Friday, August 31, 2007

Crazy Dress Up

Our boys love to play dress up. The play room floor is perpetually littered with costumes, masks and various dress up accessories. This morning my two-year-old son greeted me at the top of the basement stairs and shoved a toy work apron into my hands.

"You put this on me, Mommy?" he asked.

"Okay," I said as I tied the apron strings around his little waist, "Who are you pretending to be?"

My son gave his reply in a growly, menacing voice. "I be a scary flying WOMBAT!"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mr. Compliments

My four-year-old son gently stroked my toes.

"Oh, Mommy," he exclaimed, "I just love your pretty nail polish."

My heart melted and I smiled at my sweet boy. "Thank you, honey," I said.

"Your toes are so shiny and red and sparkly," he continued.

I ran my fingers through my son's unruly hair and kissed his nose. "You know, some day you might marry a girl who likes to paint her toe nails pretty colours."

My son thought for a moment and replied, "Yeah, I'd like that, Mommy. But you know what?"

"What, sweetie?"

"I hope the girl I marry is more sophisticated than you are."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Now I Feel Pregnant

Funny how quickly I forgot. Pregnancy is exhausting. And I'm only a couple of weeks in. I'm praying that God gives me the strength to get through the next few weeks gracefully :-).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Who is That Masked Man?

My four-year-old son emerged at the top of the stairs. "Aha!" he cried, "Look at me!"

On top of my son's regular clothes he wore a red skirt, a black belt and a bandanna on his head. He had a long plastic tube tucked into his belt to serve as a scabbard. My son also brandished a menacing sword (actually a plastic golf club).

"Guess who I am!" he challenged.

"Are you a knight?" I asked.

My son laughed derisively. "No! Ha ha! This shirt is not chain mail."

"Oh, of course. How silly of me." I thought for a few seconds. "Are you a super hero?"

"Nope. Wrong again."

I scratched my head.

My two-year-old son entered the scene.

"I know, I know!" my toddler exclaimed. He pointed at his brother's costume excitedly. "You are Moses!"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Postal Code Crash Course

(This one is for you, Rona!)

Canadian postal codes are based on an alphanumeric system and are composed of six characters. All postal codes follow the pattern ANA NAN, where A represents a letter and N represents a number.

The first three characters of a Canadian postal code are known as the Forward Sortation Area (FSA). The FSA is a geographical area where all postal codes start with the same three characters. The first letter of every postal code denotes the Postal District. The country of Canada is divided into eighteen different Postal Districts. (See the above map.) The next three characters are called the Local Delivery Unit (LDU). The LDU may refer to a single address, a range of addresses, a town, or even a large building or institution.

Theoretically, the Canadian postal system has a maximum of 7.2 million codes. Interestingly enough, not all letters of the alphabet are used in the system. D, F, I, O, Q and U are unused because the automated sorting equipment might confuse them for other letters or numbers. There are currently about 850, 000 postal codes in use in Canada, so the system has lots of room for growth.

If you are interested in learning more about Canadian postal codes check out this article on Wikipedia. You can look up the postal code for any Canadian address on the Canada Post website.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Laughter Therapy

Need a good laugh? Check out this link.

(Yes, it's a posting on eBay. Just read it. This mother's story made my husband laugh until he wept.)

DVD Review:
Night at the Museum

Ben and I rarely rent movies. We usually prefer to spend our evenings reading books or working on the computer. However, last night was rainy, cold and quiet --- the perfect type of night to snuggle up with a big bowl of popcorn and a good video. Ben popped out to the movie store and returned with Night at the Museum.

What a great show! Night at the Museum is clean, silly and entertaining. This movie is imaginative and downright fun. Ben Stiller's character, Larry, is hired as a night watchman at the Museum of Natural History. Larry quickly learns that he does not work at an ordinary museum. At night time the museum exhibits come to life! On his first night Larry is chased by a ferocious T-rex skeleton, tied to railroad tracks by tiny American settlers, and teased by a mischievous monkey, among other misadventures.

The plot of Night at the Museum is simple. The movie teaches several great lessons about perseverance, friendship, and the value of history. The show is squeaky clean and is suitable for older children to watch. (Some of the action scenes are too intense for young kids.) Larry's museum is fun and entertaining --- a great place to spend a lazy Saturday night.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby on Board

Yes, it's true. Last week we discovered I am pregnant with our fourth little Inkling :-). The baby is due April 26. We are very much looking forward to welcoming a spring baby!

The pregnancy is in its early stages. I will be five weeks along tomorrow. I feel a bit queasy now and then, but am mostly energetic and healthy. (By this point in my last pregnancy I already felt horribly sick.)

We told the children they will have a new baby brother or sister. Our four-year-old is very excited. He's been through this process a couple of times and knows what to expect. As soon as he learned about the new baby, he lifted my shirt and pressed his ear to my belly.

"Mommy!" he exclaimed, "I think I felt the baby kick!"

"Umm, I don't think so sweetie," I replied, "That was probably just gas."

My 14-month-old has been very cute as well. I'm sure she doesn't understand that her "baby" status is soon to be usurped. However, she does appear to be excited by all the baby talk. When we ask her "Where's the baby?" she points to my belly and says "Ba-by!"

We installed a little baby ticker to my side blog last night. I must admit, the baby in the bubble looks a bit bizarre. (Vaguely extra-terrestrial.) It will be interesting to watch the bubble baby grow as the months pass by, though.

God is good! We are so pleased with our newest tiny blessing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Insomnia is the Pits

Clearly that coffee last night was not a decaf...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bedtime Prayers

"Thank you God for today. And thank you for my family. And thank you for this booger on my finger. Amen. Mommy? Can I have a kleenex?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In the Pipe

I tend to be a very focused type of individual; I generally stick with a task until I have it completed. When it comes to crafting, however, my work ethic tends to be a bit more scattered. I have many little projects on the go (and half-finished). I like to have lots of different projects to choose from, and I especially enjoy things that are easy to pick up for a few minutes when the kids are napping.

I finished redecorating our master bedroom a couple weeks ago. One of the features I love about our new room is my "crafting corner". We hauled my childhood desk up from the basement and I bought a cute wooden chair from the thrift store. My sewing machine is all set up on the desk, ready to use. I keep my iron and ironing board in the bedroom closet. I can be off and sewing in a few short minutes, whenever the mood (and opportunity) strikes.

Here's a quick rundown of the projects I'm working on. Most of them are half-finished (and, to be perfectly honest, some are only started in my imagination!).

  • Refinish my crafting chair --- I did re-upholster the seat. Now I need to strip and sand the old stain. (I do kind of enjoy the chair's current worn, ragged look, though.)
  • Draw some Bob the Builder posters for the boys' room --- I've been meaning to do this for, oh, probably a year. I plan to draw large posters of Bob and Wendy, and either laminate or dry mount them. The boys' walls are just crying out for some colourful pictures!
  • Knit a baby sweater for my Sweet Pea --- A couple months ago I sent away for a super-simple knitted baby sweater pattern. The pattern goes up to size six, so theoretically I could knit a matching sweater for each of the children. I'd love to do this in time for the kids for Christmas.
  • Sew a wall hanging / quilt for our dining area --- Right now we have a big, blank, green wall behind our kitchen table. I fell in love with this little quilt, and would like to try making something similar. Our family's quilt will have three panels instead of one, and I think I'll ask the kids to draw on the cloth with fabric markers instead of using embroidery.
  • Sew a new shirt with this pattern --- I have an beautiful (subtle) Hawaiian print wrap-around skirt collecting dust in my closet. I love the fabric, but am not crazy about the style of skirt. I figure the skirt will provide just enough fabric to sew another one of these cute shirts.
  • Refashion a linen skirt --- I also have a great linen wrap-around skirt (also collecting dust in my closet). I bought it a couple years ago at the thrift store with the tags still on it. The skirt is too long and full for my taste. I plan to hem it to the knee and embroider something cool on the front panel. The remaining fabric will be perfect for the dining room quilt!
  • Embroider a dragonfly --- I've been working on a dainty embroidered dragonfly since last Christmas. I plan to hang it in our bathroom. The embroidery kit came with glass and hanging instructions, but I'm thinking of mounting the swatch in a shadowbox with pins (like a scientific specimen on display). I'd love to make one or two other embroidery "specimens" to hang as a grouping.
  • Learn to take pictures --- I admire blogs like this one, and am inspired by lovely photographs. I have been making an effort to take better photographs for my blog (working on lighting, framing) but there is only so far I can go with our feeble camera. Ben and I will be in the market for a quality digital camera soon. Any suggestions?
  • Macrame an i-pod cozy --- I have this project half-finished and sitting in a jumble at the bottom of my knitting bag. It looks so cool.
  • Knit an afghan --- I've been working on this project for nearly a year. So far I have completed about 4 out of 30 afghan squares. The yarn matches our newly decorated bedroom perfectly (and the afghan will look great draped over my thrifted craft chair...someday).
  • Make block party invitations --- This is a project I will complete. Maybe even today! I bought some cute paper on sale at Michaels and I plan to pillage my vintage button stash. I figure our neighbours will be more likely to come to the party if they receive a cute invitation.
  • Paint a "you are special" plate --- My friend and I have been trying (for ages) to go on a date to the pottery painting studio. Someday we'll finally coordinate our schedules, and when we do, I would like to paint a colourful plate. The plate will become our family's "special day" plate.
  • Build a business --- This is a big, pie-in-the-sky one. A few weeks ago I bought a domain name (and it shall remain secret until I decide if this is going anywhere!). Someday I'd like to open an online shoppe selling handmade toys.
  • Update my blog template --- The Ink Spot desperately needs a new look. She's a bit drab and droopy these days! I could fool around with the design myself (it sure pays to have a husband in the web development business) but I have my eye on a new design from Everyday Mommy. Her custom headers and masts are cute and very reasonable. (Christmas is coming...)
I've also dog-eared dozens of pages from Martha Stewart Living. That magazine is dangerous, dangerous, I tell you! I love nearly all the craft ideas from Martha Stewart, especially in the kids section. I could spend a lifetime creating crafts inspired by Martha.

Phew! That list is longer than I expected it to be. My fingers will be busy this fall. The beautiful thing about crafting, though, is that it's a low-pressure hobby. Nothing has to be finished anytime soon. Half the fun is knowing I have a box full of interesting projects to choose from.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fun Lunch Bags

This morning the boys and I created some special lunch sacks for Daddy. We used brown paper bags, paint, markers, glue and foamy shapes. The boys industriously cut and pasted for nearly an hour, and in the end produced fifteen colourful bags.

Here's to hoping our Daddy has the most colourful lunch in the office fridge!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


We returned home from our trip to Radium this afternoon. What a nice getaway! Our family enjoyed a lovely, relaxing weekend. Ben played a bit of golf, I took a long nap, and the children swam all weekend long.

The next couple of weeks will be comfortably routine. My big boy starts junior kindergarten soon, so I plan to savour these last few days with my son at home. He is growing too quickly! I sometimes wish my children could stay small forever.

Tonight I am looking forward to a long sleep in my own warm, familiar bed (with only my husband to share it).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Road Trip

Our family will be away for the next couple of days. We're off to Radium, BC. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mr. Golden Sun

"Hey, Mommy. I gonna tell you a story."

I finished tucking the sheets around my toddler's bed, brushed the hair from my eyes, and turned to face him. "What kind of story, Buddy?" I asked.

"A story about Mr. Golden Sun."

"Okay," I said. I picked up several stray toys and straightened some books on the shelf. "Go ahead."

"Once upon a time there was a sun. He's name was Mr. Golden Sun." My little guy paused for a moment and fiddled with his ball cap. "Do you know what colour Mr. Golden Sun is, Mommy?"

"Well, let me think," I replied, "Could he be ... golden?"

"No!" my toddler giggled, "He not golden, Mommy!"

"Oh, my." I was surprised. "If Mr. Golden Sun is not golden, then what colour is he?"

"Oh, Mommy!" My boy gave an exaggerated sigh. "Mr. Golden Sun is lellow! He's a lellow sun!"

"He's yellow!"


Pleased with his (very short) story, my tow-headed boy smiled and bounced out of the bedroom to greet a new day. My Mr. Golden Son.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Embroidery Lesson #1

The talented ladies at Crafty Daisies have launched a new series of online tutorials. For the next six weeks Candace will share lessons from the craft of embroidery. Candace posted her first lesson yesterday, and it is comprehensive and detailed. She has included images and instructions for three basic stitches --- running stitch, back stitch and split stitch.

I am sorely tempted to participate in the embroidery series, but I am still slogging through the homework from last month's crochet tutorials. Since I'm determined to finish my project (only nine more squares to go!), I may bow out of the embroidery series.

Here's to hoping I can turn this hodge-podge pile of yarn into something lovely.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Words of Wisdom (From a Preschooler)

"Superman is mosquito-proof, you know. The mosquitoes try to bite him, but he just bends their noses."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Growing Girl

My sweet Pumpkin Pie is fourteen months old today. Can it be true? She's becoming more a little girl, less a baby every day.

To date, my Sweetie Pie has six teeth (and an adorably random jack o'lantern smile). She can say "yaa" and "no, no, no!", "more", "done", "boo" and "bye-bye". One of her favourite words is "shoe" and she loves to play with her Mommy's. She also enjoys dollies, stuffed puppies, pretty dresses and hats. My Sweet Pea is a true girly girl.

My little girl has a quiet, content personality. She adores her big brothers, and is happy to play whatever they are playing. She crawls like a mad fiend, but is not terribly interested in walking yet.

I love my little princess to bits.

Now, if I could just teach her some better table manners ... ;-).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thoughts on Martha

A few weeks ago my friend bestowed several back issues of Martha Stewart Living upon me. The magazines followed us on our trip to Saskatchewan and I spent hours leisurely poring over the pages. To be honest, I had never paid much attention to Martha-mania up to that point (other than owning a set of cornflower blue "Martha Stewart Everyday" bath towels). I was a Martha newbie.

Six or seven magazines later, I've come to an epiphany. Martha is a machine. She's an empire. Martha, the person, I suspect is very different from Martha, the icon. Her magazines are polished and beautiful. Her products are practical and lovely. She's on TV, radio, the internet, in books, in stores. Her line of craft supplies are amazing. Her advice is wise and her clothes are perfect.

Martha is not real.

I think it's important for Martha devotees to remember that "Martha" is an image, an ideal. No one person can ever accomplish all that she appears to. No one person can possess such a broad knowledge base. Martha Stewart employs a vast staff to carry out her vision.

I believe Martha has struck an interesting and delicate balance. She presents her image as both everyday and unattainable. Her magazine includes tips for cleaning your bathroom alongside articles about collecting costly antiques. She markets herself to both the elite and the unwashed masses. And she does it with style.

The plain truth is this: the world of Martha Stewart must be navigated cautiously, but I believe it's worth the journey. Her products and publications are tasteful and well-designed. Her aesthetic is beautiful and appealing. Martha knows her market, and she tailors her image flawlessly.

However, I have resolved not to get sucked into a "Martha-esque" worldview. I will not allow my home to become my idol. I enjoy beauty and organization. I devote thought and time to home decorating and home management every single day. At the same time, God and the people He has placed in my life must take priority. My family is more important than any decorating scheme.

But I'll continue to happily accept any old Martha Stewart magazines that come my way :-).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Test

"The time is two o'clock. You may now open your exam booklet."

Dear God, please help me to do my best. Help me to remember everything I've studied.

Question one ...

Okay. I can do this. This should be easy.

(A few minutes later)

That section was easy! I totally rocked the fugue. Full marks, baby! I must be a genius! Oh yeah! I'm going to do awesome on this exam. Totally awesome.

(Flip the page)

Oh *&%^@. I'm in trouble now.

(Flip the page)

Uhhh ... maybe I'll just come back to this section.

(Flip the page)

What on God's green earth is an enharmonic polychord?!

(Flip the page)

Is this even English???!

(Flip the page)

"You have 5 minutes left to finish your exam."

Dear God. Please help me to at least finish this blasted thing. Help me to push through these last few minutes. Dear Lord, help me to survive!

"Time's up. Please hand in your papers."

(Puff, puff, wheeze, gasp) I did it. I can't belive I made it through. Thank you, Lord! It's finally over!

"Please hand in your exam paper. Now."

"Sorry, Sir. I'm coming. I really am ... Just give me a minute to scrape my brain up off the floor."

Friday, August 10, 2007

As Ready As I'll Ever Be

I guess I feel ready.

Tomorrow I'll be writing the second of five exams toward my ARCT diploma in piano. This exam covers music analysis. (Neapolitan chords, anyone? They're delicious.)

I've tried to study diligently all week, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow. My only concern is in actually finishing the exam. I'm not certain I'll have the fortitude to answer all the questions before my brain turns into a puddle.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Decadent Dessert

Today is a special day. August 9th is both Ben's mom and my mom's birthday. (What a strange coincidence.) Ben's parents are away on vacation, so we will celebrate with them at a later date. However, my family came over this evening for a small birthday celebration.

I found this recipe (on an advertisement) in Martha Stewart Living magazine. You can also find the recipe on the Kraft Foods website. The brownie cake is rich, decadent, and oh so good. My son helped me make it from start to finish. He especially enjoyed stirring the batter. (Or was it licking the spoon...?)

Who needs a fancy stand mixer? I've got an eager four-year-old with strong arms!

Easy Brownie Shortcake Dessert

1 pkg. (19.5 oz.) brownie mix
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream, divided
1 cup thawed whipped topping
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups cut-up mixed strawberries and blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie batter as directed on package; stir in 1/2 cup sour cream. Spoon into greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan.

Bake 45 min.; cool 10 min. Remove from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Mix remaining sour cream, whipped topping, sugar and vanilla. Cut brownie horizontally in half. Place bottom half on plate; spread with half of the sour cream mixture. Cover with top of brownie, remaining sour cream mixture and fruit. Store in refrigerator.

Prepare brownie batter with sour cream as directed. Spoon into greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 min.; cool completely. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve topped with the sour cream mixture and fruit.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In Search of Perfection

Really, how hard is it to find a decent lamp shade? A clean, simple, neutral, well-proportioned lamp shade? A lamp shade that actually fits and does not wobble?

Darn hard. That's what it is.

I am not a picky shopper. I am rarely indecisive. I like simple things and am easy to please.

So, how was I to know that I would buy and return four lamp shades in the span of a week? Who has the time for all that running around? More to the point, who has time for all that running around while schlepping three small children in and out of a minivan?

Not I, my friend. Not I.

Today I bought a lamp shade. It's white. It fits. It matches my lamp.

But just in case, I saved the receipt.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Crafty Mama

Oh, my. I love this blog. Beautiful. I will certainly try to get my hands on Amanda's book when it comes out next April.

Unanswered Prayer

I've been slowly working my way through God on Mute by Pete Greig. This is one of those books that must be savoured, digested slowly, a few pages at a time. God on Mute addressed the thorny issue of unanswered prayer. Pete Greig writes about this difficult subject with candor, wisdom and sensitivity. He wrestles with challenging theological issues from a Biblical perspective.

Several chapters of God on Mute have engaged my heart. At the moment I am reading the middle section of the book, which deals with why prayers often seem to go unanswered. Pete Greig offers many explanations for unanswered prayer. In particular, I found his eighth point especially appealing:

"Some prayers aren't answered because God Himself is a greater answer than the thing we are asking for and He wants to use our sense of need to draw us into a deeper relationship with Himself."

To think --- the God of all creation desires a relationship with me. Me, with all my selfish flaws and imperfections. Me, nothing but a tiny speck in an infinite universe. God wants me to draw close to Him, like a small child might snuggle in the arms of her daddy.

To further illustrate his point, Pete Grieg shares the following old rabbinic story:

There is a king who has two sons. Each of them come to receive his gifts from the royal table. The first son appears at his father's doorway, and as soon as he is seen, his request is granted. The father holds this son in low esteem, and is annoyed by his presence. The king orders that the gifts be handed to his son at the door so that he will not approach the table. Then the king's beloved son appears. The father takes great pleasure in this son's arrival and does not want him to leave too quickly. For this reason the king delays granting his request, hoping that the son will then draw near to him. The son comes closer, and he feels the father's love so deeply that he does not hesitate to stretch forth his own hand to the royal table.

I am deeply comforted by the thought that God loves me and desires a close relationship. Even when it feels as though my prayers are going unanswered, I now know God is saying, "Come to Me and tarry at My table." He is a loving father who delights in spending time with His children.

"Blessed are those you chose to bring near to live in your courts!" (Psalm 65:4)

Monday, August 06, 2007


My happy-go-lucky, sunny and fun-loving toddler is having a very two sort of a day. So far he has thrown a monumental tantrum, angrily pushed his baby sister over, and coloured in a library book.

It's not even noon yet...

At the same time, my little guy has also smothered me with lovely snuggles, peed in the potty all on his own, and regaled me with more Barney trivia than I'll ever need to know. I think my sweet boy is still buried somewhere under all that toddler angst.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon I enjoyed a rare treat. A girlfriend and I hopped in the car, left the bustling city behind, and drove through the rolling countryside south of Calgary. As the miles stretched out before us we rambled on about art, crafts and life. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to trade in my "mommy speak" for a few hours of adult conversation.

Our first stop was the Saskatoon Farm nestled in the fertile, green Alberta foothills. We browsed through rooms filled with knick-knacks and antiques, explored the farm's expansive greenhouses, and bought a large 4L pail of saskatoon berries to take home. (Mmmm. I can hardly wait to bake those saskatoons into a couple of mouthwatering pies.) It looked like the farm is expanding its western heritage storefronts, so I'll certainly make a point of returning to visit next summer.

My friend and I hopped back in the car and continued south down the highway. We ended up in the Alberta antiquing mecca that is Nanton. Nanton is a quaint little town situated right on the highway. Its streets are lined with several gorgeous antique shops. Many unique items caught my eye, including a vintage sewing machine, some beautiful wrought iron sculptures, and a stack of vintage dress patterns. My friend was quite enamoured by a shelf of antique cameras and photography equipment.

In the end, I purchased only a large jar of colourful buttons and two bags of penny candies for my boys. The minute I returned home I poured the buttons out on a cookie sheet and my son and I carefully sorted through every one, admiring the various shapes and colours. All evening I've been pondering all the projects the kids and I can create with my new buttons. These cute ideas from the ever-wonderful Martha Stewart website have helped to get some creative juices flowing.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fire! Fire!

Today we visited our local fire station to drop off some old cans of paint. A friendly firefighter came out to our van to visit with the children. He invited us inside the fire station and let the boys sit in a fire truck!

Those big, red, shiny trucks were pretty cool. Our two-year-old wore his own plastic firefighter helmet for the occasion. Here are a couple snapshots of two very excited little boys. (Please excuse the picture quality. We used my husband's cell phone to take the shots.)

Friday, August 03, 2007


I've seen this cute pattern on the blogs of several crafty mommies this summer. I thought the shirt looked so pretty and simple. I'm a novice seamstress, and have never sewn a garment from a pattern, so I started this project with a bit of trepidation. It was easy, though! The shirt required only three pattern pieces, the raglan sleeves were a piece of cake, and gathered neck was super-easy.

Fabricland had a good sale, and I bought my pattern and materials for 60% off. I used a pretty green, Asian-floral printed cotton. I love the way the elastic looks at the neck and sleeves. It's so feminine and summery. I think I will try making this pattern again --- maybe even the mini dress version to wear over skinny jeans.

Simplicity Built By Wendy patterns are pretty neat. You can check them out here.

And here is a picture of the finished product. I love this particular shade of green.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Toddlerism

"Hey Buddy. You're so silly. You're a big goof!"

"Yeah Mommy! I'm a goof ball ... a goof meatball!"