The magic of something new

As a parent, there is something positively magical about watching your child excel in anything.

But when they’re wonderful at something new and unexpected, it feels even more amazing because it’s like you’re seeing them again for the first time.

When I heard about a five-day drama camp at our local theatre, I thought it sounded like something our eight-year-old daughter might like. She’d never acted before, but she’s super outgoing and talks animatedly to an audience when she records her YouTube videos. 

Sure enough, she adored drama camp from the very first minute, and it was fun hearing that she did many of the same activities I used to do in my drama classes — like improvise and play Zip Zap Zop. 

It was fun to have something special in common with our daughter. As a teenager, I took film/TV acting classes at the Cassidy Group and stage classes at Neptune Theatre School, and I hope to get into community theatre when the kids are a bit older (and COVID stops ruining everything). 

It was announced that the campers would perform “Little COVID Annie” at the end of the week, and I burst with pride when our daughter came home sharing the lead role of Annie.

My baby was going to be one of the stars! Aughhh!

“Little Covid Annie”

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‘Daddy isn’t working right now’

“I think we have to tell the kids this time.”

“I know.”

My husband works for Air Canada — except right now, he doesn’t. He’s on his second layoff since June 2020. 

When we were both temporarily laid off in the spring, we didn’t tell our 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter because they were already so upset about COVID-19. The world was terrifying, back in those days. They’d been torn away from school, activities, friends and family, and we couldn’t bear to tell them about our job losses. 

Thankfully, we were both called back to work quickly and it all worked out …

… until his next layoff notice came in January.

We agonized over whether or not to tell the kids, but eventually decided that we had to — mostly because we’re more jaded this time around. Last spring, everyone was dazed and shocked and kept saying everything was “unprecedented.” Now, almost a year later, we’re more aware of how bad things really are (especially for those in aviation) and how long this latest lay-off might last.

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Our kitchen makeover … on TV!

Remember waaaaay back in August, when I spent my 37th birthday filming an episode of a TV show? Well, it finally aired on Wednesday night!

I first appeared on a fun DIY show called “Eyes for the Job” back in 2018, helping to turn a dresser into a bench.

Then I was back the following fall to film an episode where we turned an old farmhouse window into a cool coffee table.

Both of those episodes mostly took place in Chris Judge’s Dartmouth workshop,

When I spoke to the show last spring about the idea of coming HERE — to our HOUSE! — I was super excited. I never thought I’d be shooting a TV show in the middle of a pandemic, but the crew was so careful and took every precaution.

I couldn’t share much about the shoot back then, except to say it was a kitchen project (I think — can’t remember much in these Covid times). Now I can finally share how everything turned out, plus you can watch the whole episode online, if you’re so inclined.

Heather Laura Clarke wearing a painting apron and sunglasses, posing in front of a camera operator during a TV shoot.
Sweating in the August sun, staining wood!
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To the child-free people I’ve judged before: I’m sorry

To all the child-free people I’ve judged before: I was wrong and I’m sorry.

To all the child-free people I’ve judged before: I was wrong and I’m sorry.

To be clear, I’m not talking about people who want children and can’t have them. That’s heartbreaking.

I’m talking about adults who choose not to have children, whether that’s because they’d prefer to travel or advance their careers or not contribute to the overpopulation of the planet or because they just plain don’t want the lifetime commitment, expense and mental toll involved with being a parent.

It’s terrible to admit, but I wrongly judged these adults for many years.

As a newlywed 24-year-old, I was cheerfully popping prenatal vitamins and positively could not wait until I got pregnant. My earliest blog posts paint the picture of a young woman utterly obsessed with babies, who had her first at 26 and her second at 28.

Of course, I’ve griped and joked and moaned about the challenges of being a parent over the years — even right here in this column — but motherhood is something I always wanted and I love my two little goofs more than I ever thought possible.

In my 20s, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would ever choose not to have children. I’m guilty of having asked newlyweds when they’re going to start trying and attempting to cajole people into having even just one.

Even worse, I didn’t take people seriously when they said they weren’t having kids. I’d continue to lament that so-and-so would make an amazing parent, clucking that it was such a shame and deciding they’d likely change their mind.

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene …

Five family games to try this winter

We spent the spring teaching the kids Rummoli, Poker and Blackjack — and the fall rediscovering oldies like Pictionary, Careers, Scrabble, Monopoly and Clue — so our family was ready for some new-to-all-of-us games when Christmas rolled around.

Between the generosity of family members and Santa Claus, our family received plenty of entertainment.

At eight and 10 years old, our kids are in the board game sweet spot. They’re old enough to understand the rules of just about any game, but still young enough that they want to play with us. Hooray! 

From card games and puzzle games and games where the pieces look like literal candy, here are five games that I highly recommend you try this winter …

BLOKUS ($20)* 

I had no idea what this game involved when I ordered it, but the colourful plastic pieces looked like Tetris bits and bobs, so I expected the game would be to fit the pieces together, Tetris-style. It’s actually nothing like Tetris — surprise! 

Four players are required, or you can play with fewer people and take turns playing for the “ghost player(s).” Each person starts placing their own plastic candy-like pieces, snaking them across the board, and the trick is that your own pieces can only touch by their corners. 

The object of the game is to use up as many of your pieces as possible, and it’s addictive. My sister and brother-in-law and I spent hours playing this on Christmas Day, and now the kids love it, too.

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