Thursday, 31 December 2015

My Most Important Person

17 years ago, I met the most important person in my life at a New Year's Eve Dance. I didn't know that he was my most important person at the time, I just knew that I "really really liked him," and he was "like 7 feet tall," and the cutest boy I had ever met. Quotes are from (incredibly embarrassing) 16 year old Danielle's journal. He is not 7 feet tall, he is almost 6'4'' and was wearing boots with thick soles, 90s fashion. His hair was also spiked in the front, as was popular at the time, probably adding height. I still "really really like him" and he is still the cutest boy I have ever met.

We have spent every New Year's Eve together since that fateful night in 1998. The teenage years were spent with friends and frost bite. Getting locked out of houses while wearing heels in -40 degrees Celsius. Slurpees and Doritos, bad movies, and kissing in my parent's mini van. Soon we were married and living thousands of km from anyone we knew. Quiet New Year's Eve celebrations with our cat in Moncton, making far too much food for 2 people, looking out the window at snow as tall as myself and wondering how we got there. A few years later, food and friends in Fredericton, counting down to midnight, a quick smooch, and visiting and games carrying on until sunrise (skipping the pancake breakfast to sleep, every year). Now we have New Year's in Ottawa with our 3 young sons. Playing in the snow, watching movies, eating pizza, and counting down to midnight at 8 pm, putting the kids to bed, and then trying to stay up until midnight. I know that our New Year's Eve Celebrations will continue to change, we are facing an international move, our boys will grow up and make their own traditions, and judging by recent trends, staying awake until midnight is only going to get more difficult. 

I am infinitely grateful for that New Year's when I met my Love. He is my constant in the chaos, my friend, my defender, the person who annoys me more than anyone I have ever met, yet also the person I want to spend all my time with. New Year's Eve is the perfect night for reflections, and I am so glad to reflect on "my 7 foot tall man" and our time together. I am grateful, and hopeful for many more years of partnership.

Tomorrow, I will be making far too many goals and plans, as I do every year. Tonight, I will be focusing on my most important person and making memories. Happy New Year to you and yours. May your evening be joyful, and if you have small children, may they sleep in until noon tomorrow. All the best in 2016! 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Ave Maria and Real Life

It is a Friday afternoon in mid December. Ottawa has absolutely no snow, and I am having trouble getting into the Christmas mood without the white stuff. In general, I am ready for Christmas, a result of being a type A and someone who enjoys avoiding retail in December (as a person who has worked retail in December, I feel that I have earned this right). Husband is off at a work party that involves brunch and ax throwing, he leads quite the life. I have 1 hour to figure out dinner, and work on prep for my student recital while the twins nap. Since I need to practice anyway, I decide that it will be a good idea to record my song for this year's student recital. It's nice to have some recordings to show to people who hire me for special events and music performances. Sometimes I think the actual reason I record myself is so that I can listen to it when I am 90 (hopefully).

After deciding on tuna casserole for dinner, which I have actually never made before, I put some water in a pot to boil and run downstairs with my computer to begin recording. It takes about 5 false starts before I am happy enough with my sound to continue. Verse two, things are going well, when the smoke detector goes off upstairs. I run upstairs, grab a chair (because I am not a giant like some people who live in this house), and hop up to turn off the alarm. Then, I take the pot off the burner (there is some food on the burner), open the window, turn on the fan, and stand motionless in the hallway, hoping that by some miracle, my boys have slept through the 2 minutes of chaos and noise. They have not.

Run back downstairs. Try to record again. 3 false starts until I internally say GOOD ENOUGH and keep going. Upload to iTunes, upload to Soundclould, I have no time or skill for fancy editing. A recording of me at this point is literally me singing/playing as you would hear me in person. I would like to think that this is because I am incredibly authentic, but I think it is because that is all I can produce at this time.

Run upstairs with my computer, start boiling water again. Plug my computer into my TV for a proper listen (this is my sound system these days). Mr. G has begun fake crying by this point. All moms know the difference between fake and real crying. Believe me. Get Mr. L and Mr. G up from their nap. The boys say, "Mama's singing," and settle into the couch for a listen, the crying had stopped as soon as I opened their door. We soon switch to kid tunes on Youtube and dance around to Jingle Bells. Mr. L asks for suckers (like he does almost every day) and I am feeling generous and happy that it is Friday, so I oblige. We pose for some silly photos, and then I remember that I am supposed to be making dinner.

20 minutes in my life. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Have a listen.

Ave Maria

P.S. I wrote this post while hiding in my bedroom with the lights off so that my kids would not know where I was...
P.P.S. I burned the casserole.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

My favourite things about Christmas are, feeling cosy with loved ones, the music, the food, and the decorations (lights!). Definitely in that order. I do randomly listen to Christmas music throughout the year, but now that it is December, I feel like it is socially acceptable to share some of my favourite selections. Please let me know what holiday music you are enjoying in the comments, I love exploring new music!

Click below to listen to my handy Youtube playlist. I hope you enjoy! 

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, as sung by Judy Garland in one of my favourite movies, Meet Me In St. Louis. I love that it feels melancholy and comfy at the same time. I tend to love the sad Christmas songs, as you will see. 

2. Sister Winter, by Sufjan Stevens. This song got me through an entire winter while Husband was away as a co-op student for 8 months and it was just me and my cat enjoying winter in Fredericton. I particularly enjoy the joyous ending, it gets me out of a blue mood every time I listen!

3. River, by Joni Mitchell. Another melancholy favourite. Life is not always rosy, and I think it would lose some of it's beauty if it were. There is beauty and depth in sadness, and in this song.

4. Jingle Bells, as sung by Ella Fitzgerald. A happy song to dance to while you bake Christmas cookies! "I'm just crazy 'bout horses" and Ella's voice!

5. Snow, by Loreena McKennitt. Growing up, we listened to a lot of Loreena McKennitt, I grew to love her music and celtic music at a young age. When there is snow on the ground, the world feels quiet and still and I find myself wanting to listen to celtic sounds.

6. Oh Holy Night, as sung by Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Those voices!! I think that the voice of a young Pavarotti is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. 

7. Somewhere in my Memory, by John Williams. What can I say? I grew up in the 90s. Home Alone is one of my favourite holiday movies. I can still hear my dad laughing as those bumbling burglars get their comeuppance!

8. What are you Doing New Year's Eve, as sung by Rufus Wainwright. I love Rufus. I have seen him live twice, he is fabulous. I love his easy power and subtle yet poignant emotion.

9. Gesu Bambino, as sung by Kathleen Battle and Frederica Von Staade. Two of my vocal idols on one stage, singing one of my favourite songs to sing. With a boys choir. Perfection.

10. Let it Snow, as sung by Michael Buble. This man's voice is butter, and he knows how to use it! I love his Christmas album. Happy happy Christmas cheese. 

11. Song for a Winter's Night, as sung by Sarah McLachlan. Possibly my favourite Sarah recording (and if you know me, this is a big deal). A beautiful song written by Gordon Lightfoot, recorded in breathtaking vocal layering magic. 

12. White Christmas, as sung by Bing Crosby. An original, a classic, and something I wish for every Christmas. I love snow!!

13. Happy Xmas/War is Over, by John Lennon. One of the best sad Christmas songs. Lyrics that are poignant and relevant (sadly). 

14. Aspenglow, by John Denver. Christmas memories of my parents house. Love this melody.

15. That's Christmas to Me, by Pentatonix. A new favourite! Such lovely lyrics and harmony. Warm Christmas feelings.

16. Christmas Time Is Here, Vince Guaraldi Trio. Honestly, I wanted to put the entire album. This is my go to holiday soundtrack. The sparse jazz stylings, the slightly out of tune choir, so charming! 

Merry Christmas!

Hours after writing this list, I remembered that I love Snowman by the Barenaked Ladies. Add that to my list of melancholy carols. I also realized that I am probably going to be continually be thinking of Christmas songs that I love... so the list may continue growing for my own enjoyment. Stay tuned! I am a Christmas music maniac! 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Our Autism

When the developmental pediatrician told us that our 22 month old son had autism spectrum disorder, I was not surprised. I had already diagnosed him in my mind. It actually gave me a feeling of peace to hear the words uttered by a professional in the field of autism. Nothing had changed. He is the same boy that we love and laugh with, before and after the diagnosis.

The main thing that I have learned about autism, is that no one knows anything about autism.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and repetitive behaviour. Neurodiversity can be a beautiful thing. People who think differently are vital to society and innovation. There is no "cure" for autism (nor should there be). No one knows what causes autism. The rates of autism diagnosis have been rising steeply, most likely due to improved diagnostic criteria and awareness. I have met many lovely people with autism, and none of them are even close to the same in their skills or deficits.

After diagnosis, in Ottawa, your child's name goes on 2 waiting lists. One is for ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), the other is for IBI (Intensive Behaviour Intervention- just another method of administering ABA). Wait times for these services is around 2 years. It is the parent's responsibility to figure out how to get on these lists, there is often confusion because there are two lists and two separate procedures involved.

While waiting for services, my son, Mr. K, and I did some communication courses, I trained to be his primary therapist in a parent training occupational therapy program, which was very expensive and paid for out of pocket, and we hired a private speech pathologist, which is also very expensive and not covered by our health insurance.  I attended autism conferences, read countless books, and Husband and I changed the way we interacted with our son at home to facilitate maximum communicating opportunities.

We learned through a friend of a small government funded nursery school with only 9 spots and quickly put our name on that list, not really thinking that we would get in. We did get in, and our son had 2 excellent years with fantastic teachers, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and a behaviour specialist. It was a wonderful community of support and I will be forever thankful to everyone at Thursday's Child Nursery School in Ottawa.

ABA therapy has been somewhat helpful, we do 6 week sessions and have a lot of control over the focus of those sessions. In Ottawa, a parent is involved in this process, so far Husband has been able to attend all of these sessions and it has become a special bonding time for Mr. K and his dad. I do think that ABA therapy can be harmful if misused. Because we had parent involvement in every session, we were able to make sure that everything was play based and fun!

IBI therapy was a negative experience for us and most of the friends I have spoken with who had children participate in the program. Unfortunately, it is very stringent (although apparently it used to be more so- terrifying). The individual therapists were kind people, but the program did not shape to each child's needs, so did not benefit all children. We actually found that our son had more regressions than gains during this time. A lot of our friends were "kicked out" of the program after only 6 months because they failed to meet their IBI goals (which seemed to be the same for all children). We were told that Mr. K "barely made it" at the 6 month mark. The program was very focused on negatives. It is despicable to me that IBI is looked to as the main course of therapy in Ontario when it so clearly does not meet all children's needs. We did learn a lot during this time about what is important to us when it comes to therapy for Mr. K.

Now we are in a world of school placements and IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). After a rough start to the year, we have found a school and a program that suits Mr. K perfectly. He is happy to go to school everyday (even a little sad on the weekend that there is no school).  His teachers care about him, he has friends, and he has been improving steadily in all areas. It makes such a difference to have Mr. K surrounded by people who see our smart boy's potential. We continue to see his Speech Pathologist and do the occasional ABA session.

My advice to family members of autism individuals is acceptance. Autism is a big part of a person's identity. Can you imagine if people were constantly trying to change you to fit their own agendas? Help with communication and life skills is great, but it is important to not get caught up in "normalizing." Read books about autism, read books written by people with autism (this has been huge for me), make friends with children and adults with autism, your life will be richer for it.

In our house, Autism is our normal. We love Mr. K, he is such an important part of our family. Yesterday, as we were sitting down to eat together, Mr. K was excited to eat (he takes after his parents in his love for food). When he is happy, he stims. Stimming is a repetitive body movement that self stimulates one or more senses in a regulated repetitive manner. Most of us stim and don't even know it. Mr. K's stimming is more obvious than most. We call it his "happy hands." So there he was, flapping his hands in happiness at the leftover pizza (it really is the little things that bring us joy), his twin brothers joined in and flapped their hands as they usually do, which prompted Husband and I to join in as well. So there we were, a family of "happy hands" and happy hearts. Life is sweet.

Thank you to Tristan Laroque-Walker for the family photo!

Monday, 16 November 2015

From A Distance

Perspective is everything. You don't know that you don't have it, until you get it.

For the past few months, I have been finding social media painful. I am not sure if it would be wiser to leave completely, or to stay and try to be a positive voice in all the negativity. To all those positive voices out there, I love you, thank you. Of course I understand that people will have different views than me, and they are free to share those views. This does not bother me. It is when people cross the line and become mean, that it hurts my soul. I am a very empathetic person, I am also very private with my emotions. This can be an awful combination because I end up holding a lot inside.

With everything going on in the world, what if we all took a step back and gained some perspective? We are not as different as we think we are. The beautiful song, From a Distance, has been on my mind. I found it cathartic to make a recording of it this afternoon. Your belief system doesn't matter (really), if you pray to God, Allah, Jehovah, or the Universe, we are all deserving of love and peace. We are all capable of spreading love and peace.

From a Distance

Sunday, 8 November 2015

How to Survive Modern Life

100 years ago, people thought that by increasing technology, we would have more free time. I actually believe that the opposite is true. I dislike being busy, and the word busy. I think it has become an obnoxious badge of honour. If you feel that you are not busy, please tell me all your secrets. You are my hero.  

In this hyper hectic world, it can be tricky to figure out how to not just survive, but enjoy and thrive. Because of an over programmed fall, this has been on my mind. I know what to do to help myself, but that doesn't mean I always do it. I thought since I needed a reminder, it might be worth my time to write out and share my top 10 ideas on how to survive modern life.

1. Try to find balance. There are so many avenues that need attention, it can feel impossible to balance your significant other, children, friends, extended family, career, health, goals, hobbies, dreams, responsibilities, home upkeep, recreation... It can feel impossible because it IS impossible. The more I try, the more I realize this. Keep trying though! Maybe someone will figure it out one day (I doubt it though).

2. Stop comparing yourself to others. RIGHT NOW. Just stop. Absolutely nothing good can come of this. Especially since it is usually our own worst qualities that we compare to someone else's best. Learn to be happy for others and kind to yourself. 

3. Go outside, move your body. I don't care what your body looks like, if it isn't the size or shape you would prefer, you will like it more if you use it. Enjoy the beauty of the world, get some fresh air, a walk around the block and some deep breathing can work wonders.

4. Sleep. This should be a priority. If you are struggling with sleep due to anxiety or other issues, get those sorted out, maybe do more of number 3. 

5. Eat a rainbow. Stuff your face with vegetables and fruit and less of everything else. If you have a day where you eat a McDonald's Big Mac, popcorn, chocolate, and Starbucks for all your major meals (this may or may not have happened in real life), eat better tomorrow and at least enjoy the junk food while you are eating it!

6. Learn when to say "no" and when to say "yes." Feeling overwhelmed? Too much on your plate? This is not the time to join the PTA (definitely happened to me) or fill your calendar with commitments that will only leave you stressed and grouchy and taking out your feelings on your family. A friend invited you on an adventure slightly out of your comfort zone? Say YES! Your neighbour needs help with shovelling out their drive way (this will happen soon)? YES! Big opportunity at work that will help you grow? YES!

7. Unplug. I am not perfect at this, but if I am spending time with my kids, watching a movie with Husband, my phone is not with me! I also find that my best days are those that I check my messages in the morning, after lunch, and in the evening, rather than anytime my phone dings. It's too much to be available to everyone at all times. It is also ridiculous. Humans did just fine before the invention of smart phones.

8. Be kind. Assume that you don't know everyone's story or motivation for behaviour (because you don't). Everyone has a hard life. 

9. Laugh. Find funny friends, recognize how hilarious your kids/Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister really are! Find the humour in everyday situations. Disclaimer, sometimes the humour in everyday situations is not obvious until some time has passed... Ha! Watch comic shows, read comedy books. Don't take yourself too seriously. My absolutely favourite people are people that I laugh with!

10. Be grateful. So simple. The most important skill of all. There is always something to be thankful for, even on the darkest day.

Can you think of any more ideas? I would LOVE to hear them!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The true meaning of Halloween.

It's that time again. The leaves have changed colour and are falling off the trees, the wind is getting cold, you can buy boxes of mini chocolate bars everywhere, and you are not sure if you should wear your winter coat or a heavy sweater. Something wicked this way comes...

Don't forget my favourite part of the end of fall, making my children dress-up (they love it) and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures! I usually take some costume pictures a week before Halloween so that we can focus on trick or treating and the true meaning of Halloween, which is candy.

Let us take a walk down memory lane...

2010. Baby K was so very squish-able as a puppy!

2011. Yoda. First year trick or treating for Mama.

2012. Ninja. Mr. K ran into so many people's houses this year! Ha ha!

2013. The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2. I still think it is strange that we went from 1 to 3 children. I feel like we skipped a step... or a pregnancy... 

2014. Captain Kirk, Spock, and Evil Spock. Hysterical.

2015. This is the first year that the boys picked their own costumes. 

I decided to join in the fun! Superman and Wonder Woman (our true identities).

Sad Batman and happy Batman. I am still searching for the proper plural form of Batman. Can anyone help me? Or can there be only one...

And we are done pictures and ready to focus on the true meaning of Halloween. 

Have a safe and happy Halloween! 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Artist Feature: Tristan Laroque-Walker

by, Tristan Laroque-Walker

There is an amazing thing that happens when you grow up. New, lovely people join your family. My first brother, Tristan, is a welcome edition! 

Tristan is an artist and a kindred spirit, and just the sort of person I would like to feature. I have been thinking about creating an Artist Feature as a regular spotlight on my blog. I feel that so often the world is competitive and unkind. I would like to build up my fellow creatives and foster a community of support. Being an artist can be lonely at times, so facilitating discussion, sharing ideas and inspiration, is important to me. If you would like to be featured, or nominate a friend, please send me an email!

Tristan is a 28 year old photographer based out of Edmonton, Alberta. He specializes in capturing the beauty of the natural world. Tristan began taking photos when he was in elementary school on a Vivitar Point and Shoot. When Tristan was in high school he graduated to his first SLR.  He was often inspired by his Grandfather, Jack Laroque, who was a professional photographer. A beautiful short film created by Aaron Jack Laroque can be viewed here. Tristan's parents are both avid photographers as well, so it seemed natural that Tristan would continue the tradition. 

Influences for Tristan include, Ansel Adams, an American photographer and environmentalist, as well as French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Both these photographers bring a realness to their work. Adams is known for his clarity in large scale black and white landscape photos. Cartier-Bresson was a master of candid photography. Tristan's work is highly natural, not overly edited, with beautiful composition and a refreshing approach to cropping. 

Tristan Laroque-Walker

Tristan is an unassuming man, with considerable personal style and confidence. He is easy to talk to, soft spoken, and has a great depth of character. It is obvious that his interest in the philosophical and visual aspects of the world that surrounds us, has benefited him greatly in his creative pursuits as well as the way that he relates to others. 

In Tristan's own words, "I have a firm belief that moments are meant to be captured and recorded. It requires us to sometimes step out of the moment so that we may share it with the world around us. I believe that through photography we may all tell our version of the tales we experience, and I believe you will know exactly how to share that tale with the ones around you."

Follow Tristan on Instagram, where he uses a Samsung Galaxy X5 and edits with Snapseed.
Check out more of Tristan's work at Tristan Pierce Photography. He uses a Nikon D3100 and edits with Adobe Lightroom.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

We need a little Thanksgiving. Right this very minute.

Thanksgiving is here again (in Canada), and I am so grateful. I needed a gratitude reminder. My stress levels have been at an all time high this fall, and I think it is time for me to take a deep breath, and relax with my beautiful family and friends this weekend. Focus on food, fun, and gratitude.

Today I went to Costco with my twin sons. Mr. G and Mr. L are 2 and a half, and among the most delightful people I have ever met. I had anticipated a busy store, as we are approaching Thanksgiving weekend, but my estimation as to how busy was WAY off. There were traffic jams with carts all over the place. One particular jam was bad enough that a man stuck in the middle started yelling, "grid lock! Grid lock!" He seemed to have reached a point of pure desperation. I also saw two women fighting, people exchanging cross looks and a lot of head shaking. Basically, we got our turkey and got OUT OF THERE. On the way out, the boys were getting grouchy (it is catching), and there was no line up at the concession before the exit (a miracle). I decided to "splurge" and buy them a 90 cent drink, since they had been complaining about being thirsty. My smallest funniest boy is obsessed with pop, thanks to his Daddy. He rarely gets to drink it but he loooooooooooves it. I filled the cups half way with root beer and handed them to the boys. Mr. G was so overcome with emotion, "Tank you Mama, Tank you Mama! MMMmmmm dink (we are working on the R's). Nummy!" He was so grateful! For that little cup of pop. So sweet.

It is easy to forget to be grateful. Good things happen everyday, most of the time they might even go unnoticed. It is often easier to see the negative as it can feel like it demands our attention. Most events in a person's life are small, but that does not mean that they are not significant. Taking time to notice all that there is to be grateful for is the greatest gift that a person can give themselves. When we are grateful we are feeling peace. It is impossible for fear and gratitude to exist at the same time. Creating a habit of gratitude can also help when dealing with anxiety or depression.

If you are having trouble feeling thankful, write a list. A list is my answer to everything...

What I am grateful for today,

1. My husband/best friend/favourite person. He is always top of my list.

2. My children. They have changed my life completely, how I view the world, what matters to me.

3. This salad that I picked up at Wendy's and finally sat down to eat at 2:30 pm. Apple Pecan Chicken with blue cheese. SO delicious. Notice I have not cleaned up the table from the kid lunch. Still grateful!

4. A long weekend.

5. That as soon as my son gets home from kindergarten, I can change into this.

6. My baby sister is visiting with her adorable fiance for Thanksgiving! I cannot wait!

7. The beauty of this season. Driving and walking around Ottawa this week has been taking my breath away!

8. Friends. I have some amazing friends in my life, people that I can be myself with and who are there for me.

9. Chocolate. Always.

Still not convinced? Gratitude can improve physical and psychological health, enhance empathy and reduce aggression, improve self esteem, improve mental strength, and even help you get a good night's sleep. Write a gratitude list and see what happens!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Sitting here at the end of one of my favourite months, sick as a dog, exhausted, stressed, and realizing (for the millionth time) that I am far from perfect. It has been quite a month. 

How I felt for most of September. Thank you to my 2 year old for demonstrating this emotion so flawlessly.

- We started the month with a bout of stomach flu that had my children on rotating vomit schedules.
- First day of school for my 5 year old Love. When you have a special needs child, every hurdle you face feels like a kick in the stomach. 4 meetings and 3 weeks of school behind us and we have still not really figured out the right placement for my smart boy who does not fit into any typical 5 year old program. 
- I joined the PTA, and I have yet to decide if this was a good or a bad decision.
- I started teaching, which went great! I love my studio this year! I have the best job ever.
- We had visitors! Cousins from Alberta and Grandma Ellen from Alberta. We love when people visit us. It is so fun for the kids.
- Apple picking, birthday parties, playdates, speech therapy, swimming lessons, teaching, marking, school, socializing... trying to find balance with our new schedule (and failing thus far). 
- I made 5 apple pies from scratch and realized that I am suited for modern conveniences. 
-The lunar eclipse/blood moon/super moon was very cool. I enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood and seeing everyone outside staring at the sky, it was surreal.
- We are ending the month with a terrible flu/cold, I am not sure which. I don't remember the last time I was this sick. 

So my head is fuzzy, I accomplished about half of what I wanted to, and I am looking to October as the month that I get everything together. Ha ha ha ha! Or I find more situations that give me clues of my imperfection...

Perfect seems like it would be terribly boring anyway (I wouldn't know).

Most of these are photos are from Instagram, because that is all I have energy for these days. If you want to see more, check me out at danofish on Instagram.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

My Biggest Decorating Challenge- House Tour Part 6

Welcome to the basement world of my oldest son. I am pretty sure he thinks the entire bottom floor of our house is his private living quarters. He has his own bathroom, a guest room, laundry facilities, storage, and a music studio. Lucky man. Quite the set up for a 5 year old!

When we found out that we were expecting twins, we knew that we would have to move our (at the time) new 3 year old into the basement. It broke my heart to think of my baby being so far away (mothers are very dramatic), but it was necessary, and has ended up being the best arrangement for everyone. We decided to decorate the basement room to my son's adorable tastes and move him down months and months before the twins were due to arrive, so that he would not feel "kicked out" of his upstairs room. Husband painted the walls bright white (they were mint green with blue trim when we moved in, which felt like too much against the orange carpet). Side note, if you are looking into moving, and the basement has obviously original to the house 1960s carpet, this tells you that the house has not flooded- always good to know! My son's adorable tastes include, bright colours (red is his favourite, go figure, he didn't inherit my red aversion), animals, letters, numbers, dinosaurs, and Sesame Street. As you can see, we just went with all of it. Why not?

There are a few reasons that I say this room is my biggest decorating challenge. The first being that my oldest son is curious, more curious than anyone I have ever met. He is also at times an insomniac (he gets this from his father). As well, he is completely fearless. Because of this combination of interesting traits, this room is always in flux. Only recently, has my hilarious boy earned back the privilege of furniture and lights. I know this sounds crazy, but Mr. K had no light in his room for almost 2 years. He would rip them down, tear them apart and not be able to put them back together. He once took apart a reading lamp piece by piece, he even stripped the wires. I very much look forward to the day that Mr. K can put things back together again. I realize that taking things apart is a sign of intelligence, so I suppose I should be grateful. After trying many different light ideas, we had given up and were using whatever light spilled in from the music studio, until a few months ago. Sad times. 

As for furniture, it was for climbing. Pictures on the wall were for ripping down. The fun padded headboard I created was for taking apart. So, for safety, this room housed only a bed, toys, and low to the ground items. Recently, Mr. K has earned back his shelving unit, a lamp, and a fun Ikea mirror. He has grown up considerably since starting kindergarten and losing his first tooth!

Name painting from Hawaii, which was a gift from a thoughtful Auntie who gets to travel a lot more than we do! Dragon/dinosaur tails made by my creative mother and her lovely friends (the kids love wearing these). Big ball, also a gift, from our favourite people in New Brunswick. The theme here is that we basically don't buy anything, people just give us stuff. This is what happens when you have babies. Really! You never have to shop again, and all the stuff you own starts to give you stress and you become a minimalist. Or maybe this is just my experience...

 Notice that most of the wall decoration is stencilled or painted on. Safest way to decorate with children!!

Cosiest bed. We went right for a double bed when Mr. K outgrew his crib, because it is what we had, and because our son is a giant. Gorgeous afghan made by my talented sister, Jessica. Headboard painted right on the wall. 

Mr. K's cutie toot stuff. Everything in these shelves are things he has chosen to be in his room. Shelves were Kijiji, chair was a Value Village purchase, mirror is (supposedly) unbreakable and is from Ikea. The quilt hanging over the chair was made by my mother when she found out that her first grandchild was on the way. My mother lost use of her left hand due to a stoke, so this was made with one hand. MY MOM MADE MY SON A QUILT USING ONLY ONE HAND. Just take a moment and let that sink in. Amazing. 

Currently reading a couple of pages a night. My dreams are coming true! I cannot wait to read my children all the classic literature. And Harry Potter.

Mr. K's best friends. I encourage this. Sesame Street makes us happy.

The most loved toy I have ever seen. A gift from my dearest friend, Marni.

Really though. Have you read The Velveteen Rabbit? This Elmo doll is "real."

Sesame Street and a scary dinosaur. That's my boy.