The seriousness of second grade

I could tell Grade 2 was going to be a different kind of year, just from looking at that list.

Each grade in our elementary school has its own list of “no excuses” words, which are words the student should know perfectly by the end of the year — reading them and writing them with the correct spelling.

The Primary list is short — words like “a” and “it” and “is” — and even the Grade 5 list isn’t that long, with words like “through” and “though.”

The Grade 2 spelling list, however? It’s massive. Fifty two words in two long columns — by far the longest list of any grade.

I was shocked at first. Shouldn’t the list gradually get longer with each grade? Shouldn’t the Grade 5 kids — many being 11-year-olds — be learning more new words than my precious little seven-year-old?!

I laughed nervously when I asked about it during ‘meet the teacher’ (which is, by the way, hilariously nicknamed “meet the creature” by many teachers — with the parents being the creatures).

Of course, his teacher knew exactly what to say to reassure me. She said the Grade 2 list is longer than the others because there are so many basic words that need to be memorized — rather than sounded out. They need to be able to recognize these words instantly, and spell them without taking forever, because they’re going to be using them constantly.

It makes sense, but I’m still a little nervous. Everything about Grade 2 feels worlds away from the innocence of the Grade 1 pod …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene … 

Making new living room curtains

I’m always telling people that curtains are easy. “Just buy some fabric, hem around the edges and slap it up with some curtain clips!” I’ll say casually. “It’s super quick, and much cheaper than buying ready-made curtains.”

I’ve sewn curtains for every room in our house that contains a window, and it’s never been a big deal. I was right about them being quick to make, and they are absolutely cheaper than buying expensive ready-made panels, but as for how long it actually took me to get around to making them this time? Weeeeeeeell . . .

We moved into our home almost six years ago and even though we’ve done a ton of projects, do you know what was still hanging in our living room windows? The skinny black rods with swirly finials that have been there since the beginning of time, and the plain white sheers I bought at Zellers shortly after moving in.

(I still miss Zellers!)

Despite the living room being the space we host company, the space you see as soon as you walk in the front door, AND the space we’ve spent the most money on furnishings — a sectional and a huge area rug — somehow replacing the curtains just . . . never felt like a priority?

There was nothing offensive about them. I didn’t like the black swirly finials, but they weren’t the worst. I liked that the sheers gave us privacy without blocking the light, so I tried to ignore the fact that the window treatments were skimpy.

When Atlantic Fabrics had an especially good sale on drapery fabrics, I decided it was time to take the plunge …

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

Room sources:

DIY living room curtains {Heather's Handmade Life}
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The girl in the clay-coloured apron

I decided, over the summer, that when both kids were in school, I was going to do something I couldn’t do before, EVER, since becoming a parent (and having a husband who does shift work, therefore making our schedules wholly unpredictable).

I was going to take a pottery class! In the DAYTIME during the WEEK, so both kids would be at school.

(God help me if one of them is sick on a Wednesday. I might have to leave them in the van outside the studio and crack a window.)

(Kidding. I think.)

First, of course, I had to sew a special pottery-class apron. With clay-coloured fabric, naturally.



I followed The Purl Soho tutorial for the Cross Back Apron. It took me a solid couple of hours (first time ever doing French seams … or even HEARING about French seams) but it was well worth the time investment.

It’s a solid, well-made apron with SUPER-DEEP POCKETS (for my phone and my wipe-y rag). I want to make more of these as gifts because it is SUCH a good (free) pattern.


I started exactly a week ago.

In my first class, I was handed this delightfully heavy chunk of clay. It’s all mine and I lurve it.

(It feels like the clay Sister Bear uses on the first day of school, if you like a good a Berenstain Bears reference. Remember those big barrels of grey clay in their classroom? This is what I think of, every time. It’s awesome.)


My first-ever project was a pinch pot! It’s called that because you start with a ball, stick your thumb in it, and use your fingers to form it into a pot/bowl shape.

It’s called that because you start with a ball, stick your thumb in it, and use your fingers to form it into a pot/bowl shape.

I took the “pinch” part seriously and decorated it with finger-holes and pinchies around the edge.

Secret shelf-y selfie. Mostly because I was dying to get a picture of my apron.

Then we learned how to take two pinch pots and stick them together to make a figure. I felt like making a cat, for some reason, so I went with it.

He’s an angry cat.


I love his expression. It’s kind of indignant like I just stuck my finger up his butt. (I did not.) He’s outraged and also shocked. Nice kitty.


This morning was my second class. I learned how to “clean” my first two pieces, which had been drying on a shelf for the last week.

When you wet a sponge or a paintbrush and run over the little cracks, you can see them sort of repair themselves. This makes everything smoother and ready for the next step: firing!

Today’s lesson was making a coiled pot.

I started off thinking I’d make a mug, but then it got away from me and now I think it’s a bowl. Likely for potato chips.


The two-and-a-half hour class is much too short.

I feel like I could sit there for hours and hours, squishing that silky wet clay and rolling little snakes and smoothing out bumps and rounding corners. It feels like something I should have been doing my whole life.

I want to buy my own pottery wheel and set up a freaking studio here at the house where I do nothing except sip tea and throw pots, with a long braid hanging down my back and an apron that’s always muddy.

That’s how much I love it.

And that is all for now.