Sunday, 28 December 2014

Our word for the year: Growth

We've all heard of New Years Resolutions, but not as many people have heard choosing one word for your year.  I believe it is a relatively new thing, but basically after much thought and consideration you pick one word to be you focus for the year.

This year I chose the word growth/growing.  I had all sorts of amazing things I expected from the year.  God planed things a little differently than I would but, overall it has been a wonderful year.

Some areas of our growth this year:

Our Faith and trust in God is always being strengthen, tested and grows stronger all the time.  The boys love the Lord and are learning so much about him each day.  Both boys are in the AWANAS program at our church, learning memory verses and enjoying the program.

Our company doubled the amount of billable work from the previous year.
We ended the year with less employees, but had learned so much from running our own business.

The boys are blossoming this year with new friendships and activities.  We have regular play dates with a few families.  The boys also go the the YMCA several times a week.  We are blessed to have some daytime time Ykids activities for home schoolers at our YMCA.

Homeschooling is going very well and the boys have learned so much.  We are using an eclectic mix of curriculum and styles that is working well for our family.  The boys are very curious and come up with the most interesting projects and topics to study.

I made new friends (yeay that was my plan).  We are growing a community around us from various places, home schoolers, church, online and the garden plot.

Our vegetable garden grew very well and we added a space at home for even more growth!

I know that our family has grown closer, bonded more, and learned about each other more than ever this year.  The boys are playing together more, we communicate well, and love each other very much.

I won't lie.  I was hoping all year that our family would grow and expand this year.  Many know that last fall I had a miscarriage at around 10 weeks (the baby had stopped growing around 8 weeks).  We've tried for over a year to have another one.  This fall I decided I was done trying.  We sold lots of baby items and prepared to move on with our beautiful family.  I have two amazing wonderful boys that fill me with such joy.  But God knows best...

We couldn't wait to share the exciting news with our families and the boys this Christmas.  So as this current year ends I will be 10 weeks pregnant.

So what is my new word for next year....

I think it shall be JOY.  I am seeking joy in the every day moments in life.

Please do share.  I'd love to know what your word of the year is!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Our Week: December Catch-up

I just realized I missed writing about one of our weeks.  So here is a little catch-up on what we've been doing.

Some highlights that didn't get photos were walks with friends in the forrest.  We finished up this term's swimming classes (TJ will move up a level in January, while MJ still has a few more thing to complete at his current level).  We celebrated my sister's birthday and my boys made the cake.  Nanny came to watch the boys one day and had fun playing Monopoly Jr with TJ.  We went to a Homeschool Christmas party and had a fabulous time.  And we have been taking care of a friend who is off school this week.  The boys love having her over to play it has been such a blessing.

We started last week with painting more wooden animals.  The boys then played farm most of the week.  We did end up tidying up the farms a little to make the boys room look more manageable. Lots of fun animal adventures have gone on.

TJ also set up a pet daycare using some toys that came down from their cousin.  TJ took excellent care of our stuffies and the boys were very much amused by all the noisy toys for a few days.

I often get inspiration and ideas from other blogs I read.  I tried out a game with our base 10 blocks.  I made a number with the blocks, TJ then made it on the abacus and told me what it was.  We even added a few larger numbers together.  Meanwhile MJ made a corn field with the base 10 blocks and counted how much corn was knocked over by his tractor.  The base 10 blocks also came out again as TJ was experimenting with his bulldozer.  He tried pushing everything including the nativity set.

MJ made a fort that he turned into a store.  We had fun buying things from him.  That day we also sung lots of Christmas carols for fun. 

Both boys have been making interesting Lego creations.  We had one of the boy's friend's over in the morning and they all made Lego cars most of the time.  It was interesting to see how two 4 year olds negotiate and interact.  We are very thankful to have such great friends around us.

One day I suggested that I had an activity for the boys to do.  MJ jumped right in and said he needed to make his craft first.  The boys each made a carwash from a paper bag.  They pretended to wash all their cars.  TJ even announced the opening of his carwash to all the cars around the house pretending his recycled parts airplane was making the announcement over the radio.

We finally got to moving a new load of wood to the font door.  The day the wood was to be delivered TJ went outside to get some fire wood and ran back inside saying there was a furry lump in the wood pile.  I went to check and discovered a racoon camped out at the front door.  He was very stunned and stubborn.  After many attempts to scare it off he finally moved into our shed (not much better but at least away from the front door).  He's moved on since and we moved our wood.

TJ decided to make his own set of tree blocks all by himself.

We also made some birdseed ornaments.  We had to half the recipe because we didn't have too many seeds left.  TJ is amazing with division!  I think the pictures helped a lot.

At our church all the children participated in a family service on the weekend.  The boys were wonderful and remembered all the actions and words for their songs despite being sick and missing many Sunday's for rehearsals.  My mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law all came out to see the boys.  It was very well done.

Later in the afternoon MJ spent ages building a train track and road way from blocks.  We had our old employee over for dinner and the boys were blessed with some new games to play.

A few other random things... While my mom was watching the boys one day, TJ created what he calls a soka-moka kit.  It is a decorate your own socks kit that he made from paper for me!  He later made a pant decorating kit for daddy by tracing his pants onto a large sheet of paper.

TJ and I finished his gift of MJ.  He did most of the work on this needle felted fox.  I gave MJ some suggestions of things we could do for his brother.  He firmly told me he wanted to make a bulldozer lego kit.  So he gathered up some of our lego into a box and wrapped it up for Christmas.

I finally made a second attempt with a shaving cream activity for the kids  (the little girl we are watching wanted nothing to do with this).  I was trying to make dough using shaving cream and cornstarch.  I should have made it up myself then let the kids play with it.  As you can see the boys had fun making a mess, but we ended up throwing most of it out.  I think I'll avoid the use of shaving cream for now on, or only do it in the summer outside near a hose!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!  We'll be back with some Christmas highlights soon....

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Our Week: Very Christmasy adventures

We were very much into the Christmas spirit this week.  On the weekend we went to the local garden centre with a friend to see the live animals and other family activities.  Santa was taking pictures with pets, but he took time to visit with MJ and big doggie (his stuffy friend).  The boys had their face painted, went on a scavenger hunt and bought poinsettias.

MJ came home to 'help' daddy with some building.  He got all his play tools and used them all while daddy was doing some house repairs.

I made multiple attempts to get some lovely Christmas photos of the boys.  I did bribe them a little to sit close to each other.

The boys had an amazing time at their cousin's super hero birthday party.  My niece chose the theme months ago.  My sister incorporated so many adorable details to make this party super amazing!  There were lots of games, masks to make, cupcakes and more!!

Early in the week the boys wanted to play style shop.  They did this often with our daycare girls last year.  MJ wanted to use the hair dryer.  Daddy got a make-over too! TJ brought out his nail polish and the boys had a great time.  Don't they look great.

We had a homeschool party early in the week too.  There were a large number of families, cupcakes to decorate, crafts, games and food.  A perfect party with lovely families.

Moving our advent calendar each day has lead to lots of counting.  The boys wanted to know hoe many days were left until Christmas.  So we brought out the base 10 blocks to help us figure that out.  While TJ was finding his answer, MJ made stairs with the cuisenaire rods.  He later brought the two together to make a tree.  

TJ came up with plans to make a guitar.  It's been fun watching him put on shows and sing to us.

We wanted to spread the Christmas joy to others so the boys went through all our Christmas decorations, and their toys.  We delivered items for free to several families downtown.  

This week we also made some nature inspired decorations.  MJ always does his own thing.  His tree needed to stand up and be added to his small world farm.  He also made a sun.

In our small worlds this week, MJ turned a handmade dish cloth into a hammock.  I brought out a safari themed Playmobil set.  MJ took most of it for his farm while TJ and I have been playing with Safari Sam (the only person allowed in their play at the moment).  Our little Playmobil man has been traveling around the house making movies.  TJ's animals were trying to get up into his Christmas tree.  the bean buckets came out for a bit.  Homemade microphones then turned into volcanoes and mushrooms.  This led to some interesting discussions and stories and research about volcanos and poisonous mushrooms.

We went on a wonderful winter walk with two other families into the forrest by our house.  It was a great opportunity for the boys to get some fresh air. play and explore with other kids.  Snowball fights, negotiations, exploring and lots of fun were had.  So much fun I forgot to take pictures.

I remembered that I had bought some oil pastels from the dollar store.  I set them out with paper and Christmas cards for inspiration.  TJ liked how well these pastels drew, much smoother than crayon and more solid than our chalk pastels.  I started to raw a picture and were all copied elements from each other's drawings as we went along.  This is TJ's house with a snowman and trees.  He's included a fireplace, kitchen counter and two Christmas trees with lights inside the house.  MJ drew a decorated tree inside a house and two trees outside.  One has fallen over (depending on which way you hold the paper). Mine is a house, snowman and forrest.

MJ has had a nagging cough so we missed church.  We were up all night with him and didn't want to get anyone sick.  To end our week we went to a nearby heritage village to see their Christmas displays.  We had a fabulous time.  Horse wagon ride, popcorn, crafts, print making, another visit with Santa and lots of opportunities to explore the old village houses.  The boys got to send a telegraph to the North Pole at the train station and received a personal message back!!  We even dropped in on a concert from a Children's musical group the boys loved when they were younger.

One final trip to close off our week was to outer space!!  My little guys were sitting around seemingly bored.  I suggested a few activities which weren't met with much enthusiasm.  Dressing up always sparks the imagination.  Our space explorers traveled to distant plants, met aliens, discovered some new mushrooms and a space car.

Another wonderful week together.  Learning loving and being together.  

Oh I forgot to mention a new program/game we discovered.  Teach Your Monster to Read is sort of like the Reading Eggs I've heard others talk about, but this is free so we gave it a try.  TJ completed the whole second level of the program in just two days.  He has now gotten as far as you can and is very proud.  He can't wait to go back and keep working on the games which teach sounds, spelling and reading.  MJ is doing well with the game too but finds manipulating the mouse or the tablet more difficult than the game itself.  He plays for shorter bursts and is on the first level of play learning letter sounds and blends along with a few simple words.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Our Week: December week 1

It's December already!!!  The holiday music is on, our house is decorated and we are loving this season.  Thank you for join us to see what we are doing to celebrate advent this year. 

On the weekend we set up our advent table.  You can read more about that here.
After we set up our table, MJ took most of the items off to use for his farm.  TJ got out his cardboard nativity scene he was given a few years ago... MJ became jealous that everyone had a nativity set except him.  So I suggested he make one.  Isn't his baby Jesus adorable!  All the people are toilet rolls and the sheep are egg cartons.

MJ's farm has been out all week and has seen much action.  First he had all our nature table decorations on it with rocks and cards.  He added some peg people to make a nativity along with many animals.  The top right photo is God and Jesus in the clouds that he added in.  I just love to hear his stories.  I think we need to bring that back to our rhythm.

Our advent activities this week went well. Day 1 was to set up our Christmas tree, Day 2 was to decorate glass ornaments, Day 3 was to make cardboard Christmas trees, Day 4 was to write a letter to Santa and Day 5 was to visit Santa and the Train display.

The boys filled glass ornaments with coloured sand, feathers, paint and glitter.  My plan for the trees was to use recycling or paint chips.  TJ had a larger tree in mind which we were able to accommodate.  Our playroom/homeschool room is the first room you walk into at our house.  We set it up this way because it is the most used room.  Now it is the only festive area in the house.  We have at least 4 Christmas trees in here and a few nativities!

I needed a quick distraction at some point during the week.  I remembered I had bought some things for provocations (invitations to play/learn).  A very simple geoboard made of a cork board, push pins and elastics has kept the boys enthralled for a few days.  I hope to demonstrate a few more ideas to show the to keep the idea going.

I noticed once MJ was playing with his Thomas alphabet cards.  He was putting them into his train bucket.  When I inquired he showed me that he had put all the cards with train tracks on them into the train bucket.  The rest remain in the original box.  Later he made a track to play with out of his alphabet cards (only the ones with tracks on them).

Only a few days into the month and our family Christmas tree has lost half of it's decorations.  We only have glass balls and a few special ornaments left.  MJ has been decorating his small tree with everything he could, including a few new ones that he made.

Oh TJ I love your creative imagination!!  He came to us all excited and invited MJ and I to a party he planed in his bedroom.  We followed the sign to the party, which was for his pillow!  TJ had a special toy area for the babies (our stuffed friends) that were being cared for by another toy.  His large frog was helping man the snack area.  TJ even made us each a pinata.  We played games, sang to his pillow and open gifts which he had wrapped up for the occasion.  It was an adorable fun time. 

This week the weather was nicer and we were all feeling better.  I was thankful for some lovely walks in the forrest.  I am looking forward to inviting some friends next week to join us.

At the end of the week we joined one of TJ's friends at the local garden/nature centre.  They have a great train display and crafts set up.  In the evening you could visit Santa's Cabin at the end of a nicely lit path. The boys wrote a quick note to Santa while they lined up.  This is our first year meeting Santa as the boys were not interested before.  TJ was more reserved but joined in when he saw how friendly Santa was with MJ.  Santa asked what they'd like this year and then asked if he would also bering a few surprises.

MJ's note:
Dear Santa,
I love you.  You're the best.

TJ's note: 
Dear Santa, 
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Next week as more fun planed.  Please share what you've been up to......