Saturday, 5 December 2015

Hope for this weary mom

I want to share with you all an amazing book and devotional. Now I haven't been compensated for this or anything, although I am reading though a pre-release version of the devotional with an amazing group of mom's so that we can get the word out.  I can't wait for my copy of the book to arrive so I can re-read it and share it with other mom's too.

Hope for the Weary Mom is a wonderful book refreshes the soul.  Brooke and Stacey  both have so much to share.  They are real moms with real children, just like many of us.  I have truly been blessed by reading this book several times!!

What a joy it was to me when I found out that there was now a Hope for the Weary Mom Devotional.  With 40 lessons relating to topics any weary mom could relate to, they all point directly to the One who can give us hope to carry on. The devotional has different stories and information from the book.  I'd get both if I were you!!

Do you now a weary mom who needs refreshing?  Why not give her some Hope today!!


Project Video Game

We follow our boys interests with what we learn and the projects they do.  MJ is currently interested in obsessed with Super Mario Brothers and video games.  He love Luigi because he has a green hat (MJ's favourite colour). He also loves another game the boys have been playing with daddy called RayMan.

I am amazed at how well the boys play the games.  I never really grew up with video games.  I played a few times at a friend's house but that's about it.  So when I loaded Super Mario Brothers onto the Wii, I gave control over to the boys and let them figure it out alone.  They are awesome! Seriously they have figured out so much.

Aside from playing the Wii, the boys have also take an interest in the old TV show.  They both have taken the characters, and scenarios into their imaginative play.  It is really fun to watch and join in.



It started off simply enough, a little Wii time here and there.  Then he wanted to play all day.  MJ would wake up first thing in the morning asking TJ to play Mario with him.  If he didn't get his way there was a major melt down.  I also noticed that after too much screen time, both boy were far more aggressive/physical than usual.  We held a family meeting to talk about my concerns.  The boys agreed that they wanted to do other things during the day too and it wasn't healthy to just do one thing so much.  They decided on their own limits and asked me to remind them if needed.  I think TJ was more on board than MJ as he understood it all better.  Unfortunately MJ still had major melt down every time he played Wii.  Not everyone will agree with me (and that's okay) but we decided to give the Wii a break.  I did buy the boys another Mario game for Christmas so we'll bring it back soon.

The Wii break also corresponded with the boys and I being home a little more often than the past few weeks.  We had been out every afternoon for weeks on end and I was starting to get to us all.  Being home more often with unstructured free time makes such a difference to our week.  We aren't so rushed to get packed and out the door.  Everyone has more time to do their own thing, get more deeply involved and feel relaxed.  By the end of the week the boys and I made video game characters out of plasticine and felt to play with.  MJ and I made Super Mario worlds out of felt and wood blocks.  It's been beautiful to be part of. The boys have been incredible creative with their story lines and play.  They have been playing together more too.


While we were stacking wood one of the boys gathered some bark.  I mentioned that it would be good for fairy houses.  That led to gathering more wood and supplies.  TJ focused on making a larger fairy house near the tree that we make fairy houses every year.  He created a fire pit, and stocked the hollow with wood, seeds and nuts.  MJ built multiple dwellings, a fire pit and long house.  Then he asked me to call the fairies and Rayman to come visit.  We ran inside so that we wouldn't scare them off.  He is so cute!

Do check us out on Facebook to see more of what we have been up to!




Friday, 6 November 2015

Catching up with you - October

Wow where did the month go?  I can't believe October has already come and gone.

We have been busy as usual here but starting to get into a groove.  Each week we spend time at Learning in the Woods forest program, Swimming at the YMCA, local homeschool activities, YKids gym time and exploring local nature areas.  Now those are just our outings!  At home we have been playing lots of board games, reading, creating, baking, caring for baby and playing outside.

Here are some photos from the month...
MJ up late with stickers on his fingers

The boys carved pumpkins all on their own. Okay mommy took out the guts

Lots of nature walks

Baby JJ's first Autumn
Visits to farms in the fall
Baby JJ in the swing

The Jackson 5
Apple picking

Baby JJ and Mommy outside lots

Adorable brothers together
A magical little spot at the local gardens
Harvesting and investigating sun flowers

I'd love to hear what yo are up to! Do share with us.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Those not so blog worth days...

Have you ever noticed that most people only post their shining moments on social media?  All those happy kids, perfect crafts, tidy rooms...  I made the decision a while back to only post when I had something to say.  As you can tell my blog and FB page have been rather quiet.

Today I thought to myself, what about all the other days? What about those not so stellar, plain ordinary, or horribly disastrous days?  Don't they count too?  Are they to be forgotten?

Every single day is important!



Take a moment and think back to some of those times.  I bet you could find something, anything, that did go right.

That time I yelled at the kids (okay many times I've yelled).  It was also filled with apologies, re-connection, problem solving and family meetings.

Those many times when the boys fought with each other gave them plenty of opportunities to work things out, practice patience and forgiveness.

A trip to the grocery store can also turn into a chance to bless a stranger.  Hold open a door, pick up a dropped item, let someone else go first in line.  Your children are watching you intensely as you model this behavior and kindness.

No one can tell me that my unmade bed is a problem because the half hour I played "tickle monster" with my boys was one of the most precious parts of my days.

Well loved and live in


See the pictures of my messy house?  I swear to you we paused part way though the day to tidy. But this is what happens when you are living life.  So here I am posting a real home on a blog!!

Since baby JJ has been born I often feel like the boys have had way too much screen time and don't burn off all that extra energy.  I know it is only for a season and I will be able to give them more attention as we settle into life.  They prefer to be outside when an adult is out there with them.  I could feel guilty or stressed (and I do some days).  But, I also know that my boys have secretly been learning a whole lot behind my back!!  First of all their hand-eye coordination is amazing.  They can also read more than they realize.  The boys are working together (sometimes), and incorporating some of what they see into their imaginative play afterwards.  Life here has been all about Super Mario recently.

Didnt I just tidy in here


I have been finding it rather difficult to balance everything around here.  We have a little baby (almost 3 months old now), I home school the boys (unschooling really), I do the office work for our family business (hubby is an electrician and fire alarm technician), there is a house to clean and meals to make, I am also involved in a local forest school program and a home school group.  Add on top of that the YMCA, church, garden plots and playdates... Wow that's a lot.

Those who know me best also know that I'm a doer.  It makes me really uneasy to be standing around not keeping busy.  Baby JJ has blessed our lives by slowing mommy down.  I have already said no to several other homeschool groups in our area along with lots of other activities that we could be involved in.  All of them are good, but it can be too much.  A day at home focusing on time as a family is always time well spent!!  My boys are going to be excellent fathers when they get older.  They are already amazing big brothers.  They each have a special way with the baby and are a huge help to mommy.  We are learning a lot about working as a team.  Doesn't always go as I'd hoped, but I am trying to remember that we are all still learning and trying our best.



So I want to encourage you all that no mater what you are doing today, it is important.  You are impacting someone. Something good can come from that if you try.

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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Inukshuks

This morning MJ drew a picture for a craft he was organizing for us to do.  It seemed like the idea came from out of nowhere, but then I don't know what connections he was making for himseslf.  He drew some rocks but couldn't explain what they were.  Next he asked for my iPad so he could show me on a game.  MJ used the atlas on my iPad to look up what he had been thinking about.  (We love this atlas app from Barefoot Books) He asked for some help looking for rocks along a shore.  We had fun searching the globe until he found the picture of an Inukshuk.  We listened to the description and looked at the photos. MJ wanted me to print a photo for him to keep.


Next we looked up pictures of Inukshuk on my computer and chose a few to print.  We also read more about their meaning and where they are found. Then MJ remembered that he had some rocks in his bedroom.  He ran to get them so he could make his own.  I reminded the boys of our rock pile in the yard.  They happily ran outside with a bucket to gather more.  For the next little while the boys made Inukshuk figures inside. After a while I put on a video that showed a man balancing rocks in a river which inspired more designs and discussion.

We talked all about building, balance, the meaning behind them and more. Earlier we had been reading bible stories MJ asked if Samson in the bible had built the big ones we looked at because he was so strong. So we looked on the globe again to see where the Inukshuk and Sampson were found.  The interesting connection was that we had also read a story about Jacob who set up stones as a reminder of a dream he had.  So we talked more about what different cultures do to commemorate big events or to remember something special.


We had a wonderful time this morning following MJ's lead and curiosity. I have been feeling like we haven't been doing as much recently because of the baby (although I know they have been continuing to learn in their own way).  I was particularly pleased to share in their discoveries today.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Catching up with you: September

We have been having a lot of fun this month.  The boys' activities have started up again, we are taking life slowly and enjoying time with our new baby.  Here are some photos to keep you up to date on what we've been doing...

The boys built and played with our math manipulatives.  The love to play board games, card games and anything counting.  One day I got out all our different weigh scales for the boys to explore.

MJ loves to hold baby JJ.  Both boys are amazing big brothers.  It is a big adjustment for them both to have a little baby in the house and less of mommy's attention.  They are handling themselves very well, and are a huge help to me!

Oh we do love hikes and being outdoors.

Grandpa and Grandma Scott have given each of the boys their own unique drum.  This month we have enjoyed using them for circle time, dancing and making lots of noise!!

We have been very blessed to spend some time with cousins.  Grandma Jackson and Aunty Laura came for a visit.  We've also been to the cottage too.  The boys are so adorable with their little cousin. 

Baby JJ has been very smiley!!  He is tracking moving objects and is getting bigger by the day.

I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be part of Learning in the Woods!  My boys love going to the same location each week (sometimes more than once a week).  We are all learning, including the leaders, about relationships, nature and more.  All of the children who attend are full of joy and curiosity, most don't want to leave after being there for almost three hours!

We have a pass to the local botanical gardens.  The boys and I chose a path that was very hilly and not stroller friendly.  We managed through.  Luckily JJ didn't wake up until the end.

While dropping off a friend at a homeschool field trip, the boys and I took some time to explore the area.  We saw amazing wood carvings, and learned all about the native people who lived in long houses.

TJ and I went on a date together with his giant stuffed frogs (and his cute jammies).  It isn't too often that I get out without the baby these days.  We had a lovely time together.

The cottage is always a favourite place to visit.  TJ and daddy went for a long boat ride, while MJ and I went for a nice walk (baby JJ was asleep in the carrier).  Although we didn't get to fishing, we still cooked dinner on a fire, played in the lake and had a lot of fun with their cousin.

Daddy had lots of work to do up at the cottage.  He took a quick break to hang with the boys.

More fun in the woods.

MJ and some children looking at a bee under the magnifying glass (the bee had already passed on).

The boys are so excited to be part of the promotional video for We Learn Naturally (the umbrella company for Learning in the Woods).  The director let the children use his equipment!  They were all so excited to show him around the forest.  It was a very fun morning for all the children.  We can't wait to see how it turns out.
Our homeschool group has some awesome plans this year.  We meet once a week at different parks and things.  There are also field trips and service projects that my friend and I organized.  We all gathered at our community garden plot to help with weeding.  The children were so helpful and worked well together.  Last week TJ joined the group to do some geocaching and compass work.

We also attend the YMCA for swimming and gym times.  Mommy is busy with office work too.  We also find time for the boys interests/projects, the library and loads of fun!!

Now that fall is here we'll have more adventures to share with you!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Ask yourself, "Why not?"

Can I bring snow inside the house?

Can we actually cook my concoction and taste it?

Can I ....? (you fill in the blank)

Saying YES to our children's requests can be difficult. 
 Our first reaction is most often "no, not right now, maybe later."  
But what if we took a moment to really think about what they were asking.  
Better yet, take a moment to think about your reaction, then ask yourself "why not?"

I have been reading Pam Laricchia's books, which are on sale this month!!! What I read was confirmed by our actions at home.  My husband is doing it all right without having read the books, just by intuition and his awesome parenting!!

One day the boys wanted to use our fire pit and have s'mores.  Unfortunately we had no yummy supplies, so we planed to build a fire the next evening. I had to go out for a bit and returned to find three fires going in the back yard!  Daddy looked up and said, "MJ kept asking me to light his pretend fire. At first I said no, but then I thought why not?"



My boys were so absolutely proud of their creations.  They explored the best way to build the pit using some bricks, and which sticks would burn easily.  We had fun with marshmallows and really connected as a family.

The next morning the boys were outside still in their pajamas working on the fire pits again.  This time TJ wanted his to be bigger!  MJ created several small ones deciding on which design he liked best.  TJ drove the tractor to our brick pile (yes we have one!) to gather more supplies.  They went off in search of sticks to use.  Then wishing aloud one of the boys said he wanted to cook more than just marshmallows over the fire.  I hesitated thinking: how inconvenient it might be, I really had no idea how, what if it turned out badly, the stores were closed today too... "Sure that sounds interesting.  Let's look up some recipes to see how."

Oh their eyes lit up.  Did mommy really say yes to an idea?  

TJ and I looked up some campfire cooking ideas and made a list.  We chose some recipes that looked interesting and doable.  Next we drove off to see if any stores were open.  Being Labour Day, nothing was open.  Since we had already talked about that possibility, we then brainstormed how we could plan dinner using what we had at home. TJ was surprisingly flexible and excited.  He also decided to set up his tent at home and pretend he was camping.

Dinner time couldn't come fast enough for these guys! We decided to try popcorn, hot dogs and s'mores.



 I won't lie, it was rather hot out, breezy, and difficult to keep their little fires lit. I had to run between two fires, the baby and helping them actually cook their food.  It wasn't totally the most easy time for daddy and I, but we both kept positive.  TJ felt badly about how much work we had to do.  I assured him that this was all new to us, an adventure and part of the experience.  I'd never cooked over a fire either so I had to figure it all out.  

We talked about how life must have been years ago when fire was all they had available.  Working as a team also came into play.  Someone had to keep the fires going, another to cook, sharing cooking implements (a good marshmallow stick) etc.

Later MJ sprayed some water on his fire and it went out.  Devastated he ran in to ask for the fire place blower to get it going again.  I was rather tired by now so baby JJ got my attention.  Daddy was kind enough to re-light MJ's fire pit.  The boys played with it for a while longer before evening routine.

Saying yes brought about the best end-off-summer family memories.  We also all got to experience something new because we followed the curiosity of a young child!!

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My Joy-Filled Life

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

End of Summer Party

A few weeks ago TJ came to me and said he wanted to have a party with his friends.  I've posted before about how he throws parties in the forest for his stuffies.  These little shindigs are complete with snacks, loot bags, games and decorations.  The guests are usually other stuffed toys, his brother and who ever happens to be visiting us that day. This time there were no friends over so we'd have to make some plans....

TJ was very clear that he was going to buy the items for the loot bags.  When I suggested that we could plan an actual party (bigger than his usual forest ones), he was thrilled!  We talked about themes, who to invite, activities, decorations, loot bags, and of course the cost.

Side note:
Now I have been reading a lot about project based homeschooling.  I tried to let TJ have complete control over this party project.  I did make some suggestions and encouraged him to keep working on it (once you actually invite people it's nice to follow through).  I am learning right along with my children here, so I won't say I wish I'd done things differently.  I know now for next time to ask more prompting questions such as "what else do we need for the party?, what is the next step?" rather than telling him what needs to be done.

Real math is counting your own money
I am so very proud of my son!  He decided to pay for the entire get-together.  He did some chores around the house and for others. Knowing that it could take a while to earn what he needed, TJ asked if there was a faster way.  We did some brain storming about how people earn money and he decided to sell some toys.  It would help us purge and be much faster than making items to sell.  So off he went to pick some toys to sell and take photos.  I posted the adds on Facebook for him.

Purchasing his own groceries
The week before the party we went shopping for food, decorations and loot bag items.  We had many days of counting money (each time something sold).  With his list in hand, TJ loaded up his cart and paid the cashier for his purchases.

TJ decided to individually decorate and personalize each loot bag.  With around 15 children coming to the house, TJ had a lot of work ahead of him.  He spread out the bag decorating over a few days, taking time to choose each item for the loot bag based on the kids favourite colours.  He also bought some streamers to hang up all over the house!!

Baking cupcakes by himself
Another awesome opportunity came with TJ reading the directions and baking the cupcakes all on his own.  I was simply his assistant and to monitor him using the oven.  I was asked to colour the icing and decorate the cupcakes because TJ was still working on the loot bags the morning of the party.  Poor TJ's interest was waning so we came up with a plan.  He'd decorate one bag, then help add sprinkles to a few cupcakes.  Going back and forth we finished up everything in no time.

Personalized party bags
The party was a huge success.  All the children played wonderfully.  They all brought snacks to share, and enjoyed the treats.  The sprinklers, water guns, and hose we welcomed on the hot day after jumping on the trampoline for a while.  TJ was a wonderful host.  He welcomed each guest and made sure everyone had something/someone to play with.  Some friends left after two hours while others stayed almost four hours and were very sad to have to leave.

Delicious cupcakes
Real learning takes places with the topics are relevant, meaningful and interesting to the learner.   I know TJ truly learned a great deal from  this whole experience. Besides the abundance of learning, and responsibility that took place, this was a whole lot of fun!!  I love the ideas my boys have and I love to be able to say YES to them!!

Have you said YES to your kids recently?  Share in the comments how that went...



This post is linked to:

Mom2Mom Monday linkup

Twinkly Tuesday








Mummascribbles

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Guest Post: Super Scissors - A Top Tool in a Preschool Back Pack

I am very excited to have Leslie from Forever Joyful guest posting today.  Her blog has so many wonderful resources and posts about literature.  Today Leslie is sharing about her top tool for preschoolers!!




Super Scissors: A Top Tool in a Preschool Backpack

Scissors are super! I wish I’d known this earlier.

Once my son turned three, I was eager to teach him to read. He was a reasonably willing and capable pupil so I began our successful adventures with the 1998 cassette tape version of Hooked on Phonics. I studied up on classical educational models and focused on memory work. He enjoyed it and was learning so it appeared to be an all-win situation! He had spent his early years in China so we plowed ahead with Chinese lessons. We also did twice-a-day math and daily handwriting practice. Don’t forget our AWANA Club memory verse drills!

Whew! That makes me tired just remembering it. You can tell that we were busy, but can you see what was lacking? SCISSORS!

By the time my oldest was four, he was the academic star of his preschool class, and I was his proud mama. The only problem was this didn’t impress his teacher much. I was all about academics. She was all about life skills and themed learning. I was concerned with fractions. She was concerned with cutting out circles. I didn’t yet have the wisdom to see that having your child cut out a circle then cut it in half (then quarters, then eighths) accomplished both tasks.

Looking back, I wish I’d focused less time on “academics” and more on life skills and having fun! My son's preschool teacher really was right. At the top of my regret list is not having him use scissors enough. (But don’t worry! My oldest has still somehow managed to learn how cut properly, and I won’t make the same mistake with my other children.)

Scissor skills give children at least four important advantages:
  1. Cutting allows children to practice fine motor skills and build strength in their hands that will be used for a variety of tasks later on. Play-Doh, paper, and yarn prove to be perfect cutting materials. You can get fancy cutting worksheets (available for free all over the internet), draw your own shapes, or let your child go to town making confetti out of construction paper. You can use it for a grandparent's birthday celebration later. Grandpa and Grandma will love it!
  2. Cutting enhances eye-hand coordination. This skill is essential for a variety of tasks from catching a ball to zipping a jacket. (Maybe our lack of scissors work was the reason my son was one of the last kids to get his name on the preschool zip list for learning to zip his own jacket!)
  3. Cutting is an enjoyable activity for most children, and they feel proud of their accomplishments. Provide the right tools, and scissors can entertain your children for hours (with appropriate supervision). When children are praised specifically for successfully accomplishing a task, they delight in their new achievement.
  4. Using scissors sets the stage for your child to learn to rub his belly and pat his head at the same time. There is a fancy name for this – bilateral coordination. Bilateral coordination helps your child use both sides of his body at the same time for the same task, an alternating task, or a completely different task. (Scissors work fosters the latter.) Strong bilateral coordination is essential for playing ball as well as playing the guitar!
As you buy your preschooler’s back-to-school supplies this year, don’t forget a quality pair of child-friendly scissors! What fun scissors activities do you love? Please share in the comments.  


 
I am a devoted wife, mother of three great kids and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. I love long summer days, photography and stealing quiet moments for writing.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Guest Posting at Diamonds in the Rough

Today I am honoured to share this post with you.  I am thrilled to be part of the Motherhood series at Diamonds in the Rough.




As I sit here about a week before my due date,
 I am reminded about how much the Lord has led me through this journey...


I think of a lot of different things....

I also am thinking of a child I will never meet.  

You see almost two years ago I had a miscarriage. 
 It doesn't matter how far along I was, it still hurts.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Lessons I have learned from my newborn

Learning can happen any time, anywhere, and anyone can be a teacher (even without knowing it)!!  I have learned so much from my little one in the three weeks he's been in this world.  He may never know the wisdom he has imparted to me, unless of course he ever reads this post.

My darling baby, thank you for teaching our whole family about...




Peace in the midst of chaos.  How you are able to sleep though the crazy noise in our home astounds me.  You lay there peacefully while others are playing, screaming, stressing, and more all around.  When your immediate needs have been met, there is nothing else to worry about and you can rest easily.  I want to remember that and be more like you.

Trust.  You rely on us totally to care for you.  Right now I’m sure you recognize me, but you are also happy to be handed off to anyone.  As long as they are holding you nicely you love to snuggle with everyone.  I may not feel so snuggly with new people, but the way you trust everyone has me realize that I could be more open and inviting too.

Speaking kindly to others.  I realized the other day that if I can speak so reassuringly to my baby I should do the same to the boys.  As a family we are still getting used to having a new baby that needs lots of attention.  Everyone has been frustrated, tired and not as patient as we could/should be.  For you my little one, the world is new.  I know that you get overwhelmed some times and I’m always there to cuddle, sooth and meet your needs.  Your big brothers are no different.  A little older, but they still get overwhelmed and need comfort.  You are helping me to consciously be more patient and loving.

Communication.  In just the short time we’ve been getting to know each other I have already learned to recognize your different cries.  I know how you like to be held, and I know when you need to go potty.  A few years ago I thought that babies were helpless and just cried about everything.  I lived in a very adult orientated mindset.  But you and your brothers have changed all of that.  I am surprised and excited that you regularly use the potty at only a few weeks old. I honestly thought families that followed elimination communication were crazy.  You have clearly let me know what you need and I am blessed by our strong bond of communication.  I hope this keeps up.  Now I just need to figure out your brothers a little better…


Rest.  I hardly ever sit down.  I feel nervous when I’m not busy doing something.  As a family the boys and I have been used to going out several times a week.  My little baby, you have changed our lives in this way too.  I have learned the important value of resting, being home and enjoying the moment.  Nursing you forces me to sit still.  When I do I can’t help but soak in every precious moment and memorize your adorable little face.  I love the excuse to relax, rest and snuggle with you.  However I really think we need to continue this slower pace as you grow.  What are we rushing around for?



Quiet time is important.  Whether you spend time with God, meditate or something else, it is vital to centre yourself before starting your day.  Being a parent can be exhausting.  It really does take a lot of mental and physical energy to keep up with your children.  I am so thankful that God doesn’t sleep.  He is right there with me in the middle of the night and I can pray to him any time.  I also have a great devotional app on my devices so I can read that while I nurse our little one.  Being up often with my little one has given me the time (an need) to refresh my soul.

Miracles
.  You are a true miracle!  You are so uniquely and amazingly formed.  You came into this world knowing exactly how to nurse.  Everything about you astounds and overwhelms me.  When I look at your big brothers I am shocked by how quickly time flies.  Thank you my little one for reminding me to stop and appreciate all the miracles that happen each day.

Only complain when something is wrong.  For the most part our little baby only dries when he needs something (diapers change, food, burp, sleep).  It is much easier to empathize and comfort him.  My poor middle child screamed for months on end and we had no idea why (turns out it was food related).  It was much more difficult to be patient and loving.  For myself I am reminded not to complain all the time.  I tend to be melancholic at times, but I know that no one likes to be with a chronic complainer.

Not every lesson is enjoyable.  We all have to live through some hard lessons and mistakes.  I am learning what our baby’s cries mean and how to smooth this screaming little one at 2am.  Next time though I've figured out some tricks to help both of us calm down.

Many families worry about homeschooling and having a newborn.  Even non-homeschool families are concerned about the effect the new baby will have on the family. Try doing a Google search for ‘the baby is the lesson’.  Your new little miracle and family member certainly will impact your lives.  But if you let him teach you amazing things will happen.  You are never too old to learn something new!

Some helpful links:

What have you learned from your children?  Please share in the comments.


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