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?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Momoir Project & Motherhood Revelations

A couple hobbies of mine are to read and to write - I enjoy seeing how writers string their thoughts together in creative ways. That why this posting in the Today's Parent September Issue caught my attention. I wondered how many other parents have recorded their child's and perhaps, their own parental, experiences and wondered about sharing them - perhaps even more formally than a blog-amongst-family. Here are two ideas to get the ideas flowing...

Are you interested in putting your motherhood experience into writing? Then the Momoir Project is for you. These writing coursed, currently held in Vancouver and Toronto, are led by established writers, including Today's Parent contributors Randi Chapnik Myers and Cori Howard. Not in Toronto or Vancouver? There are also online courses. For more information about schedules and courses, go to

Thank you to Today's Parent for this exciting suggestion!

Also, we've been keen to promote this funny gal and Ginger Mail contributor - Sharon Devellis, blogger (Motherhood: The Ultimate Survivor) and writer.

"I’m tired. I’m tired of reading books written by experts that tell me how I should be raising my children. I’m tired of reading about these so-called “Mommy Wars” and how we’re all competing against one another. I’m tired of judgements. I’m tired of comparisons. I’m tired of reading about who’s better…the mother who works outside the home or the mother who stays home full time. What I want and what I think other mothers want, is a book written about mothers, by mothers. What I want is the truth. And I want you to help me."

To read more about Sharon's Motherhood Revelations project please read on...

And, of course, our own Gingerbread Lane Family Community blog welcomes guest bloggers on any topic family-related - send your post to

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Green is the New Back-to-School Colour

It seems that each direction we turn, we are being reminded to minimize our environmental footprint to become more eco-friendly and aware. In addition to this repetitive (and necessary!) message, we're also being bombarded with back-to-school marketing "got to have ____", "can't do without ______", "get your kids this ______".

As I was standing in line with my own child's school clothes clutched tightly I had a moment of that eco-awareness and I thought I would share it with all the clothes-purchasing-parents out there...leave the hangers behind. Most times, childrens clothes are displayed on small plastic hangers and more often than not, the clothes are packed into your bag with the hangers along with them. Ask to leave the hangers behind, to be reused by the store. Do you really use them at home? Admittedly, I have a few in use in my daughter's closet but don't need a perpetually replenishing stock. I left the hangers behind.

Do you have any eco-friendly suggestions for back-to-school preparations? Post a comment below.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Unique Children

by Guest Blogger Andriana Mantas, Collaborative Minds

As with any child, a child with special needs brings joy and challenges into each and every family situation. Whether this is your first, second or third child, know that each and every one of them is unique. The fact that we are all different, each of us with individual personalities and learning styles impacts our interactions -as a parent, how you interact with each of your children is highly dependant to a particular child and his/her needs. As you bond with your child and learn from one another, you will laugh, cry and play together- these foundational moments will help you better understand your child's needs and will make the relationship stronger between you and your family.

Upon learning that your child has special needs, you may experience of range of emotions, many of which are the result of venturing into the unknown. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come forth. Parents commonly feel happiness, sorrow, relief, doubt, compassion, shame and acceptance. Do your best to look at the silver lining and embrace a sense of humour.

Treat your child like everyone else; make accommodations as necessary and try to remain balanced in your approach. Providing too much coddling can lead to unwanted behaviours. Ensure that your expectations are geared to developing your child's potential. Always celebrate every accomplishment, make a big deal out of every achievement.

In caring for your child, it is also imperative to take care of yourself, beginning with your weekly routine. Schedule time off for yourself as well as time with your spouse and do this without guilt or regret. Recruit help; involve grandparents, friends and neighbours. It's important to educate yourself and always remember that each child develops on an individual basis, so refrain from generalizing the information you obtain to your situation. The internet is a valuable source of information, but it can also be a tricky device overwhelming you with a vast amount of information that is very general. Take one day at time, as Anne Lammott said "You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the day. You just have to see two or three feet in front of you."

By accessing services, early intervention will enhance your child's development, provide assistance and support to your family and ultimately having your child participate in the community and schools just like everyone else. In the words of Marsha Forest - "There is only one criterion for inclusion. Breathing, life itself"

For more information, please contact Andriana Mantas of Collaborative Minds at 416-803-5321 or Andriana is a writes the column "Pass Me An Issue" in the monthly Ginger Mail Newsletter. To receive Ginger Mail email with your request.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Family Life - Laundry

Laundry – feel like a slave to it?

I’ve felt that my weekends have been consumed with laundry as I try desperately to see the bottom-of-the-basket if only for a sense of relief or “catch up”! Underneath this desperation is a low-grade anxiety and low-simmering resentment. I’d rather be outside. I’d rather be spending time with my daughter in a fun way. I’d rather be getting a root canal…

Having a child did NOT decrease the load – figuratively or literally – and rather than yelling at my toddler for being so messy (I’m a realist, and I realize they are messy!) I’d often turn my angst either overtly or passively against my spouse. Clean your own eff-in’ socks! Put your own freakin’ clothes away man! I’m not YOUR mother! To be fair, we have a reasonably equitable distribution of household tasks and the laundry is mine by choice. All the same, I feel like laundry’s bitch and I’ve yet to see the bottom of the damn basket!

Insert deep sigh here

I’ve developed, through no long term planning but entirely by fluke, a system that seems to be working and I thought I’d share it. Here it is in a few shorts steps:

a) DON’T do laundry on the weekends. You really need to commit to this – NO LAUNDRY ON WEEKENDS! The absolute only task for weekends is to ensure that all dirty laundry is gathered into laundry baskets. These said baskets can remained wherever they are stationed – in the closet, in the hall, in the way…

b) Starting Monday morning – bring the laundry baskets to your laundry room/area and dump. Sort into darks / lights piles and put first load into the washer to wash. Now, get on with your day – don’t look back – the laundry is not going anywhere and it will happily wait for your return later today.

c) Now, whether you are a working-outside-the-home mom or a working-inside-the-home mom you each have something (many somethings!) that seems to require all of your attention and most, if not all, of your minutes throughout the day. Attend to that stuff. At the end of that day – before you begin whatever you’ve planned for dinner – return to the laundry site and pop the washed (and patiently waiting) load of wet laundry into the dryer. Now walk away again…

d) After you’ve settled for the evening – kids are tucked in, house is quiet – fold that load, sorting into appropriate piles. You don’t have to put it away tonight. It can wait until the folded piles get a little higher and then you’re not packing away folded laundry over and over and over.

e) Next morning, repeat by putting next load into the washing machine – and walk away –

f) Your loads will very likely run out before the end of your week arrives. As part of the final efforts – when there’s no further loads in the morning or no further loads to fold, use the next step to put it all away at once and return the baskets to their stations. Now, the weekend is around the corner – commit to NO LAUNDRY – and get outside, spend some time fun time with you kid(s), book that root canal…

Random Tips:

• ensure you have more than enough laundry baskets. Nothing makes you feel like you MUST DO LAUNDRY when your one and a half baskets are full and you’re only on Tuesday. Get a 3rd, 4th or 5th basket – it’s worth the investment.

• Ensure you have enough underwear and socks to last 8 days. Nothing precipitates a resentment-filled laundry frenzy than an absolute need to good personal hygiene. Don’t stress, be realistic and allow yourself a week’s worth of clean gitch without the bitter resentment.

• Pay attention to laundry habits of your housemates and ask, without fingers wagging, for changes where it is appropriate. For example, I noticed that my hubby would remove his pj pants and tshirt and dump both in the dirty pile each day. Could he get another night (or two) wear out of the pants? Or, perhaps, the jeans that he wore that day are still in reasonable shape for another wear before laundering. Ask him to be more conscious of those things. He’s often asked “what can I do to help decrease your stress?” well, my dear, this is one small thing you can. How about the kid. How many outfits are worn / changed in a day? Did it all really need to be tossed in the laundry in exchange for spotless garb or could that tshirt from this morning with the spot of chocolate pudding on the front also be happily worn through the manic crafting session this afternoon also? Frankly, I think a splotch of pudding and a dollop of glitter could be considered ‘artistic’ and a healthy means of accounting for the days activities visually.

• Take a look – an honest I’m-not-making-excuses look – at your own compulsions. What has you determined – without success – to do it, do it, do it?? Really, does the stress feel good? Are you willing to let it go?

Get you thinking a new system for your house / life? I found it reiterated here:

Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Frozen Banana Pops & Banana Fudge Smoothie Recipes - Yummy Summer Snacks

Banana Fudge Smoothie
Creamy and delicious, this smoothie is great for breakfast or a midday pick-me-up.

* 1½ cups fat-free or low-fat milk
* ½ cup soft silken low-fat tofu or yogurt
* 2 ripe medium bananas, frozen and cut into 1-inch chunks
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon agave nectar or dark honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately. Serves 3.

Frozen Banana Pops
Yield: 12 servings

* 6 Firm ripe bananas
* 12 oz Semisweet chocolate pieces
* 6 tbsp Oil
* Colored sprinkles OR grated coconut OR coarsely ground nuts

Cut peeled bananas in halves crosswise.
Impale each half on wooden skewer
and place in freezer 1 hour or until frozen. (Coatings will run off if
fruit is at room temperature.)
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over
hot, not boiling, water.
Add oil and stir until smooth. Keep warm over hot
water while dipping.
Remove bananas from freezer a few at a time.
Dip and roll bananas in melted chocolate, making sure all banana
surfaces are completely covered.
Gently shake or twirl banana before removing from pan
to remove excess coating.
While chocolate is still soft, roll covered
banana in colored sprinkles, coconut or nuts.
If coating becomes too hard to hold decorations,
apply a little warm coating to pop.
When covering sets, place pops on squares of foil,
wrap securely and store in freezer
until ready to eat.