Thursday, April 16, 2015

Party-prepping season

Both of my children were born in the month of June, which was intentionally planned by my husband and I for one reason only: We hate throwing birthday parties and will do just about anything to get out of this task. (Including having our children born in the same month so as to only host one combined party each year.)

Seriously. That's how methodical we are I am.

Part of the problem is that I dread having large groups over at our too-small-for-entertaining home, especially if the weather is problematic and the kids can't play outside.

The other issue is that our kids have already been blessed with so many things that there's really nothing more that they need. That, and we really don't have the room for any more stuff in our lack-of-built-in-storage-space home.

For the last six months I've been planting the seed in my daughter's ear about having a "no gifts" party from now on, but it hasn't gone over very well. And, in her defense, I get it. She's four years old and is naturally just as excited about the gifts as she is about playing with her friends.

Recently, though, I seem to have found a solution, as was presented to me by this clip from the BT Parent Panel a few months ago:

YES. A thousand times YES.

I am all over this idea for a "two-toonie" birthday party for my kids.

In short, each child attending the party is to bring two toonies ($2 coins for the non-Canadians out there) instead of a gift. Half of the money received will go towards the birthday girl/boy's charity of choice, and the other half will go towards a gift they will later choose for themselves.

The benefits to this, in my opinion, are threefold:

1. It teaches children to give (to charities) and not just to receive.

2. It saves the parents of guests from having to dish out excessive money for presents that will inevitably just clutter up the host's home.

3. It reinforces the idea that the party is about celebrating and spending time with friends, rather than placing all the focus on gifts.

I introduced the idea to my daughter tonight and, although she wasn't overly thrilled with the idea of only getting one present, at least she didn't immediately shoot it down like she did with my "no gifts" proposal.

So what do you all think about this? Have you been to a "two-toonie" party before? How did it go over for everyone involved?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Time to SPARK-le?

For a few years during elementary school, I was a member of a nearby Brownie troop.

I wouldn't say I loved it or anything -- in fact, there were a number of things I really didn't like about attending each week. But I admit that I kind of missed it once I finally dropped out, and I secretly wished that I had stuck with it.

Recently some Girl Guides came to our door looking for portion-control victims selling their deliciously-addictive cookies, and my daughter was smitten. What could be cooler than going door-to-door selling cookies??

I explained to her that they do more than just sell cookies, but she still said she'd like to become a Girl Guide one day.

Looking into it a little further, I found that she'll be the right age to join a nearby Sparks troop in the fall. At first glance, the whole program looks pretty good.

While Sparks is kind of an introduction for the girls -- getting them used to meeting new people while doing fun things like scavenger hunts -- they'll then have to work their way up to becoming Brownies and Guides, etc.

And it seems that things have changed a bit since I was involved, at least in terms of the badges they'll earn. Things like Streetwise, Business Communications, and Feeling Good (where they learn to cope with stress) all seem very relevant in today's world. 

I don't personally know anyone else who is currently in Sparks / Brownies / Girl Guides, though, so I welcome any insight into these programs.

Is it still as worthwhile a program as it used to be for young girls? Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


You've heard of the blind leading the blind -- well this was hoarders helping hoarders.

A couple of my sisters came over a few weeks ago, essentially staging an intervention against the clutter that is my house, and helped to reorganize my kitchen.

This came about because, since we've been cleaning out my mom's house, I've been complaining that there are so many things of hers that I want to keep, but I just don't have the space for them in my home.

My mom's house has a tremendous amount of storage space, as well as a functionally-sized kitchen, whereas my house has neither of these two things.

So when my sisters first came over and did a walk-through of my entire house -- including *shudder* closets and cupboards -- the consensus was this: I need to get rid of some things.

And then they went to work, tearing apart my kitchen while I stood around helpless, hands on my cheeks, feeling completely overwhelmed.

But don't get me wrong -- it was actually really great.

I usually try to be a super-organized person, but I've just been so overwhelmed by, well, everything lately, and it's like I've been physically incapable of cleaning my own home.

I know that sounds ludicrous, but most days I wake up saying, "Okay, today's the day I'm going to tackle that closet / pantry / cabinet / fill-in-the-blank." And then I approach said task but just don't know where to start.... and so I don't. I don't start at all, and I continue to feel bogged down by the clutter.

Which is why I needed an intervention.

My sisters did such a great job in the kitchen -- I have counter space now, you guys!! -- that I want them to come back and do the rest of the house.

It's a tremendously vulnerable feeling, having someone come in and tear apart your home, but it needed to be done. And they reminded me that they, too, are hoarders in their own right, and that it's always easier to clean someone else's home rather than your own.

This could be true... or maybe they were just trying to spare my feelings. Either way, they heard my cry for help and gave me a much needed boost in my war against the clutter.