Good Fun in the Snow!

In our house, WE LOVE SNOW!!! This winter has been a good one so far, and lots of the fun white stuff is falling as we speak. Over here it has been all about snow forts, snowmen, and tobogganing off of the “hill” my husband made from the steps off the back deck. It’s amazing how four steps can become hours of fun when snow is piled up on top and smoothed out just right. Here are a couple of images from our fun in the snow this winter so far:

snowman

snow fort

After hours of fun in the snow, the kids always like to warm up with a mug of hot cocoa, and I enjoy making it very simply with only 3 ingredients over the stove. I use unsweetened original almond milk, and I whisk in equal parts cocoa and honey. You can make it as strong and as sweet as you like it, as a guideline I use about 1 teaspoon of each per 1 1/2 cups of milk. You get a yummy mug of hot cocoa without all of the additives and refined sugar found in an instant hot chocolate mix.

hot cocoa

Put on your snowsuits, get out there and have some good fun in the snow!

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

Costume Creativity

This week we had the privilege of watching our older girls perform their ballet routines that they have been working on in their weekly ballet classes. Since this parent viewing day is so close to Halloween, all of the students were supposed to wear a costume. This posed a bit of a dilemma for us since although costume wearing is a regular occurrence in our house, we have one tall girl who no longer fits into most of the costumes that our fun costume bin contains…

We needed a new costume, and we thought we would think outside of the box a little and use things that we already had in the house to make a bumble bee costume, which it turns out that our daughter loved! What can’t you make with a little duct tape right? Here’s her fun costume:

Homemade bee costume

 

What did we use?

  • The yellow stripes are taped onto her black leotard with yellow duct tape
  • The wings are made from a cereal box that we painted and glittered up, elastics were added for wearing
  • The antennae we made by attaching pipe cleaners onto a headband with yellow pompoms hot glued onto the tops
  • We made the stinger by cutting a toilet paper role and forming it to the correct shape, and then covering it in black hockey tape. We used a black ribbon to tie this onto her back

Simple right? I just love things that are homemade. I hope this inspires you to use a little costume creativity this year!

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

Rest for the Weary

Today was a much needed day of rest. For a few days, my husband and I are in Southern Nevada surrounded by the Mojave Desert. The quiet is remarkable and a balm to my soul. I was feeling the stress of life and it was affecting me physically. As much as I tried to give this up to the Lord, I think what I needed was rest.

Today I had a nap. This was glorious, and felt amazing. Even inspiring. God created us to work, and then to rest. We have been on the go for too many weekends in a row and this time away is just what I needed. Today I was feeling tired, and with no housework to do, no kids to engage, no work to do, I felt the freedom to just rest.

Earlier in the day a new friend and I went on a long walk with a gorgeous mountain view. Our walk was wonderful – it was filled with the aromatic smell of the rosemary shrubs lining the sidewalk, small lizards scuttling from bush to bush, beautiful birds flying about, and dry desert air.

Hiking the beautiful land beckons and plans are being made to explore the Mojave Desert surrounding us. For me there is nothing that inspires more than being in the quiet and beauty of God’s creation. It’s calming to my soul. It’s where I feel so connected to my Creator.

May you also find rest from the noise and busyness of life. May you rest in the One who created the heavens and the earth.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30.

Thanks for reading,

Karen

the view of the mountains

The gorgeous view from our backyard.

 

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25: 4 & 5

We Love to Read!

We LOVE to read. We have read stacks of books to our kids since they were babies, and enjoy this immensely. In fact, I’m a doer and have a hard time sitting down when there are things to do…but when are there not things to do??? Reading to my kids is a way that I have where I intentionally sit with them, piled on the couch, in a fort, or in the hammock, spending some quality time where we read, and read, and read. We cuddle up, and this time is so special to us as we interact and take in books together (although when we do this in the afternoon, I almost always have to fight the urge to fall asleep). All of this reading has benefitted us greatly, and we now have two really good, independent readers. What an amazing day it was when each of our older girls were reading so well that we were able to take them to the local bookstore to buy their own full copy of the Bible to begin reading on their own. Praise God that they are now able to fill their minds with God’s word as they read independently!

Our girls reading

Reading library books, saying “cheese”.

 

One of my favourite memories of this past summer was an afternoon when all three girls were all laying in the living room reading happily. Sophia was reading independently, and Zoey was reading to Karis. I had already prepped supper and had it ready to go, and so I joined them! I grabbed the novel that I was reading, and sat with them in the living room enjoying my book. To me, this was bliss!

A couple of weeks ago I was sick with the flu, and couldn’t get out of bed for a couple of days. I slept a lot, but I also had the opportunity to read quite a bit and enjoyed quite the contrast in books. I am reading The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, which is a great book on marriage that really challenges the way that we, as a society, look at marriage. He contrasts this to the way that God created marriage. This book has caused me to reexamine some of my ideas that I didn’t even quite know that I had embraced along the way concerning the purpose of marriage (I’ll write more about this in a later post).

In stark contrast to this Biblical and philosophical study of marriage, still while I was lying in bed with the flu, I intermittently read some of my daughter’s novels. I read Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary, as well as Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume, both of which were so entertaining they had me laughing out loud. There’s a couple of things that I love about reading the kid’s books, one of them being that I can read through an entire book in an evening. This is really beneficial for me since I find it very hard to exercise discipline about only reading when it’s responsible to do so (like, not into the wee hours of the morning…I have to limit my novel reading because of this). Also, I like knowing what my kids are reading. Plus, they are lighthearted. A relaxing way to end a long day!

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

 

 

Paper Bead Necklaces

On the last rainy day of the summer break, we were looking for something to do. We were looking through my craft/sewing supplies for inspiration when Zoey found a thin black shoelace in my embroidery thread case and asked what it was for…. that’s how our fun morning began, which was a total blast from the past for me! I then taught them how to make paper bead necklaces like I used to do when I think I was around 10 or 11, and we had so much fun doing it!

Here’s a description of the process:

Making paper necklaces

We used an old home decor magazine that I had kept around for crafting and pulled out all of the really colourful pages – we like a lot of colour in our family, but you could pick any colour scheme that you wanted. You then cut out strips of paper, getting slightly thinner as you go.

Paper strips

You can then put them in an order that looks good to the eye, and begin making them into beads! We just used a glue stick since that was easier for the girls to do, and taking the paper strips one at a time we applied glue all over the wrong side of the paper (careful not to get it on the string) and then began to tightly roll it around the string, starting with the widest part of the paper.

To make these necklaces last a little longer, we also brushed the finished beads with white glue to make them stronger.

And here’s a finished product. This necklace was made by one of the girls with no help at all. You can make the beads thinner and tighter, and they don’t look like paper at all then! You just might see me sporting one of these in the near future…

Completed paper necklace

Fun, right? And what a simple way to spend a rainy morning!

Thanks for reading,

Karen

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

My Little Nature Photographers

This summer I have been trying to be very intentional about doing fun things with the kids. Not elaborate or expensive things, just fun, sometimes educational, sometimes goofy things. A few days ago we went to Point Pelee National Park, which happens to be a short drive away from where we live, with the purpose of being nature photographers. My older girls love to take pictures, and they also enjoy going for hikes and learning about nature, so I thought this would be a fun spin on things (the week before we went with our binoculars as birders).

It was a lot of fun, and mostly a success. We saw lots of living things that the girls were excited about. The mostly was because a 1/2 a km before we finished our 3 km hike, my oldest daughter got a blister from her shoe and refused to walk any further. My 2 year old had already walked most of the way and had just settled into her mei tei carrier when this blister problem happened – she was tired and didn’t want to walk any further (I don’t blame her – that’s a long way on little legs!). So, I put my oldest daughter on my back in the mei tei and carried my little one in my arms in the front and off we went. I’m smiling in the picture (at the end of the photos shown here), but by the end of our hike my hips were killing me with almost 90 extra pounds that I was carrying. Note to self: don’t go on hikes that are so long with three kids and no other adults!

Here are some of the pictures from our hike, from the cameras of a 5 year old and a 6 year old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t my little nature photographers take some good pictures? A simple and fun day.

Creative Parenting

Amid summer days that have had both highs and lows, and parenting moments that have been amazing as well as frustrating and exasperating, I feel like my parenting has had some creative moments that I thought I might share.

Creative Parenting Moment #1

I LOVE fabric, and I love to just look at fabric and imagine what I might create with a piece of cloth that has a beautiful pattern on it. As you can imagine, it doesn’t work very well to have 3 children under the age of 6 running around the fabric store and whining that I am taking too long, all while I try to look at fabric, calculate expenses and envision what I might create. Distracting doesn’t begin to explain it. I have had one particularly terrible experience in the past with the kiddos along that has caused me to normally go to the fabric store alone. This past week I was in the city with the kids along already, and needed to make a stop in order to avoid 2 extra hours of driving.

Just the mention of the fabric store caused whining to ensue (why do kids whine like that????), which almost made me turn around until I had an idea – perhaps even a brilliant idea (can I say that?). We parked in the parking lot and I looked at them with my most excited face and told them that we were going to have a scavenger hunt adventure in the fabric store, to which they were delighted! Inwardly I rejoiced. I found a scrap of paper in the car and immediately began to scribble a long list of things they had to find while we were looking at fabric: “Owls, polka dots, trains, zig zags, hearts, flowers, cars, rainbows…..”.

I was able to get all that I wanted to accomplished, and they walked with me intently looking at fabric and getting excited as they crossed off each item that they found (I was very thankful that my oldest daughter is a good reader and could head this up without my help with the list). We left the fabric store happy. All of us! This was a small miracle.

Creative Parenting Moment #2

The hot toy item this past week has been the basketball. Practicing to dribble the ball has become the pastime of the older two, who are definitely improving their dribbling skills. The other day we were outside and both older girls wanted the ball at the same time… Everyone was getting upset when I had the idea of setting up an activity rotation! We got out the walking blocks and they took turns dribbling and walking on the walking blocks for about half an hour until we were all hot and needed to go in to cool off and get some water. This would be fun to do with a whole bunch of activities, and a bigger group of kids too.

Creative Parenting Moment #3

We went into the kitchen to make some popcorn for a snack in the afternoon, and I had some very eager helpers. So eager that one little helper opened the bag of popcorn kernels and then proceeded to bend down to get the popcorn popper out of the lower cupboard with the open bag in hand. Well, I’m sure you can guess that this ended in half of the bag of kernels spilling all over the floor as well as inside the cupboard. I took a deep breath, thought about how unclean my kitchen floor was at the moment, and then had the idea that we could collect the kernels and make some beanbags out of them (I love it when I can get rid of some scraps of material!). So our next project is to pick out the material and sew them up. I also thought that it would be cool to make home made shakers with different things inside each for our impromptu musical singalongs – rice in one, corn in one, dried beans in one. The kids would love it and I’m sure would love the different sounds that they each would make.

I hope that these ideas have given you a bit of inspiration for creative solutions to parenting dilemmas. I know that I am going to try and think outside the box more when faced with everyday challenges. Creative parenting seems to make life go a little smoother, and that is something that I can appreciate!

 

Easter Fun – a Healthy Way!

What child doesn’t love a good Easter egg hunt?! My kids and nieces and nephews sure do. This year we decided to do a healthy version of an Easter egg hunt – this was inspired by my neighbor who does a variation of this with her children. I know that my kids don’t need to be filled up with refined sugar, and that refined sugar negatively affects their immune systems which makes them more susceptible to illness. So instead of the kids searching for eggs filled with chocolate, this year they found eggs filled with dried fruit including apples, pineapple, apricots, and figs; as well as stickers, a bouncy ball, and balloons – they loved it! And after the hunt none of us parents were worried about our kids ingesting lots of unhealthy treats – the kids happily munched on their snacks and couldn’t have been happier!

showing her eggs

searching for eggs

look at those eggs!

Some of the goodies

Here are some of the goodies – most of the dried fruit is already eaten!

enjoying an apple ring

The happy egg hunters with their loot!

I’d love to hear about fun and healthy twists on holiday traditions and activities that you have tried! Check out this great website that I just recently discovered if you want to read more about making healthy choices for your family http://wellnessmama.com/.

Thanks for reading about our healthy Easter fun!

 

A little digging in the dirt.

A couple of weekends ago we planted our veggie garden. We had fun as a family going to the garden centre to pick out our vegetable plants and seeds, and then going home to plant them. We went with the intention to start small this year to make sure that we didn’t get in over our heads with more weeding and maintenance than we have time for (this has happened in the past…). Even with the best intentions it was really hard to choose and before we knew it we had loaded up on a whole bunch of different yummy things to try.

When all was said and done we ended up planting corn, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, peas, cucumbers, green peppers, cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes. This is in addition to the raspberry plants, strawberry plants and green onions that we already had. We also planted some chives, parsley, oregano, and rosemary in a planter on the deck for easy access for cooking!

Along the side of the garage we planted some more perennial flowers from seed, as well as some sunflowers in the back row. I didn’t even realize that you could plant perennials from seed (of course when I think about it it makes sense, but I have only planted these from a more mature plant before, so I am excited to see the results of this super inexpensive way to add new varieties of flowers to the mix)!

The girls had a great time getting their hands dirty and getting the seeds and plants planted, and we have really been enjoying going out every day and doing a little garden tour to see how the plants are doing. Most of the seeds have sprouted into little seedlings by now, and the plants are getting taller (except for the ones that the kids took out of the containers and ripped most of the roots off of…. they didn’t make it). My highlight of the day was when Zoey was SO excited to find a centipede. I loved to see her pick it up in her dirty hands to take a good look at it, and share her excitement with all of us. It just made my day to see my girls comfortable and happy digging in the dirt with the worms, and gardening alongside me.

Fun things that we do.

I have got some wildly creative kids. They make us laugh all of the time with their excitement and crazy ideas. One of the things that I love the most is when we sing together. I don’t just mean have a little sing a long with the guitar and other rhythm instruments (we do this too and we do enjoy it). I’m talking about our life as opera singers! We regularly have entire hour long chunks of time where we communicate entirely in song – this is some serious fun!!! My husband works from home so he is witness to this craziness and I think that most of the time he thoroughly enjoys it (the rest of the time he probably wishes that he has a nice quiet office to go to… I better add here that he does not participate in these singing fiascos).

Another thing that we love to do is to bake and cook together. Every time that I start something in the kitchen the girls pull up their little chairs on either side of me, and if we’re baking we all put our aprons on so that we can get a little dirty as we create masterpieces in the kitchen. There are times when I just want to be alone with my thoughts and my ingredients in my kitchen, but I wouldn’t trade the time we have together mixing, tasting, smelling, and laughing together for anything.

Reading is one of our favorite things to do. Each week we head to the library for storytime with a huge stack of books that we have read, and we leave with an equally huge pile. Storybooks are the favorite for my girls – they love to imagine and to read all about different adventures. Its fun listening to them when they come up with their own stories as they incorporate different plots and ideas that we have read together into their own tales.

Doing crafts is right up there on the top of the list of favorite things to do for my kids. It doesn’t really matter what it is… it could involve tape, scissors, glue, paper, yarn, pom poms, feathers, or paint. They will make a big mess, and they will have a ton of fun. I must admit that huge messes totally stress me out! A couple of times a week I have to let this go so that my girls can create some really cool art projects. Afterwards I can clean up the kids, clean up the area around them and take a deep breath. The smiles on their faces always let me know that it was worth it.

What’s the craziest or most fun thing that you do with your kids??? I’d love to hear about it! Hopefully some new ideas will inspire myself and others.