Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gingerbread Trivia Question #1

Which would you choose?
1) A good night's sleep for 1 night

2) Dinner prepared - shopping, preparation and clean up - for 3 nights

Post your choice in comments below - I'm definitely curious...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lullabye...and good night...

Today, my DD - age 3 - was again helping me fold laundry. We had two basket-fuls splayed across the bed and one of our chihuahuas was sunk in a pillow watching our activity. Both DD & Dog have been slowly establishing a friendly relationship but it is still fraught with occasional turbulence - like DD bugging him while he sleeps and Dog barking at her to leave him alone. Well, despite this new-found camaraderie, DD still has urges to antagonize the dog and a sleeping dog sitting unawares while she is tossing about laundry - er, I mean folding laundry - is just too tempting. She threw a sock at the dog.

To Dog's credit, he actually just opened his eyes and peered at her to ensure there was no further garments heading right at him. I remonstrated DD with a gentle "hey, treat Dog nicely, he's not doing anything to bother you. Now, go get that sock and apologize". DD moved tentatively toward Dog and was fully expecting him to lunge at her in retaliation - instead, he blinked and held her eye contact. DD moved ever so slightly closer and tried to figure out how she was going to retrieve the offensive sock that was draped just behind Dog on the pillow. Dog sighed. DD gingerly stretched out her hand to see if Dog might make a move but promptly withdrew it when Dog moved his tail an inch to the left. DD was nervous... She paused in contemplation then (get this) ... begins to sing "lullabye, and good night..." I can't believe that she came up with that idea. Sing the dog to sleep and then get the sock. Brilliance!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The New "S" Word

by Andriana Mantas of Collaborative Minds

Coping in a stressful world can be tough on all of us, especially children. As our times are changing and we enter a fluctuating economy, adapting to environmental initiatives, and balancing work-time with family-time.
There are many 'stress contributors' that affect each and every one of us in a different manner.

In 1990, my second child who was 4 years old at the time began to blink excessively. Nothing had changed in our lives, but there was something that had changed in our world - 'operation dessert storm' had begun. Even though, the conversations in our home were limited, as was his exposure to any media coverage, he still required more information about this event. We provided him with certain details in order to give him a sense of reassurance that was necessary for him to cope and understand. He didn't want to know about the fighting in the other country; instead he wanted to know how this event would impact his family.

There are many books at the bookstore about stress - one of my favourites, which I often reference, is David Elkind, The Hurried Child, in his book he states that "stress is the wear and tear on our bodies that is produced by the very process of living." Elkind also states that one of the factors that contribute to stress in children's lives is the hurries - to get ready, to go from one place to another, to do well and to grow up. Family disruptions due to death or divorce, health problems, tension and conflict in the home may cause children to develop fear, anxiety and emotional overload, and may contribute to chronic stress.

Children display 'stress signals' that can sometimes go unnoticed and without their own or even our awareness. The more obvious signs are continuous complaints of headaches, tummy aches or neck pain. Nervous habits may become apparent (nail biting, hair twisting, thumb sucking). A child may exhibit a difference in their sleep patterns or excessive energy and trouble relaxing. Subtle signs are a child becomes lethargic, daydreaming and not want to participate in activities. They may also become a little introverted. If you ask your child what's wrong, they may not be able to connect their stress to their actions, or you may have to play detective and look for clues.

So let's look at some 'stress relievers' that can help alleviate the stress for both you and your child. One of the most effective reliefs is to hug your child; this relaxes them and builds self-esteem. It's important to listen to them and when doing so, make a mental note to track changes in moods. Use words of encouragement whenever possible; applaud your child's effort - all of it; help yourself and them to identify their strengths. Be as honest as possible and promote open dialogue for them to express themselves. Insert humour in your daily routine and allow for quiet time, where all you just sit and hang out.

Is stress really the new "s" word?

For more information, please contact Andriana Mantas of Collaborative Minds at 416-803-5321 or

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jump In

Metaphorically speaking, this is an invitation – listen closely and you’ll hear it…”Jump in, dear reader, jump in”. Children bring an exuberance to our lives that we often ignore. I’m guilty of enticing my daughter outside just this past weekend with intention to rake the leaves into a pile and snap photos of the resulting mayhem. But as I search about for the rake, I begin to collect the toys off the lawn and this leads to gathering up the bigger things for packing away for the season, which leads to sweeping off the deck because, hey – now it’s empty, and this leads to, at most, a push on the swing for my daughter…but no great big leaf pile to blow apart with glee because mommy got too distracted by all the things I-want-to-get-done. Moment lost. We came inside then because we were starting to feel chilly (we’d been outside awhile!) and no leaf pile has been built in or around our home. I feel a little tap on the shoulder from the Guilty-Mommy Fairy and could really work this one into a full self-flagellation. My inner therapist is hard at work to keep me from wandering this road again. I’ve been down it enough since giving birth.

With that said, I think there is merit in reminding ourselves that we do need to pause and really be in the moment. Yes, I have been unusually busy and having even 30 minutes outside to tidy up and prep for the cooler weeks ahead was nice BUT that was not the reason I went outside in the first place! My daughter was quite content to amuse herself and sing songs along with me while we both tottered about outside BUT she would have been over the moon to land kerplunk into a waist high pile of leaves. I believe I lost my ‘moment’ and I implore you to not do the same. It’s what life is made of, these moments that come to mind when we are reflecting on happy times with our kids. When we might have actually created a memory for them to reflect on of their own.

Life is like this – my inner therapist won out in convincing me to not spend gobs of energy in the self-loathing department and rather look for (or create) the next moment to remember. It came today with the washable markers and the bath-time approaching disbursement of clothes. Without great detail, we’ll suffice it to say that it is a hoot to draw happy faces where happy faces are not normally seen and then jump into a mile high bubble bath to wash it all off. Too fun! My daughter was giggling like crazy and so was I and it was not lost on me that she, in fact, jumped into a pile of something – even though it was bubbles…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why I'm So Glad I Taught Myself to Knit Again

by Guest Blogger Margot Stevens of A Party Shade of Green

My grandmother was a prolific knitter. In every one of my aunts' and uncles' homes, you will still find her afghans in daily use. In every one of my cousins' keepsake boxes, a sweater knit especially for us. When the local paper in Port Alberni ran a story on her, and how she took in more than 20 foster kids, some of whom I now count as aunts, there are her knitting needles sticking up in the bottom of the photo. She didn't even put them down for the interview.

But like so many things, I didn't treasure her skills until she was gone. I could only remember the knit stitch she taught me, but not how to cast on or off, and without a beginning or an end, I had nowhere to go. So a few years ago I set out to re-teach myself the skill of knitting, and re-connect with my Granny's gift.

I started with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting, which provided a very strong foundation for the skills I have built over the years. From this really excellent book, I re-taught myself to cast on, knit AND purl, how to increase and decrease stitches, the basics of lace and cables, and finally, how to cast off and construct a garment. After completing a few washclothes and scarves, I decided to try some more complicated projects, and learned how to knit lace shawls and mittens at a yarn shop in Kensington Market. I experimented with hats and baby sweaters, and even a stuffed animal or two.

Once I felt that I could produce knitted items nice enough for gifts, I started knitting mitts and scarves for family members, and I finally realized what drove my grandmother to knit. I have found nothing more satisfying than knitting gifts for others, because it is so much more than just buying a gift at the store. I carefully pick the right pattern for them. Then I choose a yarn that I think would suit them. Then as I knit it, I find I spend a lot of time thinking about the person for whom I am knitting, and this is such a wonderful way to spend the little spare time I can find in my day.

One of the most satisfying moments I had was last winter, when my father-in-law told me that he had been out looking for a new scarf, but could not find one that fit his needs. They were all too scratchy, too colourful, too thin, or too short. So together we designed a scarf that was in essence a very long tube, so that it was always double-thick, and it was knit with two strands of a very soft acrylic in a neutral tone. It took me weeks to knit, but once he had it, he wore it every day for the rest of the winter.

I also found, during my first year of motherhood, that knitting brought me some solace when I was afraid I was losing my mind. There is nothing like the exhaustion, overwhelming anxiety and paranoia of being a new mom, in addition to feeling like you've completely lost your identity in your new role and responsibilities. I found that having a simple knitting project that I could pick up in those few quiet moments, or when I needed to focus on something else so that I wouldn't completely lose my mind, was extremely helpful and relaxing.

If you are interested in learning, or re-learning, how to knit, or just want to find some other knitters to share a cup of coffee with, join us in November of Friday mornings at Gingerbread Lane. Starting Friday, Nov.7th, and then for the next 3 Fridays, I will be facilitating a beginner's knitting project class, along with an intermediate knitting motivation.

For more information on Margot's knitting club, launching Friday November 7th, email or call 905-271-2900

Margot is the found of A Party Shade of Green, providing parents with environmentally-friendly alternatives for kids' parties.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Night of Crazy, Make Believe

I feel as though I’ll fit right in. Running about like a maniac – last minutes costume touches, groceries for the night, party supplies prepared at-the-ready (work requirement), laundry so there is clean gitch to even put on under the costume, tidying the front foyer for those intrusive neighbours who step-inside-for-candy, etc, etc has me wishing to clutch my hair in both hands at the root and run hell-bent down the street while screaming and/or drooling with a glazed non-sugar-induced look in my eye! People, I hope, will just assume I’m putting on a show for Halloween night and not be fully aware that I have, in fact, lost my mind…

Happy Halloween everyone.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Fun - Trick It! Treat It! or Eat It!

By Guest Blogger - Andriana Mantas of Collaborative Minds©

As Autumn is upon us, there are many events and activities that take place including apple picking, Thanksgiving, Halloween, raking and jumping in leaves etc. So let's get into the Dos and Don'ts of Halloween.

Let's begin with the excitement of a choosing a costume. This can either be a very quick decisive process or it can be 'tricky' - and by tricky, I mean that your child may change their mind over and over again. If your child is at an age where you can discuss likes and dislikes favourite characters, heroes, sport teams and players this allows you to create a short list. By narrowing things down and prioritizing, certain items can be hand-made or produced from home. If a trip to the costume shop is necessary, have fun with it and make it adventurous. Now that you have the costume ready to wear, be prepared to see your little one dress up and down over the days or weeks before and after Halloween.

Candy is also a big part of Halloween; in fact there is too much candy just before Halloween, that evening and of course the days following. What to do with all that junk-food? What else can we 'shell out' besides candy to our 'trick-or-treaters'? Some ideas include bubbles, stickers, washable tattoos, pretzels, gift certificate, and beach balls. Other options to help keep the amount of sugar from entering the house is to keep trick-or-treat outings short. Planning an activity helps to get them home quicker without them feeling like they are missing out! Encourage your child to sort through their bags of candy and be selective about which pieces to keep. This provides an opportunity for you to examine the treats and toss candy that may be unsafe. Allow your child to select one or two treats on Halloween night, then find a spot for the excess candy - the location should be out of the child's reach and not easily accessible.

Have a fun and safe Halloween and enjoy all the tricks and treats. To get you into the spirit, below is a song about the 'five little pumpkins'.
Five Little Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said "Oh my, it's getting late"
The second one said "There are witches in the air"
The third one said "But we don't care!"
The fourth one said "Let's run and run and run"
The fifth one said "I'm ready for some fun!"
WOOOOOO, went the wind
And out went the light
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!

For more information, please contact Andriana Mantas of Collaborative Minds at 416-803-5321 or

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Daughter-ism Classic

My daughter (age 3), for reasons not entirely yet defined, woke very early this morning - and couldn't re-settle to sleep. First hubby spent some time trying to settle her - she was still tired! - but he needed to rise to get ready for work before she had returned to slumber. I took the next shift with her - starting first rocking with her in her chair then moving quietly to her bed. Throughout this time, I had been gently tickling her arms and back - something she's always enjoyed, even as an infant.
In moving to her bed, I'd quietly negotiated in whispered tones - "mommy will tickle for one more minute, then we'll sit quietly for 5 minutes". This forewarning proves quite effective with our little tart in most situations and faced no resistance in these wee morning hours either. A minute later, the gentle tickles stopped and a moment later I hear in a tiny little whisper..."will you tickle my arm pit?"

"No baby, it's time to settle quietly for 5 minutes."

"Mommy, can you tickle my arm pit?" - she's now draped her appendage across my face & neck to encourage this motion.

This entire dialogue could not be heard by the was that hushed.

"No baby, I'm not discussing this...we had a deal...5 minutes quiet".

Next, and without pause...she responds with...

"This is ridiculous..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Toddler, Toddler, Get Off My Leg!

There was a woman walking down the street, minding her own business and appearing to enjoy the view of a beautiful day and peaceful surroundings. She was moving along at a comfortable pace when her toe caught on something and she fell directly to the ground with no time even to break her fall. She skinned her chin and was splayed about across the ground for several moments before she actually realized what had happened – one moment she was moving along and enjoying the moment and the next she was bloodied and sore. I saw this woman fall – and in my own split second moment opted to join her on the ground rather than simply lend her a hand because I thought it was a rare opportunity to see the world from a different angle.

Dear reader, have you scrolled back and re-read that first paragraph wondering if you are over tired or, perhaps, inebriated? You have not lost your mind, it is gibberish but, I implore you to see the hidden message in it. It offers a means of finding joy in life when there may be times that it seems as though joy doesn’t exist – like when your toddler goes from content-normal to demon-aggressor while you wasted your time on a necessary blink, or when you can’t seem to recognize that you are happy in your home despite that fact that it is never clean!!!

Let’s look at the world from a different angle every now and then. I can remember clearly a day in which my then-toddler would not relent – she had to be on me, near me, of me for every-second-of-the-day and I needed to prepare her meal or visit the loo or – most likely – leave the room to stomp, kick and curse my way out of the frustration box that I found myself in!!! No matter how I reasoned – be it calmly one moment, through clenched teeth the next, or in an elevated tone of voice with waving arm accompaniment – she would not relent. Then I had a split second of wisdom (I was even shocked by this) that told me to simply sit still. Clearly nothing that I could do as a parent was going to push her through this cling-on day so I had to admit defeat, I mean, realize and accept that there could be worse curses to my day than to hold my child through the times that she needed that security. Perhaps, if I got down on the ground (see above gibberish) I could actually turn this into a ‘different angle’.

In that moment, life slowed down – as did my heart rate and stress – and I took it for what it was. Nothing else would get my attention – only this time it was by choice rather than by force. And you know what – that was ok. We spend our time giving supportive advice to our friends / family / shadow that we so rarely adhere to ourselves! Take it easy on yourself. When you find yourself in a series of dead-end, head-against-the-wall moments just stand still and ask yourself which will cost the bigger price – the ranting, raving and no-win or the roll with it and be-damned approach. Not easy to put into practice admittedly but you have to try – new ideas or ways of being can't get through the door if you don’t open it first.

Next time you see someone fall to the ground - and these opportunities don't happen often so grab it when it does! - why not lay yourself down and see the world from that angle. It's an opportunity for a different view that you may never have had otherwise.

Let me know if you try it - either laying on the ground or, more practically simply stopping the rant and accepting – and what was the result. Good or bad, I want to hear it…post a comment below.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy HallowGRE'EN

by Guest Blogger Margot Stevens of A Party Shade of Green

I've been tossing around in my head what would be the greenest option for a costume for my son for this Hallowe'en. I have found an endless list of options for homemade costumes on the internet. I have found the best options for homemade costumes to be those that take advantage of clothes the child already owns, or can be purchased second-hand, and modified. Last year, I was able to put together a scarecrow costume with clothing he was already wearing, a plaid shirt and overalls, to which I sewed patches and yarn "straw", all of which could be removed without damaging the clothes. The great thing about making him a costume out of his own clothes was that he was very comfortable, and barely realized he was wearing a costume.

This year, however, I was just not finding any inspiration this year in the clothes he already wears. So I went to a children's second-hand store, Kaleidescope Kids, and was able to get him a fuzzy dolphin costume for around $13. While I may bemoan the lack of creativity that may go along with store-purchased costumes, I very much appreciate the fact that many of them take the late October weather into mind, and come as warm jackets or one-piece, fleecy outfits. And since it is second-hand, and will be passed along to another friend next year, I think this is as environmentally-friendly as you can get for a costume. I just hope he likes it.

One of my most vivid Hallowe'en memories from when I was a kid was the last minute scramble for working flashlights. We lived in a rural area, and they were a necessity on Hallowe'en, but we never remembered this until after we were already in our costumes, and kids were already knocking at the door. I somehow remember my family having something like a dozen flashlights of various sizes, half of them completely dead, a couple with a little bit of juice, and then another couple that would start out bright, and then wain along the way, and the four of us kids arguing over who should have which one. This year, I'm planning ahead, and I will be stopping by Canadian Tire to pick up a Noma LED Shake Flashlight. No batteries, less than $20, shock resistant, waterproof, lifetime warranty, and it looks like it has received good reviews. I also think my 2 1/2 year old son will enjoy it as well, since for once I will be saying, "this adult-sized thing with lights and buttons - ya, shake it and push the button!" which I'm sure will be followed quickly with "No, not in my eyes!!"

For the other 364 days of the year, it will go in our emergency kit. Who am I kidding, for the rest of the year it will be in my son's toy cupboard. Maybe I should get two.

So next comes the candy - oh, so much candy. I don't think there is a way to stop it, and I don't really want to be the mom handing out raisins and sunflower seeds. Yet. Maybe I'll hand out toothbrushes. One option I have been using in goody bags are Yummy Earth lollipops, which are organic, naturally coloured and flavoured, and free of gluten, tree nuts and peanuts, so they are safer for people with allergies. And as product research, I tasted them all, and yes, they are very yummy. Since I ordered them bulk over the internet, they were much less expensive than buying Hallowe'en candy retail. There is still all the wrappers to go in the garbage, but I'm not sure there is a way around this, until corn-based, biodegradable plastics make it into the wrapper business.

The last thing I plan to do to keep Hallowe'en as green as possible is to convert a reusable grocery bag into my son's candy carrier. I'll be using one of Loblaw's black bags, since it is a good size for a 2 1/2 year old to carry, but also comfortable for me to carry over my shoulder when he gets tired. I'm sure he will be coming home with a number of Hallowe'en themed crafts from day care. I plan to take one of them, mount it on a piece of cardboard and trim it to 7 inches square (just big enough to cover the grocery bag's logo design), attach a couple loops of string to the top of it, and tie the strings to the bag's handles, so the picture hangs down over the logo. Voila, mobile art, a sturdy candy carrier, and a bag that is being reused, and will be reusable again.

Margot is the founder of A Party Shade of Green, providing parents with environmentally-friendly alternatives for kid's parties.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tots & Tuna A.K.A. I Hate Cooking

I hate cooking - truly, hate cooking. I cook out of necessity and not for joy. I cook because my daughter is hungry. I cook because it's a hard task to ignore.

In my previous life - otherwise known as pre-child days - I could get away with a lovely take out, or a make-it-yourself attitude. My husband often obliged because he prefers his meal to be edible. His own family were quite at ease in the kitchen - creating, with ease, simple and tasty masterpieces that would amuse his senses. I am not of his family. For almost 20 years his mother has been supportive and enthusiastically advising me of culinary creations and for almost 20 years, it has been going in one ear and out the other (sorry Marlene).

In truth, my disinterest in cooking stems from a life-long lack of kitchen confidence. My own mother was a "chef" (definition of chef = can make a lump of stale bread into a steaming and delectable casserole) and I could not EVER compare. My own bumblings would pale next to hers and her discreet and kind pieces of advice and direction, to me, only pointed out my shortcomings. I'll see a therapist some day.

Now, in having a child who requires nourishment - I have become an avid recipe collector. I may or may not do anything with the recipe once I've collected it - but the option is there. I do enjoy taking an interest in recipes whereas I used to rifle past them and only note the picture. Now, I might pause - review the "Time to Prepare" and scan the ingredients list. If the "Time to Prepare" exceeds 30 minutes - my attention is already lost. If it meets my attention deficit, then the ingredients list is the next thing - all items must be familiar to a commoner like me. If there is an ingredient list that I must google to identify - that recipe is NOT being torn from it's current housing.

My pile of recipes grows each month - there is no rhyme nor reason for it - simply a pile that boasts only the accolade that it is "Recipes". Not "Main Dish", not "Fun For Kids" - just "Recipes". Once a month, I'll sit on the floor with my pile and flip through it like a deck of cards - pulling out a dozen that look appealing for that season, that meal or, frankly, my mood. From that dozen-or-so, I put one or two on the fridge for the week - setting my chef-goal at the "try-this-one-out" level. A goal, I'm proud to say, that is often reached. One or two recipes is not too intimidating and having already screened these offerings for "Time to Prepare" and "Familiar Ingredients" factors, they are approachable and safe for me. Life is a lot easier - I don't beat myself about the head with shame - for not creating meals or, if created, not presenting meals that are edible without wincing. In fact, my husband has become an active player in this adventure - engaging in dialogue throughout the meal regarding that recipes attributes or deficits. He has learned, good man, to phrase the deficits in a kind and supportive manner -

Husband: "Honey, what do you think of this recipe? Are you enjoying it too?"
Me: "Well, for a first run, I find it a bit bland. I think next time I'd jazz it up with some more seasonings etc"
Husband: "I agree - it's a good foundation, but would definitely benefit from some of your famous TLC"

Overall, a conversation that is well-phrased and does not invite a launch from my seat to tear off his face and then slap him with it.

I am very pleased to feed my daughter - whether she eats it or not is another post - because I do believe that nurturing your children includes the food you feed them. I want her to enjoy her meals - for the company as much as for the quality - and be physically healthy and happy. I will continue my pattern of recipe collection on her behalf and face my kitchen demons silently inside my head. Both my therapist in future and my MIL will be happy.

On a side note, I do enjoy a good egg-on-the-face gag as well as anyone even when the face dripping the egg is my own and the origin of the gag is my also mine. Therefore, I must admit that the event that precipitated this post topic is, in fact, taken from my own life last night – because I believe that I’ve reached a never-to-be-repeated low causing both embarrassment, as well as, gagging. I was shocked and appalled to realize I was seated across from my hubby at the dinner table last night while he munched...tater tots and tuna. In all honesty, I have to seriously review the evening to trace the path that led to such an atrocious meal. Can you call it a meal? Please consider in my explanation 4 facts – after-school swim lessons, my hubby’s birthday-the-next-day-shopping-to-do, an empty pantry (I have no idea where the tater tots in the freezer came from because I’ve never purchased them???) and a sense of deep exhaustion. The tater tots were my first effort to create a “Brunch-like” dinner – omelets, tots and crusty loaf but I had to run out of the house to get the birthday shopping done while the tots were toasting. By the time I returned from the speed shopping, I could care less about creating an omelet and opted to ignore the tots entirely. Did I mention that my stomach was in knots? A possible oncoming flu?

So I browse my empty pantry and thank my stars for the foresight I had last week in purchasing that can of tuna – for no reason other than “it can’t hurt to have a spare can of tuna” and I decide to make a toasted tuna sandwich. Did I mention exhaustion? Mid way into opening the tin, my energy drained out through my feet and took what little appetite along with it so I left the tuna half-prepared on the counter and walked away. Being as I’d fed my daughter when we arrived home from swimming – an appropriate and well-rounded meal I might add – and I assumed and/or trusted that my husband could fend for himself to find something, I opted to forget a meal for myself and trust that my appetite would bring me downstairs for a late-night bowl of cereal in a couple hours. Don’t worry, I checked to ensure there was milk in the fridge. So…I’m not eating but I sit down at the table with my hubby who has scrounged something onto a plate. I come out of my lethargy long enough to focus on his selection…cold tots, half-prepared tuna and a slice of crusted toast. Now that, good people, is fecking awful.

In times when there is no dignity, laughter can often be heard…

Hey, if you feel up to it...send me a recipe you like, I'd love to try it - or, perhaps, you've your own dinner disaster -

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Advice Column

The Canadian Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and are a big part of the weekend. Do you enjoy a holiday dinner? Travel to visit family? A day off with the kids?

We found this neat site that explains the holidays origins - if you ever wondered about it - Kidzworld: Canadian Thanksgiving - a fun sight for our older kids to explore a little as well, perhaps while you're cooking turkey!

With my husband, we found that once our daughter was born, we really wanted to begin our own set of traditions that was meant just for her. My husband and I enjoyed our parents traditions for us and didn't have the whole holiday spent traveling - let us repeat this for our own child. This meant, in turn, that traveling to each grandparents house to feast was not feasible. My parents are divorced and that makes 3 families to visit! My husband and I decided that our own holiday 'day' was to be reserved for only the 3 of us - to enjoy some valued time together (in our pajamas if we wished!) as our hectic lives don't really allow for such quiet time very often. The additional days of the holiday weekend can then be spent visiting 1 or 2 of the 3 respective grandparent families. Whichever family was omitted from this particular holiday's visits, gets first dibs on the next one. Fortunately, we have family that is fairly understanding of this arrangement - albeit occasionally disappointed when it's their turn to sit-it-out. It has proven successful in decreasing our holiday stress - the stress that comes from trying to do too much out of obligation / desire but not really fully enjoying it because you are tired/exhausted/"fill in the blank". We do the same at Christmas - Christmas day is ours alone (definitely pajamas this day!) and we spread family visits over Christmas Eve Day, Boxing Day and the week between Christmas and New Years. It's working out quite nicely and makes for fewer and fewer guilt-inducing conversations with grandparents requesting each year to have everyone at their place. They know that we divide the holidays according to our own abilities and fairly to their wishes.

With all this said, as always, I'm keen to share advise on "how to..." - and would love to hear your stress-relief plans for this Thanksgiving. Post your comments below and we'll call it the Thanksgiving Advice Column - GBL-style!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kids Recipes - Blueberry Pancakes

Can you picture yourself in an apron? Or perhaps, dusted lightly with flour or cocoa? Whatever the outcome, it's fun baking / cooking with your kids and it sets the stage for helpful tots in the kitchen if they are made comfortable and confident now. No pressure! I speak from a kitchen-resistant background - I really do cook out of necessity versus a desire to create from scratch any culinary delight. In order to make anything even remotely edible, I use 'em...would be doubled over in gastric agony without 'em...

So, I found this sight for kids recipes that I think is pretty grand - Kids Health, Recipes for Kids

and one such recipe enjoyed from here which also made for a slow-paced and thoroughly engrossing Saturday morning with my daughter was the Blueberry Pancakes. Recipe seen below:

Blueberry Pancakes (Home Made)
Prep time: about 20 minutes


* 3/4 c. flour
* 1 tbsp. sugar
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1 tbsp. margarine
* 1 egg
* 3/4 c. milk
* 1/2 c. blueberries, washed and drained
* extra margarine for the pan


* stove (You'll need help from your adult assistant.)
* large bowl
* mixing spoon
* saucepan
* medium-size bowl
* whisk
* measuring cups and spoons
* spatula


1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set the bowl aside.
2. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan.
3. Crack the egg into a medium-size bowl, then add the milk and melted margarine.
4. Whisk until everything is well mixed.
5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk again until both mixtures are blended together.
6. Put extra margarine in the saucepan and heat it on the stovetop on medium heat. It is hot enough when the margarine starts to bubble.
7. Use a measuring cup or a small ladle to spoon the batter into the pan. Put some blueberries on top of each pancake.
8. Cook your pancakes on medium heat until small bubbles appear on the top.
9. Use a spatula to see when your pancakes are light brown on the bottom. When they are, flip them over with the spatula.
10. Cook for another few minutes until the pancakes are light brown on the other side.
11. Remove your pancakes and put them on plates to enjoy!

Serves: 2

Serving size: 3 or 4 medium pancakes

Please note, that this will leave your kitchen an absolute disaster and it's advised that you save your daily shower until after - you've made the pancakes. Don't be deterred - the best kind of fun always has a light dusting of flour...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Humour Your Children

Knock, knock…
Who’s there?

Some of the happiest and most memorable times I’ve spent with my daughter are those in which we’ve been laughing – over the crazy, little, silly things that fill up our day – like, bum quacks and pizza beards. I grew up in a family in which my father’s side of the family were all jokesters – loving a good egg-on-the-face, twist-of-the-words laugh and I hold many fond memories of get-togethers with them. I also remember reaching an age in which I not only laughed at their quips but began to experiment with throwing a few of my own back at them and receiving a laugh in return. I was so happy and proud of myself for causing a laugh!!

This joviality only grew as I did and I learned to enjoy spreading a laugh to my friends, to my teachers and, truthfully, for myself. The world seemed a lighter place if I could find the humour in it. This foundation served me very well when, as a young adult, I entered into the field of Child & Youth Work – working directly with some very behaviourally challenging teens. When there were many an escalating situation, there were times that I could successfully diffuse it with a fun retort or observation. I’m also certain that humour is a large part of why my husband married me – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions to that statement.

Now I find myself as a weary parent of a three-year old daughter who has been witty even before she had expressive language. I recall a day very clearly when she was an infant and nursing on the breast. Often, when nursing, I found myself simply watching her – observing her expressions, and noting every single little body part – ‘what an adorable little ear’, ‘look how she hugs in real close’, ‘can you believe how big her feet are?’ In developing this habit of staring while she ate, I hadn’t realized that she’d grown accustomed to being observed and one day, my attention drifted away from her cozied form and began gazing around the room instead. Didn’t I hear a little ‘humph’ and I looked down to her to see her smile and squirm with glee for having successfully called my attention back to her! Too funny! She was used to being observed and I laughed out loud when I realized what she’d done – this only caused further smiles and squirms from her in response. Well, I’ll be darned – my infant has a sense of humour!!

In my daughter’s toddler years, I must admit, humour was often lost on her. For example, the term “bum quack” came from a rather duck-like sound discharged from her posterior – I laughed and said that sounded like a bum quack. Didn’t she immediately turn around with a look of terror! She thought there was a duck behind her! I did not wish to terrify my daughter, but I had to laugh even harder and I continued to use the term ‘bum quack’ with all future incidents of toddler flatulence and I’m pleased to say it’s paid off. Quincy can ever so gently break wind and chuckle with “excuse me, I quacked’ and honestly, this is a lot less embarrassing in the grocery store than other obvious statements.

Now, let’s leave the inconsequential and move into the – how-does-this-help-me-as-a-parent realm. As she moved headstrong into her preschool years her fierce sense of independence and pride developed much more. It became beneficial to give or, quite honestly, take a time out for certain challenging situations. What I found though, in doing so, is that my daughter inherited equal portions of stubborn from both my husband and myself – poor tart. This could make a time out both lengthy and tedious. Enter humour. Once the angst has safely passed and your tot is now sitting there simply out of spite, humour can be a very cathartic and healing quality to move the situation forward from frustrating to memorable. An example from my very own home – Quincy (and I) take a time out on the bottom step as it is visible from all angles but far enough away from stimulus as to prove effective. She has spent at least 3 times the necessary beneficial time on the step but was unwilling to move past her pride and return to any other fun task. I didn’t wish to make it another power struggle and I’d rather simply move into our chat about “what was that all about anyway?” Well, the cat sauntered into the room and I promptly disguised my voice into a rather mickey mouse sounding likeness and asked “Quincy, I’m tired and my kitty bones ache, can I have my step back? I’d like to rest there” as though our cat was making a personal request. Quincy looked at the cat, then looked at me – was that a smirk I saw? I didn’t stick around to find out as I sensed her pride would have won out and she’d replace the smirk with an almighty frown if I paid it too much attention. My use of humour and my respect for her pride allowed for her to take a moment to enjoy the joke, then rise from the step unprompted and join me in the kitchen chirping in her own mickey mouse voice “could I have a drink, my kitty mouth is dry” and we proceeded to play-cat throughout dinner prep – a day that I continue to remember fondly.

Parents, I implore you to take a moment and crack a joke with your tots. At the end of our day, we’ll remember those moments best and be able to overlook all the other moments in which we were red-faced and frustrated. Your little one may also learn methods in which s/he might manage her own life frustrations or stresses a little better – whenever possible laugh it off! I know when life hands me lemons, I try to bite in and make a funny face…and that has made all the difference.

PS. Pizza Beard Definition – when you have inadvertently left a piece of your pizza slice on your chin. Most humorous when you are completely unaware of it.

Share a story of your own family fun - either as a comment below or submit your own story to and we'll post it here

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

by Guest Blogger Sharon Devellis

October is here with its crisp mornings, a crispness that reminds me of that first bite into a freshly picked apple. The trees stand tall filled with bright coloured leaves like a proud peacock spreading its tail and slowly they start to fall to the ground reminding us of the winter that is to come.

It's also the month that makes me break out in a cold sweat and lay in bed at night fearful of sleep because of the nightmares that will come. Halloween is quickly approaching and lying in his bed on the level below me, sleeping and happily dreaming of the mounds of candy soon to come is my son, The Asker of Impossible Costumes.

It seems like a simple concept. Ask your child what they would like to be for Halloween, they give you an answer and you go to your local big box store and buy it. From the stories I've been told, this is how it actually works in most families.

Well Most Families - I've got a word for you. Two actually. Terry Fox.

This is what Adam wants to be this year. Terry Fox.

Terry Fox?

What the hell is that? What six year old asks to be Terry Fox? What happened to being Superman or a Ninja or a policeman? I'd be happy to dress him up as Michael Myers complete with hockey mask and knife if it would allow me to buy his costume. Because this isn't the first year he's asked for an impossible costume. Oh no - we're now approaching year three of Costumeous Impossiblitus.

Three years ago, it was a pick-up truck. Specifically a yellow pick-up truck with working doors. It took me a month to come up with the idea, sketch it, get the materials, assemble it and paint it - late into the night silently cursing the mothers of children with plastic masks and capes. I managed the yellow. He's still getting over not having working doors. He reminds me of this quite often.

The following year, I was smart and asked him in August what he would like to be. Ha! I am a mother! I will not be beat! Two months is enough time to complete any costume!

What would you like to be Adam?

Either a light bulb or a smoke detector but I think I'd prefer to be a light bulb mum.

What the fuck? Seriously. I need to repeat that. What the fuck?

I wasted the first two weeks of August trying to convince Adam that he would make the most awesomest, coolest, bestest, bad-ass, catch every bad guy who ever lived, super policeman in the whole wide world!!!!!! He could even carry a gun! A gun! Mummy never lets you play with guns! And for Halloween, this one special day, you can carry one! So whaddya say Adam? Wanna be a policeman?

Hmmph - well that was a complete waste of time.

Once I accepted the fact that Adam was going to be a light bulb, I got to work on a plan. And I must say, it was a beautiful plan. One that involved large pieces of sponge, glow-in-the-dark paint and tinfoil. A masterpiece that would have made Thomas Edison proud. Only Adam came to me a week later to say he would prefer to be a smoke detector. One with a green light and siren. Oh, and it must be round mummy. Not a rectangle one.

Sometimes I wonder how frustrating it must be for the 40 year old man trapped inside Adam's little body.

And that brings us to this year. To Terry Fox.

I'm all for encouraging Adam to raise money for cancer - he's raised $300 so far and I'm his biggest cheerleader. But how the hell am I supposed to make a fake leg? Because when Adam asks for a costume, it needs to be detailed. "How can I be Terry Fox if I don't have a fake leg mummy?

So I'll leave it with you dear readers - how does one go about creating a fake Terry Fox leg?

Feel free to email me at if you have any ideas 'cause I'm at a loss and the clock is ticking.

And next year, let's discuss why there are only slutty Halloween costumes available for women. Ladies - we need to revolt. No woman over 30 should need to squeeze her body into a Vixen Pirate Wench costume.

Visit Sharon's Blog - Motherhood: The Ultimate Survivor and Sharon Devellis: The Inside Scoop

Monday, September 22, 2008

Can We Make a Pumpkin Pie Mommy? (Recipe Included)

I have discovered that, as my child ages (she's now 3) her expectations of me also increase. It is fall and along with these cooler days comes seasonal decorations that include pumpkins. Gorgeous little pie pumpkins that are a perfect size for my daughter to hold. Accompanying this gesture of veggie affection is a a complementary vocabulary - for example "can we make pumpkin pie Mommy?" Imagine, if you will, my facial expression the first time this is uttered... Make pumpkin pie...hmmm...sure honey!

What am I thinking? I'm no baker and am quite honest about this culinary deficit but when your own child looks you in the face with such glee and you, yourself, have very fond memories of your own mother baking up sheer masterpieces, you wish to give this same dessert foundation experience to your own offspring. "Sure honey - let's make pie!"

Then comes a good 5 to 7 days of frenzied requests to friends for a recipe and/or a frantic search through your own mental rolodex of "can't-do-it" excuses. No excuse seems sufficient and you've got to keep the "big ones" for situations that truly merit them (example - "no we can't have Christmas at Grandma's house this year - how will Santa know where to deliver surprises?")

Alas, if any of you are crazy enough to commit to such obligations, I thought I could at least provide you a recipe. Let me know how your pie turns out...

Pumpkin pie (from fresh pumpkin)

2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
12 oz Carnation milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400F 1/2 pumpkin, scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Cut into chunks and boil in about 1 inch of boiling water, Drain, cool and remove peel. Mash, drain well again. Roll out crust and transfer to pie pan. With mixer on medium, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar and spices. Mix well. Pour into crust. Bake 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean

Servings: 8

Thank you to for providing the recipe :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Random Marble

I just stepped on a marble as I was walking across the floor and I’m not sure if it’s one that my daughter left behind or, perhaps, one of the few remaining ones lost from my own head. Either way, I picked it up and put in my pocket. You can never be too safe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Miss My Period

What!? What??? Does this imply good news? A great surprise? A sick sense of self-loathing..?? Close that thought - wipe your mind clear of any preconceived notions - and consider this. I miss the period at the end of my sentences.

What?! This woman's ticking nuts - what the pink twill does she mean?

I waited a long time for my toddler to talk. At least it felt like a long time because she came out of the womb frustrated that she didn't have full expressive language! Until she could begin to express herself verbally she was a wailing, screaming dervish and once she began to articulate words, her dervish dropped off significantly and a collective breath of relief passed through our household instead.
Throughout this extended phase, a number of veteran parents would say - "first you are praying for them to talk, then you are praying for them to be quiet". Yes, indeed.

Now, my daughter is a toddler - in fact, moving into her "preschool" years and her chatter is welcome but incessant. There are whole days in which I've not heard the end of a single sentence that I've started - and I miss my period. I would find that punctuation-of-pause a relief - "yeah, a finished thought!" My daughter's mind, and now her mouth, runs from thought to thought enthusiastically and it's not so much about the individual thought itself but more about the opportunity to explore so many thoughts in toddler "real time". "Toddler real time" is - for every one adult second, there are 4.2 toddler seconds and for each toddler second there is an independent and unique thought. Within our one second or one effort to speak or respond, our toddler is already onto another thought - or 4.2 several. We are left with our mouth hanging open or our tongue bit in frustration and a slightly louder voice with our next barely-there response. Sigh...

It's fun to sit back and simply watch our little one's brain at!! Slow down!! Child, you're going to self-destruct with the infinite possibilities playing tennis in your head! In the meantime parents, know that you will (eventually) and with great patience and repeat interuptions, teach your child social graces - like allowing a person to finish their sentence - period!

Know what I mean? Leave a comment below - I won't interrupt I promise.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How Do You Recharge?

I'm wondering if that is actually my own drooping eye-bags that I feel resting against my cheeks...

It's been a busy two weeks of transitioning back to school along with all the normal "crazy-ness" and I'm wondering where I'll find a moment to recover some of my waning energies. Each day feels as though I am beginning a packed-full day on a half-full tank. It is not a complaint - I lead a full and productive life. I am merely pondering - as my lower eyelids rest comfortably on my face - what can I cram into an already busy lifestyle that is purely self-indulgent. A hobby perhaps...

It's got me thinking - why not think something so simple as a hobby to death - that I wonder what other people do for fun, to unwind, or to give yourself a moment (or several) of simple pleasure.

Do you scrapbook?

Enjoy a glass of wine?

A nice cup of tea?

A jog?

Some rock wall climbing?

Read a good book?

Catch up on some blogs?

My mind literally becomes overwhelmed with possibilities and I'm left unmotivated to start any one of them...where would I begin? I'm seeking a way to form a new habit that is purely meant to sooth and nurture my spirit, so I can appreciate this life's journey a little more - feel like I have a say in it rather than feel that I'm being pushed around by it. How do you begin a new hobby? Give me some ideas...

I'm a firm believer (read previous posts) that breaking tasks down into simple steps is an easy way to get things done - without excuses that "there's no time!". But I need some inspiration so I ask you - the reader - this...

1) what can you suggest as indulgent hobbies? something you've enjoyed or, perhaps, something you've always been curious to try?

2) what has stopped you from finding and participating in a hobby?

3) what advise would you give me to get started?

I'd like to see your comments. This could be a grand starting point as a motivational tool in all of our crazy, overworked lives!

I gently push my saggy eyelids back into their rightful place, take a deep affirming breath and click "post"...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cheers to the Apple Season - Recipe

In the 'Spirit' of Apple Season
Did you think it was going to be a back-to-school lunch box or dinner time recipe? We've enough of those I think - now, let's raise a glass to the season and a couple more gray hair earned in the transition -

Sour Apple Martini Recipe
3 oz. Lemon Lime Juice
3 oz. Apple Juice
1 oz. Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps (R)
1 oz. Absolut Vodka (R)

Directions: In a tall glass with ice, add two alcohols and then the apple juice and soda. Stir and enjoy!

Have your own martini recipe? Send it to and we will post it on the blog

Friday, September 5, 2008

Transition Back to School

Guest Blogger - Andriana Mantas, Collaborative Minds

September brings along many changes with children attending schools or child care programs. Whether this is your child’s first year of school or re-entering the same school in a different classroom, many emotions and events are occurring both for you and your child. Some of these might be: will he/she socialize? Will the teacher be receptive to my child’s needs? Will he/she be able to acclimatize? Children naturally gravitate to other peers as part of the stages of play development. Having open dialogue with your child’s teacher is important. This can occur at the end of the day or you may choose a communication book. Regardless of their age, prepare your child and allow them to bring a favourite item from home.

How to ease the transition from summer holidays to school mode? It is important to create a consistent routine or schedule of events. First and foremost, establish routines that can be easily implemented for you and your family. Routines cater to the needs of the family offering good communication, identifying items of importance and promoting a sense of togetherness. Routines help families to organize themselves as in morning drop off or evening pick up. Children appreciate the consistent activity and predictability that routines provide. Begin by setting up an after-school routine which ends with bed-time. Try to include low key activities towards the end of the day and provide warnings as the family moves into the next activity. For example, “after this game, it’s bath time.” Keep routines consistent and follow them daily, even on the week-ends.
And if you have yet to find suitable child care arrangements, what options do you have? First decide if you prefer a location close to home or place of work. Some options are a child care centre or nursery school, home care provider, and nanny.

When deciding upon a child care centre or nursery school, conduct telephone interviews, inquire about availability, age range, teacher-child ratio, teacher qualifications, understanding the program schedule outlining the schedule in more detail, nutrition, number of years in service, licensing and hours of operation, then go out for a visit. More information can be found at If a home care provider is preferable, the search can be made via an agency or on your own. By visiting the home and meeting the provider, ensure that the learning environment is supportive and conducive to your child. Having a Nanny could also pose a viable solution. There are agencies that represent Nannies or the selection can be done independently. Once again take the time to meet and interview all potential nannies who will be able to meet the needs of your child.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Knock, Knock...Socks Here

Perish the thought - am I jumping ahead a little? I packed my daughter for her first day of school today and, fortunately, it is a beautiful sunny day and sandals were our footwear of choice. As I was strapping up, a moment of forethought brought the realization that our sandal days are numbered. Soon, fall and, perish the thought, winter will be upon us, and sandals will be retired or, if worn as intensely as mine, discarded entirely. Sock drawers will be rummaged through - a sigh exhaled over the tired selection and shoes will be withdrawn from their closeted hibernation. Subconsciously, as I write this, my toes have stretched themselves in unusual directions as though already escaping the confines of sock and shoe. Let's pause for a moment of reflective, toe-polished silence...

Now, I believe in getting my life organized in small reasonable chunks. In fact, I have learned this method through years (and years and years) of watching my mother, myself and most friends that I know, experience intense and heart-pounding moments (ney, days) of frustrations because we "can't get it all done", "can't get caught up", "can't get enough help", "can't ________(you place your own complaint)". We can go for years, perhaps our entire lifetime, of not realizing that it's not, in fact, the time/help/circumstance factor that is causing such chaos and disorder in our lives - it is only us. Yes, you. Know that this is no criticism - I don't believe in kicking someone when they're down - it is meant to be the pep talk that I think we've all needed at some point in our lives - as we weep over the mountain of laundry that appears to clone itself, as we curse over the piled up bills that won't file themselves and as we wail to any victim passing within earshot and yet unable to hear. My suggestion, as it pertains to the transition from sandals to socks is this - don't go into the closet believing that the closet needs to be "cleaned up", that the winter clothes shopping needs to be done 'right now!" (save that as a reward for later) and that the bag of donations must be delivered today or the poor sods will freeze - otherwise, this simple transition has already taken on astronomical proportions and your heart rate has already gone up in a non-positive fashion. Busy families can grab 5 minutes at a time, at best, so work with that...

Enter the sock drawer and purge. I am laughing out loud as I realize I knowingly wore mismatched socks last year. A charcoal gray and a light gray pair each lost their respective partners but I said to myself "there's still plenty of wear left in these close friends" and I kept the darn things. With a summer's worth of distance between myself and that stupid decision I can now enter my drawer, locate the not-quite-right pair and toss 'em. But don't stop there - bring the garbage can with you - purge the unsightly, holed, mismatched socks from each drawer in your home. It shouldn't take you more than 5 minutes if you keep yourself focused. Don't even think about opening the t-shirt drawers or, heaven forbid, your undies. Keep your eyes on your feet and plod on...

When you are finished, walk away - know that you have completed a part of the seasons preparatory tasks in a very reasonable time frame.

Break each step of this foot-garnishing ritual into 5-minute challenges. Get the kid(s) involved (if it will help the process rather than hinder it). Set a timer to add extra motivation to keeping it to five minutes and whether the task is done or not, walk away when the timer dings. I enjoy a favourite song rather than a timer because I find myself singing / dancing along and quite enjoying the moment - I walk away when the song is done. If you hit 'repeat' on the stereo, consider that you may have an obsessive-compulsive flaw and should possibly seek professional help.

Suggested 5-minute challenges to get the 'big task' done:
* Empty current closet of all summer wear discarding those too-worn sandals (please don't make me look at them again next year - are you trying to evoke pity from friends?) and keeping the in-good-shape ones in the closet still (gotta wear something until you pull warm shoes out, right?
* When you are next out on errands and anywhere near a clothing retailer (ex. getting diapers at Walmart) then swing around and pick up the socks that you need for the family. Don't get distracted - this is only supposed to add five minutes to your errand.
* Pull out warm footwear and purge too-ratty pairs from each member of the family - make mental note of what needs to be replaced. Give a vacuum or a sweep from their seasonally ignored location.
* When it is now consistently too chilly to hang onto the sandals, grab a laundry basket, pile the summer gear into it and dump about 2 feet away from the winter gears home. Transfer the winter gear into the basket, play a game of toss and match in that deep-closet location with the summer stuff and take the basket of the winter stuff to the most active closet and deposit it. Unless, your family is vigilant about lining things up (again, consider professional help) leave the darn things in a reasonable pile. There is a good chance that is the same pile you will see - and successfully retrieve - your own shoes from for the upcoming season and everyone else seems to do just fine too. Really, you must pick your battles and learn to let the small things go...

For the sake of variety in a day, you can incorporate a couple five-minute challenges from different parts of your home - winter clothes, packing away the outdoor furniture, clearing out the no-longer-used toys, etc so that you feel as though you are making progress in a few areas. As long as progress is made, stop beating yourself up over your unreasonable desire to get-it-all-done. Recognize your strengths - that you are attending to everything in an organized and do-able fashion - pat yourself on the back for that success and grab a coffee.

Send your sock drawer pictures to or post a comment below - and why not send in your own 5-minute challenge idea?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Gingerbread Book Club

I am a loyal fan to a good book - will tell everyone I know (within reasonable conversational opportunity) about a good read or a well-written thought. As part of our monthly Gingerbread Book Club I get to expand this conversation within a group and would like to bring that forum to you - our Gingerbread Lane Family Community. I keep posted on this blog the upcoming Book Club selections and would be thrilled if you would share your thoughts for any of the upcoming selections. I will keep posted a blog entry re: the Gingerbread Book Club to keep the conversation going. You are invited to comment - about the book posted or any that you see have been "clubbed" or will be "clubbed". Or, perhaps you have a recommendation of your own? Let me know - I love a good read...

Read It - Read It - Read It

For the month of September, I'm keen to share "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. Mr. Hosseini has the ability to tell a story with maturity and detail that I find refreshing. The story provides a personal connection to the main characters that develops into a close bond by the end of the story. Truthfully, I often found myself hesitant to pick the book up at night (I read at bedtime) as I had a preconceived notion that the content was dry and slow-moving. How pleasantly wrong I was!! I had to admit to myself by about mid-novel that despite my hesitancy to engage, once I began reading - within the first paragraphs in fact - I was drawn back to the story and continued enthralled much longer than my weary self would have/should have permitted.

The characters are 'full-bodied' people who you can see with greater physical and emotional clarity as Mr. Hosseini shares their story. You find Mariam and Laila's story overlapping in the most tragic and obvious of ways - are you thankful that they did? I am angered by the circumstance and history of the story - the brutal war and social situation that the characters lived throughout - it's a story I was naively unaware of. I found a unique respect and sorrow for Mariam and still think of her in the days following the completion of my reading.

I greatly appreciate when an author tells a story intelligently without the over-the-top hype that spoon feeds readers (and more commonly move-goers) the small details of the story. Mr. Hosseini allows the reader to develop their own emotion or attachment as he unfolds details, history and personality. I encourage you to read this book - at some point in your life - to enjoy a truly intelligent and compelling read.

Please post your Book Club comments below:
Did you like this book? Didn't like it at all?
Have a book you'd like to recommend?
Want to offer your own thoughts about A Thousand Splendid Suns?