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The Lainie List


 

This week I came across a blog I loved. Like, I have a girl crush on this woman. She is

super creative, real and funny. Check out Tracy at www.shutterbean.com

 

Each week, she posts a list of what she’s been reading, watching, and checking out online.

I was inspired to give it a try.  It’s weird to share without any context, but a bit liberating

at the same time.  I’m a wild woman.

Temptation of the Night

Each day I say
I won’t do it
I won’t get suckered in again
And as the night begins to creep
Hello again my friend

The house is beautifully calm
No chaos or screaming to be
The soft glow of the lamp
My notebook
and just me

Writing is a joy
Something just for me
So as they all sleep soundly
I’m happy as can be

Eventually I start to fade
The night approaching morn
I try to sneak into our bed
To avoid a bit of scorn

So although I say
I won’t do it
We all know it’s true
Staying up waaay too late
Is something I’ll likely do.

~Poem written my a mom with three busy little ones, who loves her late night quiet time.

Recipe Cards as Thoughtful Gifts

It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
When I left home for university, my Mom gave me a set of recipe cards she had made.  Each had a photo of family members or friends, along with a favourite recipe from my childhood.  It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
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Bottom left to right: my Grandma Lainie on her four-wheeler, my grandma and I at my high school graduation party, Halloween with our cousins, my brother playing in a mud puddle, and me holding little awards from grade 1.

Recipes are nostalgic.  They remind us of family dinners or special occasions.  I think that’s why they make great gifts.
Maybe there’s someone you know who would love a set of their own.  It’s a nice opportunity for you to do a  Writing Act of Kindness for someone you care about!

5 Signs You Have Two Toddlers in the House

Your curtains are tied up each morning so the curtain rod isn’t pulled out of the wall.

Your bathtub is basically a glorified toy box, complete with a pair of water wings.

 

You’ve become that house with kiddie crafts EVERYWHERE.

The reading selection on your nightstand has changed dramatically.

 

 

A daily morning routine is unplugging your lamp and putting it up as high as possible so it doesn’t get broken.

 

It’s funny how your house changes once you have kids. The more mobile they get, the more table tops become bare and the breakables move higher. It’s like going minimalist but with a ridiculous number of toys and books everywhere and Cheerios all over the floor.

But I take these photos because I want to remember it.

I want to remember that our son was so excited when he got his first pair of water wings that he wore them most of the afternoon and into the tub that night. Or the reason why we had to tie the curtains up was because the boys loved playing peekaboo a little too much and almost took down the curtains one day.

When you come into our house, there’s no question that toddlers live here.

I just want to remember the fun.

People Don’t Write Letters Anymore

You likely have a few letters or cards tucked away at home from someone special in your life.  You might even have an old diary you kept as a kid or the first love letter you got. We just can’t seem to throw these things out, and we shouldn’t.

There’s something personal and intimate about the act of putting pen to paper.  Someone taking the time to sit down and share their thoughts.  They were thinking of you.

I wish we did it more.

But people don’t really write letters anymore.

Text messages on the go.  A quick email update.  It’s like conversations happen and then are lost and forgotten.

But with writing, we have it forever.  Their voice, their words.  It’s them.  We see the curves of their handwriting on paper.  We value it, yet seem to do it less and less.

So after about a year of writing on my blog, I think I’ve decided what I want to write more about.  I think that I’m going to start using my blog as a place to help others write and to share great stories.

I’m really excited and have tons of ideas swirling around…

I’d like to share ideas for how you might write to your children

How you could capture the stories of someone significant in your life

Ways that writing can be used to create thoughtful gifts

And touching stories from friends and family about something written.

I might put together little writing challenges and encourage others to join me – writing something small each week for different people in our lives.

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Scribbled thoughts in my notebook

For some reason, not many of us see ourselves as writers.  That somehow it’s a skill reserved for those who write books or publish in magazines.  But I think we’re all writers and our words have the ability to bring us closer to others.

I hope that you’ll join me…

Birds on the Brain: Spring Activities for Toddlers

I’m not a fan of birds and yet here I am…building nests, watching YouTube videos of eggs hatching, and looking for robins outside.  I’ve become the Martha Stewart of bird crafts and activities.  The things we do for our kids.

Below are a few photos of things we’ve been trying…

Our oldest was SO excited by this YouTube video: Baby Bird Hatching. He was so surprised when the baby broke out of its’ shell. The smile on his face was priceless. This was a win.
I was on my own in my excitement with this one. Mom fail. His little brother is a fan though. He yells out, “Buuuah!” while pointing at the magnets and scrambling over to grab them off the wall. Our oldest now refers to the magnets by their names, “Mama, where cardinal?” “Here, wren!” So it seems like he took something away from it.
We made bird nest cookies. The kids’ idea of ‘baking’ is eating the ingredients while I quickly put everything together. They prefer to be passive observers who continually request “mo-chocolate, peeze mama”.
He was very excited to make a bird feeder. Paper towel roll, peanut butter, and bird seed. “Sprinkle food, mama.” As I carried the feeder towards the front door, he ran back and forth around me yelling out, “Food birdies!!” He stood at our front picture window for the longest time repeating, “eat birdies. Come eat food, birdies.” It’s been hours and we haven’t seen one yet. Here’s to hoping.

I look forward to the little activities and crafts I have planned for them each day. I’m curious to see how they’ll react and whether they’ll find it interesting.

I started planning them as something fun to do with our oldest (while his brother and sister nap in the mornings). I’ve noticed he’s been looking for more attention lately, so it was something special we could do, just the two of us.

Some days he’s really into it. “Craft! Craft!” Other days we’ll be in the middle of watching a YouTube video of birds hatching and he’ll request videos of trucks or trains. Shiny object! Squirrel! I don’t push it. It’s supposed to be fun, not forced.

I have a few more ideas of things that we could do but I think it’s time to try something different. The kid loves puddles. Slapping his hand in the dirtiest of them all, jumping in them, stomping…I think we’ll start doing a few things with puddles. Plus, it’s supposed to rain all week so there will be lots of opportunities to explore.

I’m very lucky to have met some amazing early years educators. Their voices are the reminders I need when the kids don’t seem interested in what we’re doing. It’s not about planning structured, themed activities that children must do despite their interest levels. It’s about seeing children as the naturally curious creatures they are and letting them lead the way.

I need to observe my boys, watch to see what interests them, and then go there. I have much to learn but I’m having a lot of fun.

Writer’s Note: Who Inspired Me and How I Got Started

A few weeks ago, I took my boys to a free story time program at a nearby arts studio. The lady who facilitated it was phenomenal.

She grabbed a picture book and had the children following her around the room like Mother Goose. They skipped, danced, and quickly came in close as she drew them in with the next portion of the book. Then off they’d go again!

She carefully held a wind chime and quietly called each child up by name to touch it and listen to its’ sound. She made a simple wind chime from a dollar store seem like a magical object. I even found myself thinking it was pretty cool (I told you she was phenomenal).

The kids tilted rain sticks, danced around the room pulling coloured scarves through the air, and stomped their feet to mimic thunder. Needless to say, I was not only impressed but inspired. I should be doing things like this for my boys. I started my planning that night.

I opened up a Google doc and began brainstorming some possible themes for spring…

Rain
Puddles
Birds
Flowers
Seeds
Frogs

With each, I listed ideas for different learning experiences, crafts, and activities. Flowers and seeds…I’ll wait until we plant our flower beds and garden. Rain and puddles, I’m sure there will be a lot of that in April. Let’s start with birds because soon we’ll put our bird feeders out.

A few days later, I snuck out of the house at 8 p.m. and left our newborn with my hubby. I went to the library …I am a wild woman these days! I scoured the shelves looking for books that could fit in with any of the themes — snapping photos of ones I might borrow later so I could easily find them. I came home with two great books…

I thought we could read this book and then look at YouTube videos of birds in nests, birds hatching, etc. This book is beautifully illustrated and short and sweet. Our oldest loved it. He’s almost 2 1/2.
“Some birds soar high, while some birds just walk. Some birds waddle, some birds hop…” I thought we could move around and dance like the lady in the storytime program. Although we weren’t as graceful, we had fun stretching our arms and moving around the kitchen like soaring birds. It’s official — I have now reached a whole new level of silly.

I’m so glad that we went to the storytime program that day. Sometimes we need someone to show us what’s possible and to give us the inspiration we need to get started. I hope that maybe this post has done the same for you — given you a little idea that you might want to try with little ones too.

Two Questions You Need to Ask a Stranger

There are two questions that will get total strangers laughing and sharing stories.  I experienced it first hand at a conference a couple years ago.

There were hundreds of us in the room.   Some knew each other and most did not.  The facilitators asked us to divide into groups based on the decade in which we were born. 

If you were born in the 70s, move to the back corner…the 80s, over here at the side…

We were asked to talk about these two questions:

1. What do you remember wearing as a teenager?
2.
Do you remember the first record, 8 track, cassette, CD, or download you bought?

I met a lady who grew up in the Ukraine.  As a teenager, the first cassette she bought was AC/DC.  She even put an AC/DC patch on her bag that she carried around school.  Funny thing was, she had no idea who they were.  Everyone talked about them so she played along.  Secretly, she loved classical music and went on to study it.

It took a while for the facilitators in the room to bring us back together.  Yes!!! I remember that… Oh my god, I did that too…

You might be wondering if it’s a good idea or not to divide people by age.  I found that it was actually a lot of fun because it brought people together around some similar experiences. We also had choice with which group to join.  Depending on your workplace and group dynamics, you’ll know whether it’s an icebreaker to try or not.

I decided to bring this icebreaker into an online course I was teaching.

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Sharing what we wore and laughing about our bad fashion sense brings us together.  It makes us more than a name on the screen, but rather another person who also made mixed tapes from the radio or used wwaaaaaay too much hairspray back in the day.  It creates connections.

It encourages us to open up to strangers and share a little bit of ourselves.  Which in turn, makes it more likely for us to comment on each other’s work, ask questions, or reach out with an email.

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Me rocking  a loon sweatshirt, turtleneck, and bangs (I can’t even explain) – back in the early 90s

So if you also wore a Northern Reflections sweatshirt or loved a good bodysuit (not the ones for swimming folks), share a comment to this blog!  What did you wear as a teen?  What album did you first buy?

We don’t need to be strangers anymore…

Confessions from My Grade 8 Diary

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My diary from grade 8.  I bought it from a Scholastic Book Fair at my school.

 

After watching the documentary Mortified Nation on Netflix, I had to go find my grade 8 diary.

“Part documentary, part concert film, Mortified Nation captures adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood writings on stage and chronicles how the simple act of exposing one’s private past can inspire an entire nation to “share the shame.”

Instead of reading diary entries on stage for an audience of total strangers, why not write a blog post with them!

 


 

Wednesday, March 3, 1993

At school it wasn’t that bad (for once).  Went to the gym at noon with Daniel and the girls trying to line dance for the next assembly.  It was funny.  Wore red eraser today.  Everyone liked it.  Ski trip to Biwabic tomorrow.  I have everything packed from candy to clothes.  I am wearing my sunglasses, headband, red eraser, red turtleneck, Dad’s blue sweatpants, and Mom’s pullover jacket.  My buddy is Brooke for skiing.  Tiffany leaves for Arizona on Saturday.

Since when was it a thing to wear your parents clothes?!  Does anyone else remember this?  I need to Google “Red Eraser”…

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Now I remember what Red Eraser was!  But really, Red Eraser and 1991 described as “vintage,” come on…

 


Thursday, April 22, 1993

NEWSFLASH!  Dumped!  Heather was by Jeremy after 1 hr they went out.  Tori dumped Ronnie.  BIG mistake!  We got our class pictures back and all I can say is “O Lord.”  There are boxes and boxes of stuff for our garage sale.  Me and Jennifer biked to school.  Played baseball. FUN! Sat. is going to be fun! Car wash, B.B.Q. garage sale, penny table, selling time capsule envelopes just for raising money for our Winnipeg trip.

Oh, the heartache…breaking up after a whole hour!  It really makes a person wonder what could have happened in that 60 minutes to end the relationship.  And for someone who didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school, I sure knew what was happening in the love lives of others.



Monday, May 10, 1993

Today was Uncle Kelly’s birthday…I hope he got my card.  Today was in the 60’s (not too bad).  School was quite normal other words boring.  We signed up for the Track Meet.  I’m in discus maybe shot put.  I wore my tie today everyone liked it.  William mowed the lawn tonight so he gets $20.  I’d rather watch T.V.  Good exercise but not on my back and in 90 C weather.  Jennifer is paying Shawn to be nice.  God she’s going to be broke in high school.

Oh man, I remember wearing ties.  Not good.  This would be why I didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school.


Tuesday, May 25, 1993

This morning the weather was so warm & sunny…this afternoon a rainstorm.  Baseball was almost cancelled we lost vs Expos 1-5. (Luck!)  The dance Friday is cancelled not enough people are going.  But we are having the photo booth Friday at recess.  I think I’m liking…oh no…another to the list…

Another to add to the list!  Why did I keep a list of boys I liked?  This is mortifying.  What purpose would a list serve?

diary entry

To decipher the code above, I drew a picture of a baseball diamond.  (I played a lot of baseball at school and was in a rec. league.)  In my drawing, I was showing that I liked the boy who played first base.  Since I have no idea who that was, my coding system did indeed keep my secrets!

Also, the eight ball?  I don’t even know what that is.  I think it has something to do with a clothing brand.  Maybe he wore it?



Thursday, June 3, 1993 (Last day of my grade 8 grad trip to Winnipeg)

Today we woke up at 6:00 and swam till 7:30 a.m.  We left early and checked out.  We had breakfast in McDonald’s.  I had a danish.  We went shopping in Polo Park.  I bought a white Club Monaco, a black Club Monaco, purple Bongo jeans.  We had a nice lunch on the river rouge cruise for about 3 hours.  Then we went shopping in St. Vital.  I bought a striped E.N.U.F. shirt and shorts, blue button fly jeans, earrings.  We had a big supper in Red Lobster.  We got home at 12:30 a.m.

Club Monaco sweatshirts and coloured jeans, maybe I did have some fashion sense after all! There was hope for me.


 

You’ll notice that fashion was a very important thing to me back in the day, and apparently I was boy obsessed (which is quite embarrassing).  I do have to say, I did very well in the end.  My husband is incredible.

I loved shopping for clothes.  Growing up in a small town, the closest mall to us was a 3 ½ hour drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  So when my family made a trip into the city for a weekend, I was ready to shop!

Mondetta sweatshirts, white Guess jeans with a triangle on the back pocket, Body Shop anything, Ked shoes, Northern Reflection sweatshirts, Cotton Ginny…

I would save my money for these shopping sprees.  I had started my first job in grade 8, working after school at the public library in town.  It was pretty exciting to be 13 and to get regular paychecks.  I was proud to be able to pay for my clothes myself, which is probably why I wrote about clothes so much in my diary entries.

Anyways, if you kept a diary, go dig it out!  Get to know who you used to be and what mattered to you. It might surprise you.

And if you haven’t seen Mortified Nation, I’d recommend it.  It’s like watching a stand-up comedy show that will remind you of your own awkward teen years.  Enjoy!

Starting a Toddler Book Club

I love the concept behind monthly book subscriptions for kids. My boys love getting mail and would be excited to have new books sent to them each month. I just didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for it. There had to be another option besides the pricey subscription services I found online. I decided to start my own.

I sent out a message to a group of moms I know…


Would anyone be interested in a Toddler Book Club? It could be a fun and affordable way for our little ones to have great new board books delivered to their door!

  • each interested parent would buy three new board books (to create a group book collection that would rotate to different homes)

  • we could add the titles we buy/plan to buy to a Google doc (so we don’t end up buying the same books)

  • sometime during the first week of each month, we would drop off the three books to the next family’s mailbox (we live quite close to each other and we can do a mailbox drop off at any hour that’s convenient for us)

  • we’d always drop off to the same family (I could set up a little rotation)

  • if any books are damaged / lost, we would be responsible for replacing it (if our kid was the one who did a number to it)

If you’re interested, let me know! We’d likely want / need at least five people to make it work.


Within a few hours, I heard back from six women who loved the idea and were interested. We’ve decided to start in April, and our kids will now have new books delivered to them for the next six months (for around $25).

I set up a Google doc to help us get organized. Along with sharing the book titles we’ve bought, it’s been a way to share our addresses to figure out who is dropping off books to who. I also posted a few links to blogs and sites with recommended titles for toddlers. I thought it might help us find some great new books.

I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure how it will go. There might be some bumps along the way, but we’ll figure it out. I’ll give an update with a blog post in May!

If you’re interested in starting something similar, here’s a copy of our Google doc in case it’s helpful. Whether you have a toddler, a tween, or a teen, it would be neat to start a book club with a group of friends or within a neighbourhood.

If you decide to give it a go or already do something similar, please share!

Give Your Kids Great Stories to Tell

There’s a sing song timer on our new stove. Every time the music plays, our little one year old throws his arms up in the air (his version of dancing). It’s so cute.

Last weekend, my husband decided to pick up dinner for him and I.  We were cleaning up before the kids’ bedtime when I heard our toddler say, “Bracelet, Mama.” I turned around to find him with a cold onion ring dangling on his wrist. Perhaps it’s a good thing he doesn’t realize what it is?

We all have great little stories about our childhood that have been passed on by family or friends.  This is the reason why I love writing to my kids.

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They each have notebooks filled with stories of silly things they’ve done and memories I want to share with them.  After I wrote, “Why I Write to My Boys,” I heard from other parents.  They wanted to start writing to their kids.  So for those of you out there who want to give your kids great stories to tell about their childhood, here are a few quick tips that will help you get pen to paper by next week!

 

Go Shopping!

Buy a notebook for each of your children.  Choose something with a great design or colour – not an old school, thin Hilroy notebook that will remind you of third grade.  You’re creating something special here!

I like going to Chapters to find my notebooks.  They have a range of colours, textures, and prints.  Choose something where you won’t feel overwhelmed by the number of pages or the size of the page.

Gather your Inspiration

For one week, make note of funny or memorable things that have happened with your kids during the week (usually it’s something I look forward to telling my husband at the end of the day).  You can make a mental note or jot them down somewhere.  For me, I like to write down a few things in my phone so I don’t forget. By the end of the week, I have an abbreviated list of ideas in my Notes app.

To help gather ideas, here are a few prompts…

  • Was there something funny that your kid did / said?  
  • Was there something you did together that you enjoyed?  
  • Did they have a first this week? (First time saying a certain word?  Doing/accomplishing something new?)
  • Was there something they did that gave you a weepy mommy/daddy moment?  

 


Get it Down on Paper

By the end of the week, grab your notebook(s) and get out of the house.  Go to your favourite coffee shop or a place where you enjoy spending time alone.  Get a coffee or tea, and enjoy!  Pull out your notes to help get started or maybe you’d prefer to just free write. Both work.

I like to date my entries and include the time I’m writing.  It may sound weird, but then my kids can see that Mom snuck out of the house at 6 a.m. to a coffee shop near the house to write to them while they were still sleeping or that it was 11 a.m. and they were at the park with Daddy while Mom wrote down some stories for them.  To me, it gives another little snapshot of our life – another story to share.  It’s completely up to you.


Set Some Goals

When writing to your kids, don’t feel like you need to document every great moment or you’re a bad parent.  You should enjoy the process.  Each time you write, you’ve given them something they didn’t have before.  Keep it casual and don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself – but just enough that you’ll actually write to them regularly.

I’d suggest that you decide how often you’d like to write.  Maybe once a month is do-able for you or you’d like to write every two weeks.  Either way, it gives you something to work towards.  Otherwise, we’ll keep saying that we’ll do it and we won’t.


Capture the Good Stuff

The main thing is to write when you have great things to share – when there’s something you don’t want to forget or something that was so funny they have to know the story when they’re older.  If we just write for the sake of writing, our kids will get notebooks filled with boring retells of their day-to-day.

We want to give them great stories to laugh about, to get a little emotional from, and to share with others.   We want to give them great stories to tell.

Happy Writing!

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