Feeling the sun

I had a lightness to my step as I walked back down the sidewalk, crossed the driveway and looked for where I’d parked the van.

I felt happy. Tingly with excitement.

After seven years as a work-at-home mom, with either one or two kids at home with me while I work, I’m about to have two children in elementary school.

I’m not good at math, but two children in elementary school equals zero children underfoot for six hours each weekday. It equals about 30 hours a week for me to work, all alone, without a peep from anyone except Annabelle. It equals 30 hours a week to breathe and be a professional and savor the silence and get things done, or, maybe, get absolutely nothing done.*

*Nah, that’s not likely. Even my hobbies are productive.

And so, today, on this sunny Thursday morning, I did something I’ve wanted to do for more than seven years.

I signed up for a pottery class.

For two and a half glorious hours, one morning a week for three months, I will learn and experiment and try new things and create with my hands. I’ll leave my phone on Do Not Disturb (set so I can get phone calls from the school, but not emails and social notifications) while I get deliciously messy and clay-covered.

I might want to bring an apron, she said. (Yayyyyy! I’m going to sew a special pottery one!) And a notebook, for writing down what I did on a certain day or what techniques I want to try. (Yayyyyyyy! I LOVE notebooks! It’s like going back to school except without the social studies and teenage-girl drama!)

I’m bursting with anticipation and it feels strange. I can’t wait. I really, really can’t WAIT. When was the last time I couldn’t wait for something? When was the last time I looked forward to something so special that was just for me?

I’m going to throw a pot, guys. Is that what you say? I’ll soon find out.

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What’s the “right” bedtime for kids?

Try talking about your child’s bedtime on Facebook and you may see squabbles that break out in the comments section.

There’s a now-viral chart floating around social media about what time children should go to bed. It lists different wake-up times and then you can find the corresponding bedtime, according to their age.

Many parents think the times in the chart are ridiculous and unrealistic, and get defensive for putting their kids to bed much later than the “recommended” times. It says if a five-year-old is waking up at 6 a.m., they should be asleep by 6:45 p.m. Let’s hope that five-year-old’s parents have installed blackout shades, because during the summer that bedtime is two full hours before the sun goes down.

Our kids have always had especially early bedtimes and we protect those bedtimes fiercely. It started because our eldest is a person who — like me — really, really needs a good sleep.

He’s a morning person and naturally wakes up early, but his internal clock doesn’t take into account that he may have had a rough sleep or a later-than-usual bedtime.

If he’s habitually waking up at 7:05 a.m., he’s getting up at 7:05 a.m. whether he’s rested or not.

We pushed his bedtime up when he started Primary because that first month can be really exhausting (on the whole family). We needed to be up at 6:30 a.m., so we started enforcing a 6:30 p.m. bedtime. Twelve whole hours he was expected to be in his bed, asleep.

And you know what? It was perfect.

We’d head upstairs at 6 p.m. to brush teeth, put on pyjamas and read stories. The lights were out by 6:30 p.m. and he fell asleep almost immediately. Sometimes he’d wake up just after 6 a.m., but he got almost the full 12 hours he needed. On the days he didn’t get a good sleep, everybody knew it; he’d be weepy and hysterical over absolutely nothing by 4 p.m.

According to doctors, kids who are between three and six years old need 10-12 hours a night and kids between seven and 12 need 10-11 hours.

But that’s our son. Let’s talk about our darling daughter.

She does not follow the rules of the famous sleep chart that’s all over the internet …

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

Love is all around

Disclaimer: I’m a registered blogger in Put Me In The Story’s Share a Sale affiliate network. I earn a small commission on personalized book sales purchased from this link. All opinions are my own.

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Who likes kids’ books that actually (A) make sense (B) don’t drive you crazy (C) teach your kids something valuable, and (D) give you ALL THE FEELS?

*raises both hands*

We’re huge fans of Put Me In The Story’s personalized books, and we were lucky enough to get to review a softcover copy of one of their latest: Love is all around.

Stick around until the end of this post to get your own FREE e-copy (or order an awesome paper copy).

In the meantime, I’m going to give you five reasons you need a personalized story for the little one in your life …

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1. You get to include their photos!

With a couple of clicks, their shining faces are looking out from the pages of a real book. My kids think this is magic, and so do I.

It’s also fun to use a recent photo whenever I make a book, and then I can tell — based on their ages in the photo — when I made it. Ah, memories.

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2. Their names are all over it.

Usually, I make separate books for each kid, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could put both names in a single field — and it still worked perfectly.

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3. It turns it into a game.

Not only are their names IN the story, but they’re also sprinkled through the illustrations — on nametags, signs, etc.

Our daughter can’t recognize many words yet, but she loves that she can point out her name and her brother’s name.

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4. There are more details to customize.

I was excited to see that I could add the name of our town in Love is all around — something I hadn’t gotten to do in any of our other Put Me In The Story books.

It was cute to see “The Truro officer who helps change a flat,” and it makes it much more meaningful than just “The police officer …”

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5. It will hit you right in the feels.

The part about the sad little boy at school (too sad to play!!!) and the little girl who sits down beside him and makes him feel better? SO FREAKING SWEET.

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But my favourite part was when the dad sits down to help his son with homework. This line, in particular, really struck me.

“He’s tired and busy, but that’s love, you know … giving up what you want to help someone else grow.”

Cue the sniffles.

OK, here’s what you’ve bene waiting for.

Click to download your own FREE (totally, completely free) e-book of Love is all around.

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You’re going to love it. Promise.

***

Disclaimer: I’m a registered blogger in Put Me In The Story’s Share a Sale affiliate network. I earn a small commission on personalized book sales purchased from this link. All opinions are my own.

Cabinet makeover with Fusion Mineral Paint

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It was one of those days. You know, when you have the house to yourself for a couple of hours and decide to mix up a daring custom colour and paint your bathroom cabinets before your family returns.

What? You haven’t had those days?

There was nothing wrong with our off-white, slightly bland bathroom cabinets. They were neutral and unoffensive, with their brushed nickel pulls, but I was itching to paint them for no reason except the desire to paint them.

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You see, I paint a lot of furniture (like, a LOT) with Fusion Mineral Paint, but I’m constantly asked about how it holds up on kitchen or bathroom cabinets. I didn’t have an answer because I’d never tried it personally, so it was time to give it a whirl. I mean, it was just a set of bathroom cabinets — not a huge time or money commitment.

I’d also been curious about mixing my own paint shade because Fusion has “recipes” of different custom blends on their website. I decided to have fun with it and pick a colour simply because it made me feel happy, even if it was a little unexpected for a set of cabinets.

I settled on a half-and-half mix of light blue (Heirloom) and red (Fort York Red) that turns into a soft, calming mauve. I wanted our bathroom to be more “hygge” — the Danish practice of making a space cosy — and it was such a comfortable, relaxed colour. It was fun to stir it up in an old coffee can and watch the shade develop.

I quickly wiped down the cabinets — especially the kids’ toothpaste-smeared drawer — and removed the knobs, and then it was time to paint …

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

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(Psssst — sharing the rest of the bathroom details, like the shelves + lighting + art, in my next column.)

The mom with the earliest bedtime

“Do you sleep?”

I get asked that question a lot, either incredulously or jokingly, after I’ve talked about a recent slew of DIY projects or work commitments.

Not only do I sleep, but I go to bed earlier than any adult I know.

It used to feel lame, but now I’m proud to admit that. There is something nerdily confident about knowing you are getting a damn good night’s sleep — nine full hours, usually.

It wasn’t always like this, of course. Even a couple of years ago, I used to put off going to sleep because I wanted to soak up every minute of “me time.” I would stay up far later than I should to watch one more show, read one more chapter or just spend more time absentmindedly scrolling through Pinterest “because I could.”

Things changed when our eldest started Primary two years ago and we all had to wake up much earlier than we ever had before. After suffering through several cranky weeks, I decided it was worth sacrificing a bit of “me time” in order to feel like a functional human the next day.

So what’s the magic number? During the school year, I make sure I have my light out by 9 p.m. We need to get up by 6:30 a.m. (and it may be earlier this year, since I’ll have two kids to get ready) and I like to get nine full hours of shut-eye.

During the summer, the kids have been staying up later (and getting up slightly later) so I’ve pushed by bedtime to 10 p.m. and my wake-up time to seven or 7:30 a.m. Hopefully it won’t be hard to push it back when school starts up again, but I’m sure those first few mornings at the bus stop will be sleepy ones for everyone.

Many of my friends don’t understand my weirdo early bedtime, or profess they could never do it themselves …

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