family night

one of my sisters mentioned to me today, that i haven’t blogged since june. oops! my plan in january, was to blog once a month. the goal was to enjoy blogging again, but honestly, having a monthly expectation did more harm than good. i don’t like expectations placed on my creativity! i’m already a busy girl, and setting up a blogging schedule for myself just made writing feel like work.

there are a few blog posts that i’ve written mentally however, and one in particular that i’ve really been wanting to get out of my head to share with you.


several years ago, when the midgets were still very midgety, and derek and i had been working with teenagers long enough to know that sometimes families co-exist without relationships, we decided to “someday” have a weekly family night.

the pace of life picked up, then sped up, then snowballed out of control. we started to co-exist. it was time to actually do family night. here’s how it’s done:

step one: look at your calendars and pick one of the very few nights in your week when you can all be together. if you don’t have one day out of seven where you can be a family, then i suggest that you reprioritize and shuffle. once you have a day– set it in stone. issue an edict. make it law. nobody makes plans on that night.

step two/three/four… whatever. there’s really only one step (that’s why step one is the hardest and most important!)

everything else is up to you. this is how we do family night:

tacos. every single thursday. haha. tacos are one of our favourite meals, and everyone looks forward to thursday nights just for the food. your family can pick whatever meal(s) you want- just make it something that you can look forward to.

alternate planning: we take turns being responsible for what we do on family night. it really doesn’t have to be extravagant. sometimes we watch a movie, sometimes board games. derek does these really elaborate family nights where he basically turns our house into an escape room. elliot’s a fan of popcorn and the animated star trek series. i seriously get afraid when it’s anne’s turn to plan family night!

we take turns planning because we’re all different! with each of us taking turns being in control, we gain more insight into what our fellow family members are really great at, and where they find joy.

that’s the basic recipe, friends! time+food+creative freedom.

i know that we’re all in different seasons of life. i’m sure that the time will come when the kids have jobs that don’t have flexible schedules, or something will come up and we’ll just get out of the routine. *shrug* that’s life! but for NOW, in THIS season, derek and i have the amazing privilege of getting to know these not-so-little humans on a deeper level, and i’m embracing family night for as long as i’m able to.

i encourage you to give it a shot! carving out time isn’t easy, but you will never ever regret doing it!

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October 25, 2017 at 12:29 Leave a comment

thwip!

this spiderman doll here, is exactly why i retired from commissioned work a few years ago.  my creativity needs to be paired with spontaneity, or i feel overwhelmingly stifled. just some insights into my eccentric soul for you.

from the moment that some spiderman-loving friends of ours announced that they were expecting, my brain began drafting a pattern for this guy.  i thought i’d share some of the creative process with you guys, because although i don’t take orders anymore, i still love sharing! 

my go-to for almost any of the superhero toys that i’ve made, is this base pattern here: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=403946.0.   

step one- print it out, including the picture. especially the picture. (forgive the roughness of this photo- i abuse my tools.)  

once i have the printed photo, i VERY LIGHTLY colour over the pattern, developing the character design. feel free to reference google!  one of the many reasons that i love this pattern, is because of the stitch definition in the photo. once i have the design in place, i can transfer the drawn design into the written pattern quite easily.  if round one is coloured red in my photo, round one is made with red yarn on my hook.

once the body is complete, and i’m ready to move on to the details, i really turn into the swedish chef from the muppets. i throw together a bit of this craft, a bit of that,  and there’s no real planning involved- it’s a creative frenzy.  enjoy it!

it’s important to be mindful of the recipient of your product.  this toy was going to a baby, so i needed to make sure all design elements were secure and would survive chewing, drooling, and freqent trips into the washing mashine.  i had also put the doll through full wash & dry cycles prior to assembly, for that reason. 

so, details: the chest spider was needle felted on. the eyes were made of felt, then sewn onto the body. the face-line things (what are those called?) were a combination of sewing and needle felting.  you can see in my original sketch, the lines on spidey’s face are black, but in the finished product i went with red.  again, keeping in mind the recipient– with the black lines the doll looked “cool”, but a little fierce. the finished product also looked a little top-heavy,  so i ripped off the black lines and tried again with a more subtle approach. 

the finished product was well-received, and i’m loving watching it unexpectedly pop up in instagram photos of my current favourite baby.   

obviously this is not a “beginner” technique, but i’m hoping that an intermediate crocheter would read my words and think “i can do that!”

here are some of the other amigurumi that i’ve made from this basic pattern, using the same technique.

June 6, 2017 at 16:43 Leave a comment

when life explodes

i’ve been working really diligently at pursuing my hearty list of new year’s resolutions, but the fact is- sometimes priorities HAVE to shift.  this post is about how i intend to have success in 2017, even after my world flipped upside down.

without giving too many personal details: my husband spent all of march sick, and almost all of april in the hospital. he’d been recovering at home since then, until a partial return to work this week.  

with each new phase of his illness, we have had to re-adjust what is “normal” in this house.  schedules have had to alter, and priorities have had to be down-graded.   the details are different in my story, but it’s a familiar scenario to most of us who set goals and try to keep them, no?  you’re in a groove, it’s great, then BOOM.

it’s okay to reprioritize. it’s the right thing to do when your goals are not as important as the moment you’re living in. i want to encourage you in this, because i believe it to be the difference between success and failure.  

my daily goals of practicing french, stretching & reading my bible did not fit with my new daily routine of biking to the hospital/home to feed the kids/back to the hospital.  the reality of life is that there are only 24 hours in every single day, and we are accountable for how we use them.  instead, i climbed 8 flights of stairs rather than using the elevator. i listened to french podcasts while cleaning the house once vising hours were over.  i read my bible more, desperately clinging to My Anchor in this storm. 

life is not static, and our goals and schedules must flex with it.  if you’ve been working on a new year’s resolution and were surprised with roadblocks as well- i encourage you to remember that the real goal is still exactly where it was when you started; it’s not too late to pursue it.

May 19, 2017 at 10:25 2 comments

2 minute toothpaste

this morning i saw a kitchen tip for how to cook an egg with less fat: they used water. they POACHED AN EGG and included it in a list of healthy life hacks.  i’m astounded. 

i also saw a DIY for night cream recently- something about blending 4 different drugstore lotions with petroleum jelly.  mmmm. *gigantic eye roll*

the internet has been a great source of helpful information as our culture strives to raise up a healthier generation.  sadly, the internet is also littered with… well, garbage. 
let me give you an actually real, and not new, and not expensive, and not time-sucking recipe for something that is legitimately  good for your body: toothpaste.

here are my daily potions:


sadly, today my toothpaste is empty. 

but hooray for you, because now you can make some along with me!   i’m not even joking- this can NOT take more than 2 minutes to make, and you likely have the ingredients at home.


ingredients:

  • 3Tbsp coconut oil (amazing for oral health: healthy gums, kills bad breath, whitens teeth, and my fave: improved sensitivity issues)
  • 2Tbsp baking soda (for the cleanest mouth feeling ever!)
  • 15 drops peppermint oil* 
  • 5 drops clove oil* 

i use a 4oz mason jar, you can use whatever container you’d like. so:

microwave the coconut oil for 30 seconds, or until it’s soft enough to stir.  add in the remaining ingredients, and mix it up. throw it in the fridge if you want to hurry the cool-down, but you don’t have to refrigerate the final product. i like to give it one final stir when it’s sort of semi-solid, and then it’s done.

*use any oil/flavourings that you’d like, but research the oral health benefits first. clove & peppermint are amazing for oral health, but so are spearmint, cinnamon, and myrrh. play around with your favourites!


i hope you give this a try!  i love it, derek loves it, and everyone that i’ve given a sample to, loves it.  your mouth will feel cleaner, look better, and be better.  i haven’t priced it out, but i’d be shocked if it even cost an entire dollar to make a 4oz jar.  

i could ramble on about my experience with ditching factory toothpaste, but it’s already taken you longer to read this post than it would to make the toothpaste. enjoy, and let me know what you think!

March 25, 2017 at 15:25 Leave a comment

homeschool french

hi friends! just writing a quick note to share with you how we answer the dreaded homeschool question: what about french? 

there are so many options out there, and we’ve probably tried most of them.  we tried a computer curriculum from costco, then the french smart books, then rosetta stone, and back to the french smart books. we tried duolingo, then duolingo in tandem with the french smart books. mango languages also fit in there somewhere.   

all of these choices were fine, but not great. they taught vocabulary and grammar, but there was never enough life-application to make the language stick.  a while ago i stumbled across a podcast called coffee break french. i listened to about 10 episodes before realizing that CONVERSATIONAL french was exactly what my kids needed! they didn’t enjoy the subject of french, because they didn’t see any reason for it (despite the relevant history of canada).  

the best part of listening to the coffee break french podcasts, is that we do it over breakfast.  once the kids are done breakfast, they copy out the notes that i’ve made into their french journals- bonus penmanship practice, and time efficiency!

if the idea of making notes intimidates you,  don’t sweat it.  download the google translater app, or open the website on your computer.  pause the podcast if the pace is too quick for you; the explanations are very clear on the podcast.  as you can see from elliot’s notebook above, the content of each episode is quite manageable. you can also pay for notes through the radio lingua website, but i’m a fan of free.

once we have about 5 episodes listened to and written out, i give the kids an assignment to put all 5 episodes into a comic strip. you can find blank comic strip templates for free and to print, all over pinterest. 

we’ve been enjoying learning french together and using it in real life. the kids are actually forming sentences and asking “how do i say ______ in french?”. 

i don’t think that there’s a perfect curriculum out there guaranteed to engage your children and turn them bilingual.  i DO think that not giving up until you find the right one, is really important.  i also think that we’ve found the one that works for us, and maybe it’ll work for you too.

bonne chance!

March 23, 2017 at 14:02 1 comment

trying new things

there’s no delicate way to avoid being laughed at for this, so i’ll just come out with it: i’m taking ballet lessons. i started in january, at the request of anne’s ballet teacher. anne’s been struggling to stay focused in class for a little while, and i was “strongly encouraged” to join in the class with her.   

if you know me, then you know that i’m the most tom-boyish, awkward, clumsy, and uncoordinated human in the world. it’s okay if you’re laughing at the idea of my dancing– i certainly laughed for days at the idea of joining the class! i laughed for days, i brainstormed ways to say “no”, i laughed some more, and then i said “yes”.

also this winter, i finally said “yes” to skiing with my friend krista, who has been inviting us to join her for years. we’ve always had something else happening on fridays, but this year the calendar finally supported the homeschool skiing lessons schedule. i’ve tried skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, and various other winter sports. and although they are a lot of fun, my lack of coordination means that i am good at none of them. 

if you were to ask me what i fear the most in this life, i would answer “regret”. so as much as i had every confidence that i would embarass myself in ballet class, and bounce down the ski hills, i HAD to say yes.  

and now, as ski lessons give way to spring, and ballet transitions into recital preparation; i can say that i’m so glad that i didn’t say “no” to either of these activities. i want to be the sort of person who always challenges herself, is always learning, and one who faces intimidation and fears.  

a year ago, my friend liz and i confronted our fears of “the man section” at the gym, and decided to pursue weight-lifting.  we refused to be intimidated by unfamiliar machines and our own inexperience. familiarity and experience came quickly.

i want to encourage you, reader, to try new things. i want for you to feel intimidation, and the accompanying pride when you overcome.  suprise yourself, and maybe you will inspire others in the process.  as my husband has wisely said to me too many times: don’t let fear run your life.  not great to hear when i’m standing on the kitchen counter screaming that i saw a mouse,  but great life advice nonetheless.  

so, what will you say yes to?

February 26, 2017 at 22:01 Leave a comment

january=success

despite (or maybe because of) the scoffers and naysayers (aka: my sisters), i have successfully completed my hefty to-do list for the month of january regarding my list of new year’s resolutions.  you can see the full post here, but i’ll summarize below:

  1. bible in a year: on track! loving the bible project app, and totally recommend it. 
  2. stretching after working out:  i started out january with an ankle injury and no time to rest it, but modifying my workouts and stretches has kept me successful with this one.
  3. meal planning: stayed consistent with this.
  4. not wasting food: i was far from perfect on this, but i did order my groceries online as planned, and that definitely cut back big time on the wasted food. also, my freezer is full of jars of veggie stock! room for improvement next month, but also experienced an improvement compared to 2016.
  5. blog once per month: yup.
  6. practice flute 3x per week: i’ve loved being reunited with my flute! fave thing to do: put on some beatles music and play along with it.  i’m in the band!
  7. practice french every week day: finally broke the 40% mark! i’ve been struggling with getting out of the 30s for so long, and that threshold felt reeeaaally good!
  8. knit something: i knit a clapotis scarf out of knit picks chroma, and although it was a boring knit, it was a perfect project to get back into the craft, and the self-striping yarn kept me interested.
  9. home improvement:  i mudded, repaired, and sanded every wall on my main floor, plus the back stairwell that has been neglected for over a decade.  huge task, but what a relief to have it finished even if my house is now covered in drywall dust.
  10. woodworking: this was by far the most intimidating item on my list! it had been too long since i’d built anything, i couldn’t make a decision, and i was honestly just intimidated by the whole process.  odd, considering how comfortable i used to be in a woodshop. time does strange things.  anyway,  i eventually settled on an easy project from anawhite.com to get me back into “it”, and i had a lot of fun! the smell of sawdust will always feel like home to me. 

and now it starts all over again! choosing projects for february and finding time to complete them. i’m definitely enjoying the feeling of productivity that accompanied january, and am looking forward to another big list at the end of this short month.

how are you guys doing with your new year’s resolutions?

February 4, 2017 at 15:55 1 comment

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my life in pics

someone needs to up their prank game @ bedlam.
#rookies #excelcbc my heart is all topped up after a wonderful reunion with @hannahchristief ! #sisters4life another beautiful autumn day for a homeschool hike. so thankful for our #homeschool community!