Spring Break

I have nothing to do until September.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I have no Coquettes shows to work on until September, but I have plenty to keep busy with. Namely, parenting, which is my favorite full time job in my work history. I love my kids, and with our two weeks of March Break now concluded my days are so much less full; I wasn’t really sure how to start this week.

The Noodle is eating solids now, and sitting up mostly unassisted. He’s so long that his five-month-old body is wearing nine-month-old clothes, and his only intelligible word is “Mama”. Every day I love him a little bit more.

Hannu spent most of the break with her dad and I while Mama S whisked Aylu away to Texas to visit Auntie Crystal who just had her third little boy. Hannu and I got to bond over crafts, books, and baby. It was such a delight to have some real one-on-one time with her. She’s an angel, and that’s no exaggeration. We spent a leisurely weekend at the Niagara house working on building a Gnome Home for Ayla’s seventh birthday, and even Daddy got in on the fun. I also took Hannah to Smock – this fabulous craft café on Roncesvalles. She had a blast, and we need to go back there soon. It’s such a peaceful space, and I felt inspired just being there. 2013-03-19 13.40.24

Ayla came back from her trip mid-week during the last week of the break. She was a fire ball, and I had to get used to her amazing energy all over again. What an incredible girl. I harnessed her power in a very fun game of “Let’s Do Spring Cleaning”. She took such pleasure in cleaning our home together, and I was seriously impressed at her attention to detail. We cleaned and cooked and had a big celebration for the Equinox and Navroz, which is the Muslim New Year.  Our menu included sautéed asparagus with butter and lemon pepper, this amazing soufflé recipe from Alton Brown and this yummy strawberry rhubarb crumble for dessert which I found on Epicurious. I would make the crumble the day before next time, because it was so much better for dessert. Ha!

2013-03-21 17.46.45I’ve always wanted a ‘Spring Tree’ to decorate, so Nekky hacked some low-sprouting branches from the maple tree in the back yard and we potted them. I then spent all day on Thursday creating ornaments with the girls, and then we decorated our tree. When Hannah and I were out on our Roncesvalles adventure we picked up some pale pink tulips and pussy willows to adorn our home. It’s really quite festive in here. I think it’s really important to honour the changing seasons in our home because I think it helps to keep these city kids connected to nature. It’s also really meditative for me; I find myself really noticing the subtle changes that are starting to occur in our neighbourhood gardens while I’m out strolling with Noodle, and I’m really appreciating each increased degree in temperature.

Spring is all about new beginnings, and this is a huge theme in our household. Our home business is getting tired, and we are craving change, and greater prosperity and adventure. What happens when it looks like the end of the road is in sight for one era, and a new road is opening up before you? The three of us grown ups are united in our dreams of travel with our children, and a lifestyle that affords us such opportunity, and we all want to be pro-active in creating our own dream life. I want the very best life for my children, and that life consists of huge horizons, adventure, family and friends, opportunities to do good for the world, and a thirst for knowledge and experience. 2013-03-21 12.15.30

We are talking about exciting possibilities, we are making plans together and dreaming together, and working together to make great things happen for our family, and the very best part is that we are doing this together.

A French Artiste Party

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Our eldest daughter H wanted an artist party to celebrate her ninth birthday this year. Her actual birthday is September 11th, but because of two busy back-to-back weekends our earliest opportunity to celebrate was this past weekend. Our plans to host the event in our nearby park were foiled by the two week difference in seasonal change, and this left us faced with the reality of managing twenty-five kids in our not-so-big house. Fortunately, our amazing family came to the rescue.

We decided to up the ante a little by adding some flair to our theme and making it a French artist party, which went a long way towards pulling together food choices. Here’s how the day shook out, complete with incredible photos by Mama S.

• We had Daddy’s brother (the amazing Chacha) tarp our third floor patio and create a painting studio. We stocked the studio with dollar store canvases, paintbrushes, and acrylic paints and taped more tarp to the floor.

• Chacha also created a clay studio in H&A’s bedroom. Twenty-five pounds of clay was purchased on Amazon for super cheap, and we got dollar store sculpting tools.

• Mama S and I made red, white and blue giant tissue flowers and some black and white brocade tissue flowers to hang over the dining room table and living room.

• The cake was a giant custard-filled slab cake that Mama S carved into the shape of a palette complete with blobs of icing paint.

• H&A helped Daddy make the “loot” – we bought plastic palette trays from the dollar store and filled them with rainbow Skittles, M&Ms and Jelly Bellies. Then we used our shrink-wrap machine to keep it all together.

• Mama S found a great price for bulk packages of felt berets in bright primary colours on Amazon. We had one for each kid, and I insisted on completing the look with fake moustaches. The kids got to take this stuff home. Many of the kids came in “French painter” costumes too.

• Daddy’s sister (the fabulous Fui) took the girls to the park in the morning to help them blow off some pre-party crazy excitement. This helped us get all of the food prep done. Daddy’s mum fought through a head cold to help with this, and worked tirelessly afterward to help clean up the kitchen.

• Fui and Chacha basically ran the show upstairs with the kids, which was so, so appreciated!

• We served mini quiche (four different kinds), brie, goat cheese with dried cranberries, cubes of cheddar and baguette, grapes, profiteroles with chocolate drizzle, and an assortment of other pastries. The kids had either red or white grape juice in plastic wine glasses and the grown ups had the real deal

• Our dear friends Emily and Jordan agreed to dress up and make a surprise appearance as French Mimes. They were easily the highlight, and though I had to rescue them a couple of times from some over-zealous kids who were getting too physical, I think they had fun.

After the party, we recouped and recovered with family, and Mama S and Chacha did some kind of record-time clean up on H&A’s room, which looked like it had survived a mudslide. This helped ease my hormonal nerves, and got the girls into bed right on time. H said it was her best party yet, and A was a very charming co-host who enjoyed the fun and gave up the spotlight in a most gracious fashion. Score another one for the parents!