Skip to content

the Lainie List.

“Cheese!”
  1. Does Play Make a Difference? How Play Intervention Affects the Vocabulary Learning of At-Risk Pre-Schoolers. (article)
  2. when a friend opens a new restaurant, it’s so exciting. Three Monks and a Duck. Go check it out.
  3. MOO. love it for stickers and business cards.
  4. I now have a new crush on Thoreau and Emerson.
  5. the wrong way to visit Iceland.
  6. a friend shared this video of Walden (the summer camp). it’s beautifully put together.
  7. leather pencil cases on Etsy.
  8. If I had my life to live over again…
  9. 5 Easy Steps for Making Picture Books for Your Kids
  10. Do you know what drives you?
  11. Creative Mornings Talks
  12. the 3/50 Project. a good reminder for us all.
  13. Brene Brown is coming to Netflix! Call to Courage.
  14. my 100 day project is coming along…

If I had my life to live over again…

If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax.
I’d limber up.
I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances,
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.

– Nadine Stair, Louisville at 85 years of age


I love everything about this. The perspective that one has at the end of their life… it’s something that I would like to have now.

6 human needs.

We are motivated by the desire to fulfill these 6 core needs:

  1. Certainty
  2. Uncertainty / Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Connection and Love
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution


We all share these needs, but we place different value on each. It’s what makes us different.

Based on his experiences working with over 3 million people, Tony Robbins is the one who has coined these 6 fundamental emotional needs. They form the basis of every choice we make and your top 2 needs are said to create your destination in life.

Do you know what your top 2 would be? Tony has a free online quiz to help narrow down your driving force. It’s worth a try to see if you connect to the results or not.

I should also say that when I think of Tony Robbins, I immediately picture a guy on stage who is an evangelist of sorts (sorry, no offense). I’m a bit skeptical. But after reading the list of needs, I was curious to know more. Developing awareness of who we are and why we do what we do…that stuff is fascinating to me. I do my best to try and stay open to the ideas regardless of the source.

If you like learning more about yourself and thinking about your actions, here are a few things to check out…

Would love to hear what you think of this. Feel free to add a comment.

5 Easy Steps to Make Cute Picture Books for your Kids

It’s easy to make your own little readers at home.

Books based on your child’s interests and experiences will make reading relatable and enjoyable for them.

Here’s how you do it…

1. Find a story structure.

You’ll start to notice repeating sentence stems in books for early readers.

For example:

My Family.
This is my mom.
This is my dad.
This is my brother.
This is my sister.
This is my grandma.
This is my grandpa.
This is me!
This is my family.

This is my is repeated over and over. This is a story structure that you could use in your little reader.



Other examples of repeating sentence stems:

Here is ___________.
Here is ___________.
Here is ___________.


Look at the ___________.
Look at the ___________.
Look at the ___________.


or





The _______ is here.
The _______ is here.
The _______ is here.

and many more!





2. Choose a Topic that Your Child would Love.


Does your child love cars?
Create a book that highlights their interests.

Do they have a favourite stuffed animal?
Create a book that features objects around home that have meaning to them.

Is the local farm their favourite place to go in the world?
Create a book about a recent trip or adventure you went on (…adventures can be to the park near your house).

The overall goal is to create a book that has meaning for them. Just add your own words to the sentence stems and you’re on your way.

3. Take Some Photos

This is the fun part! Get creative and take some photos for their book.

our little ones had fun staging these pictures.

It’s easy to go overboard (as in taking waaay too many pictures); it’s fun, right?! But try to keep your book to 8 pages or so (I notice that in most early readers, there are 8 pages total). Use this as a guideline to keep your book short and engaging for your little one. You don’t want a book that seems to drag on.

4. Create the Book.

Set up your Document

I use Google Docs to create books for my kids. Whatever word processor you use is totally fine (e.g., MS Word), just try to keep it easy and quick for you – otherwise you won’t feel like making them.

Here is a book for you, to help get started: Our Stuffies.

Feel free to make yourself a copy of the document so you don’t have to start from scratch (Just go to ‘File’ and then ‘Make a Copy’). Personalize it with your own photos and change up the text. My hope in sharing it is that you can see what it looks like as a document.

I use Comic Sans font because it’s the only font that has a proper shaped ‘a’.


Upload your Photos.

I found that the fastest thing to do was use AirDrop. If you have a MAC computer, go to that magnifying glass (search / find) icon in the top right hand corner of your screen. Then search AirDrop.

Then open up the camera roll on your phone. Select the photos you want to send yourself. You’ll notice once you hit the arrow in the bottom left hand corner to send it (either through text, email, etc.), tap AirDrop instead. Your photos will instantly go into the downloads folder in your computer. Save your pics and drag them into your document.

If you don’t have Apple products, email yourself the photos and save them to your desktop. I used to do that before I figured out AirDrop.

5. Print your Book, Cut & Staple. Done!

This baby doesn’t need to be perfect. Let’s be honest, there are going to be little hands all over it. That’s the whole point. We want them to read the book over and over. It’s going to get wrinkled and crumpled, and we can just print off another copy. No big deal.

I stack the pages and hold them up to the window to see through them. I quickly hack across with scissors doing my best not to cut off the words. Seriously. It’s meant to be quick and easy.

Arrange the pages as you wish and staple together. I use multiple staples along the edge versus one in the corner because I don’t want pages being ripped off while turning. It’s totally up to you.

Note from the writer (Lainie):

I decided to start making little readers for our son, Tate, when he started getting leveled books sent home from his junior kindergarten class. The books felt so outdated and low interest. The book about family was very nuclear and the book about Dad was about fixing things and working out. It’s not a judgment of the school or the teacher. You use what you have. I just decided to make my own.

I thought Tate might find it fun to read books about his favourite stuffed animal doing silly things (he has a funny little sense of humour) or to see photos of his family. Now we have three books and are looking forward to making more.

Although I was once a teacher, I do not have the same background in early reading as my friends and colleagues, so I reached out and asked them to share their knowledge and experiences with you by commenting on this post. Make sure you read the comments below. Just in reading them, I learned more. Thank you, Heather!

I hope you found this post helpful.

You can see other projects I do with and for the kids on my website: verylainie.ca There’s an option to follow my site to get updates right to your inbox (because who has time to search out someone’s website regularly). I’m also on Instagram sharing crafty projects at @verylainie.

I want to write something so simply.

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think –
no, you will realize –
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart
had been saying.


Mary Oliver

#bookgoals

the Lainie List.

my shopping buddies.
  1. a little read about intellectual property.
  2. Sweet Reads – a subscription box for those who love to read. Highly recommended by a friend of mine.
  3. Creamy ham and potato soup recipe. the kids devour it.
  4. the happiness movement.
  5. I LOVE locomotive clothing. Great design.
  6. fortune teller fish
  7. 5 steps to releasing anger mindfully.
  8. the Hands-On Centre for children at the Art Gallery of Ontario. would like to take the kids there.
  9. CBC Listen | Here and Now Toronto | Is the FDA’s newly approved postpartum drug the answer?
  10. spaghetti and meatballs recipe from Rachel Ray.
  11. Why Does Your Mala Necklace Have 108 Beads?

30 Days without social media.

I decided not to use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest for 30 days.  I journaled daily and it wasn’t until I wrote this post, that I realized how good the time away was for me…

I wrote 41,380 words (172 pages typed) for the book I’m writing for the kids. I love it and it’s still a work in progress. There are some really beautiful pieces in it and I’m learning so much from writing it.

a picture I’ve never seen before – of my Dad and his grandma.


I’m happy with the progress I’m making with the kids book.  It’s as though our whole family is coming together to write it for them, which I love.  It makes me a little teary. I hope I can organize it and write it in a way where the kids can learn from it and make their own connections. (Day 3)

I talked to my parents on the phone.  It’s hard to have a good conversation over Face Time with the kids performing in the background.  On multiple nights, we laughed and reminisced. Mom and Dad shared funny stories from when they were in school.  And there were some stories that were sad and hard to share. It helps me understand.

I connected with people I care about.  I wrote letters, on paper, and tucked them into envelopes with photos.  I sent them to friends and family back home. I got two letters back and it was such a nice surprise.

“Thank you for remembering me…  I still miss Bill, especially at night…” (from our neighbour, up at the cabin, who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s).

“I feel special you wrote me!!!  A real letter. You made my day…”  (a family friend that I worked with when I was a teenager.)  She said that her writing stinks, but wrote me the best three page letter that was so utterly her.  I laughed out loud when I read it.

It was so nice to read about how she’s doing. It’s been so long.

I discovered that I have underestimated our local library.

We went for a walk after dropping Tate off at school.  We mailed two letters with photos to a friend and family member back home.  We bought cheese. We went to the library to pick up a book I had on hold. I actually spent time looking at other books for myself.  Travel. Craft. Photography. Biographies. A wealth of resources right near our house. (Day 2)

I had dinner with a friend.

Dinner with Nika is filled with stories and laughter.  Four hours later, we’ve had dinner, dessert, and are hugging outside in the snow to say goodbye.  I needed this catch up. (Day 3)

I enjoyed little moments with the kids.  

Big Day.  Costco Day!  The kids love Costco, especially Thatcher.  

We spend our time looking for the “Sneaky Cheese.”  I pretend that I can’t find the big bricks of marble cheese and the kids are on the lookout.  It’s always been in the same place.

We have the same route.  Granola bars for Tate’s lunch and for snacks.  Down through the aisles to grab some crackers or tortilla chips.  On the way into the milk cooler, Charlie is quick to pull on her toque or put her hood over her head.  “It Cold.” We go by the “raw meat” on our way to the bakery section. The produce cooler instantly has Thatcher asking for grapes. A loop to grab bread and some ‘nanas.

Thatcher is quick to pop up when we arrive to the check out.  He likes putting everything on the conveyor belt, while Charlie tries to eat the butter through the silver wrapping.  Afterwards, it looks like a little mouse was nibbling on it.

And the visit usually ends with hotdogs.  They like to have them torn in half so they have two smaller hotdogs to hold onto.  Thatcher likes the works – ketchup, mustard, and relish. Charlie gets a little ketchup – more because I’m the one who will be cleaning her up afterwards.  After we fill our cups with ice water at the pop machine, we are ready to find a seat. They like to sit at the picnic tables with an umbrella.

This day I take pictures of them eating their hot dogs because I want to remember these days.  Of our little lunch date, them swinging their little legs and being so engrossed in eating a sketchy $1.50 hot dog.  There will come a time where I will be doing the grocery shopping on my own. I won’t have my little companions who keep me moving quickly to avoid their boredom and fighting. (Day 4)

I came up with my idea for #the100dayproject.

And today I think I figured out an idea for what to hang over the fireplace mantel – a quilted wall hanging.  I think it would be cool to use a collection of fabrics – family photos transferred to fabric, handwriting of family members transferred to fabric, pieces of the kids baby clothing, wool from home, and more… I would make it all in triangles.  (Day 7)

I signed up for a workshop.

I finally signed up for a 10 class yoga pass at a studio near our house.  I signed up for a mala making workshop being offered this Saturday. It’s a weird thing for me to sign up for but there’s something about it that has grabbed my attention.  Each time I’m in the yoga studio, I look at the poster. When I went online today to buy my yoga pass, I read over the workshop information again. I checked out her Instagram account and website.  Lainie, enough. Just go. I’ve learned to trust my intuition on things like this. If I don’t let something go and keep revisiting it, I need to do it. I know nothing about malas and look forward to learning more.  (Day 8)

I realized that I need to do things for myself.

I decided to take Thatcher and Charlie to the ROM.  They went ooh and aah over the dinosaur bones. Thatcher loved walking right beneath the dinosaur in the main lobby – looking up to see its ribs hanging above us.  They stuck goggles on their faces and grabbed paint brushes, to act like archaeologists moving around glittery sand to find the bones hidden underneath. We saw the bones of snakes and were surprised to see how thick walrus skin is.  I think they will nap this afternoon – so much stimulus.

And for me, it was exactly what I needed.  I was inspired by everything. I loved how they displayed collections; they were beautiful.  I wanted to remember them for my own work and took pictures like a nerd. I was noticing the headings of display cases and taking pictures to remember them. I revisited the massive tree slices and nerded out over the tree facts and how they connect so much to our lives. I need to go back on my own one weekend while the kids are napping and Eric is home.  It fills me up.

I went back on my own and loved it.I missed having Eric with me, someone to talk to about the pieces.  We like going to museums together. (Day 5)

I went to three yoga classes.  

Off to a yoga and writing class at 6:30 p.m.  I kiss the kids goodnight and grab my mat. It’s a class about grief.  I feel really good. I actually feel like I’m in a good place. What would I even talk about?  I don’t think Grandma. Maybe my former self?

And yet when I start to talk to a dim room, lit with the warmth of candles and strangers sitting on their mats, I find myself getting choked up.

I don’t remember what year it was. I don’t remember years.

(I remember how long she’s been gone by Tate’s age.  She passed away 3 months before he was born.)

My Grandma passed away four years ago.  We were very close. She was like a mom to me.  After she passed away, my life completely changed.

(This is where I get choked up.)

I quit my job.
I had three babies.

And then I can’t talk anymore.  I know if I do, I will cry in front of everyone.  

And it’s weird because I’m not getting emotional because I’m sad.  I think I’m realizing just how much has changed since she’s been gone.  She has missed so much.

We had Tate.
We sold our first home.
We bought a new home.
Eric left the Argos.
We had Thatcher.
We renovated.
We had Charlie.
I quit my job
.

I think what I need to grieve now is who I used to be.  (Day 4)

I researched things.

I started researching grief.  There was a question from last week’s yoga and writing class that I have been thinking about:  How do you manage your grief?  It surprised me.  I never thought of grief as something that we have control over.  I’ve never managed my grief – clearly, since I am carrying pieces with me decades later.  I loved the question and wanted to see what strategies might exist (hence my google search).  

I want to write to the kids about grief.  What it is, my experience with it, and ideas for them to consider for managing it.   They will experience it someday and I want them to know more about it.

These are a few lines that stood out to me from my initial research (as in just a few articles I found online so far):

“Many people think of grief as a single instance or short time of pain or sadness in response to a loss – like the tears shed at a loved one’s funeral. But grieving includes the entire emotional process of coping with a loss, and it can last a long time. Normal grieving allows us to let a loved one go and keep on living in a healthy way.”

And these were some suggestions for how to manage grief: express yourself, allow yourself to feel sad, keep your routine up, sleep, eat healthily, avoid things to numb the pain, go to counselling if it feels right for you…

I wish I would have known these things.  From my experience, it feels like death happens and then you try to move on.  You go back to school. You start a new job. You try to ignore the feelings. You don’t talk much about those who have died because you know the tears will come.  I just carried it. I carried it all for so long. Counselling was never an option. We lived in a small town and psychologists were something we saw on TV. We called them shrinks.  (Day 8)

We went to see friends out of town one weekend.

Today we packed up the kids and drove up to Collingwood to see Sean, Becky and the kids.  It was nice to have a change of scenery. The kids played non-stop in the basement and the adults could sit at the table and talk.  It was glorious.

A night of wine, beer, watching Queer Eye.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed at midnight. (Day 19)

I learned how to sew leather pencil cases upcycled from leather found from a thrift shop.

Naptime was spent cutting up a leather jacket to make pencil cases and doing some work on the kids’ book. (Day 21)

I read The Year of Magical Thinking and now have a girl crush on Joan Didion and her writing.

I finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.  If asked about it, I would likely say it gets repetitive.  But it’s also the point. She was grieving the death of her husband and daughter.  She replayed the same events over and over in her head for a year and beyond. She was trying to make sense of what had happened and kept revisiting facts and memories.  Her book is truly about grief and it is beautiful in its sheer honesty. (Day 15)

I spent more quality time with Eric.

I had sent him a text earlier in the day that said, What do you think about no TV tonight and no phones?  I wanted us to talk about our finances, plans for travel and projects around the house, etc. It felt good to talk about where we are at, how we plan on paying things off, and talk about our trip together like it’s actually going to happen.  It feels like we have little time to talk about things like this – our plans and goals. When the kids are awake, we can barely hear each other. When they nap, we want to use the time to get things done or have some time on our own. And after bedtime, we are brain dead and tired.  TV and phones become our default. (Day 10)

I drank wine.

I know why Happy Hour became a thing; it must have been invented by Mom’s who are at home.  Around 4 p.m. the kids start winding up and are miserable, right as you are trying to get dinner ready.  I really should keep a bottle of red in the kitchen for such an occasion. (Day 9)

I tried meditation for the first time at our yoga studio.  

I’ve signed up for a half hour meditation class.  This is way out of my comfort zone. I have no idea what it is like but I’m willing to give it a try.  All I know is that I live up in my head all day long. It’s exhausting. I would like some quiet up there.

I walk into a small room filled with candles.  There’s a blanket and a cushion for me to sit on.  There’s the instructor and one other girl named Jess.  They are both wearing malas. Ah, crap. Was I supposed to bring my mala?!  (so funny, never thought I’d EVER say that. What is happening to me?!?)

We are instructed to sit on our cushions but towards the front so we can properly rest our legs on the floor without straining some particular body part – I forget which one.  We are asked to close our eyes and all I think is, how in the hell am I going to be able to sit here for a half hour with my eyes closed?? I won’t be able to last that long. The 30 minutes actually flew. (Day 14)

I’m starting to take care of myself.

Today at lunch, I got the kids plates together and accidentally grabbed a third plate – habit.  Before I put it away, I decided to make a plate for me. What the kids eat, I should eat. I feed them so well and never do it for myself.  They had cucumbers, tomatoes, homemade dill dip, blackberries, strawberries, and a few tortilla chips (they had a little sandwich earlier). It’s a new habit I need to start. What they eat, I eat.  Usually it seems the opposite – mom’s gain weight because they eat their kids food – chicken fingers and fries. I just don’t eat or just have carbs – quick and easy to grab.  (Day 24)

I’m learning more about myself.

I quickly write up my Lainie List even though I know that no one will read it. I realize how much I need other people’s approval. Working on that. (Day 18)

I tried potty training Charlie.

We Face-timed with Mom and Dad.  I show them how I’m potty training Charlie with chocolate chips.  I feel like a circus / animal trainer. She pees on the potty and waits for her two chocolate chips.  Then stands there and says, I want three! Mom bursts out laughing. And I’m impressed by her number sense.  She knows that three is more than two! (Day 16)

I spent four hours in Chapters and it was amazing.

I went out for dinner with a friend.
I was invited to another friend’s place for dinner.
I’ve seen more friends this month than I have in a year.

I used my time to do things I enjoy.

It was a good month.

I felt inspired.  
I felt grounded.
I know what I need to do.

And I’m worried.

I’m worried that I’ll go back to it – the scrolling that happens when I’m bored or want to escape the chaos in the house or in my head.  I’m worried that I’ll go back to posting things for others and not necessarily for myself.

And so, I’ve decided to go back to it slowly.  

Go after what you want – cautiously.  Stick to the self care practices that you are building.  Nurture relationships. Be present at home. If not, back to the woods you go my dear.  (Day 28)

So I’ve decided that I will only go into my social media apps on Mondays for the next month or so.  Hopefully it will be a fun way to start the week by reconnecting with everyone. The rest of the week I will focus on my health, the book for the kids, and my family.

It was a good month.  

enlightenment.

What if enlightenment was not a final blessed state?  What if it was possible now – we were able to live in a place where we didn’t carry things from the past or want for more. If we could just be.

the Lainie List.

impromptu puppet shows in the house.
  1. Setting daily intentions will change your life.
  2. 9 Creative Leaders on Owning your Content, Platform, and the Future of Your Work
  3. Practice your prototyping with these 4 resources.
  4. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  5. Facebook and Instagram going dark should be a wake up for entrepreneurs.
  6. What your anger may be hiding
  7. The Irreplaceable Power of Paper
  8. The Five Steps to Mindfully Releasing Anger. love it.