Monday, 27 February 2017

Our recent adventures

Every day is an adventure with my boys!  They have so many projects and ideas in their minds.  They certainly keep me on my toes.

This new year I have personally been trying hard to make more intentional use of my time.  I'm focusing on priorities and really thinking are about where my priorities should lay.  Well because I am a woman of action this has been difficult for me.  I'm an "All or nothing" kind of gal.  I hate doing a half job of everything just to say I'm balanced.  So I'll be honest and let you know that I wrestled a lot with how to use my time and energy. I'm still daily having to remind myself of my thoughtful decisions.

Slowly I feel more present with the boys and I'm loving it! I know I was missing out of so much from worry and other distractions.

Here are some photos of what we've been up to recently.
Playing at the local nature centre

Wood working

Stacking wood

Ringalos!!

Writing a book


TJ's three motor vehicle

One of MJ's many Lego cities

Snow catepillar

MJ's Super Mario character drawings

Ice skating

Playdough

Board games

Forrest play

Bringing home a tree

One apple up on top

crafts time

TJ's glow bug

I'd love for you to follow our adventures on Facebook and Google+ too.
Be sure to share what you have been up to in the comments below.


Friday, 24 February 2017

Book Challenge: Read What You've Got



Do you have books at home? How often do you read them?

Would you like to join our challenge to read what you've got??

Keep on reading to find out more...

Back story

I have a toddler so going to the library along with my other boys is becoming a challenge.  The little guy is curious and I love him, but the second I try to turn around he is pulling books off the shelves and running down the isles.  Needless to say we haven't been in the library for a few months!!

Recently while doing another major purge of our belongings, I paused at our bookshelves.  There were a few books that we really weren't going to read again, but the rest were pretty good books.  After nicely organizing them I realized we had our own little library right here.  Why not actually get to reading them more often.  Of course most of the books are down the hall from where our toddler plays so they get forgotten (out of sight, out of mind).

So an idea popped into my head.  Why not read every single book (okay mostly the children's books), we own.  Then we can talk about the books, decide which ones we like, and enjoy them more often.  My boys love the idea and I hope you will too.

How does it work?

Okay there are no set and hard rules. Each family can decide for themselves how many and which books they'd like to read. There is also no set time limit. The thing is that these are books you already have at home (not the library books).

For my family we are choosing to read all the children's fiction and non-fiction books we own and try to read the larger novels too.  We may skim through some of the non-fiction ones but will do our best there.

Personally I want to read the books on my shelf too, but I'm going to need some accountability for that one.

I figure it'll take us 2-3 months to read all the smaller books if we only read a few a day.  The large books will take much longer, so I'll be keeping this challenge going on a monthly basis.  Let's do a 30 Day challenge and I'll poll everyone at the end of the month to see if we should keep going.

We will be recording the books we read, along with our opinion.

If we do an activity related to a book we will post about that too.

Each week we will share with you what we have read.

How can you participate?

  • Decide to take on the challenge.  I will have an event set up on my FB page to help track the number of families participating.  You can also let us know you are joining us by commenting below. 


  • Record the books you read each day/week.  There are many great book logs.  We made our own here! 




  • Share with us what you have been reading either on my FB page, Google+ , or in the weekly posts.
  • If you have a family favourite, an activity, or something to share I'd love for you to write a guest post (you don't need to have a blog to write a post for us).
  • If you sell books, or have written a book, I'd love for you to guest post, offer a give a way or promote your book/business.  My family would also be happy to read your book and write a review for you. I'll be sharing in any groups and communities I can.
  • At the end of the challenge lets all have a huge celebration!!! Yup a book party.  Why not?! Maybe we can crack open some cookbooks too and have fun with that.

Photo Credit: Pixabay


So are you ready to read??? The great READ WHAT YOU'VE GOT CHALLENGE begins March 1.  

Help us spread the word....

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Banana Bread

I've been trying to make some healthier snack for the boys.  When I asked which types of muffins they liked banana came out as a definite favourite.  Next time I went grocery shopping I happened to see a whole bag of bananas on clearance.  So a few days ago was a banana baking day.

don't we all bake in our PJ's?

Rather than have us all do one recipe, or baking alone, I figured I'd try out something a little different. Each of us made our own batch of banana bread and the boys could make slight variations based on what we had in the cupboards.  They loved the ownership this brought!

So here is the basic recipe we used.  It is from "Company's Coming"

Banana Bread
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Banana (about 3 medium ones) mashed
2 cups Flour
1tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Chopped Walnuts

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Blend in mashed bananas.  In a second bowl stir flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt an nuts.  Add to banana mixture, siring only to moisten. Transfer to greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for about an hour.

TJ's banana bread

TJ's variation
Substitute 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 white sugar
Substitute 1 cup Spelt, 1/2 cup bread flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour
Add in 1Tbsp apple cider spices
Add 1tsp vanilla
Substitute 1 cup of a variety of chocolate chips for the nuts

You could really taste the brown sugar in this loaf.  Very tasty with all the chocolate too!

MJ's banana bread

MJ's variation
Substitute 1 cup bread flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup Spelt
Substitute 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup white sugar
Add in a few shakes of pumpkin pie spices and gingerbread spices
Add 1tsp vanilla
Substitute 1 cup of a variety of chocolate chips for the nuts

This loaf was lighter than the others.

Mommy's mini loafs

Mommy's version
Substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup Spelt and 1/2 cup bread flour
Substitute 1/2 cup Brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar
Add 1tbsp cinnamon
Omit nuts

JJ had fun playing with al the ingredients with his own little bowl and spoon.

They all ended up tasting delicious.  It was really interested to note the subtle differences in taste.  I could totally taste the brown sugar in TJ's loaf after having some of MJ's.

Boy was I thankful to have my Norwex cloths around.  After our awesome baking fun there was lots of sticky goo all over the table and counters.  The netted dish cloth scooped it all up in a breeze and rinsed clean off the cloth!  Then I was freed up to do a through wash with my enviro cloth and just water.  baby JJ even helped me mop the floor.  Have I told you how much I love Norwex.  I feel so much safer knowing that we aren't using harsh chemicals to clean our home. If you want to learn more check out my FB page or ask to join my VIP group.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite recipes.  What are you baking this week?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hardened Hearts and Missed Opportunity

Photo credit: pixabay.com

What is your knee jerk reaction or answer to your children?  Do you take time to think outside the box or even consider their requests?

I'll be honest, because most of the time my go to answer is "no, not right now".  Let's face it I'm tired (exhausted, worn out) and my kids make some crazy requests.

But something really stuck with me all week from my bible study. It wasn't even the main point of the lesson but, the disciples missed out on the amazing magnitude of the miracles of the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water because their hearts were hardened.  How does this speak to me personally?  Wow I could be missing out on a whole lot!!! All week I've been pondering what I could be missing out on because of my attitude, my heart, my rushing about...

Near the end of the week we went for a walk in the forest with some friends.  At the beginning of our walk we passed the sink holes that my boys love to play in.  There was a discarded Christmas tree in one.  MJ immediately asked if he could take it home.  At first I didn't understand what he was going on about.  But then I saw the tree. A dried up mangy pine tree frozen into a snowy sink hole just past my neighbours' house.

Seriously! What would you say??

The tree at the top of the sink hole


I don't know if it was MJ's enthusiasm, or the fact that I was with my friend or what, but instead of jumping in with a usual "No" and lengthy reasons not to, stopped to think for a moment.

Really what would be the harm? Maybe he won't be able to get it out and move on. Is it illegal? Why not? Just because it was inconvenient for me doesn't mean I should say no.

So I said, "Sure you can try to get it out.  But we'll have to come back for it at the end of our walk or after our friends go home."

Our walk didn't go exactly as my friend and I had planned.  One child was cold and tired, one was obsessed with his plans to rescue a tree, and two wanted to go further into the woods. Anywho we finished out time in the forrest and said good bye to our friends. Immediately MJ grabbed a shovel and begged to go back for the tree.

I really wanted him to take the ownership on this one.  Frankly I wanted nothing to do with it. But I was going along with it.  We did talk about getting some extra gear and talked about a plan of action.  TJ had some good ideas too.  On our way back to the woods we were getting grumpy, tired and hungry.  By the time we arrived I was not in the mood at all for this adventure.  Then it hit me again.

What might I be missing out on with my hardened heart?  We have in front of us the potential for a grand adventure, or a grumbly miserable mess... So I prayed with the boys. Our spirits lifted again and we joined as a team.

My boys working together to drag the tree


MJ and TJ set to attaching ropes to the tree.  Baby JJ and I slide up and down the banks of the sink hole.  The boys pulled, I dug and pushed.  We hauled and tugged and overcame!!!

Those boys felt so proud and triumphant dragging that tree down our icy laneway.

"We did it! Look at my tree. It was worth it mommy wasn't it?" MJ inquired.
"It was darling." I replied

It was so worth it my darlings


When we got home they set to work sawing, and pruning the branches.  MJ made mini Christmas trees for us all.  TJ got the trunk to use for a fort.  MJ used some pine needles for a craft too. He had asked me to put all the mini trees away in the house for next Christmas.  OK I had to draw the line somewhere.  So I suggested he find a nice place to set them up outside to stay fresh and frozen.  Apparently out front porch is all ready for next Christmas already!

A mini tree for little JJ's next Christmas


I am truly thankful to have softened my heart to say YES this time.  It reminds me to slow down and think before answering.  Perhaps you might soften your heart too and discover some amazing moments that could have been easily missed.


I hope you'll follow us on Facebook.  Please do share your thoughtful moments and fun adventures with us in the comments.


Friday, 17 February 2017

When should children go to sleep?

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sleep.... it is elusive here some times.  At least for us as parents of young children.

In our family we have come to recognize that each member of our family has a very different sleep pattern. It took us a long time to break from what main stream society tells us about how and when people should go to bed for the night. When should children go to sleep? When they are tired of course! G
oing to bed for the night is a bit different for us.  This is a chance to wind down, relax and prepare to fall asleep.

When the boys were younger I spent hours sitting in my boys' room each night trying to help them get to sleep.  One was tired, the other wasn't.  I was annoyed.  It just dragged on.  We tried being more strict. We tried everything....

Oops the photo is sideways.  But Daddy and TJ love to hang out a while a bedtime.

We realized that MJ is more of a night person like daddy, while TJ and I prefer to go to bed earlier and are fresh in the morning. So MJ started off playing with toys in bed (we tried to keep him quiet).  A major break through came when the boys asked for separate rooms again.  I was reluctant at first, but saw the great benefit for these two to have some space from each other.

Basically MJ listens to audio stories or dance music while playing Lego, Playmobil or stickers late into the night until he falls asleep.  Then daddy or I go empty out his bed and turn off the noise.  TJ on the other hand listens to audio stories or quiet music.  He looks at picture books for a few minutes and then falls asleep early.  We just go with it and somewhere in there we catch a short break for our selves.

Now of course with the baby I was just working with when he seemed tired.  Nowadays he seems reluctant to go for naps and bed, but does go right to sleep.  So I'll just go with that for now until we can see a need for change.

Amazingly we all might have missed out on a lot if we had insisted that they go to be early each night.  

MJ made little paper drawings of all the Super Mario characters one night
so he could play with his paper guys the next day with his older brother.
MJ does most of his deep learning late at night!! It's fascinating really.  This little boy who runs about like a Tasmanian devil during the day will settle quietly (okay not silent or anything, but quiet enough) for a few hours focused on a task in bed.  He comes up with the most amazing Lego creations, elaborate story lines, practices reading, writing, creating and more.  I am so proud of what he can accomplish.  I honestly wish we had more energy and patience to put in to mentoring him and working on the cool ideas he comes up with.

TJ enjoys special time with daddy in the evenings.  He likes to chat about his day and what is on his mind. He is full of questions that we are happy to answer.

What if they won't go to bed??

We do have that trouble some nights.  For the longest time everyone was waking up around 7am, but as the fall and winter wore on everything was getting later and later.  We were all cranky and tired.  So I talked to the boys about it.  We all discusses why we need sleep, how to help our bodies relax and get ready for bed, what our new plans might look like.  They agreed that the whole family needed to work together to help everyone have the opportunity for a good rest at night.  Since then it's been a lot better.  Instead of feeling like I'm nagging them to go to sleep, they understand that I'm gently reminding them.

Sure we have some days that go better than others.  Don't we all?  The point is not to stress about it.

Breaking from the 'normal' mold can be scary and awkward at times.  But really it is our family we are focused on, no one else. So why compare.  This is what works best for us right now.

How about you?  When do you like to go to bed??