the boob-tube blues

blog4-4i admit it, i let my child watch too much tv…especially when it is so often grey and rainy outside. isla has grown quite attached to zoning out in front of the screen and i have let it happen. boo-urns. i could go on a rant about how our fast-paced, expensive, over-stimulated culture is to blame or i could pull a “no screens for a year” stunt, but i think what i really need is a plan.

the fact is i’m tired, with a slow-witted memory and low fuel for creativity, so when my daughter begs to watch a show it is so easy to give in! oh and how easily a twenty minute show spills in to an hour! it’s truly sad. however, i don’t want to ban the boob-tube entirely – i’ve witnessed the screen-lust that it causes – but, instead, limiting the time of good shows and axing any show that sucks (my naughty list includes, but is not limited to, “caillou” a whiny 3 year old who hates his vegetables, “diego” a nonsensical animal meddler…etc… i’ll allow “my little pony” because i consider it bonding time *wink*). the only problem is, and this is awful to say, tv does such a dang good (terrible) job of captivating a three year olds attention… anything else is an effort, for sure, but oh so worth it. i have noticed the way isla picks up unintended tidbits from the shows she watches and i have also noticed the zombifying effect it has on her – it happens to me too, start the day with tv & i feel nothing but lethargic. in the weakness of the moment it is so easy to concede to pleading (yes, she does), but with a game plan (literally) prepared i hope to train both of us out of this destructive convenience habit. so, when we’re stuck inside and the tv beckons, i’ve collected a list of rainy-day activities i have found to work with my little hurricane-child and my just-home-from-work-sleep-deprived self:

isla on the hunt
isla on the hunt

hide the fishies (insert any other favoured treat)

this one is such a hit! i tell isla that she’s going on a hunt & she has to play in her room for five minutes while i hide fishies or other treats around the living room. she dashes in and intently searches, asks for hints, & gleefully munches!

picnic in the living room!

this replaces snack time or, sometimes, dinner. isla gets to be the mommy and together with her assistant “child” (me) we raid the kitchen and put everything in a basket. i am always surprised at isla’s food choices – i totally thought that, when given the chance, she would only want treats – but she doesn’t take the responsibility of feeding her family lightly! fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, and a marshmallow for dessert. and then she proceeds to eat it all without a fuss, unlike our traditional sit-down dinners. amazing. and she prepares the picnic blanket, divides up the rations, and tidies up after, too! it is usually a nice chill time – love it.

having some princess time

dress up!

this provides an outing too… go to the local thrift shop and have at’er. my experience is that kids love the activity so much more when they are involved in it’s creation. so, go with a wee budget and let them know in advance that they can only buy a few things that add up to your coins (oh money lesson!). it’s great to see what they pick out as fun dress up material. once the proud little person arrive home with their purchases & helps you give them a wash it’s time for everyone to get dressed up! this leads to craft time…

best pal elijah gets a mask too!
best pal elijah gets a mask too!


this can be another outing… go to the dollar store, collect rocks, feathers, pine cones, boxes, recycling, and have a good stock of stickers & pens & glue. then make pirate patches, magic wands, masks, musical instruments (drums, rubber band tissue boxes, shake-y things, etc), box trains, you name it… let whatever you have on hand inspire the craft! then combine with dress-up and, bam, insta-play : )

fun with baking

isla loves this. the key is to expect mess and salty muffins – if you’re good with that then it can be such a good learning time. kids love being real helpers and feeling like they are contributing in tangible ways & how cool is it that you end up with a goody at the end? go ahead and let them crack an egg (or, rather, explode it), taste-test every ingredient that goes in (isla oddly likes baking soda), and make irregular, monstrous cookie formations… it’s worth it to mentor the joy of creating food!

introduce board games

ok this is a toughy for a 3 year old, but i think it is really good to start early to create a fondly anticipated family tradition – my hope is that it lessens future videogame obsessions and replaces the constant draw of tv up & to teenage-hood. we’ll see : ) because it’s tricky to find games that occupy a 3 year old for more then a few crazy minutes, i made one up that makes everyone do silly things on each square of the path – isla stays engaged & patiently waits her turn because she gets to witness mom & dad act like monkeys, etc… i’ll post it soon!


man, play-dough. don’t forget it – it’s a wonderful activity. plus, like baking, you can make it together & it can be as salty as they want! isla particularly loves making pretend meals and giant lollipops : ) here is a good recipe.

dance time

isla and marley boogie down!

this is go-crazy-silly, who-cares-that-you-look-like-a-lunatic time. man, it’s the opposite of tv, but if you give your butt a kick and peel yourself off that cozy couch your mood will brighten and a smile will appear on your face. it is essential that you give’er cause the kids will laugh & join in the fun…providing a spirit-lifting show of antics for your camera : )

this is by no means exhaustive, check out my pinterest page to see some amazingly fun activities posted by amazingly fun & creative parents… it’ll keep you steeped in projects & your kids happy and engaged. i would love to hear what you do to keep your kids entertained on a rainy inside day and away from the infamous tv… please share!

~ rena

blank flank

for christmas this year i received an envelope with cash and a cartoon of myself with a sleeve of tattoos.  something odd happened inside me when i opened it, a sort-of gleeful/fearful feeling, an “oh fun… uh-oh!” response.  that’s because i love tattoos… but up to that moment i guess i only really loved the idea of tattoos.  darn it, now that the opportunity stared me in the face i had to quickly think it through and moderate what emotion to expose to my husband who was anxiously awaiting my reaction.  he knew it would be a loaded gift, but he was right to risk it… the excited side of me eventually won out.

so, feb 9 is the day!  this unmarked skin of mine will bear an image of my choosing.  although i have always reasoned with myself that there would never be a design i would want to bear for a lifetime, i decided right away that i could get something that represented my girls.  no possible regrets there… right?

ok, ok portraits aren’t the way to go… but what should the image be?  darn it!  such a huge decision! when i start thinking too deeply about it, it scares the perfectionist in me to death!  oooh, that perfectionist side of myself ruins everything!  or not…

yes, there is a LOT of evidence out there of unfortunate tattoos (take a look at “ugliest tattoos” for a giggle), but there are also few that are quite beautiful and meaningful… i definitely prefer to be on that side of things.

but i have to ask myself… why?  why am i considering doing this to myself?  i am terrified that i will regret the final product, and given my critical side i will likely analyse the thing until it warps into something horrible.  it’s true!  i do that to myself!  i’m a terrible candidate for a tattoo, right?  BUT, i want to challenge it – i want to get a tattoo in spite of the perfectionist, as a part of my journey to overcome/accept those parts of myself.  plus *some* tattoos are cool, darn it!  🙂

so!  the tattoo i’ve decided on may be a tad overloaded with meaning… when i look at it, i want to be reminded of freedom, of releasing control, and of my two beautiful girls – the style of the image will represent my character as a maker and my connection to the creative community and to the creator.  ya, that’s loaded…

i’m leaving a cliff hanger here… but will post pics of the process on feb 9, the fateful day.  say a prayer for me ok?  once the virgin skin is broken, i’m sure i’ll get all de-sensitized and decide on a portrait of my cat next!

do you have a tattoo?  why did you get it?  what would you get if you don’t have one already?

ramblings of one tired mama

as a chronic maker, i can’t help but have my head and hands focussed on the next project.  i am just beginning to understand that it is at the essence of my being… it is something that builds and replenishes me, a core desire.  cool!  problem.  the wisdom of motherhood has only allowed me to understand this about myself because i have so much less time (and as if to prove this point, as i italicized ‘time’ my daughter just popped out of bed!) to create.  i’m really feeling the effects of running ragged after the chaotic whims of a 1.5 & 3 year old, working a day job, husband working nights, night after night of broken sleeps and not having time to focus on getting my creative energies out.  i’m really not whining (really?!) – i just wonder if it is possible to find a heathy balance in family, work & recreation with young ones?

it is important to think about this holistically.  it isn’t selfish to consider the needs of the mother (&/or father!) when raising crazy little people, no matter how much the martyr syndrom nags you otherwise.  if the mother isn’t healthy & happy, how can she fully attend to the needs of her children, let alone create an environment where the family can flourish?  so! it is critical that the mother set aside time to replenish and address her core needs, which will be different for everyone (and i now know mine to be creating).

point understood!  but, but, but… how?  i’m chronically sleep-deprived and my time is booked solid.  argh!  my naturopath told me of a study undertaken in a few communities on the other side of the globe where people experience far less stress-related diseases.  conclusion: they live in extended family units, eat from the land, and spend their evenings sitting around the table eating wonderful meals, drinking wine and yacking until the sun sets (my words, but same content!).  and i imagine that the task of raising kids is undertaken by all involved, too.  sigh… the way we do things over here is so wrong!  i don’t know about you, but i feel the pressure to be strong, independent, need-no-help-from-nobody, raise kids, work job, stay in perfect health, and not screw my kids along the way?!  it’s ridiculous… and frankly i’m falling apart trying to manage it all.

solutions?  i definitely want to change the way i live – i want to be in community, i want to eat food i grow, enjoy life at a slower pace, live with less, take deep breaths & be “in the moment”.  but while i work towards those ideals, i have to look for outlets in the hurricane of present day.  these are a few things i’m going to implement:

1. teach my kids how to play by themselves for an hour each day.

it’s true!  isla is 3 and she has trouble occupying herself without my intervention… i’m sure i just didn’t give her the opportunity to learn, maybe because she was the first.  juniper, who is 1.5, is already much more adept at playing solo for the odd moment & i’m hoping that by the time she’s a little older i will be able to say “play time!” and both the girls can occupy themselves without my direct involvement… maybe i could just knit while supervising!

2. get my girls to participate in my projects.

isla helping me felt

this is more of an investment plan… i know they already love to “help”, but i end up turning into a dragon protecting my gold, puffing smoke outta my nostrils.  this is because my intentions are wrong, my intention is to actually get something done!  what i plan on doing is changing my perspective to focus on them and not the project, so that they adopt the love of craft time and then, eventually, we can create together or work on our own projects together (for more then 5 seconds i mean).

3. take the work out of creating.

juniper just having fun – there is a lot for me to learn from her

for me this means when i fit in creative making time, i won’t spend that time doing it as work.  i currently run an etsy store with some of my creations and i love doing it; however, when i create for business rather than for pleasure i find myself stressing about how much time it’s taking, if it’s exactly what the customer wants, how much it will cost, etc.  i need the freedom to fill that small window of time with the fun of making for the sake of exploration.  to apply this in a different way, if your passion is, say, running don’t run to lose weight, run for the exhilaration!  restore the passion of whatever you do to fill your tank by rediscovering it like a 5 year old – with wonder & without expectation.

what is your core passion?  what do you do to feed it during busy times when it can get neglected?