour of the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Following the conversion of Europe to Christianity, many pagan celebrations were either dropped or given religious undertones. In Roman Catholic cultures, May is considered Mary’s month and May Day is usually celebrated as a tribute to the Virgin Mary. Flowers are used to adorn her head in a May Crowning represented in works of art such as plays, sculptures and figure drawings. 

For many other people, May Day is recognized as a secular tradition where spring and fertility is celebrated with events such as dancing around a Maypole decorated with colourful ribbons, and the crowning of the May Queen.  

Maypole in Munich, Germany http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Viktualienmarkt_Maibaum_Nahaufnahme_1999.jpg

Queen Guinevre’s ‘Maying’ by John Collier. Photo credit: Andreas Praefke http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre%27s_Maying.jpg

If you are looking to make your own May Pole check out this amazing blog on spring festival celebrations and Maypole ideas at Kleas: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

DIY Maypoles with dyed silk ribbons. Photo credit: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

Here are a few other great sites to visit for creating a Maypole and celebrating May Day with your children:

Maypole with Beads. Photo credit: www.gardeners.com

Maypole Nature Table. Photo credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com

Fresh flowers and Ribbon Maypole. Photo credit: http://stillraisingthenextgeneration.com

Stone-tipped Fairy Ribbon Wands. Photo credit: http://paintcutpaste.com

A sweet tradition in the past (that is likely to gain new momentum) was to prepare May Day baskets filled with flowers or treats, and to leave them anonymously on the front door steps of a neighbour or friend. For tips on how to make your own May Day basket, visit Ben Partridge’s excellent post on The May Day Basket Refresher at Apartment Therapy at http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May Day Baskets. Photo credit: Ben Partridge http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May 1st is also International Workers’ Day  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day which was officially recognized in 1891 and celebrates the International Labour Movements and marks the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago and the subsequent 1894 May Day Riots in Cleveland, Ohio when people rioted against the ineffectual measures the city officials carried out to reduce the skyrocketing rates of unemployment at the time. While this day is officially reconized elsewhere, here in Canada and the United States, Labour Day is recognized on September 1st (a move that was favoured by the then governor of Ohio so as not to commemorate the riots).

Currently, there is a resurgence in the United States and elsewhere to celebrate this infamous day in the context of supporting the 99% of the population who are not as well off as the remaining 1%. This planned day of protest is fuelled by the Occupy Wall Street (and other Occupy movements around the world) .

So what will we be doing this May 1st? Since I’ll be at home with the girls, we will be celebrating this special day as a tribute to spring and all its glory. My litle ladies love dressing up in their most desirable princess gowns and dancing around the living room or out in the front yard. So we will likely be doing some dancing (as per usual!) Not sure if we’ll have a little May Pole set up to dance around…although we could make a makeshift May Pole using our beautiful white hobby horse which would also double as a perfect companion to my two lovely little May Queens.

And perhaps a flower garland for their hair, or pansy flowers pressed into shortbread cookies in a basket would be a welcome activity to add to our day.

For a great shortbread recipe with pressed flowers to celebrate spring, here’s a great article on Stonegable: http://stonegable.blogspot.ca/2010/05/pansy-shortbread-cookies.html

Pansy shortbread cookies. Photo credit: http://stonegable.blogspot.com

Here’s to a very Happy May Day and a great start to your month! What does the month of May mean to you? Will you do anything special this May Day? Please share your thoughts.

How To Trim The Fat Off Your Laundry Load


Do you love housework?

Do you love that your weekends are often spent sorting and folding and colour blocking your laundry?

Or does the sight of your laundry loads, whether dirty or clean, often end up overwhelming you, frightening you, or sending you into a state of utter panic?

The last statement definitely applies to me. And for years now, I’ve been threatening to do something about the never ending pile of laundry that seems to be growing exponentially as my kids get older and as each day passes with me in an increasing tizzy.

The other day, I neglected all household duties and day- dreamed about another time and place when things were briefly much more manageable. I thought back to last summer when we we gave ourselves a ’6 weeks without-a-home vacation’ and travelled to the mid-northeastern frontiers of Quebec and visited the beautiful St. Lawrence River, Charlevoix and Tadoussac regions (will post more on this later). We were waiting to move into our new house and our old house had closed several weeks before. Therefore, with no home, we were forced to put away all our possessions in storage and minimize our daily necessities and belongings. All of this “storing away” felt incredibly liberating. And we managed to live very happily in those six weeks with nothing but a few essentials. When we finally returned and moved into our new place, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could actually do without most of the things we had placed in storage.

So…yesterday, I finally did something about it. I commited to reducing our laundry load to something more manageable. I decided to purge ourselves of all unnecessary items of clothing and limit the number of options. Already, I can breathe deeper knowing there are at least two laundry loads less to do! We are by no means living a completely simplified lifestyle yet. But I consider it one step in the right direction.

To pare down your wardrobe, start with what you love and ‘really need’ and work from there. For seasonal and hand-me-down clothing, label clear plastic storage bins with season, gender and age to refer to for future use, or consider passing along items to someone who may need it. For all other items that you’re not sure about, place in a very dark black plastic bag or dark rubbermaid bin. From here you have three viable options: Either store away and look at these items again in two weeks (and let me know if you actually decide to keep all of these items!), give to friends who may be in need of such items, or donate the clothing to a charity of your choice that picks up used clothing such as the Diabetes Foundation or Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Essentials for each family member (this also serves as a great travel essentials list for those that don’t want to pare down their clothing list permanently….yet!):

-4-7 underwear tops

-4-7 underwear bottoms

-1-2 long underwear (for winter consider polyproplene/wool)

-4-7 pairs of socks (1-2 sport, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressy)

-1-2 pairs pajamas/nightgown

-4-7 tops/blouses (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 of each of your favourite colours (approx. 3 colours), 1-2 dressier tops)

-2-4 shorts/pants (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 everyday wear (e.g. jeans/khakis, 1 -2 dressier pairs)

-2-4 skirts/dresses (per season; 1-2 everyday wear; 1-2 dressier ones)

-2-4 cardigans/knit sweater/fleece (change according to season)

-1 blazer

-1-2 ties (men)

-1-2 jackets/coats (1 nice coat, 1 all season jacket/parka; change according to season)

-1-2 pairs rain pants/ snow pants (chnage according to season)

-2-5 pairs of shoes (1 runner/athletic shoe, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressier pair, 1 pair of slippers/warm knit socks, 1 pair rain boot/ 1 pair winter boot; change according to season)

-1 toque/sunhat (change according to season)

-1 scarf/neck warmer

-1-2 pairs of gloves/mittens

-1 pair of sunglasses

-1 pair of goggles

-1 swim vest/PFD

-1-2 swimsuits

-1 towel

-(1 toiletry kit) non-clothing related but essential!

-(Family First Aid Kit)-non-clothing related but essential!

Rhythm: Part Four


Rhythm: Part Four.

Rhythm: Part Five


Rhythm: Part Five.