Posts in Category: Kid Activities

Throwback Thursday: Snow Days

The 1st year we lived in this sweet town close to the water, I had a newborn and a toddler with a husband who toured a lot as a musician, 6 weeks of which were spent in Norway during the dead of said winter. THAT was fun. I thought to myself many a time as I bulldozed my way through the drifts, no way, never again. The next year we hooked up snow removal and the winter was light. So we said to each other, not next year!

But….isn’t it romantic? Isn’t it lovely? All of this snow? Had you pronounced such open-ended questions a year ago, I would have given you the side eye. Living in the north is not for the faint of heart during the winter. With snow that accumulates hip deep you best invest in a snowblower, snow removal service or reaaaalllly enjoy shovelling snow. Or, have teenagers. Or amazing neighbours. People who you let in and share your story with, the good and the bad.

The beginning of winter last year met us with sickness and injury. I had fallen and cracked a couple of my ribs, seriously messing up my arm and hip. My husband had just been diagnosed with chronic gout, was on a cane and had to keep his foot elevated a majority of the time. And because we are neighbourly, and because I share in our stories, our neighbours knew what we were going through. Time and time again, our driveway would be ploughed by the kind souls on our street. I can remember one early morning in particular, when I was aiming to get the kids to school on time and there was no backing out of our garage. Stupidly, I attempted it and got stuck. I began digging my way out …ribs throbbing, mind beginning to melt with frustration. Life just felt like a series of slams and I could not keep up.

I got out of that driveway and my husband and I focused on the hard work at hand. Complete health and wellness overhaul. Lots of relationship ho-downs and show-downs. In the end, our love prevailed and we met each seemingly insurmountable mountain and series of tasks, determined more than ever to get better, get fit and get ahead.

How are we today? Well, for starters, I’m romanticizing over the snow even though my hip is throbbing from falling on an ice chunk tobogganing with my kids (being clumsy, apparently, is something I can’t shake). My husband had his first gout flare-up in almost a year over the weekend, forcing us to completely cease-halt on a fitness program we had begun together. A year ago, something like that would have really gotten him down. It would have kept him from riding his bike to the train station, something he truly loves doing. We probably would have started fighting. There must be something to this personal development and self-care that we’ve been focusing on both individually and as a couple, because instead of going to separate rooms to binge out on Netflix, in attempts to blot out the dark, cold grip of winter, we lit some candles and did some PiYO instead. And we got a little sweat on, we laughed and we just ENJOYED ourselves.

I’m no spiritual guru, but I’m pretty sure we’re onto something. And we do it all for our kids just as much as we do it for ourselves.


Summer Rules


It’s that time of year. Wherein visions of sticky fingers, couch fort surfing ninjago divers and the threat of boredom all loom on the horizon. With the end of the school year gone, done and finished, two months of having our kids home full-time lies ahead for our little our family, much like many others everywhere. And while we have a calendar scheduled with camping, adventuring and a couple of day-camps planned out, there are still lots of blank spaces, un-planned days and work to be done. On purpose.
1 What’s this mom to do when she works from home and decides that this is the very last summer she may have her kids home full-time? Well, she thinks she can juggle it all and vows to savour the crazed energy and excitement of it all. That somehow she’ll get her work done and not slam her kids down in front of the T.V. constantly to make that happen. All of a sudden she finds herself talk-typing in the third person even though she hates that shit.

Is it guilt that made me take such a leap? No. After all, it’s just, One. Last. Summer.

One last summer before my youngest starts school full-time in the autumn.
IMG_1924 I’ve done this maybe a few times before and the summer-break months always fly by at break-neck speed. Somehow everything ends up being alright in the land of parental responsibilites and deadlines. Mostly it’s a yearning. A yearning to embrace a slower pace and be in the moment. These moments of early parenthood are slipping between my fingers. There’s only so much time I have left to paint old fences with murals with them and run through sprinklers and muck about making general little-kid-kind magic.
2 How long do I have before they won’t want to go to the splash pad with me? Or the park? How long before they stop wanting to cut out shapes and toss glitter around like confetti under the shade of our backyard maple tree? Not long. Sure, these sweet things will turn into other sweet things as they grow and their interests evolve.
IMG_1390 And yet, right now … I’m very aware that I’m on the trail end of one of the most treasured, memorable stages in parenting. I’m exiting these early years with one who has two feet out the door and one with but a year left. So. To treasure and adventure and savour it is. Everything else will be okay. However, we’re gonna have to lay down some house rules, becasue things can get cray real fast without them. Not that my kids are going to necessarily listen to all of these rules, because perfect they are not. And true, some of these are clearly just being released out into the internets for my own amusement/sanity. And perhaps yours.

MILLS SUMMER HOUSE RULES 2015 (*Subject to change at any given moment*)

Pictures of Recently Made Things

1 The winter has been long and the crafting and visualizing and dreaming and mapping and tackling has been much. Here’s a bit of what our hands have been up to, feeding our spirits and continuing to make our home uniquely our own. Where our hearts live and dragons breathe fire on occasion, when it all becomes too much. So we make felt and pipe cleaner crowns and wands and hope it’s magic enough until the frost breaks. (Which it did, and then it didn’t, and then it did … and we’re currently in a state of blizzardy DIDN’T.) The making of said crowns and wands turned more into a mom-craft than a kid-craft as they lost interest, but they still have fun playing with them anyways.

Our home: where no one else knows and no one else but us, my little family … sees the joys and failures of each day. As long as we use our hands to gather hugs, make art and build pretty things, I’m confident, all will be fine. I know I breathe fire a lot less when tapping into creativity and art. Something I hope to continue to pass onto my chldren. Play is the work of childhood after all, as Maria Montessori so simple yet brilliantly coined many moons ago.

Below are some floating shelves I’ve been conjuring upon since last summer, using galvanized steel, pine I measured, had cut at the good ‘ole Home Depot, stained and cured myself. Of course I measured the pipe I had cut wrong, but everything else was perfect, I swear! If not for some very good friends who came over to help, we would have been doomed. (I’m talking to you Sean! And Char, your lovely wife for holding up the windows that I had to take down one by one and clean, inclding all the runners and all the yuck. At 10 o’clock at night. When you were both supposed to be our dinner guests. And I fed you vegetarian that was spicy. Becasue of course.)

Anyways, aren’t they pretty? I had a hard time getting good photos since the shelves hover over a window, hence an epic battle with natural light and all, but you’ll have to trust me, they are quite dreamy and my kicthen is slowly turning into the unique, totally custom, inviting headquartes of magic-making, love-making, , ecclectic, homestead-y, jungalow type of warmth that I’ve been dreaming about … 

Hearburst: That Time My Son Recorded His First Album at 5 Years Old [VIDEO]

What else can I say? I’m feeling truly blessed this weekned, what a wonderful way to bring in the spirit of growth, renewal and energy. My boy has been wanting to “record his own album”, for months now and began as any serious songwroter does, by putting together lyrics and melodies with his success partner (his dad).

Here’s a little b-side roll of yesterday’s production session in Wyndham’s grandfather’s studio. We went to have some family time since we heard tell that the a certain bunny was making the rounds at their house extra special like, and ended up getting way more than ew bargained for!

This particular song, “Statues Are Picture of People”, was written by Wyndham right around the time that his dad was diagnosed with gout and he was wrapping his sweet little brain and heart around the entire concept, in trying to understand why his dad was rendered immobile from the once very active, wrestling jungle gym that he usuallu was. What amazing minds children have when given the chance to flourish.

(Things are looking much better now for Trev is that regard and he’s often back to his rowdy, scream inducing ways with the little ones, no worries.)  

Soul Rewards: Dad Wears Boa, Daughter Has Giggle-Fit, Mom and Son Shake it Off [VIDEO]

Shake It Off

Perhaps some of you might have noticed this new fitness journey I’ve embarked on, perhaps not. At any rate … the tribe of women who are keeping me accountable have gone a long way in restoring my faith in, well, myself. But more on that later. Right now we have a little dance party we’d like to share with you. It’s no big production, just us … my sweet family and I getting a little sweaty and having a lot of fun.

So, to my coach who asked us to rev things up mid month and “shake-off” any feelings of negativity or low-energy that we may be having, thank-you. Transformations are happening all over the place and one of my biggest “whys” … my family; is definitely presenting to be my daily source of affirmation and inspiration. Health and wellness revolve around every aspect of our lives, if we acknowledge and respect them as the roadmaps to a better life that they are. Not just for ourselves, but for those we love most.

And it can be as simple as a family dance party on a weeknight before dinner. Boas and tutus optional, although highly recommended…

Up Close and Personal With The Rainbow Plate

Boys with plates & rainbow

Subscribers and friends here will know, that children’s food and nutrition is something that we take very seriously. In making food as fun as possible sort of way, especially when it comes to teaching and sharing with kids about the bounty of nature and the pure joy and allure that various types of fresh food and cuisine can offer in our daily lives.

Of this (and more), a company such as The Rainbow Plate need not preach to us about. Which is one of the many reasons I love what they’re doing as a company. The don’t preach. They focus less on nutrition lessons and more on inspiring people to simply embrace real food. With a hands-on approach to their programming and supportive resources, they expose people to a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, spark imaginations and cultivate healthy habits. You can can quite easily imagine how smoothly they create a connection betwixt food, play and imagination; getting kids excited about food and for adults to support and nurture kids to become lifelong thoughtful eaters.

Fine Motor Skill Development, Counting and Pattern Making in One Simple Activity: Beading


We set out to make necklaces and what began as a craft activity, turned into a great learning experience as well. As is often the case when making and creating with kids. Abby was very excited at the prospect of making her own necklace and that excitement rubbed off on me. I had to make one too, because why not? I’m really enjoying our days together and feeling good about ‘working’ less to keep her home until she starts school in kindergarten. The rate at which both of my kids are growing is glaring me in the face. All of those past annoying mantras and expressions about the early years being such a fleeting time that we (moms, parents) really should cherish are starting to be less annoying. So I’m savouring. I’m cherishing. I’m positive she is too, given the amount of times she vocalized very precisely not wanting to go to preschool anymore and to stay home with me. It was an everyday occurrence. While I may not savour working more in the evenings, now that my days are mostly filled with playing with her and teaching her … I am extremely privileged in that I can make this happen for us; that I do work from home and that I have a flexible schedule to give us these next 6 months together.

The Developmental and Emotional Benefits of Beading With Kids

  • Fine | Visual Motor Skills: grasping, in-hand manipulation skills, eye-hand co-ordination
  • Visual Perception: scanning and using their visual memory to make patterns
  • Cognitive Skills: math and planning
  • Benefits: well ya know…improved skills in all of the areas mentioned above, as well as getting dressed: doing up their own buttons, (obviously not after ONE beading sesh together, but make it a regular activity and BOOM, more self-sufficient kids. You’re welcome) improved pencil, crayon and paint-brush grasp for writing and art making. Improved sense of confidence and accomplishment. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all? Spending time with YOU! Creating something with your child is a great way to bond with them. Playing with our kids is an everyday way to bring up their serotonin levels. It has been proven time and again, that they have a psychological and physical approach to spending time with us that they don’t have with other people! Endorphins let loose and spirits soar.


What You’ll Need:

Bit and Pieces: Holiday Recitals + Concerts 2014

“Dance,” we whispered. “Sing!” We exclaimed. And so they did…with little to no goading at all, really. Because they are children. Beautiful, musical, sprightly little beings who love nothing better than to put on a show. Except of course if it’s in front of a huge crowd under big bright lights. But they got there and loved it in the end. To see their beaming faces full of pride after felt dang good. Like Sunday morning cuddles and breakfast in bed.

Jen and I…and our littles, we are all lucky to be developing such friendships. Our youngest two, her boy Mikey and my girl Abby attend the same performing arts “academy” (daycare, ahem).

This place is serious. I mean, there’s full-on dance and music studio classrooms at their school, with a singer-songwriter on the payroll who makes the daily rounds. They do tap, ballet and all sorts of other adorable things. There’s a BARRE in the dance room, complete with official mirrored wall. So of course they performed their own rendition of ‘The Grinch’, with a random toss-in of ‘Let It Go’. Obviously.

As for my boy Wyndham, well…I was busy a tad busy helping coordinate a couple of holiday concert fundraisers at his school and we were lucky enough to host two nights of entertainment for the students, faculty, family and friends for all of the grades: K-8! All of the performers donated their time and the students all collaborated in each classroom to create Silent Art Auction pieces! We all continue to feel deep gratitude towards The Monkey Bunch, Evalyn Parry, Sarah Beatty, Mr. Mills (our favourite guys around here) and the Johnson Street Public School Student Council and faculty for helping to produce two such fantastic evenings of live music and art! Special thanks to The Good Lovelies as well for donating two CD bundles to auction off each respective night!

I’m a bit late in sharing the photos because, Christmas, so enjoy! (All photos of Abby and Mikey’s recital were taken by their immensely talented dad Doug Bedard, aka PLEX, aka Jen’s man, who also donated his musical talents for one of Wyndham’s school concerts. Thanks Doug!


Big Sister Is Watching [VIDEO]: How GoldieBlox Rages Against The BS Machine


Big Sister IS Watching

If you haven’t heard about GoldieBlox, the Kickstarter toy company success story of 2013, then hello. Welcome parents of little girls who want their daughters to know they are so much more than a princess. I am impressed and altogether smitten with this company, its mission and vision, products and genuine desire to be a part of positive change in the landscape of how little girls think of themselves, what kind of role models they have and how they value themselves. The bonus? Metric, a fantastic Canadian band is the soundtrack. Awe yea.

Founder Debbie Sterling has brought the company a long way with a whole line of story, construction, movie-making and engineering sets for girls. (And clothes!) What’s the goal? Well, if it isn’t obvious already, GoldieBlox aims to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers by giving these young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

Today I was presented with a brand new video created by the mad geniuses over at GoldieBlox, called: Big Sister is Watching, to promote their new Zipline Action Figure. Yea, a Zipline Action Figure. The video is feisty, excellently produced, short and to the point. It’s their way of raging against the BS machine and ending the reign of fashion dolls. Which, we all know is a mighty feat. Right here in my own home I am raising a Princess obsessed little girl. Suffice to say that I am stoked there is finally something else that I can introduce her to to. A new kind of ‘doll’ that helps to even out the onslaught of heels, lipstick and sparkle; with characters that are cool, interesting, smart, and relatable.

It’s That Time of Year Again: Unleashed in The Apple Orchard

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