Monday, February 6, 2017

Bronte 3.5

Time for another update on Bronte. Little B is almost three & a half, well into the "threenager" stage. She still really likes to help & is often willing to do exactly what I ask her to do... unless of course she isn't. Then nobody, nothing can make her change her mind. I keep trying to remind myself that her assertiveness will serve her well when she's older, but man it can be hard to parent a kid this fiery.

I'm really enjoying how much she's been into drawing & painting lately. She paints several pieces every day with the tempera paints on her little easel set up in the kitchen. Most of them are black & white, lately they're portraits of people or bunnies, often painted with a particular recipient in mind--her friends, preschool teachers, mama, papa. I recently saw a photo of her & a little drawing she did a year ago--her illustrations of people have come a long way. They still look a lot like potatoes with limbs, but there is a lot more complexity, with things like eyelashes, pupils, hair, ears, fingers, etc.

She's still really into singing & does it often throughout the day, improvising new lyrics to the songs she's learned in preschool. Her current favourite is one about rain turning into lemon drops & gumdrops.

B has also been pretty excited about all the snow we've had in the past couple of months. She seems fairly immune to the cold (she's got a lot of northern European blood in her, clearly) & will often refuse to wear warmer mittens or even a jacket when out in single digit temperatures. Whenever Oli or I go out to shovel the sidewalk, she has to come out & help, leaving clumps of salt on the steps or moving the snow around with a little toy shovel.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Modo is 20!

I'm coming up on my 14th anniversary as a Modo member, but the organization has been around for 20 years now! It's amazing to see how it all started--check out this short video Modo put together for the big 2-0:

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Take your Blog to Book with BookWright by Blurb

**I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for supporting Spokesmama!
Blog to book with Blurb's Bookwright!
I've been writing here at Spokesmama, formerly The Sprog for about seven years now. Though I've had the best intentions, I've been rather haphazard with printing photos & creating scrapbooks as the kids have grown from newborns to little people that they are now. I have put a lot of effort into this digital space, but sometimes I'd just like it to be more tangible.

So I was pretty excited to hear about one of Blurb's latest book creation tools. Blurb offers a new feature that helps bloggers to take content from their site & easily slot it into a template to create a real, actual book you can hold in your hands. This new feature accepts just about any blog building tool, including Blogger, Wordpress, & Squarespace, pulling text & images directly into the tool.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Seriously, though, it isn't. You have total control by converting blog pages into your own print-ready layouts with BookWright’s help. I'm really into the idea as a way to create that baby book I'd neglected, but this tool is a great opportunity to build your business brand or create profit opportunities from content you already have by making a digital or print book. Can't wait to try it--stay tuned for a review in future...

Learn more about BookWright right here.

**I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for supporting Spokesmama! 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Back on two wheels

Went to walk across frozen Trout Lake, along with most of Vancouver
Hello there & happy new year! Hope your holidays were fantastic, or at least not too stressful. We did a lot of sleeping in & eating sugary stuff. We also tried to take advantage of the actual proper Canadian winter that descended on Vancouver for the last five weeks & counting.

I am an all weather, all year round cyclist, partly because I like the challenge, but also because even when it's cold or wet, it's more convenient that transit & not painful like walking (on my arthritic hip) can be for me. But. Big but. We had to seriously cut back on biking once the fluffy, somewhat dry snow transformed into packed lumpy ice alternating with slush everywhere. #VikingBiking doesn't work that well here in Vancouver's wet winters. The iciness of the roads & the lack of control & respect from drivers kept even us off our bikes for most of December.

#BikeToSchool every damn day. Almost.
If I'd looked into the long term forecast in the beginning of December & imagined how what has turned out to be the longest cold snap in my lifetime would impact me, I'd have bought studded winter tires back then. But I didn't realize they'd be necessary until it was too late & they became a scarce commodity. Lesson learned for next year--I'm still hoping to find some near the end of the season for future use.

Aaaaaaaanyway, the winter seems to be fading a bit. It's still chilly today, but we haven't had a proper dump of snow  in over a week & the ice is finally melting on most sidewalks & side streets in our area. Which means we're back to riding most places again.

Thrilled to bike (not walk) this load home
This whole experience has really driven home how much cycling keeps me happy. I don't need to tell you about exercise & endorphins & all that--just the regular physical activity is obviously good for us. Biking keeps my body weight mostly off my hip joint, unlike walking, so it means a lot less pain, which has a huge impact on my mood. Getting out of the house, into the sun (vitamin D!) is beneficial just for a change of scenery. The bakfiets also makes getting groceries a lot easier--carrying bags of groceries while walking even a few blocks is a special kind of hell.

For a family, it's also a lot cheaper than driving or taking transit. For all of us to take transit on an outing now costs about $12, which really adds up if you're doing it most days of the week. tThen there's the kids' happiness to think about. Though they can walk quite far for their ages, the 6km round trip to Linny's school is too much for either of them. He seemed to enjoy the 45 minute walk with me the first day back at school, then day two? Oh, the whining. Too far, too cold, too fast, too slippery. If I can just pop him into the bakfiets & zip him to school in 15 minutes, we're all happier.

So here's hoping we won't have another month of actual winter & we'll get back to the balmy above zero dampness we're all used to here in Vancouver. See you on the bike paths!

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Bronte 3.4

Poor neglected second child's monthly updates get forgotten... Here's a brief recap of this past December in Bronte's world.

She did lots of drawing, including this large family portrait of us. As rabbits.

She really wants to ride her bike all the time, & made an attempt here. She got about a metre along the driveway, then her little wheels just spun out. Training wheels don't really help either.

After bugging me on & off for a couple of months after I dyed my hair, I finally coloured hers to match. I did just a patch on the top of her head, which created a streaked effect all around & in her bangs with the Punky colour. Since her hair is already so light, there was no need to bleach it.

I was actually amazed at how patient she was during the application of the dye & how she avoided touching it while it sat on her head. She was pretty pleased with the results.

The one consequence of dyeing a three-year-old's hair that I hadn't foreseen was that now everybody is constantly commenting on her appearance. It happens enough to little girls, driving home the gender stereotypes, but add in a bright pink hair colour & she gets even more attention for how she looks.

One of Bronte's favourite Christmas gifts was a decorate your own tutu kit from Auntie Sarah & Uncle Aaron. She insisted we do this shortly after receiving it & wore it around the house most of the day. There's a second kit that we still haven't done yet which involves decorating fairy wings. Both kits definitely require adult help but they're actually pretty good for a three-year-old, with chunky beads, buttons, & pompoms that have plastic tubes through them so they can be threaded onto the ribbon quite easily.

I'm really enjoying the fact that I've got a kid who's into crafty pursuits like I am.

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