Toys, toys and more toys!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010 | | 0 comments
Was I the only parent who began to have that nauseous feeling in their stomach when the collection of new toys from Christmas hit the toy room? A tornado has hit our toy room...

To avoid tackling this disaster I have walked away from this room mid motivational moments countless times. I have also managed to scrub down our microwave, oven and windows... I'm not avoiding this one bit!

Even as I write this I am 50% finished but have decided a blog break is a must. 

I feel overwhelmed and grateful that my children have so many people that love them in their lives who were so generous this Christmas. It also breaks my heart knowing that there are so many parents out there who would love to give their children over flowing toy boxes but can't. As much as I believe it's important to give back during the Christmas holidays I think it's so important to always remember the need even after these moments.  

All of our unused toys will be packed up and donated to a local charity. Hands on Keepsakes will also be making a donation to Kelowna Community Food Bank as a thank you to all of you who have supported us this past year.

We can't begin to thank you all enough for an amazing 2010! We're heading out tonight to celebrate with the men of Hands on Keepsakes and look forward to 2011!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year!

Art + Kids= Some Pretty Good Stats!

Saturday, December 18, 2010 | | 5 comments

"The only time I feel alive is when is when I'm painting." - Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night

I could stare at this all day. It reminds me of my sister who is an AMAZING painter and beyond talented.

Recently I came across some pretty crazy stats about kids and art. Side note...I'm a sucker for stats. If you're trying to get your point across to me give me a stat and I'm all ears!

In the January 2011 Today's Parent issue they have an article under their 'Steps & Stages' section called 'Encouraging creative play' (under the 3-5 years on page 93). They make suggestions for different types of creative play (art, drama, music, building and book corners).

Carol Reid, professor of Early Childhood education says creative play is valuale for preschooler because:
promotes problem solving
develops critical and abstract thinking
enhances kids' vocabularies and verbal skills
develops important social skills

Above was taken from the 'Encouraging creative play' from Today's Parent January 2011 article.

    Last winter our 'toy room' consisted of a basketball hoop, a hockey net and a zillion other toys. James didn't touch any toys and only wanted to play sports (which is great but would have been nice for him to pick up Thomas every now and again!). This year he is all about the toys and imaginative play. Sometimes I can hear him acting out each of the toys character's and I don't think there is anything quite like a child's imagination.

    We've been going to Family Sundays at the Kelowna Art Gallery for the last couple weeks. James absolutely loves it. The environment is perfect and the crafts are always much more exravagant that I would ever consider doing at home. It's an amazing program and we've now included it as a permanent weekend plan.

    Another option is 4 Cats Art Studio. I know Jemma (Sarah's daughter) loves this place and had her birthday party there this year. James and I are hoping to try it out in the New Year!

    Then comes the decision of how to display all this art work. There's always that good old fridge door!
    Many months ago amidst my blog reading I came across something that I knew I had to do. It seemed like the perfect solution for us because our 'toy room' is technically our dining room. Clearly we aren't hosting lavish dinner parties at this stage in our lives and quickly gave it a new purpose. Our toy room is an open flowing room to our living room. So I needed something simple and classy.
    I'm so excited with the result and how it turned out!!

    I think he likes it too!
    I custom ordered the wall vinyl and then proceeded to hang it crooked (major ugh!). Found the frames, cork board (thanks Devon!) and James painted them black.

    Got out my trusty glue gun, a little bit of hanging and tah dah!! 

    'James the builder' even helped put his artwork up. 

    I'd love to hear about how you display your children's art and any wonderful art opportunities out there for my budding van Gogh!

    Wishing you all a stress-free weekend before Christmas!

    The Grandparents are coming!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | | 0 comments
    Apparently it's -20 degrees C in England at the moment and they're up to their necks in the white stuff - almost literally!  Normally my relatives would be delighted to tell me this, it's the 'Anything you Canadians can do we can do better mentality', a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone right?  However their weather could put a real spanner in the works for our Christmas plans this year.  My parents are due to fly out a week today to share Christmas with us for the fourth time.  Normally I stress about having snow at this end, never at theirs, they haven't had a white Christmas in living warming?

    The first Christmas they came was 6 years ago my oldest was just 6 weeks old, we lived in a 2 bed tiny condo and they came for a month, everyone said we were crazy.  It was one of the best Christmas's ever.

     My Dad with a 6 week old Jemma

    Two years later I was the size of a small house and only 4 months pregnant!  I  remember so clearly writing Christmas cards and wondering what extra name I'd be adding next year.   We had oodles of snow and even at 2 Jem knew better than to wear gloves in the freezing cold!!

    My Mum and Dad and Daddy with helper.

    Fast forward another 2  years and Anniekins Anniebins is on the scene, 18 month old and already in charge of giving the pressies out.

    Christmas morning

    Another 2  years on and Annie is 3 1/2 and Jemma 6 and once again Mum and Dad are making the journey over.  We've been in Canada for 11 years now and we've lost count of how many times both sets of grandparents have come to see us.  On the years my parents don't come for Christmas my husbands parents do.  My kids have never had a Christmas without a Grandma & Grandpa visiting, unbelievable considering how far away they live.  We enjoy every moment with them, conscious that it might be the last trip they make, we have to be realistic after all.  I've been saying that for the last 11 years though, and, thank goodness for me they still keep coming.   All we need now is a big thaw in England!!

    I hope you're enjoying the season, have a wonderful week.

    The Newest Member...

    Monday, December 6, 2010 | | 2 comments
    The thought of designing and introducing a new item to our Personalized Silver Pendant line at the beginning of December during our busiest time of year is not the smartest idea I've ever had. But I couldn't help it and just had to make this...

    and the most exciting part...

    it's DOUBLE SIDED!!

    I have always loved the "O" necklace...

    and knew we could easily put a personalized spin on it!

    The circle is purposely an imperfect circle for an organic feel. Both sides are darkened to highlight your choice  of names and words. The pendant doesn't include a jump ring for easy access to each side (easily flipped). Of course if you prefer a jump ring we're happy to include one with your pendant.

    I made this pendant with two names on the front and an all time favorite line from the children's book Guess How Much I Love You. Many other options are available and as always we're excited to hear some of your ideas and designs! Our NEW Circle of Love Silver Pendant is available for purchase on our website and in our Etsy shop.

    I was beyond excited to not only get this design created that had been on my mind forever but to make it for a wonderful friend. The moment I knew this friendship would work was when I found out she's just as addicted to Etsy as I am (just kidding... well not really!).

    It's one of those friendships that is easy, enjoyable and refreshing! She's an amazing cook (Quail/Kale caesar salad and quinoa!!), Mom and friend. I'm so thankful and lucky to have her in my life!

    Another thing I'm thankful for (and Sarah too!)... the amazing and busy Christmas season Hands on Keepsakes is having!! We are so thankful for all of the amazing support and orders! The Holiday Decorations are a hit and we can't explain how much it means to be a part of your Holiday Season. We are so grateful!

    Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season!

    Do you Kiva?

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 | | 2 comments
    For Mother's Day 2 years ago I got an I-Pod, it is definitely the most used gift I've ever received, I'm not sure my husband is as thrilled with the success of his present!

    I am a podcast junkie.  Whenever I'm on my own (or think I'm on my own), I am, as my better half calls it, 'podded up'.   I find it brilliant for keeping up with UK sport, especially football and at the moment how we`re (England that is) doing in the cricket in Australia.  One of the other podcasts I`ve got a little obsessed with is `Stuff You Should Know`, or the catchy abbreviation SYSK! ( This is their Facebook page ) They cover a different topic in each program, (the podcasts come out on Tuesdays and Thursday) and they vary widely.  Last week they covered `Male Circumcision` and `How the Rules of War Work` but if you go back further in their back catalog you might come across `How Growops Work` or the inside scoop on `Freemasons` there is no topic they are not willing to get their teeth into, they did a fabulous one on the octopus and equally as interesting on how prisons really work.

    SYSK also brought to my attention a really cool charity called Kiva .  Simply put any money you donate is lent to entrepreneurs in countries of need, they then use this money to start their own approved business.  It might be to buy a sewing machine so they can make or repair clothes from home or a bigger project like opening a store, a bit like podcasts the opportunities are endless.  The amount and length of the loan are agreed and as a donor you can chose to get your money back at the end of the loan period or put it back into the pot so it can be loaned out again.  It`s like the saying goes `give a man a fish and he`ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and you`ll feed him for life`.

    Kiva also sell gift cards which can be redeemed on-line, perfect for that difficult to buy for person on your list, my mother-in-law is down for one this year.   It may not be buying `handmade` but it is letting someone else make handmade and surely that`s as good a gift as you can give.

    You may not be able to open it but a Kiva gift is still very special

    Enjoy your holiday preparations and have a wonderful weekend.

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