Welcome to Veggie Village, the very boring column where we talk about forcing our kids to eat vegetables because we’re mean. Today I’m going to share my favourite methods for steaming broccoli and how to … OK, that should guarantee any kids have stopped reading …
I could say this is the year it happened, but it actually may have started last year when our son was in Grade 2. It wasn’t dramatic.
My reply is always the same. “Wow, that’s not nice. Santa’s not going to like that!” He really isn’t.
Our daughter, who’s only in Grade 1, piped up another day that she’d heard the same thing. (Their bus ride is about five minutes long and yet it’s plenty of time to learn bad words, tell scary stories that will upset them later at bedtime and potentially ruin Christmas magic.)
“A girl on the bus said Santa’s not real, but I don’t believe her because I want presents!” she chirped. Our son quickly agreed.
I really don’t know what they believe about the big guy in red. We have always been a little loose about the details …
First of all, this isn’t even true. But he claims everyone else (well, almost everyone) is allowed to play Fortnite and I’m the only stick-in-the-mud parent. I asked him if his friends jumped off a bridge, would he? He looked at me blankly and said, “There … aren’t bridges in the game.”
He’s got a point here. The only nice thing about Fortnite, in my opinion, is that its popularity has encouraged my serious little robot child to dance. The game is responsible for dance crazes like The Floss, The L, Best Mates and Groove Jam. They’re adorable, like this generation’s Macarena. Apparently, there are also lots of silly costumes, like spacesuits and dinosaur outfits, that appeal to younger kids like him.
He thinks this is a great selling point. It is not.
It all started with the placement of the shed (technically a baby barn) in our backyard. It was strangely positioned about six feet away from our deck, with a winding garden behind it. It made an already-narrow yard feel even narrower, and we talked for years about moving it … somehow … to the back of the property instead.
Well, YouTube to the rescue! We stumbled upon a video (I think it was this one) that showed a guy moving a huge shed “by hand” by rolling it on long wooden polls. It sounds crazy and, it turned out, it was crazy, but it seemed doable. Didn’t the pioneers always load barns onto logs and move them to a new homestead of something? It seemed legit.
At $30 for six posts, we decided to give it a try and see if it worked. Without going into too much detail — because no one should try this at home — we started by jacking up the shed. I was freaking out the whole time, positive the whole structure was going to come crashing down on my husband’s foot (or head).
We slipped the posts underneath and rigged up wooden skids and a pathway of pavers. The idea was that the shed would smoothly roll along them to its resting point at the back of the yard. (Fat chance.)
It was leaning in the corner of my client’s basement, and I recognized it immediately as one of those wooden grilles you’d see in a French door.
I didn’t know exactly what I’d do with it, but I knew I had to take it. It was the same oak as the doors and trim in her daughter’s bedroom, and I knew I could make something cool with it.
I could put fabric and batting behind it, and photos could be slipped behind the wooden grid. I was still fuzzy on how it was going to work, exactly, but I had the general idea.
There was nobody as excited as me when I finally got to participate in my first Crazy Hair Day at our elementary school two years ago.
I was delighted in hot-gluing LEGO bricks to barrettes and turning our son’s hair into a LEGO tornado. Our daughter still talks about how much she loved the “cupcake hair” I’d made by tugging her ballet bun through a hole in a paper plate.
For my own hairdo, I wound a high ponytail inside an empty 2L Diet Coke bottle so it “poured” out the spout. I was really proud of myself until I saw a student who’d done the same thing, except hers even poured into a Styrofoam cup. She clearly won.
But … I admit to being a little lazy (and sloppy) when it comes to painting. I love anything that speeds up the process of painting furniture or accessories or walls — ugh, have yet to find a way to speed up wall painting, unfortunately.
So, today I’m going to share the DIY secret that is … dry-brushing.
I’ve talked about this a few times before, in passing, but it really deserves more. Dry-brushing is exactly what it sounds like: painting something with a dry-ish brush that has hardly any paint on it.
Wait, that makes it sound like it would make the painting process longer, doesn’t it? Less paint on the brush equals more time and effort to cover the thing with paint? That’s why dry-brushing is sneaky.
And so, after spending a year feeling guilty about dropping waaaaay too much money in the stupid Halloween store — and coming to the conclusion that DIY costumes aren’t always cheaper — I present to you … our sorta-bought, sorta-DIY Harry Potter costumes …
This is our EIGHTH year of going trick-or-treating with at least one kiddo, and we’ve had a lot of fun costumes over the years. Many have been handmade, but many have also been store-bought and maybe modified a lil’. (Er, some more expensively than others.)
Here’s a quickie photo-heavy round-up of what we’ve been each year, starting with the first “real” Halloween (a.k.a. our first with kids) when D was just four months old …
Tonight we’ll be dressing up as Harry Potter (OF COURSE), Hermione Granger, Rita Skeeter (meeeeee!) and Dobby (Annabelle). Except only two of those costumes are done. Crap.
Disclosure: littleBits sent us a Base Inventor Kit* to play with so I could share this story. All opinions and irrational fears of science are my own.
I was terrible at math growing up — science, too, actually — but I was pretty great at computer programming. I’d taught myself basic coding before I even hit puberty, and I really liked diving into the gobbledygook that made up a simple computer game or quiz.
For half a second, I thought about pursuing it in university, but I was spooked by the word “science” in “computer science.” I wasn’t good at science, therefore, I wasn’t cut out for computer science. End of story. Off to do an arts degree, then!
I don’t know if a single girl from my graduating class went on to major in math or engineering, though several did go for science degrees. Today, I know quite a few men, ranging from their 20s to their 60s, who are engineers. I don’t think I know any women who are engineers.
And it isn’t a matter of skill.
“Girls score almost identically to their male classmates on standardized tests through high school. Yet, boys demonstrate twice as much interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers as girls as early as the eighth grade,” says Elaine Khuu, senior product designer with littleBits*, an education startup. “Men then go on to hold a disproportionately-high share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.”
I didn’t see this one coming. Three years ago, I’d pinned a cool tutorial for these extra-tall wooden planter boxes. Georgia blogger Katie Bower had created the plans and they looked pretty easy. Lots of measurements and step-by-step photos. I ended up re-pinning the link several times over the years as a reminder to actually build them. (Katie’s awesome! If you don’t follow Bower Power already, DOOOO IT.)
After a lot of cajoling, my handy husband agreed to make me two for the front porch. I texted him the link to the tutorial (several times) and he went off to buy dog-eared fence pickets, as specified. We’d never used them before, but they’re very cheap (less than $3 each) and rough to the touch, but fine for rustic outdoor projects like planters.
This year, I was determined to do things differently. I wasn’t going to spend $100 again on pieces of junk and I wasn’t going to set foot in that annoying Halloween store again.
All I needed, I decided, was organization. As soon as they said they wanted to be Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, I hopped online to look for the one prop they each really needed: wands.
It wasn’t as straightforward as I’d thought. Apparently, Potter and Granger have very different-looking wands. These aren’t your standard white-tipped magician wands. They’re more like knobby twigs?
I wasn’t interested in the super-expensive cosplay options or the ones the size of key chains. But after a lot of Amazon searching, I found reasonably priced wands* for each of them: $18.99 each with free shipping. Done!
As soon as I’d placed the order, I realized I was safe. The props were on their way, which meant the kids couldn’t change their minds. For the perfectly acceptable price of $37.98, I’d guaranteed I wouldn’t be schlepping into that horrible Halloween pop-up store to spend $100 on cheap costumes. Oh, happy day!
But … oh no.
I go through periods of quilting — especially in the winter when it’s snuggly to be sitting underneath my “work” — or sometimes I’ll knit hats and scarves. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of cross-stitch (like these cat butts), and I got the idea for this latest project when I was surfing Pinterest for new ideas.
A wreath made from embroidery hoops? Genius. I stared at the photo for ages, trying to figure out how it was put together, but eventually had to watch a YouTube video. There was no real trick to it, just two regular wooden embroidery hoops that you can buy for a few bucks each at any craft or fabric store.
You just spread out your fabric and secure a small embroidery hoop in the centre. (I used a five-inch hoop.)
Then you flip it over so you’re looking at the back of the hoop …
… and secure a larger hoop around it. (I used a 12-inch hoop.) It’s a little tricky to centre the larger hoop around the smaller one, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.