Faith · Faith Life

5:30 Thankfulness

by Kara

 

A while ago, my friend posted a couple vlogs titled “5:30 Thankfulness”. These vlogs were posted on days when her daughter woke her up at 5:30 in the morning, and they were little things to be thankful for, despite the lack of sleep.

I thought this was a great idea, and today was one of those days that Zoe woke up at 5:30 and did not want to go back to sleep. Its now 17 hours later, and I thought I would post some of the things that I’m thankful for today, even though I’m a tad tired. These things are direct results of the 5:30 wake up call!

  1. Since we were already awake, Zoe and I drove Tsjibbe to work, and we had the car for the day! We met a friend for lunch and did some Christmas shopping!
  2. When we got back from dropping Tsjibbe off (we always come back home before we go on our adventure), the fire was roaring and the house was warm. Tsjibbe had made sure to put some logs in the fire before we left, and it was so nice to come home to a warm house!
  3. We got to see my friend Sarah. We hardly ever see Sarah. So it was nice to catch up, enjoy lunch together, and discover my daughter’s fear of elevators together.
  4. We got to spend a lot of extra time with Tsjibbe! Not only did we get the extra hour of driving together, after Tsjibbe was done work, we got to run a few more errands together! Shopping is much easier with a man to carry around the [big] baby!
  5. We got to see both the sunrise and the sunset while driving. Two absolutely beautiful views. Its amazing to see the beauty God put into creation – for no other purpose than for His glory and our enjoyment.

Now that our day of fun is done, I’m ready to curl up in bed. Zoe, on the other hand, is happily crawling around and playing with the TV remote. Maybe she thinks that by not going to bed, she gets to spend a fun day out with mom.

 

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Lifestyle

Why We Chose to Homeschool.

by Vicki

We have been homeschooling for two months now. We are all enjoying it…most days. Peyton has grown in leaps and bounds and is starting to read little books, make connections from our school work to our daily lives, and is learning so much about her God and Creator.

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A lot of people have asked us “why?” about our choice to homeschool.  Most of the time they are genuine ‘why?’s from people who are interested in our schooling choices. This is awesome and I love to share what we are learning and experiencing. But sometimes (like from a certain grocery store cashier) I get a “Why would you even do that? Do you really think that’s a good idea?”. Ummmmm, yes. Yes we do. That’s why we are doing it. Obviously.

So, to answer everyone’s spoken and unspoken questions of “why??”, here are some of the top reasons that Mark and I have decided to keep Peyton home for her kindergarten year.

  • Peyton’s Age: Peyton is young! She is 5 now, but would have only been 4 when she started full time Kindergarten. Mark and I both feel that 4 (and early 5s) is just too small to be gone from the house for 7+ hours each day. I dreaded the rushed grumpy mornings and the exhausted irritable evenings. Peyton still enjoys sleeping in in the mornings, having an hour (or more) of quiet time (nap?) in the afternoons, and is typically enjoyable during the evenings. In a year she will be that much more ready and mature to handle longer school hours, more structured routine, and her big emotions; making ‘regular’ school a better possibility for her.  IMG_0982
  • Family Time: Family time is very important to our family (as it is to most families, I’d imagine!). Since I am currently on Maternity Leave I felt strongly about Peyton having this time with me at home. She has spent time in daycares off and on since she was one, so I wanted to give her a year at home to relax and enjoy our family. I also thought it would be good to take this time to pour attention, love, and confidence into our little girl before she starts ‘regular’ school. As well, Mark gets home a little later in the day and, if Peyton was in school, she would have to go to bed pretty soon after he walked in the door (or sometimes even before!). With Peyton being homeschooled we are able to enjoy relaxed evenings with our family. Later bedtimes typically mean later mornings for Peyton, which is okay because we can start school on our own time.
  • Family Values: We believe in a Christian worldview. This worldview affects everything that we do, especially how we learn and process the world around us. Mark and I feel convicted that we want to start Peyton’s school career off in a place that encourages a focus on Christ and an awe of how our Creator has woven this world together. And, although we toured two wonderful Christian private schools, we like having another year to pour into our little lady. We, as parents, try to model Christ-like behaviour, love and values so that our children can know who and whose they are. With one more year at home, God willing Peyton will be that much more secure in her faith and identity so she can stand firm.IMG_0958
  • Flexibility: We are able to teach Peyton what and when we want (even when following a curriculum and ensuring she is staying on par with the Kindergarten standards). We are also able to take a day (or week) off if we need to rejuvenate, if we go visit family in Kingston or Ottawa, if we’re having a bad day, or if we’d rather sit in our pajamas reading books and drinking tea all day.
  • Understanding our Little Girl: Teaching Peyton one-on-one allows me to ensure she is learning in a way that helps her. I can manipulate the curriculum to ensure she is learning to her strengths. If she isn’t getting something I can spend more time on it to ensure it is firmly understood. Or, if she catches on to something very quickly (numbers seem to make a lot of sense to her!), we can spend less time on it. I can also choose subjects and activities that interest Peyton. She is so much easier to teach and so much more interested in learning if its incorporated into something she already has an interest in. When Peyton goes to regular school next year I will have a good understanding of Peyton’s abilities (her strengths and weaknesses), her interests and disinterests, and how she learns best. I will be able to help her navigate the different learning environment and can be an advocate for her during her schooling career. IMG_0948
  • No regrets: Both Mark and myself were homeschooled at some point in our lives. Mark was for the majority of his schooling and I was for a couple of years in elementary. It is something that we talked (in passing) about maybe doing for our kids one day. When the opportunity to do so became an actual possibility one thought kept coming to me: We will never regret trying, but we may regret not trying. Its easier to do it and realize that it doesn’t work for us than to always wonder what could have been.

There are so many more reasons that we have chosen to keep Peyton home, but these are the main ones. We have many friends that have chosen to send their children to private or public schools and we love that. We do not think that homeschooling is the only or even the best way to teach your children. We do believe that you need to know your children and make choices that are right for them and for your family. For us, that means keeping Peyton home (at least for this year) and reevaluating her schooling situation next year.IMG_0952We just finished our first two months of school. And it is hard. But we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a couple of field trips already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my ‘peanut’.  I will do more homeschooling posts about some of our day-to-day life in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about homeschooling or are wondering if this is a choice for your family I am more than happy to share (the little of) what I know. I am by no means an expert but I am happy to help you with this journey!

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Lifestyle

We Went on a Field Trip.

by Vicki

Homeschooling has been going well.

Better than I thought it would.

We haven’t started sending Peyton to “real” school yet, so I guess that’s a pretty good indication that we are surviving. 🙂

IMG_0847Over the last couple of weeks we have been learning the letters “L” and “A”. Along with these letters our units have been about Leaves and Apples. I thought that this would be the perfect time to visit Chudleigh’s Apple Farm.  Aunt Danielle, Kiera and Carter joined us which made a fun day even more fun! We were blessed with the perfect Autumn weather and were able to enjoy the sunshine as we explored the farm, picked apples, slid down giant slides, watched animals, and ate some yummy treats.

IMG_0881IMG_0872IMG_0890IMG_0886Homeschooling Bonuses: we were able to choose a day to go that had beautiful weather, we could stay from 10:30-4 without worrying about catching a bus, and I got to enjoy the farm with all of my kiddos! IMG_0921IMG_0939IMG_0935Visiting Chudleigh’s is one of my favorite Autumn traditions. What traditions do you have for this beautiful season? IMG_0861

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Life in the Slow(er) Lane.

By Katie


Have you noticed that there are Christmas trees set up in Costco?  The fall and Halloween displays have been taken down and the left over merchandise is tucked into out-of-the way aisles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Christmas music will be playing next time we go (which will be next week.  I love me some Costco samples!)  I am fully expecting to go on Dec 24 to buy Valentine’s Day cards.

What is going on?  How did our culture get sucked into living at super speed?  It is not only shopping: its all aspects of our North American Culture.   The part the gets me is how it has affected parenting.  I know of parents whose children are in school all day, and activities all night.  Weekends are full of activities and obligations and running around.

I don’t want that life.  I can’t do much about unseasonable displays in retail locations, but I can do something about my children’s childhood. I want to do something about my children’s childhood.

I want to slow it down.

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This is a picture from last fall. I am wondering where the energy is going to come from to rake up all these leaves this year.

I have always wanted to homeschool.  I was homeschooled for 3 years and consider them the best, most educational schooling years of my life.  I mentioned earlier this week, one reason is to have an impact on my children’s mindset – I don’t want them to adopt a fixed mindset, which I believe institutionalized education fosters.  (I am not saying all children in schools have a fixed mindset; I think the current set-up of education pushes children towards, and intentionally rewards a fixed mindset).

The other reason I want to homeschool is because I don’t want our family life to be sucked into the whirlwind of busy.  I understand that life will be busy, that my life will be busy with 4 kids close together in age.  But, there is a difference between external busyness and family busyness.   External busyness is running everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off trying to accomplish all the tasks that society tells us we must in order to be living the best life ever.  Family busyness is attempting to sit down for supper and having to get up 134 times because you forgot all the things kids need in order to complete a meal.   Family busyness it trying to corral your kids and all their stuff at the same time so you can take a leisurely fall walk in which you spend all your time answering questions, guiding the run-away kids, preventing a tumble into the lake.  (Ha. Leisurely…)

I want to be able to intentionally slow down on a regular basis.  I don’t want my schedule to get cluttered with external obligations at the expense of my family’s life.   The art of slow does not come easy to me:  I like to be productive.  But I want to change my mind set to see that spending time doing life with my kids and husband is productive in the best kind of way.

Life has been getting busy lately. We are desperately trying to get a bunch of renos finished before the twins come.  I feel like it is consuming my life and I am constantly anxious because I don’t think we will get done.

But I think that life will be easier if we get them done before the number of kids we have at home grows exponentially.

But I feel like I am pushing my family to the side to achieve these goals.

So, when I noticed that a new friend of mine joined a challenge for October called The 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge I joined as well.  Because I am a follower.

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I should clearly add “haircuts” to my Before-Babies-Arrive to do list.

Ok, I joined because I thought it would be good if we could take a month to relearn how to slow down before the little ladies join us in 7 short weeks (eek!!).

The challenge comes with daily things to do with your kids intended to slow down your day.  Some of them are easy: read aloud to your kids.   My kids wouldn’t let me go a day without multiple stories being read.  Others are more difficult: make a piece of land art.  My kids are constantly collecting nature to do things with, but I never follow through with the actual creating of something.

It has been difficult to find time to complete all the tasks of the challenge.

I thought it ironic that my slow down challenge has become one more thing to check off my list, so I decided to slow it down a bit more.  I am not completing all the tasks (I am not sure I will ever be the mom that does yoga with her toddlers.   Just doesn’t seem like fun to me.)   There is a daily journal component that I really want to do but haven’t yet.  Part of the reason is that I think I need to go out and buy a beautiful journal in which to transcribe my oh-so-poignant thoughts.  Really, for the poignancy of my thoughts at this stage of pregnancy, the back of a receipt would do.

One the challenge items I latched on to was the “Purge 25 items.”  I have made it into “Purge a multiple of 25 items.”  I am collector (that is ‘hoarder’ in euphemistic terms).  I have So. Much. Junk.   And even as I purge I think, “this could be useful one day.”  But I am attempting to be ruthless, as ruthless as I can be, because I actually like my stuff.

I have gone through purges before and regretted the stuff I got rid of.  Ok, there was only 1 thing I ever regretted:  my old SLR camera that used film.  It was the camera I bought for my travels.  I hadn’t used it since I purchased my DSLR, so I sold it.   And regretted it the moment the transaction was done. Now, I live in fear that I will regret another purged item.  So maybe I should keep the terra cotta pot that has one side broken because maybe I will make a fairy garden like this one day.   Or maybe it just should go into the dump pile.

Some of the tasks I missed I want to do next week, like make the land art.  We have so many leaves here from our maples that I think would be fun to collect with the kids.  I don’t know what we will do yet, but if Atticus has his way, it will involve glue and paint.  And a drill.

My journey to slow is far from complete.  These reminders and challenges are good to keep me on track.  I don’t want to raise workaholics, but rather adults who take pleasure in the simplicities of this life that God gave us.

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Clive believes in the slow life.

And, by the way, the pot got chucked.

Lifestyle

An Open Letter to My 5-year-old Daughter

by Vicki

My darling little lady,

How has this day already come? How have 5 whole years gone by since I first held you in my arms and prayed that I would live up to the name “mama”? Prayed that I would have the answers to all your ‘why’ questions? Prayed that I would have the words when your heart was broken? Prayed that you would know how loved and treasured you are?

You have always been a joy to our family. Your smile, contagious laugh, fits of giggles, and desire for a good time make our lives entertaining (if not a bit busy). You keep your Daddy and me on our toes (already) and I can only imagine that that will continue as you get older. You already ask the tough questions and desire a deeper knowledge of the world around you. You love passionately, you feel deeply, and your heart breaks with injustice and unfairness. You are intuitive and often pick up on people’s emotions before they have even been expressed. You are empathetic and you want to make sure your people are taken care of. You are loyal, almost to a fault (other people can have cute babies too, you know!). You struggle with trusting the unknown but, when the questions get hard and the answers seem harder, you willingly and determinedly repeat “I know that my God is good”. You’ve already made us so proud in your short life and we know you are destined for big things. You are our little lady. We love you so.so.so much.  Even more than that, you are God’s little lady. And He loves you even more.

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On your fifth birthday there are some things I want to tell you. Some things I pray you’ll keep close to your heart, that you’ll remember each year as you get older, and that will help you navigate this crazy thing called life.

  • Life is hard. It has been hard since the fall into sin and it will be hard until we are Heaven-side. People will be unkind, toes will be stubbed, little brothers will get bigger and beat you up, people will have things you want but cannot have, you will get sick, tests will be failed, pimples will appear before first dates, friends will be lost, you will spill water and milk and tea, you will be hurt, you will cry, your parents will disappoint you, you will feel like no one understands you, and you will feel alone. BUT!
  • Life is good. It hasn’t always been good. But Jesus, He made it good. When those hard things get you down, please remember, please know…that He’s got you. He died for you. He made it so that one day there would be no more tears, no stubbed toes, no wardrobe disasters, no failed grades, no unkind words, and no loneliness. And so, when life feels hard, remember that life is good because of Jesus.

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  • Life is beautiful. There is beauty all around you. There are breaths of fresh air, trickling streams, towering trees, glistening sunshine and full rainbows. There are smiles, laughter, soothing melodies, baby giggles, rich dark chocolate, soft sweaters, and warm cups of tea. There is forgiveness. There is redemption. There is a life redeemed by the blood of our Saviour. There is a place for you at the foot of His heavenly throne where angels will be singing praises to our King! I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that!
  • Life is love. There is no life without love. You have been blessed to be born into a world where you are surrounded by love. Your daddy and I love you so much. There is nothing you can do, or say, or think that will make us love you less. You have grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings that love you. You have friends and friend-families that love you. You are a very loved young lady. But, when those people fail you or disappoint you or seem too busy for you. There is Jesus’ love. And His love is the most important. His love is the love that makes this life possible. Don’t forget that. His love never fails, never disappoints, and He’s never too busy for you. He loved you so much that he gave His life for you, so that you could live this life well, and the next life even better!

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  • Life is a choice. Each day you make the choice to live this life. Choose to live it well. Live it loving others. Choose to be kind, caring, honest, joyful, determined for the future, peaceful, controlled, patient, and good. Choose to run this race well, to finish with honour. Like I’ve already said, its going to be hard, but Jesus lives in you. And He has given you everything you need to choose to live this life well.
  • Life is about Jesus. Be you in this life. Be uniquely you. Don’t let others dictate who you are or what choices you should make. But, be you…in Jesus.  Because this life really is all about Him: Jesus. Love Him. Trust Him. Live for Him. Do this, and it all will turn out okay. I promise.

You have so much life to live. Live it well. Defeat your dragons. Fight your battles. Discover your paths. Dream your dreams. Play your music. Dance your two step. And: Love your Jesus.

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Love always,

Mama.

Lifestyle

Fall into Nature.

By Katie


 

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I think I can safely say fall is my favourite season.

Of course, I safely say that at the start of every season.  But, I really do love living in a part of the world where there are four distinct seasons.  I love each and every one of them and would have a hard time moving to a country that doesn’t have the warm rains of spring, the heat of summer, the cool breezes of fall and the snowy wonderland of winter.

But, back to fall.  Fall has just started and the temperatures are still warm during the day but oh-so wonderfully cool at night.  I have put additional blankets on our beds.  I have pulled out warmer pajamas for the littles.  I have bought fall mums. I have stacked cords and cords of wood for our fire place.  We are all set for the coziness of fall and winter.

This season also brings the start of school.  We are planning on homeschooling our littles but they are currently still too young for too much formal education.  Atticus is 3.5 years and Vivien is 2 years.  Atticus could technically be enrolled in preschool, but I wasn’t going to be too gung-ho with him this year.

Buuuuut then he found my preschool books.  And begged to start.  BEGGED.  So I acquiesced to his request.  I have a few of the Kumon early learning books and a couple of dry-erase books from Costco.   We don’t do school every day, but most days we do manage pull it out for 10 or 15 minutes.  Vivien colours and cuts while I do some tracing/numbers/maze-ing with Atticus. (I just got this colouring book for Vivien to start.  I am excited to see if she enjoys it.)

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Anyways, all this is to say that since we are planning on homeschooling I have connected with homeschool groups in our area.  This is the first year that I am actively participating in some of the activities.   One of the programs we were introduced to is the Little Cataraqui Creek  Conservation Area  Home and Early Learners program.

 

Its done in 3 3-week increments.  The program connects your kids to nature with different hands-on activities.  (It also gives Mamas good ideas to do at home. )

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I love this program, and so do the kids.  So it’s a win-win.  We are sad that today was the last day of this session, especially since we will most likely miss the winter session due to the 2 littlest littles who will be ex-utero by then.  I am hoping to be able to participate in the spring session again.

It is so, so good to be outside with my kids for a couple of hours just discovering this incredible creation that God has given us.  There is so much to see if you just stop to see it.

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One of the cool ideas we did today was to try find matching colours from nature to the paint chips the organizer handed out.  The kids were thrilled with every match they found (though one of our colours was green. It was hard for me to be excited after the 1000th green leaf they found).   It’s definitely something I want to do at home, or on our walks.  I also want to get magnifying glasses for them (great stocking stuffer!!) since its incredible to see the intricate workings of nature.  And it’s also so cute to see them walking around with a magnifying glass stuck to their eye!

What’s your favourite season?  Have you been out and about in nature this fall?



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Lifestyle

Homeschooling Recap: Weeks 1 & 2

by Vicki

So, although technically we are just finishing up Week 3 of our homeschooling adventure, I wanted to do a short medium length long recap on our first two weeks.

As I have mentioned, we have chosen to use the My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum. This curriculum starts the year off with a two week unit on God’s creation. It also does a review of (get familiar with) all the letters and works on teaching the student how to use different tools (like the alphabet chart). I really enjoyed this unit and it was a great way to familiarize myself with how the curriculum flows. It was also a good two weeks for Peyton and I to get comfortable with schooling and to figure out a schedule that works for us.

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Each day we read a part of the Genesis story and learned about a different day of creation. I love the creation story – God’s awesome power, the beauty that came from just His words, and the comfort that is encompassed in the “and it was good”. Peyton memorized what was created on which day (not a requirement but she picked it up pretty quickly) and enjoyed the different activities that we got to do. We made Creation Numbers (each number was decorated with what was created on that day), visited the park to look at things that God created vs. man-made objects, talked about light and darkness in the world and in our hearts, visited the Butterfly Conservatory for a Monarch Butterfly presentation, learned the song “This is my Father’s World”, and illustrated our very own creation story books.

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For the cover page I wanted to do something different so I went to the idea factory: Pinterest. I found this craft on the blog Preschool Crafts for Kids. It was fun to make, it turned out really cute (I think) and I liked the idea of showing that God has the whole world in His hands. We took the title of Peyton’s book from the song “This is my Father’s World”: His hands the wonders wrought.  I thought it was an appropriate title considering the book contains just some of those wonders.

In the book there is one page for each day of creation. We had fun using different craft items to make our book very special and original. I think my favorite page is Day 3!

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Of course Chase is included in our schooling. He enjoyed making the book as well (although, as you can see, he sometimes didn’t have the focus to finish some of the crafts). He did finish the entire book and is VERY proud of it. I only took a couple of pictures from his (I love how his people don’t have bodies…so cute!).

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The Day 7(s) were just plain paper saying “God rested.”

I really enjoyed this craft. It was fun to plan (I planned different things for each page beyond what was suggested in the curriculum) and it was fun to watch the kids create while talking about their Great Creator! Both Peyton and Chase talk often now about the different things that God created in the world around us. I love how they name things and marvel that God created it!

We also did a little poster project: God Created vs Man-Made. Such a fun activity and a little confusing for Peyton. She was confused with flowers in a flower garden (but people plant them!) and that God didn’t create cars or toys. We did talk about how God created humans with brains that were able to invent things so really, yes, God is the creator of all things (even cars and toys). It was an excellent exercise for her. Plus it helped with her cutting and pasting skills.

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It was a fun first two weeks. And we enjoyed our third week (this past week) as well, learning about the letter “s” and the sun! I really recommend My Father’s World curriculum (not an ad!) for anyone looking for a more guided curriculum for their kindergarten homeschooling adventures!