Trailer Treasure

Last week we were blessed with a few days up at my Grandparent’s trailer.  The kids absolutely adore going up ‘North’ and spending their day eating, riding the boat and playing at the beach. Our time there was enjoyed so much that Nick is trying to talk me into purchasing a tent trailer. I’m fighting him hard, but if these guys have anything to say about it, it just may be a fight I can’t win.

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Lego, it’s kinda Danish for Play Well

Apparently July happened.  I remember one week well, and the rest is a blur.  All the good intentions I had for my summer have evaporated, much like everything else around here- seriously, how can it be this hot?

But I digress.

One of the activities I wanted to do with the kids is this Lego lapbook.  I ordered us a box of blocks, (up until this point we’ve just been buying sets with instructions) and was ready to do some real ‘home school’ learning.

We made it one day.

But it was a great day.  I pulled out our ginormous map of the world and we learned where Denmark is, (that’s where Lego was invented).  Then we took a rabbit trail and showed the kids how far we go when we drive from Ontario to Saskatchewan.  We totally blew their minds when we showed them how far a friend of ours moved….from New Zeland.

And the kids made patterns, and graphs and we learned a few more facts about Lego’s beginnings.  It was a lovely hour. Since then the kids have been holding the kitchen table hostage with their collection of creations, and the times they choose to play have been the only quiet times thus far.

So, I’m going to give it another go, we’ve still got a month to complete something around here.

The Good to the Great.

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We go to the zoo a lot.  We love it there, it’s usually cooler than the city, (I  mean temperature wise).  And the kid’s favourite part is the Zoomobile- a ride around the zoo which means we all sit still and I don’t have to keep track of anyone or push a stroller! Nolan seems to think the Polar Bears are his personal pets and since we’re members there is no pressure to make sure each visit gets us the biggest bang for our bucks.

But sometimes you can take something good and make it great. For example, you can visit an exhibit you don’t see very often.And you can bring a friend along to share the experience, and revisit something they haven’t done since entering ‘adulthood’.

Most often I find that the easiest way to take good to great is to just slow down.  Spend some extra time seeing what you already see, because in it you often find something new.

There are a lot of mommy days spent in survival mode.  A lot of days that I christen good if I didn’t have to send anyone to their room, or when the laughter is louder (and more often) than the crying. There are lots of days when I fall into bed exhausted and not so excited that I ‘get’ to do it all over again tomorrow.

There are an equal number of days that are good.  Meals are made, eaten and enjoyed.  The kids want to be helpful and, in their words, are ‘best friend sisters’ and so get a long. When bed time goes smoothly through bathing and stories and falls into sleeping.  Days that remind me this is ‘good’ and I try my best to do it all over again tomorrow.

There are a few golden days.  Days where I enjoy my children like I do my friends.  Days where we talk for real and discipline is minimal.  Days where connections are made, the world is explored, horizons are expanded and I hope I get to do it all over again tomorrow.

What makes a good day great for you?

Wasted Time?

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There are many a times where the end of the day comes and my to-do list is longer than when I woke up that morning. There never seems to be enough time for the errands and housework and projects. Something always ends up at the wayside and I find myself wondering where the day went.

Today was just such a day and as I sat down to reflect on it I could name a few choices I made that could have been made better. A few times where I moved slow when I could have moved fast. A few moments that could have gotten me an extra hour of accomplishment. And I was feeling a little guilty for it.

But the day is done. And tomorrow will be a new one.

So I started reading the book I’m working through. It’s a little on the drier side, but very good. I am reading ‘Friending- Real Relationships in a Virtual World’ by Lynne Baab. And a portion of the chapter jumped out at me in regards to my seeming lack of time. Baab says;

‘Luke 10:38-42 records an incident when Jesus visits the home one of his friends. Martha is bustling around doing tasks while Mary sits at Jesus feet, listening to him. Jesus commends Mary for for choosing the bset path. Mary, Jesus affirms, was not wasting time.’

I can think of a few hours I spent today listening to my kids read, or helping them facilitate play. Texting with a friend who had a rough day at work and reflecting, journaling, praying. None of those things shortened my to-do list, but none of them were wasting time, we they?

Baab continues on saying; ‘That story calls us to spend time with Jesus. It also illustrates the value of simply being with friends. With the strong cultural emphasis on productivity we need to rediscover and reaffirm the value of simply being with friends, and we need to reshape our understanding of all the options for what it can look like today.’

I found that excerpt both challenging and encouraging as I deal with finding balance.

How about you, what does your Mary/Martha balance look like?

Chasing

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It has been a hot summer.  Hotter than most I remember and it has me longing for cooler days.

Tonight I was driving and I started daydreaming about fall which got me thinking about Back-to-School and then I remembered that I saw snowsuits on sale at Costco last week.  Which got me thinking about all the other things I need to purchase for Back-to-School and I was trying to place where and when I saw that sales flyer for Back-to-School items- and I’m pretty sure I saw it on Canada Day weekend.

Isn’t it ironic for a Back-to-School flyer to come out when the summer is just days old?  Ironic and yet typical.

School will begin and within the week Halloween decorations will be out.  Then the week before Halloween the Christmas buzz will begin.  We’ll say ‘Happy New Year’ and in the next breath start making plans for Spring Break.  The return from Mexico will mark the home stretch to summer and then we’ll begin the whole circle again.

We’re constantly being propelled to the next thing.  The next holiday, the next event, the next milestone, the next achievement.

Constant motion marks our lives.  We’ve bought into the idea that still equals stagnant and have forgotten how to be content right here, right now.

Instead of blooming where we’re planted, we move on before we take root.

Instead of perfecting a skill or embracing a challenge we chase experiences and opportunity.

Instead of soaking up moments we snap a memory and move on.

But where are we going?  And why are we trying to get there so fast?

Home {summer} School

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We have a family on the ‘larger’ side and after people get over the shock that I have five kids and am still smiling they inevitably ask me if I homeschool.  I’m not sure where the question comes from, perhaps the affiliation between larger families and conservative religious practices, but whatever the reason I find it funny. The looks I get when I say, ‘why no, I love sending my children away to school!’ are also priceless.

I love sending my children to school because I absolutely adore the school that our children attend.  The teachers are top notch, attentive to what our kids need to succeed not only academically but also in life in general.  The school fosters community with Family Movie Nights and their monthly assemblies.  I have also been led to believe that the level of academia at our school is quite high and whether it’s true or not, I have been shocked at how much and how quickly my children are learning.

So over the summer I’m attempting to continue the positive scholastic journey that our children are on.  I am not a teacher, and Pinterest is my go to for resources- so take it all with a grain of salt.  We’re not doing a lot, maybe an hour during the day and then a few workbook pages from some curriculum’s I picked up at Costco.

A few people have asked me what I’m doing and so I’m going to share our journey a bit, just a little Tidbit on Tuesdays so check back here on Tuesdays if you’re interested.

The only thing we’re doing each day right now is a calendar page and journaling. I printed the calendar pages that www.ouraussiehomeschool.com has as a printable and the older two are learning their way through them.

The younger two are just keeping track of the weather and tracing the numbers on a calendar page.

Our journal jar was inspired by www.teachingwithtlc.com  There are a tonne of journal prompts on this site and I just chose the ones I thought the kids would like to answer.  The younger two are drawing pictures and I write a sentence about it.  I ask Isabella to write a certain number of sentences on her own and have a picture if she wants to.  Brooklyn is a mix, depending on how she’s feeling.  Sometimes she wants to be older and sometimes not so much.

We’re starting small and I hope to keep building on it as we get more organized and find our rhythm.

Do you homeschool, any great resources I should check out?

Weaning

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(*warning this post has absolutely nothing to do with breastfeeding)

About a month okay we took a plunge and cancelled our Cable services.  I know what you’re thinking, ‘big deal, having Cable is so 2009’. True, you can watch virtually anything online and most often for free, so who needs Cable anyway? And more importantly who doesn’t want to save a few bucks?

But we didn’t cancel Cable to save some dough, we cancelled because I don’t think it would be a stretch to say our family was addicted to the screen.

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The TV would get turned on while the kids were waiting for me to get the baby settled so I could get their breakfast and it would stay on until the wee hours of the morning when my dear hubby would finally leave his recliner for bed, which he’ll admit he should have done hours ago.  We would watch TV while we were eating.  We would ignore each other because we ‘needed’ to see what was on.  Our kids started actually physically fighting over which sitcom character they would be for the next half hour.

I currently have a 5 year old sulking, refusing to play with her siblings, hiding in the dress up clothes closet clutching a cell phone because Cooper Keegan will not be going to the Snowball Dance with her.  A sentence which only makes sense if you’ve watched Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

The time for a change was long past due.

So we cut the cord, the Cable cord that is, and have been without for 30 days.  But we’re still watching a whole lot of TV.  The children learned almost instantly how to find their programs on Netflix and we have a few videos from the library (it was our turn on the wait list), which are being watched over and over.

I knew being rid of the TV would be good for our family, but I failed to understand just how much I relied on it.  I am surprised by the number of times I ask the kids to; ‘just sit down and watch something’ so I can clean up after a meal, or get the baby settled for a nap, or make a meal, or have an uninterrupted shower.  Having Cable was like having an extra set of hands, a set that could entertain the children on demand whenever I needed it, and apparently I needed it a lot.

So, now we’re navigating our way.  Re-engaging our imaginations without sitcom scenarios, spending more time reading than watching, eating at a table learning to have real conversations.  It’s not going nearly as smoothly as I had hoped, but it’s going.

And next week we’re going to take it one step further, earning our screen time by doing chores, and this time I don’t have any illusions that it will be easy.

Have you also cut the Cable cord?  Got any advice to make the transition more smooth?

The 69 Days of Summer

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Today is the first day of Summer Break here in the Frankly Creative household.  It’s been a lazy day for most of us; movies, wading pool fun, computer gaming and playing with friends. My children love summer, I do not.  Every day of the summer takes discipline for me.  Discipline to make meals in the heat, discipline to leave the air conditioning for fresh air. Discipline to actually do activities, outings, frankly anything more than sending them outside to run willy nilly in the neighbourhood.

And this summer I’m putting my best foot forward and trusting it will get me through the next 69 days successfully.  We’re going to do a bit of Home {Summer}Schooling, regular weekly outings and of course FUN TIMES!

This weekend I’ll be busy celebrating Canada and actually creating all that stuff I pinned in preparation for summer, then we’re off to the races!