Monday, February 28, 2011


Did you watch last night?

I did - the whole shebang - and as a result I am nursing a mild Oscar hangover today. Ever since I made peace with the fact that I really do need nine full hours of sleep, I retire at the embarrassing hour of 10:00.  Staying up until midnight (because of a Post-Oscar snack of Nutella on Graham crackers that I regret doubly now that I see it in print) has knocked my circadian rhythm off its axis and I am not quite myself today. I know this not because I admitted to eating Nutella at ten to midnight, but because I find myself overcome with a need to understand Twitter. The thing that I mocked, then dismissed and then ignored is suddenly consuming my thoughts. Do I need Twitter in my life? Am I missing out? In the same way that my mother denied the existence of email until two years ago, preferring instead to call her daughters daily, I wonder if I am letting technology pass me by. To be fair to Twitter I never took the time to really understand it before categorically writing it off in a huff. I'm not sure - no where near sure - that it's something I will find relevant or fun or profitable or useful to my business or whatever other riches it's supposed to bear, but I think I am going to take a little peek. Just a little one. If my 68-year old mom can learn to Yahoo (and love it) then maybe I can learn to Twitter. I promise, however, that I will never say Tweet.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Superhero Party

Calling all superfriends.

My fella turns five at the end of March. It’s been difficult to button down a party theme (dinosaurs! racing! reptilia!) but in the end the Superhero won out. Usually we do parties at home and I spend two weeks leading up to the day giddy with enthusiasm and two days post-party fishing hot dogs out from under the couch and sipping Eno. As much as I love homespun parties, I believe that a birthday party should reflect the birthday kid and I knew that musical chairs and a puppet show wouldn't rock this kid's world. So the party is at a local indoor playground where he can run around like a goofball and enjoy unrestricted access to Cheezies. Despite the location, or maybe in spite of it, I see no reason to not have a themed party and I am determined to give this bash a few homemade touches.

Here’s my inspiration board:

Superhero Party Invitation at honeybunch
Bif! Pow! at Craftpad
Mask Template free printable from Ambrosia Girl
Superhero Party Sticker at honeybunch
Robin Poster at Design Modo
Superhero Cupcake Picks at Dash is Little
Superhero Capes project from Cookie Magazine

Decisions, decisions. I will attempt to strike a balance between my crafting instincts do to it up right and the reality that much of the effort will be lost on five-year olds who really only care about the jumpy castle, presents and the free-for-all Cheezies. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mom Inc. Book Launch Party Tonight

Tonight I'll be at Revival on College St. for the launch of Mom Inc., a how-to book for Canadian women interested in launching or growing a small business. The book is authored by Amy Ballon and Danielle Botterell who also happen to be successful entrepreneurs, having run their company, Admiral Road, since 2002. The Mom Inc. companion site is up and running and anyone in the beginning stages of business planning will find an absolute wealth of start-up information on such essentials as marketing plans, PR kits, and my favourite, financial statements. I was delighted to be one of the people interviewed in the book (though not for my financial prowess) and I can't wait to get my copy signed tonight. Yay mompreneurs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pattern Blocks: Loving A Classic

By virtue of being sick for four days and in need of the kind of cheering up that can only come from a new toy, my soon-to-be five year old son came into a Hot Wheels Octo Blaster thing last week.  He'd seen the commercials on television - you know, the ones filmed in slow motion so every choreographed crash is drawn out over five seconds. It really did give my heart a lift to see him so grateful and excited, though I knew that the box would be the most exciting thing about this toy. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the tentacle arms didn't shoot out blasts of water as promised, or that the colour shifting properties required a bath in water hot enough to make a cup of tea followed by a dip in a tank filled with water chilled with six Freezies. Within fifteen minutes the kitchen floor and his pyjamas were soaked and he'd wandered off to the living room...with the empty cardboard box.

Oh Octo Blast. I know your type. All flash and no substance. A classic TV toy. All your money spent on a big self-promoting commercial and none put into actually making yourself fun. Sigh. My kids have heard the rant before but until they experience firsthand the disappointment of a TV toy, they won't believe. So while I'd like to spare them the grief of a birthday wish wasted I know that I can't, not totally. Life is funny like that. What I can do is shine a light on toys that are actually interesting and fun to play with - toys that don't have their own TV commercials, catchy jingles and licensed pyjama deals - and bring some deserved attention to these laidback heroes of the playroom.

Let's take a look at Melissa & Doug's Animal Pattern Blocks, shall we? I love toys that work for different ages, so even if the box says ages three and up a five, six or seven year old could still play with it. Pattern blocks are an elementary teacher staple. The geometric shapes make them a perfect fit for primary math curriculum, but pre-kindergarten kids will also find them absorbing and satisfying. Some of the skills practiced through playing with pattern blocks:

  • experience how shapes work together and create new shapes
  • increase pattern recognition
  • practice shape recognition
  • master color recognition
  • learn beginning math concepts
  • practice creativity and problem solving - it takes some dexterity to place the tiles without disturbing other tiles, and also to determine which shape is needed to complete the scene.

The Melissa & Doug Animal Pattern Blocks set is nicely packaged and priced at $19.99. It comes with five double-sided animal scenes and 47 multi-shaped pattern blocks. It has an age rating of 3 years+. As a parent, I'd say this set could go easily to age five and maybe up to six before it becomes too easy or the animal patterns too juvenile.

There are some terrific alternative play ideas for Pattern Blocks here, from simple colour grouping and shape sorting for young kids to free-play ideas for older kids.

Pattern Block Templates:
If you already own pattern blocks and need some new patterns to play with, try Pattern Blocks Downloads. They have a bunch of free geometric templates, if your child is ready for a more challenging design.