Monday, 29 September 2014

Fingerprint Turkey Craft

It's time to decorate the home and the holiday table with some seasonal crafting. My boys and I love getting in the spirit of any holiday by digging through the craft drawers and using our imaginations to come up with fun new craft ideas for each holiday. Here are some fun turkey craft ideas for Thanksgiving!

Fingerprint turkey craft, Thanksgiving craft, kids craft
Fingerprint Turkey
To make the fingerprint turkey dip fingers in paint and press on paper for the body and tail feathers, then stick on bendable wax for the feet and beak, a bead for the eye and felt for the waddle.

Gobble Gobble!

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Thanksgiving Crafts

Though the summer sunshine is still here and the kids are only just back to school, fall is right around the corner and before we know it Thanksgiving will be upon us. Time for some holiday crafting! Here are some of my favourite finds for crafting with the kids this season.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Fun at the Firehouse

Although this time of year is very busy for our family with the end of the summer sports season overlapping with tryouts for next year's season and both back-to-school and a couple of our kids' birthdays all happening one on top of another we still try to squeeze in a little bit of non-soccer-related family fun when we can.

Fire station open house swagThis weekend was our local fire station's open house - a free community event with firetruck bouncy castles and slides, fire hydrant mini-golf and a smoke tunnel obstacle course, games and crafts and a train ride for little ones.

The firehouse was open for tours, fire trucks were set up and open to explore, and we watched the fire crew completely take apart a car in a rescue demonstration.

The kids got their own fire hats and had a chance to practice putting out fires with the fire hose.

I love living in a community with so many fun, free family activities! Check out your local town website, library notice board, and signs at the community centres - you'd be astonished to find out how many organized activities are available in your own community!

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Tryout Season

It's that time of year, when the summer soccer season starts to wind down and our focus turns to next year's team. Tryout season.

As our boys get older the season seems to last a little bit longer every summer - another couple of practices, an extra technical training, one more week of games. No longer does Labour Day weekend and back-to-school mean our summer sports season is at an end. This year, our playing season actually overlapped with tryouts for next year's team. My older son's final game of the season was last week and my younger son's final tournament was this past weekend. Both sets of tryouts also started this weekend. For both clubs - they're each trying out for two clubs this year, just in case.

This means that over the course of eleven days my two boys have seventeen tryouts.

This weekend was a gong show. I had to be at Older Son's first tryout for his first-choice team, which happened to be scheduled at the exact same time on Saturday morning as the tournament for Younger Son's team - which I manage. Older Son and I dropped off my husband and younger son at the tournament with the team tents and benches, found our fields, dropped off the game sheets with the coaches and ref fees with the referees, picked up the players' medals and left my husband to take over organizing the kids and parents as they arrived. We raced across the city to the tryout field where my oldest son, his teammates from last year, and a couple of dozen new boys from all over the city drilled and scrimmaged for an hour and a half while the coaches and technical staff hovered with clipboards and the soccer moms slowly died on the sidelines. Then we raced back across the city just in time for Younger Son's second game and an end-of-season pizza party I'd organized for the players.

Sunday was scheduled from front to back with another morning tryout for Oldest Son with his first-choice team, a second tryout an hour later in the next town over for his second-choice team, and a quick drop-off-and-pick-up at home to switch kids for Youngest Son's first tryout for his second-choice team.

And suddenly, just like that, we're in tryout season. This year's soccer season has ended and next year's has begun.

We have tryouts every evening this week and next, and next weekend will look a lot like this weekend's did with overlapping tryouts at different fields at the same time and all day long. And then it will all be done. A week and a half whirlwind of endless tryouts for multiple kids at multiple clubs in multiple towns so busy we can barely breathe and then - it's over. We wait. And worry. And wait. And lose sleep. And wait. And wait some more.

There's nothing worse than that week of waiting while the coaches pore over their evaluations and discuss and debate and make their decisions. That week of checking email and voicemail every fifteen seconds or so - just in case. That week where we think about nothing else, talk about nothing else, write out lists of players and possible team configurations amongst ourselves and try to imagine every possible outcome and second-guess every possible decision that might be made. It's gut-wrenching.

Tryout season is by far the most stressful time of year for our family.

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Competitive Banquet

Another long season of soccer has come to an end - eleven months of training, four practices per week, a full summer of weekly games and tournaments every weekend, volunteering and fundraising commitments, fourteen hours' commitment per week and another almost twenty hours' work for Mom as manager for both teams. We're exhausted - but so proud of our little soccer superstars. And what better way to celebrate a whole year of hard work than with a big night out?

Banquet, banquet hall, disco ball, strobe lightsThe year the soccer club hosted their end-of-year competitive banquet as a formal event at a high-end banquet hall. It was a night to remember for the kids - fancy dress, formal table seating, a big buffet dinner and dancing to a DJ all night long. It was the sort of special night out kids don't often get to attend - a real grown-up event designed just for them.

My boys were so excited when we walked in and they took it all in - pounding music, strobe lights and disco balls, table linens and balloons and streamers in the club colours, a slide show of all the rep players and teams playing on two enormous projection tv's on either side of the glittering trophy table above stage. It was more than they'd dreamed.

What an amazing treat to celebrate a successful season and a year's hard work for my little athletes and their teammates.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Minecraft Party

Minecraft Creeper cake, Minecraft cake, baking, fondant, Minecraft party, kids party, cake decorating

For my son's tenth birthday we did a Minecraft-themed party - Creeper cakes, licorice TNT, Creeper rice cereal squares, and plates of gold ore (cantalope) and redstone (strawberries).

Minecraft partyFor the licorice TNT, I cut lengths of red licorice into thirds and bundled them together with ribbon.

The TNT boxes were made from simple folded paper.

Minecraft party, Creeper squaresFor the Creeper rice cereal squares I made the squares according to the usual recipe, then added green food colouring to the melted marshmallow mix before adding the rice cereal.

The face details were added using homemade rolled marshmallow fondant coloured black.

The Creeper cakes were incredibly time-consuming and labour-intensive. I started with two double-layered square cakes iced together and chilled.

I then made an enormous batch of green marshmallow fondant, rolled it and cut it into fifty equal squares.

I placed the squares on the cakes with tiny spaces in between to mimic the pixelated look of the game and characters.

Minecraft party, Creeper cake

I then mixed up a batch of black food colouring and painted on Creeper's face details with a miniature basting brush.

Minecraft party, Creeper tissue paper puffs

Every corner of the room was crammed with Creeper tissue paper puffs.

My son was out of his mind when we surprised him with his Minecraft-themed birthday party!

Minecraft party

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Hamburger Cupcakes

hamburger cupcakes, baking, birthday cake, hamburgers, kids, kids birthday, desserts

Burgers have been my son's favourite food ever since he was a little boy, so for his birthday dinner every year burgers are his first request. This year, for his tenth birthday, I added a twist - hamburger cupcakes for dessert!

1. Bake a dozen regular vanilla cupcakes and a dozen mini chocolate cupcakes (just fill the cup with about a third of the batter you normally would.)

2. When cupcakes are cooled, carefully remove the paper cups and cut the vanilla cupcakes ("buns") in half width-wise.

3. Place the chocolate mini cupcakes ("patty") upside-down on top of the bottom half of the vanilla cupcake.

4. Make and colour green, red and yellow fondant. Roll out and cut the green fondant as "lettuce leaves" and place on top of the "patty." Shape and drape the red and yellow fondant on top for ketchup and mustard.

5. Place the top half of the vanilla cupcake on top and sprinkle with sugar.

It's a time-consuming project, but well worth it for the result. My burger-obsessed birthday boy was out of his mind with excitement over these hamburger cupcakes!

hamburger cupcakes

hamburger cupcakes

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Milestone Birthday (My Baby's Growing Up)

My oldest son turns ten years old today.

Ten. Years. Old.

My sweet, squishy baby. My innocent little angel. Ten years old.

Ten years ago today he came into the world and changed my world forever - changed who I was, changed how I saw the world, changed my whole life. The day he was born I learned how much my heart could love.

For ten years we have lived and learned together. For ten years I have learned from him as he explores and discovers the world with that wide-eyed mixture of wonder and curiosity and joy that only children have. For ten years I have watched him grow from a baby to a boy, awestruck and amazed and bursting with pride over the person he's become. For ten years my heart has broken every day with love.

I love his sweetness, his selflessness, his sensitivity, his big-heartedness. I love watching him with his brothers and seeing how much they all adore each other. I love his curiosity, his creativity, his enthusiasm for everything. I love listening to his stories, eagerly describing his day at school or the scene he just read in his book or the alternate ending he imagines for the movie he just watched. I love how passionate he is about the things he loves and how determined he is when he sets a goal. I love how carefree and casual and easy-going he is, friends with everyone, gliding through life with an easy, cheerful smile.

I can't believe my baby boy is ten years old already - big enough that he's more the young man he will one day be than the baby he once was, small enough that he still crawls into my lap for snuggles. The time goes so quickly, the moments become memories in the blink of an eye.

hamburger cupcakes, birthday cake, kids birthday, baking, fondant
Hamburger Cupcakes for my burger-obsessed boy!
Happy Birthday to my big little boy, my angel, my love.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Melted Crayon Shavings Craft

Melted crayon shavings craft, crafts, kids crafts, fall crafts

Here's a great way to use up all of those broken bits of crayons we all have lying around the house - melted crayon shavings artwork!

1. Gather all the broken bits of crayon you can find. Using a sharp knife or cheese grater, shave the crayons down into small bits. (An adult will have to take care of this part.)

2. Sprinkle the crayon shavings onto a piece of paper or parchment paper in a pattern or picture.

3. Spray another piece of parchment paper with water. Place water-side down on top of picture. Press with a heated iron until wax melts. (Another job for Mom or Dad!)

4. Let the wax cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove the top layer of parchment paper.

Voila! Colourful wax artwork made from melted crayon shavings!

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Monday, 8 September 2014

Make-Your-Own Crayon Craft

Homemade crayons, crafts, kids crafts

If you have kids, your house is full of crayons. No-one even knows where they came from - a box or two bought when the kids were toddlers and first able to grip them with their chubby fingers for those first scribbles, a couple of boxes received as gifts over the years, an emergency box popped in your purse to prevent boredom meltdowns when you're out - suddenly one day you realize there are literally thousands of crayons in a half-dozen locations all over your house.

We have an enormous Rubbermaid bin full of crayons at the craft table in our playroom. And, like every crayon collection, at least half of them are broken. What to do with all those little broken bits of coloured wax? Melt them down to make new crayons!

1. Pick out all the broken crayon bits you want to use up and peel the paper off carefully.

2. Line muffin tins or silicone trays with aluminum foil. If using muffin tins, place a cookie cutter shape inside to create the crayon shape. We used puzzle-shaped silicone trays for our shapes - the oven-safe silicone is very easy to bend and pop out the shapes.

3. Fill the trays with the broken crayon bits.

4. Place in 200F oven until crayon bits are melted - make sure they look like liquid all the way through without any solid chunks left. (Ours took about 45 minutes.)

5. Remove from oven and leave in trays until cooled completely. Remove crayons and enjoy!

make your own crayon craft
 make your own crayon craft

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Wednesday, 3 September 2014


My babies have gone back to school.

I know I'm supposed to be jumping for joy, dancing in the driveway as I gleefully wave good-bye, the refrain from Andy Williams' Most Wonderful Time of the Year swelling in my head before I sit back and sip at my morning coffee in serene silence. But...I'm not.

I miss my boys.

I love our summers at home together. I love our fun family field trips, the zoo and the botanical garden and the Ex, and I love our lazy days at home. I love bike riding through the neighbourhood and hiking in the ravine and playing at the park. I love playing in the sandbox and swimming in the pool and making murals with sidewalk chalk. I love picnicking and playing soccer and going to the splash pad. I love lounging around in jammies all morning and playing board games for hours and curling up together to read and watch movies. I love having my boys home.

And now they're back to school, another year older, another grade older, off to learn and grow a little more every day - and I miss them like crazy.

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Family Time (A day off with the kids)
Family Time (A day off with the kids)