Years, and I mean years, before I planned on having kid, I started buying children’s books. Anything strikingly beautiful & well-written that caught my eye was fair game, despite being in my mid 20s and having no real career or money. I bought The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsberg; Tuesday, by David Wiesner; The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Smoky Night, by Eve Bunting. I bought several others, including one that caught my eye in the gift shop of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Marguerite Makes a Book, by Bruce Robertson. Based on art historical research on French illuminated manuscripts of the 15th Century, Robertson wrote a children’s book about a girl named Marguerite, who helped her father paint a book of hours for an important patron.

In university I majored in Art and minored in Medieval European History, and later racked up another degree in print design, so naturally, illuminated manuscripts, those achingly beautiful and insanely detailed books that were lettered, drawn and painted by hand just before the advent of the printing press, are my particular obsession. Marguerite not only describes the paintings in the book of hours; the story itself is illustrated with illuminated letters, botanicals in the borders, and gold details that make each page sparkle in the light.

Making Paint1

I’ve been waiting to share this special book with my special little someone. I hoped that she would like it. I’d been hoping for about fifteen years that my kid, now six, would appreciate it. I had NO IDEA that there would be screams of delight, arm-grasping that cut off my circulation, profuse thank-yous, and a complete inability to settle down to sleep afterwards due to the excitement caused by the book. In the book, Marguerite goes to the libraire for gold leaf, the tanner for calfskin parchment, the market for eggs, goose feathers and parsley, and the apothecary for vermilion, wax, and lapis lazuli stone. When I mentioned to Aurora that we could make paint from the stuff in our own garden, she blew a gasket. If you want to talk about delayed gratification, this was it. For me, anyway. For her, she needed to MAKE HER OWN PAINT. Like, NOW!!!

Making Paint2

Aurora didn’t want to go to camp the next morning. I convinced her that there would be plenty of time to make paint in the afternoon, so after lunch, we got started.

Preparing egg whites

Preparing egg whites. Oops! A bit too foamy.

Crushing flower petals

Crushing brown eyed susan petals in our mortar and pestle.

Making Paint3

Peeling blueberry skins was, of course, Mommy’s job. Methinks I need a macro lens for Christmas (hint, hint).

Making Paint6

Aurora felt sure that melted popsicles would make good paint, too (they don’t).

Making Paint7

And then she did it! The most surprising result of the paint-making process was that light-purple sweet pea petals make a dark blue-green paint. Who knew?

The best part for me was feeling like I was really contributing something to Aurora’s education. So much of the time I carry around this huge weight of guilt for being a stay-at-home mom. With only one kid. Who is usually in school. I’ve been told by more than one aunt (and my friends are probably thinking it, too) that a woman should have her own career, her own money, and that it’s better for me and my daughter if I work outside the home, at least part time. Most of the time I agree with them. But then Aurora gets an idea. A great idea, and I am already on my feet, running to the supply cabinets, getting out the materials, and we spend hours working on something that is really cool together. We make books, we learn new crafts, we explore our city.

Now, if only I could find a good book on knitting.

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Victoria ABCs

Aurora, Daddy and I took a 3-day holiday to Victoria last weekend. Here’s a little list of what we did:

Baby Big Eyes enjoys her first trip on the ferry as we traveled to Vancouver Island.

Victoria Trip - 01

Carriage House B&B: We really enjoyed staying here; it’s clean, quiet and close to everything, our hosts were friendly, and they made us wonderful breakfasts!

Victoria Trip - 07

Darth Vader Violinist, just one of the many interesting buskers we saw while walking around the city in the evening.

Victoria Trip - 10

Expensive? Well, just a tad. Eating out, museum admissions, and reserved ferry trips can add up, don’cha know. Plus, there’s all those fantastic buskers you gotta tip…

Victoria Trip - 05

Fisgard Lighthouse: We drove out to see the famous lighthouse, but ran out of time, so we just waved at it in the distance as we passed by. Oh well.

Gourmet burgers at the Pink Bicycle Burger Joint – oh, what I wouldn’t give for gourmet, organic, local, creative burgers like these a little closer to home!

High tea at the Empress Hotel: No, we didn’t partake, but great news, Grandma Gail; they now allow people to wear jeans inside as long as they are not holey, frayed, or cutoff. It’s still expensive, though: $60 per person. Someday, someday, I’ll have to go.

Victoria Trip - 02

IMAX at the museum was “To the Arctic“, an extremely gorgeous and incredibly sad movie about life on the bleeding edge of climate change. We all loved it; it was an incredibly moving and beautiful film.

Jump up, jump up, and jump down!

Victoria Trip - 06

Koto Sushi: an enigma, since the restaurant seemed really new, only about a month old. It appears to be in the same location (510 Fort St.) as an older, well-reviewed Koto Sushi that closed earlier this year? I don’t know, just give it a try, especially if your child will only eat avocado rolls when she goes out to dinner.

Loft bed: Aurora’s favourite thing in Victoria. Everywhere we went, she kept begging to go back “home” (to our B&B).

Victoria Trip - 08

Music on the street; good and loud. We enjoyed the bands playing at the Dragonboat festival at the harbour Friday and Saturday evenings (see “J” for Jump photo).

Nighttime at the harbour: is it the Legislature? Or is it Disneyland? You decide…

Victoria Trip - 11

Octopus Alert! This Giant Pacific Octopus, which slid past our viewing window at the Undersea Gardens, was one of the highlights of our trip.

Victoria Trip - 04

Polo: Our B&B’s host, Dan, invited us to watch him play polo Sunday afternoon at the Victoria Polo Club. That’s right – on real horses! Kid wrangling took precedence over actually watching the game, but at least we got to see a little of what real polo looks like.

Victoria Trip - 14

Qu’est-ce c’est joli! Ooh La La Cupcakes has a very appealing window display. Too bad they closed so early on Saturday night. : (

Victoria Trip - 09

Royal BC Museum: boring, according to A&B, but L really enjoyed it – I guess I’m just a hard-core museum person!

Squid, crab, lobster, you name it – looking for restaurants in Victoria which DON’T feature shellfish prominently on the menu was something of a challenge. Poor Daddy.

Tom, the 3 1/2 year old son of our B&B’s hosts, was Aurora’s second-favourite part of the trip. He’s really into bears and greek mythology, but mostly he seems to speak in bear growls.

Ugly: Grandma Gail asked about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of our trip. Well, here’s the Ugly: a Wolf Eel from the Undersea Gardens.

Victoria Trip - 03

Victoria is the home of Island Farms Ice Cream, which we love. We tried out some of the more unusual flavours available on the Island while we were there: Salted Caramel, Nanaimo Bar, and Aurora’s favourite, Cotton Candy.

Victoria Trip - 15

Walking, walking, walking. Since our accommodations were just two blocks from the Legislature buildings, we could walk almost everywhere!

Xtinction: we learned heaps about extinct animals, like dinos and mammoths, as well as soon-to-be extinct, like Polar Bears, and a lot of other arctic animals.

Yes, I’m glad we went – it’s always good to have a little change of scenery once in a while!

Zoo of Bugs! Or, the Victoria Bug Zoo. Daddy was really excited about it, but I tried not to look as closely as Big Eyes the Unicorn did.

Victoria Trip - 13

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Happy Momster’s Day

As far as Aurora is concerned, every day is Halloween, so we hope all you moms had a “spooktacular” Mother’s Day!

Happy Momster's Day

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Who’s That Kid?

Yesterday I saw this kid sitting on the front lawn, wearing Aurora’s favourite t-shirt…


But wait!


That’s MY kid! What a change, eh?


So here’s how it really came about: On Thursday night, after much procrastinating, I finally cut Aurora’s overly long bangs, and I did a pretty neat job of it, for a change. She looked at herself in the mirror, with short bangs and the rest of her hair pulled back, and said, “I want all of my hair to be this short.” We had a careful discussion, to make sure she really meant it, and when she agreed over and over (and again the next morning), I agreed to take her to the hair salon Friday after lunch.


The stylist at the kids’ salon had a big book of hairstyles with hundreds of photos of girls with medium-to-long hair, but only one pixie cut. Aurora and I both pointed to it and agreed that that was the one we wanted. The stylist did such a good job, and finished it off with a spray of orange sparkle hair spray – nice touch. Aurora was absolutely satisfied, especially since everyone in the shop went gaga over her haircut, and the stylist asked if she could take several pictures for herself. Aurora and I had fun taking pictures when we got home, too.


I call this the “Uncle David” face.


Aurora’s feeling a bit lighter now, almost like she could fly! I don’t think she’s going to miss that long hair one bit, and neither of us will miss the daily battle with tangles, that’s for sure!

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Easter Good Fortune

Happy Belated Easter, everyone! I’m a little late posting our Easter festivities, so here goes.

I wasn’t raised in the Christian tradition, so perhaps I’m overcompensating a bit now that I have a kid to spoil, but after the relative austerity of Passover (”Here, kid, chew on this dry matzah bread as a treat!”) there’s something terribly unsettling about the sugary abundance of secular Easter celebrations. I only remember two occasions in my childhood when the Easter Bunny included me in the bounty of the season; once, when I was fairly young, my brother and I found a humongous basket of treats on our Lake Arrowhead cabin’s front porch, along with a mass of deep gashes on the front door, which led me to believe that the famous “bunny” was more of a frighteningly large clawed beast; and once, as a teen, when my good friend Stephanie included me in her family’s egg hunt, at which I was introduced to some of the more disgusting candy-foam-and-chunky-bits-type treats hidden within seemingly innocent-looking chocolate eggs.

I’ve admitted before that the lovely, cheerful pastels of Easter and spring make me unreasonably happy, and that I tend to fall carelessly in love with all the pretty treats and decorations on display at the beginning of March. Maybe next year I’ll be a bit more cautious about it, for Aurora’s sake. Between the neighbourhood Easter hunt at Cambie Village, the egg hunt in our backyard, and the later egg hunt at Grandma’s house, Aurora got more candy in one weekend than a kid should get in a whole year. After a few days of chocolate, jellybeans, and more chocolate, who’s to wonder that the child is fluctuating every 20 minutes between sobbing anguish and bouncing off the walls?

Easter Weekend 2012-04

The “I can’t quite believe it’s true” face when she discovered that the Easter Bunny really came to our own backyard this year. I love the outfit she picked out – Halloween’s spiderweb leggings and her current favourite dress.

Easter Weekend 2012-05

What is that huge gold thing behind the wisteria?

Easter Weekend 2012-08

The Easter Bunny must have ordered this confection from Williams-Sonoma. I hope he got it at the just-before-Easter sale price!

Easter Weekend 2012-06

Aurora also found hidden the twelve hollow eggs she dyed before Easter.

Easter Weekend 2012-07

Not a bad haul, kiddo!

Easter Weekend 2012-09

Grandma Shaun’s new backyard doesn’t have a lot of hiding places, but the Easter Bunny did a pretty good job here, too.

Easter Weekend 2012-10

Ah! The joy of discovery!

Easter Weekend 2012-11

Cousin Livvie shows off a pink egg to Mommy and me.

Easter Weekend 2012-12

Opening the eggs takes some serious concentration, you know.

Easter Weekend 2012-13

Cousin Kayden was very dilligent – most of his candy was gone before dinner.

Easter Weekend 2012-14

I just want to squeeze this girl!

Easter Weekend 2012-02

I just want to squeeze this girl, too. Here she is on the front porch with me, on Good Friday afternoon, having mint chocolate rooibos tea in a special blue mug.

Easter Weekend 2012-01

The weather was so beautiful Friday afternoon that a photographer was roaming around our neighborhood taking actors’ head shots. Aurora wondered what the big silver circle they carried was for, so I demonstrated how to bounce light onto her face with a big red chair cushion.

Easter Weekend 2012-03

I think I got some rather nice portraits, too, but of course I have the most adorable model!

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Good Times

A few days ago, Aurora mentioned to Brian that she was interested in learning “times”. With her interest in and knack for addition and subtraction, as well as her enjoyment of the peas game (she tries to eat them all before I can count them by threes, fours or fives) we both assumed she meant that she wanted to learn multiplication. And yes, she is slightly interested in multiplication, but not much farther than 2 x 2.  ;)

Eventually it became clear that what she really wanted was to learn to read Time. Ah! Okay, we’ve been meaning to get her a clock for a while, so we headed down to London Drugs and let her pick out a cute magenta digital clock radio that is iPod-compatible. When Aurora and I hooked it all up, and plugged in the iPod, she was thrilled. After a few random songs, she made a request for a particular one. Then again. And again. My heart filled with a warm glow of pride as she learned how to use the clock’s buttons to play “I Want to Tell You”, on the Beatles’ superb album Revolver, a total of five times in one afternoon.

When Daddy came in to see how things were going, Aurora shouted, “Daddy! We plugged in my new radio! And it plays songs from the iPod!! And it even has a clock on it, too!!!”

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