Feb. 29, 2012

10 Best Sets of Blocks

Tom's right on track with six month old benchmarks, so I decided to take a look at my toy roadmap to make sure that his playthings are developmentally appropriate. After looking at that previous post, I was pleasantly surprised that my research into the roadmap accurately predicted the toys Thomas is enjoying right now -- balls, household items, blocks, moving toys and cloth books (particularly this book). While we have a beautiful set of cloth blocks (lovingly made by Thomas's Granny based on these instructions), we don't have any wooden blocks yet (right now I'm staking the rings of a Melissa and Doug stacker to show him how to knock things over). SO naturally, I've been sleuthing the most beautiful wooden blocks available. My findings?

Blocks available from A/ B/ C/ D/ E / F/ G/ H/ I/ J/

Feb. 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Grandma!


Today is my Grandma's birthday.. We celebrated with a ladies luncheon complete with the most delicious potato salad, chicken and chorizo empanadas and a seven layer lemon cake. Happy Birthday Grandma! I love you!

March is birthday month in our house (Greg and me), so I'm collecting ideas on fun and casual celebrations. I'm loving this ombre cake!

Feb. 27, 2012

iPhone


I don't own a cell phone (seriously). Aside from a work Blackberry (which I naturally left at the office the day my maternity leave began), the closest I've ever come to having a fancy phone was using a second hand phone on a pay-as-you-go plan for emergencies when I was in grad school. You could text and make phone calls on that phone, but no photos, no videos, no internet. For the most part, I've never felt the need for a cell phone. But with Instagram rising in popularity, and this beautiful case by ban.do, I wish I had an iPhone.

Feb. 23, 2012

Raising a Baby in St. John's: Alternative Places to Register


Especially for a first baby, a shower is typically one of the joyful pregnancy milestones. While I'll be sharing my advice on creating a baby registry soon (check out a list of my favourite baby gear on the right of this blog, if you're curious for a preview), knowing where to register can often be as confusing as determining what to add to your registry. Of course St. John's has the basics (Sears, Babies R Us and Walmart), but if you want something more unique, why not consider registries at one of my favourite baby stores in St. John's? For my own baby shower, I registered at Babies R Us and Bellies and Bundles and had my mom manage a wish list of books at Chapters.

Wonderful places to register in St. John's include (in alphabetical order):
In addition, if you have friends and family living elsewhere, why not set up an online registry? Baby Bot in Calgary is a great choice -- they have tonnes of unique products not available in St. John's and their shipping is prompt and service is friendly.

Do you have any other recommendations on great places to register? I've also found beautiful baby products at Newfoundland Weavery and Home on Water.

I've Got Your Number


Reading with a baby feels like a luxury, so I've been ever so grateful to have a few moments this week to delve into one of my guilty pleasures - Sophie Kinsella's new I've Got Your Number. I'm only on chapter three, but its already got me completely enthralled.

Feb. 22, 2012

Maternity Leave Must Haves: Spring + Summer

Maternity Leave Must Haves: Spring + Summer


Oddly, though Thomas was born in late August, I've already enjoyed a long stretch of summer-like weather while on leave. Knowing what worked then in those early days, this is my clothing plan for this coming spring and summer.

  1. A t-shirt v-neck dress is both nursing friendly and ever so slightly trendy. I bought mine at Purr in Calgary when four months pregnant, so it was very body friendly in those early days post-delivery. It's perfect for picnics, baby showers and afternoon dates. Dress by Dorothy Perkins.
  2. Slip on sneakers are a must have by your front door when wearing baby in a carrier because they're hands-free so you don't have to bend over to put them on. I lived in a pair of purple Keds last summer, but also love Bensimon slip ons. Canvas sneakers by Bensimon.
  3. Long chinos are perfect for schlepping strollers and chasing crawling babies. I'm going to trade in my short shorts for some longer chinos this summer. Shorts by J Crew.
  4. A pashmina is perfect for covering shoulders as evening hits, and shading baby when nursing outside in public on sunny days. Pashmina by Pashmina International.
  5. A light sweater is perfect for layering and wearing instead of a jacket under your baby carrier. Pullover by La Garconne.
  6. A canvas tote bag is perfect to supplement your diaper bag for a day at the beach or park. I personally prefer to keep my diaper bag stocked with clothes and diapering basics every day and then supplementing with another bag for activity-specific items (like my swimsuit or a packed lunch for mom and baby). Bag by Michael Kors at Zappos.
  7. A stack of affordable tank tops and t-shirts is a necessity to prepare for spit up, sticky fingers and puree stains. Tank top by Mod Cloth.

Feb. 21, 2012

The Craziest Date I've Ever Gone On


So, this is a story that most of my family doesn't even know... :)

Greg and my relationship began long distance after meeting at a work conference. While we lived on opposite sides of the country, we both had trips planned to Newfoundland and Alberta respectively in the near future when we began to see that our relationship might be going somewhere, so going on a date was actually something we could plan. We spent a whole month looking forward to our first date in Edmonton in mid April (Greg had romantically sent me a plane ticket to fly up to Edmonton from Calgary, where I was visiting family, so that we could spend a weekend together).

But as the days passed, I couldn't wait for our date.

After perusing Air Canada's website to book my ticket to Calgary, I noticed that it was basically the same cost to buy a frequent flyer pass for one month (there was an amazing sale on at the time) as it was to buy one round trip ticket. So for the cost of one ticket to Alberta, I could also take weekend trips to Fredericton and Toronto, cities where some of my best friends lived, so it made perfect sense. I booked all my flights and let my besties know that I was coming to crash.

Then, one evening a few days later, I realised that my frequent flyer pass would allow for one more trip. A caveat was that I could only fly on Tuesdays, Saturdays or Sundays in April. So, it occurred to me that I could fly to Edmonton first thing on a Saturday morning and could fly back on Sunday - free. I had to do it. Obviously.

And I did it...and made it work on Monday morning on time to boot! Image via Gravesland.

Fun Toppings for Pancakes


Today's Shrove Tuesday, which is the perfect time to share some fun toppings, in addition to the always delicious maple syrup, if you're planning on indulging in pancakes for dinner or lunch (or both)!

Jams - I'll be serving pancakes topped with homemade bakeapple jam (have you ever had bakeapples? They're delicious!). You could also use raspberry, blueberry or strawberry jam, and if available, finish with a few fresh berries on top!

Icing Sugar - Simple and sweet, powdered sugar is delicious on pancakes.

Chocolate chips - A childhood favourite, these go great in the batter or melted on top. This is perfect if you're serving the pancakes as dessert instead of as a main course.

Lemon or Lime Juice - If you have a sour tooth, this would be perfect.

Fresh Peaches or Other Fruit - Fresh fruit is a perfect addition to whipped cream.

Greek Yoghurt - Everyone seems to be eating this now, so why not try it on some pancakes?

Nutella - Need I say more? Nom nom!

Photo of pancake stack by Girly Girl.

Feb. 20, 2012

How to: Help Baby Sleep Through the Night


Ok, so I'm slightly obsessed with helping Tom sleep better (he wakes every 1-2 hours per night), and have received an avalanche of advice. I thought it might be fun to compile it here as a possible check list of things you might try to help baby sleep. I'll admit straight away that this is more an indication of how complicated the baby sleep industry is, than how to actually get baby to sleep through the night tonight.
  1. "Ferberizing"/cry-it-out sleep training. There are a million variations on this. We've tried it a few times (meaning attempted it for an evening and ultimately abandoned between 10 pm and midnight), and it usually takes Tom 1 hour and 15 minutes to fall asleep the first time and then he's never slept longer than 20 minutes before waking and crying again. I think it would be like this all night long for the first few nights, and then we'd see improvement. My resolve for this method is a lot stronger midday than later in the evening.
  2. Swaddle. This worked quite well for the first few months, until baby started breaking out of the swaddle once he became stronger and more mobile around 3 months old. Sometimes I'd wake up and reswaddle the baby and he'd sleep for a few more hours before waking to be fed.
  3. Co-sleep. This worked maybe the first night and has gotten progressively worse (meaning the baby now wakes briefly at the end of almost every sleep cycle - 45 minutes or so). The problem is that I barely wake up and don't have to get out of bed to nurse, so this method seems to ensure the most rest for us all. Other moms I know have used this method with great success.
  4. Put baby down to sleep drowsy but not asleep. This seems to be the clear advice to helping baby learn to self soothe. I did this the first week that he lived with us, and then it became more and more difficult. If you did this consistently from birth, and your baby was willing, you might be able to avoid sleep training and get sleeping through the night pretty easily.
  5. Use white noise/an aquarium/mobile to lull baby to sleep. We've tried white noise, lullabies and an aquarium with limited success but others say that one of these tools are vital to helping baby settle down to fall asleep in their crib.
  6. Introduce a dream feed. This generally involves feeding baby around 11 pm before you go to bed. Ideally baby doesn't wake fully while feeding and this extra meal helps get them through the night. Many people I know swear by this.
  7. Give baby a bottle of formula before bed. This is the same principle as the dream feed, and assumes that formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, so baby is less likely to wake in the middle of the night out of hunger. We've never tried this, but others I know say that their baby would never sleep through the night without a bottle of formula as their last feeding of the day.
  8. Give the baby a pacifier. One friend of mine swears by the pacifier as a tool to transition baby from the breast to the crib without tears. We've never used a pacifier, so I'm not sure if Tom would actually take one at six months old.
  9. Sidecar the crib/bassinet/playpen. This means putting the crib or other sleeping space next to or near parents bed. The principle here is that baby sees you and knows you're close so is less likely to cry for you in the middle of the night.
  10. Put baby to sleep earlier. Supposedly if baby hasn't had their naps and is awake too late it will be harder for them to go to sleep and stay asleep because they're over tired. Thomas goes to bed by 7 pm most every night, so I don't think this is our problem.
Beyond these broad strategies, you also might want to try adjusting the temperature or light in the room where baby is sleeping to help them stay asleep. We haven't found what works for us yet, but maybe some of these tips might help you! xo

The photo of Thomas above shows him awake because I actually couldn't find a photo of him asleep in his crib or bassinet!

Feb. 18, 2012

Happy 6 Months, Thomas!




Wow! I am flabbergasted that our little man has been living with us for six months. I cannot imagine my life without you, Thomas. Love, Mommy.

In the Dog House? A Solution!


Following an afternoon drive around town last Saturday, Greg stopped the car by the shop of the florist who did our wedding arrangements and said he had to run inside. He appeared a few moments later with a huge bouquet of flowers with a sweet Winnie the Pooh valentine attached that read "Something for you Valentine", To: Mommy, Love: T. Walter. I was beyond touched!

While I may have a beautiful arrangement of flowers in my dining room this Valentine's week, it wasn't always that way. In 2009, Greg 'surprised' me with a book on personal finance for Valentine's Day. While I'm someone who actually enjoys researching and buying mutual funds, and considering the pros and cons of putting my money in an Registered Retirement Savings Plan versus a Tax Free Savings Account, even I know that there's no way this gift could be spun as romantic. If you made a similar boo boo this past Tuesday, here is a surefire plan to get out of the dog house this weekend. The ingredients?
  • Make a dinner reservation for tonight - stat! We're actually celebrating Valentine's Day tonight (as I suspect others are as well) so you can, with some degree of credibility, convince your partner that you intended to celebrate tonight all along. If you can't find a reservation anywhere, plan to go to a nice lounge, like Bivver in St. John's, and have a cocktail and some appetizers.
  • Next, head to the mall or other shopping destination and buy your partner a new dress or jewelry or tie or shirt or sports jacket (some article of dressy clothing that you know they'll love). Set it out on their bed and when they walk in the room, announce your intentions to take them to dinner and your desire for them to wear said item on your date.
I hope this plan works for you! xo

Photo via Female Ways.

Feb. 17, 2012

Big in Japan



Yay! It's Friday and Greg has next week off work, which means we have lots of family days coming up. This song is the mood in the Clarke household tonight! Happy Weekend, Lovelies! xo

Favourite Baby Names


So, it seems like everyone I know is having a baby, has recently had a baby or is planning/hoping to have a baby soon (so are the late-twenties and thirties, I suppose). While I love finding out if my friends have had a boy or a girl, I'm actually most curious to learn what they've named their joy. I think naming another human being is fascinating.

Once we knew we were having a boy, we knew his name would be Thomas, since we'd agreed upon that long before conceiving, and had even referred to a potential son to family and friends as 'Thomas'. So, choosing a name was super easy. However, I don't think it will be so easy next time around since we're wavering on our name for a daughter (Audrey) and second son (Daniel).

In addition to Audrey and Daniel, here are some other names I love. How about you?

For girls - Elodie, January, Caroline, Thecla

For boys - Nicholas, Ian, Jonas, Alastair

Photo via Children with Swag.

Modern Motherhood Survival Guide

What didn't begin as a 'mommy blog' has often become one, because here on Horizontal Stripes I've enjoyed sharing my life and things I've learned with you, my dear readers, and one of those most recent developments has been becoming a mom. In case you're curious, I've packaged my recent posts on motherhood into a "Modern Motherhood Survival Guide". You can read all my posts here on topics such as entertaining at home with a baby, and preparing your closet for maternity leave and pregnancy. You can read even more posts about babies here.

I'll be adding to this Guide in the coming days, weeks and months, with posts about baby registries, fine dining with a tot, raising a foodie, traveling with baby, coming up with alternative childcare arrangements, and more. I do hope you'll check back! And as always, I'd love to hear about your experiences in parenthood through the comments. Please don't be shy to say hi! xo Image via The Sartorialist.

Feb. 16, 2012

Raising a Baby in St. John's: Enjoying George Street


One of my city's most famous tourist attractions is a pedestrian street lined with pubs, bars and dance clubs -- George Street. If you're entertaining guests, want to catch a live concert during the summer or have a bachelorette party while pregnant or nursing, chances are George Street might be a part of your plans. To enjoy a night out there (or anywhere) if you're pregnant or nursing or simply don't drink, here are some great mocktail recipes. Any bar should be able to whip up one of these for you! They're so much more fun and tasty than a diet 7-Up.

Mocktails cartoon designed by Alyson at Unruly Little Things.

Composition of a Family Home


Our house is really starting to feel like a family home with onesies hanging on our laundry rack, a high chair at the head of our dining table and toys strewn on our living room rug. I love it.

Feb. 15, 2012

Our Favourite Places: Kootenay Lake Ferry

Three summers ago, Greg and I crossed Kootenay Lake on a ferry. The mountains, the water, the shore side properties... stunning. I look forward to taking Thomas on a roadtrip in BC and taking that very ferry ride with him some day. Images by Kevin Cappis and Dean Forbes.

Maternity Leave Must Haves: Fall + Winter

Maternity Leave Must Haves: Fall + Winter


If there's one thing I truly miss about working, it is my wardrobe. At the office, I'd wear flouncy skirts, sky-high heels and knit sweaters. Jeans were reserved for (some) Fridays and weekends. Now jeans are an almost daily occurrence. But seven months in, I think I'm finally getting a handle on my fashion must-haves for maternity leave. Today I'll share my must-haves for fall and winter, and next week, I'll share my summer and spring must-haves.

  1. A slim fitting coat that hits at the hip. I got mine at Zara, and it's perfect for wearing under a baby carrier. Plus, if you're breastfeeding and lugging baby, chances are your body temperature is warmer than normal so a thinner coat will last you longer into the fall and can be pulled out again in late winter. Coat by Old Navy.
  2. A one-piece swimsuit that flatters your new body. Thomas loves to go swimming at our neighbourhood pool, and I want to be able to participate with confidence. Suit by Top Shop.
  3. A long, v-neck cardigan to throw over basic t-shirts. Cardigans are perfect alternatives to sweatshirts. I always feel more pulled together in a cardigan than a hoodie. Cardigan by Aubin & Willis.
  4. Rubber boots for city walks and country hikes. I love getting outside with Thomas, and living in a rainy city with lot of puddles, galoshes are a necessity for keeping active. Wellingtons by Tretorn.
  5. A striped t-shirt. There's no good functional reason for this. I just love them. T-shirt by House of Fraser.
  6. A fun and flouncy skirt that you can pair with v-neck t-shirts for every occasion. Skirt by Flannels.
  7. A pair of splurge-worthy jeans that make you feel fabulous. Jeans by Citizens of Humanity.

Feb. 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day! Today I feel lucky and full of bliss for having two loves in my life - my husband and my son. Though Greg's at the office, I'm keeping busy with a gossipy lunch chat with a friend, and a homemade Valentine's project (more about that later), and we're keeping in touch by emailing limericks about our love back and forth. Hopefully tonight we'll get Thomas down to sleep before we're too zonked ourselves so that we can enjoy a cookie on the couch together. We'll celebrate properly this weekend (there's talk of steaks!). Love to all of you, my dear readers! Valentine's card by Anna Bond.

Feb. 13, 2012

What to Wear on Valentine's Day: Romantic Dinner

What to Wear on Valentine's Day: Romantic Dinner

If fine dining is part of your Valentine's Day plans, perhaps an ensemble like this would suit? Dress by The Look, clutch by Tory Burch, booties by Designers Remix Signature and coat by Miu Miu.

Feb. 10, 2012

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day with a Baby II


Second up, if you're at home on maternity leave, and your husband's work situation allows for it, why not pack a picnic lunch and surprise your husband/boyfriend (aka Dad) at his office?

With any luck, baby will snooze on the stroller or car ride there, and will give you a few minutes to smooch behind his closed office door before waking up (how old school romantic, huh?). There's something incredibly sexy about showing up at your husband's work unannounced and stealing him away for a few minutes.

And what might you bring to munch on? A pair of San Pellegrinos and the most delicious chicken curry and raisin wraps. Images of the Mad Men set via Modernica.

Tips on Raising a French Baby

French women may be more stylish and slim than us Canadians, but do they also raise better behaved children? Pamela Druckerman is an American expat living in Paris who recently published Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (which was also published in the UK under the title, French Children Don’t Throw Food: Parenting Secrets From Paris). Her observations pull out some of the ways French moms remain calm and poised, while toting around well-behaved children and maintaining an intimate relationship with their spouses. Her findings (which are genius by the way!)?
  • French moms teach their kids to say bonjour. It seems so simple, but encouraging children to greet friends and strangers makes them less self-absorbed and more aware of their place as social beings in a community.
  • French moms don't look for kids' menus. If you don't want your child to eat only pizza and chicken fingers, open them up to a wide variety of foods early on. All restaurants are child-friendly if your child is taught to appreciate and explore food like an adult, which begins by leaving 'family restaurants' and taking your little ones to 'adult restaurants' from an early age.
  • French moms allow their children to be independent. They pause before rushing in to the nursery at night when their baby cries, so as to see whether the baby can learn to transition from one sleep cycle to the next on their own.
  • French moms trust their children to cuss. Children are taught one swear word -- caca boudin (meaning poo sausage) -- and are trusted to use it appropriately. This teaches discretion from a young age and prevents young children from using adult swear words.
  • French women emerge from pregnancy as women, not just moms. Becoming a mom seems all-encompassing in Canada, but in France women remain women, which allows an individual identity apart from the role of mother to be maintained.
  • French parents think date night is a bizarre idea. Every evening is a time for adults in a French home.
I can't wait to pick up a copy of the book! Images of Jane Birken via Domestic Reflections.

What to Wear on Valentine's Day: Casual Date

What to Wear on Valentine's Day


Seasonal, yet sophisticated, here's the perfect solution for an unconventional, but fun Valentine's date, like bowling and a curry buffet. Cigarette pants by Joseph, studs by J Crew, sequined bag by Red Valentino, pink flats by Bottega Veneta and heart sweater by Sonia Rykiel.

Feb. 9, 2012

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day with a Baby I

Over the next few days, lovely readers, I'll be sharing some ideas on making Valentine's Day feel special with a baby (or a new puppy or a hectic schedule or any other life situation where making time for your relationship seems impossible).

First up, pull out the champagne glasses. Even if you don't have any bubbly on hand, or are abstaining for breastfeeding (or other) reasons, serve up some lemonade, fizzy cranberry pop or even apple juice, and chill. There's something special about the shape of a champagne glass, and anything feels sexier to drink in a shapely glass than your everyday tumbler. With glasses poured, take a moment to savour whatever you're drinking with your loved one and focus on just each other (until your glass is empty and your baby starts fussing again).

Valentines


Have I mentioned that I know a circle of very fabulous moms? I'm talking women that run half marathons, mentor young girls through the Guiding movement and submit PhD dissertations while on maternity leave. Meanwhile, I'm just getting to a place where I can consistently do the dishes in a day while caring for my son.

This week, a few of us swapped valentines from our kids as mementos for memory boxes and scrapbooks. To my horror, I was the only mom with store-bought cards. All the others had beautifully handmade cards that clearly took a lot of time to construct. It was hard not to feel deflated (being competitive is one of my negative traits).

Upon reflection, I might never be a mom who seems to be able to find the time to make homemade valentines (I don't think I've made a homemade card since elementary school), but I have found a middle ground -- free DIY printable valentines! Here is a great roundup of free DIY printable valentines for personal use. Instructions for the Valentine above can be found at Alpha Mom.

Feb. 8, 2012

Backyard


Our yard is an adult space (think manicured bushes, pebble walkways and a slate patio, and no grass), so making our large two level patio as baby friendly as possible for Tom this summer. is a priority. Sure we have two lovely playgrounds (including one with an outdoor pool!) within 5 minutes walking distance of our home (yay for living in an urban neighbourhood)!, but we also want Tom to enjoy being closer to home occasionally.

The upper level of our deck, which is accessible by patio doors from our kitchen, will be the perfect space for the boy to play while we bbq, so we're going to buy a wooden gate system to make the space safe and outfit the deck with some weather resistant foam mats to prevent splinters and bumps.

I'd also like to hang a swing from the upper level of the patio so that it is accessible on the lower level (I love this baby swing!) and to buy a standing hammock for us to take naps in the shade together. This bench would also be the perfect cheerful addition to our space.

When Tom's older, I hope he has a tree house (but that's a plan for a larger home and a bigger yard). Do you dream about making changes to your outdoor living space now that you have a child?

Feb. 7, 2012

Baby Goals


So, I have a list of things I'm working towards with Tom. I've always been someone whose functioned best with goals, and as we get closer to the six month mark I'm ever aware of the fact that I'm going back to work and baby T will gain some independence from me. To prepare, we're working towards:
  • Sleeping through the night -- I'm ever hopeful that some combination of solids, routine, and sleep training will get us there.
  • Greater love of and use of pumping -- Tom's always been a hungry boy, I attachment parent and feed on demand, we don't use a pacifier, we didn't introduce a bottle until about 2 months and then rarely used it, and I loathe pumping. All this amounts to a boy who isn't so keen on the bottle. I'm going to recommit to pump daily and ensure Greg gives the boy a bottle a day. This is vital to reaching my goal of breastfeeding after I return to work, and hopefully until Thomas is at least two, as I travel with my job fairly regularly and work long hours.
Do you have goals with your baby? I'd also like to get more of our naps happening in the crib, but I'm aiming for the two goals above first. All in time, right?

Feb. 6, 2012

How to: Recover from a Sleepless Night



Our family loves sharing music together (we even take a music class on Sundays). To get geared up for a fun day (or to recover from a sleepless night), we simply have to play the right upbeat song. Vampire Weekend's A-Punk has long been a favourite of ours for this purpose.

Feb. 4, 2012

Valentine's Day Contest


Dear Lovely Readers,

For fun, our sweet Thomas Walter, has entered into a Valentine's Day photo contest with a local boutique -- Bellies and Bundles. We'd love it if you'd click here, and 'like' our photo. The photo with the most 'likes' wins a gift basket!

Thank you,
Katie and Greg and Thomas xo


Coco de Paris


Coco de Paris is a French mixed media designer who paints on antique paper. I think her paintings are really beautiful.

    Feb. 3, 2012

    Our Favourite Places: Cook St. Helena


    A friend recently asked for advice on vacationing in the Napa Valley, which got me thinking about our honeymoon and the many delicious meals we enjoyed during that time. I found myself recalling the most casual and affordable lunch we enjoyed on those first blissful days of marriage - sharing a platter of antipasti at Cook St. Helena complete with salumi, roasted garlic, percorino, olives and crostini. Sometimes it's these simple meals that leave a lasting impression. Images via Magourty and Wander and Whimsy.

    Pinterest



    How do you organize your Pinterest account? I categorize my finds by the sense (sight, touch, smell, taste, sound) that finds the image most appealing. I'd love it if you checked out my pins! xo

    P.S. Here are some of my favourite pinners:

    Feb. 2, 2012

    Joe Fresh

    Joe Fresh

    Joe Fresh is the perfect, affordable, Canadian way to clothe the whole family. I can scarcely get through my local supermarket without taking a peek each week.

    Feb. 1, 2012

    Q: Will you tell your child that they have a RESP?


    One of the first things we wanted to set up for Thomas financially when he was born was a Registered Education Savings Plan. Greg and I both paid our way through our undergraduate and graduate degrees with scholarships, earnings from summer and part time jobs, and assistance from our families. Thankfully we didn't have to take out student loans, but many of our friends did (and are still paying them off) so we know the challenges they can create. We wanted to make sure Thomas had a little socked away to assist with his savings in case our financial situation when he's ready for post-secondary doesn't allow for us to contribute, and to ensure that the money we can contribute now has an opportunity to grow through investments before that time.

    Living where we do, our provincial government and federal government both offer financial assistance towards raising a child for the first year ($2200 total) and first six years ($7,200 total), respectively. We've decided to put all this money directly in the RESP and top up the remainder of the yearly space ($2500). Now that this is all sorted out in a tidy monthly contribution plan, we're wondering whether (and how) we should tell Thomas that he has it. The company that holds our investment sent us a certificate to show Thomas when he's older that states he is the holder of a RESP. Until receiving it, we hadn't given any thought to when and how we might tell him that he holds this investment. After discussing, at least given what we know now, we think we'll tell him when he's finishing high school and (hopefully) making his plans for further education. We don't want him to think of it as a free ride, and want to encourage him to seek out scholarships and employment opportunities to help make his education plans come to fruition as we did. What do you think? If you have a RESP for your child or expect to open one soon when do you plan to tell them about it? Photo via Queen's University (one of my alma mater).

    Heart Scarf


    What a beautiful scarf for Valentine's Day and 5 ways to wear it! xo

    February


    Looking forward, I hope this month brings snow angels (and snow days!), homemade pizza dinners, freshly cut straight bangs and a good book to devour.