Sunday, 26 April 2015

Joyful Mud Puddles Blog Award Nomination!!

Oh I am so excited to be nominated my first ever blog award.  Joyful Mud Puddles has been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Unschooling Mamma andPoppy for the nomination.  I jut love reading everything on their blog and have had the honour of writing a guest post for them before too.

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

Now here are the blogs I am nominating for the Real Neat Blog Award:

Answers to the questions I was asked:

Can I just say these questions are tough!  It took me a long time to think up good answers to these.

1     What is the one thing you would like for your child/children to take from their childhood? Well I’m hoping they will take away a lot of wonderful things from their childhood.  If I could just pick one thing it would be curiosity.  I know if they are allowed/encouraged to be curious they will never stop learning.  They will do amazing things in life because they are motivated to keep going.  I try my best to say yes as often as I can and to help direct them to explore answers to their questions.

2       If there was a playlist for your life what would be the number one song?  I am totally not up on music these days.  I’d like to think it would be the song “10,000 Reasons" by Mat Redman  

3      Why did you start blogging?  Originally it was to remember all the fun things I do with my children.  I don’t have time for scrapbooking and never look back at our digital photos.  I had stopped for a year when my old blog got too full.  My father-in-law asked me to start blogging again so he could keep up on what we are doing.  So overall my blog is a chronicle of our thoughts and journey as a family.  I also try to encourage/inspire others who read it.

     If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?  I would like to be remembered for my faith.  I am certainly not a famous evangelist or anything, but in my own life I will always remember my grandmother for the strong faith she had.  I'd like my life to be an example and reflection of what I believe.

    What is your favourite movie? I think that I’ll go with Shawshank Redemption.  It is one of those movie that I can watch over and see something new in it.   

    Name one thing that makes you smile?  Watching my boys playing outside thoroughly enjoying being kids, knowing that I am totally doing what I strongly believe to be best for them at this stage on our lives!  Every parent makes their own personal decision as to how to raise their kids in a way that they feel is best.  Right now I know that my boys belong outside in the dirt rather than sitting behind a school desk.

    What has been your biggest challenge as a parent?  Oh I have lots of challenges.  This parenting thing is not always easy.  I think my biggest challenge is not actually related to my kids specifically because I know we’ll get through those issues as time goes on.  My biggest challenge is opening myself up to new ways of parenting, and changing myself to be a better parent to my kids.

Okay so now here are the questions I have for the bloggers I’ve nominated.

  1. What is a hobby or interest that you have?
  2. What is your favourite flower and why?
  3. If you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give or would you liked to have received?
  4. What is the one thing you would like for your child/children to take from their childhood?
  5. Where is a place that you find peace (describe your happy place)?
  6. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog, and what do you want your readers to take away from your blog? 
  7. What would you do if money were no object (say you won the lottery)?
I can't wait to read your responses!!

Don't forget to join us on Facebook too!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Our Week: End of April

My boys continue to amaze me daily with how much they are growing, learning, exploring!  I've been learning a lot through them about the world and parenting.  It is definitely an adventure for the whole family.

I know I've said it before that these posts are just a small glimpse into our week at home.  They are also doing so much more but it is hard to capture it all.  Between skills learned at the YMCA, social interactions at play dates, learning at home, and more; we sure have a full life.  Not overly busy but very fulfilling.

There was plenty of rain near the beginning of the week, along with snow, hail, wind and sun.  
The boys have been checking regularly on the ditches and trenches they made in the back yard.  When the rain slows down the hose comes out to help.  We talked about how the digging they are doing is similar to what daddy and I have been working on around the house to create a drainage system around our foundation (yes all that water the boys are playing with is filling up the crawl space).  They also noticed that the water runs from the gravel area towards MJ's garden in a heavy rain.

One day I found some tulips starting to grow around all the construction in the front of the house.  It is a beautiful reminder of how God creates beauty from our messes.  Our lives can get pretty messy, ugly, busy but God is there working all the time to bring something beautiful forth.

TJ has been working so hard on his reading this past month.  He noticed that he could read some of the magnetic words on the fridge.  I suggested that he could try to write a sentence all on his own.  He is so proud of his first sentence "is the plant good for me".  Then he created a number of other ones by changing different words.  I showed TJ how to add extra adjective to add more description.  He came up with a super long sentence to surprise daddy after work; "I have a yellow candy and a happy monkey and she jumps".  We'll work on run on sentences some other time.  If you looked at our fridge today you would definitely get a good laugh and know that it is a house full of boys.  The two managed to manipulate the smaller words (even turning some upside down) to incorporate some good old fashioned bathroom humour into sentence writing.

Lego and robots are always popular.  The boys were given some Lego Mixels earlier in the week.  After building the kits they started using our Lego to make more little creatures.

MJ wanted to play construction site with me as we own a lot of trucks.  While playing TJ brought out daddy's old robotic arm toy to use as a crane.  Lots of hands on practice with fine motor skills, construction, and interacting with each other happens daily here.

Of course we just adore our time out in nature.  We have been on lots of hikes on our own and part of a group.  This week MJ and I played hide-and-seek.  Little harder to hide in the early spring while wearing bright clothes.  The children discovered salamanders under logs.  Here they are watching some worms burry back into the dirt.

MJ and two younger girls explored in and up the stream.  They climbed, ducked, balanced and explored a number of fallen trees along the way.

Each time we gather the group forms stronger bond.  The children are so happy to see their friends.  As parents we find such joy in observing and listening to their negations.  This week they were racing down hills, playing tag, and exploring the creek together.

I am so excited to be part of this child-led nature play group.  My friend and I are also working on starting a wonderful outdoor learning program similar in nature to our playgroup in our community.  You'll be hearing great things from us soon.

Hmm I hope this post isn't sounding too choppy.  The boys have just been doing so much this week!  

So in our down time this week I sort of wanted to check in with TJ and see where he was at with math since it isn't something we've been doing as much recently.  I don't often do a check-in but I was having one of those panicky moments that he might be falling behind.  Of course there is no need to worry about curious, inquisitive children who are constantly exploring and doing hands on learning.  TJ whizzed through 4 sections in the math book, and has covered all the grade 1 social studies and science.

MJ is my wonderful creative boy who beats to his own drum.  Whenever we are doing a certain activity, he'd rather just do his own thing.  I'm not worried at all about him growing up and not being able to follow directions.  He does perfectly well in swimming class and at his church program.  But at home I appreciate his unique way of going about things.  MJ also has a kindergarten workbook.  While I was checking-in with TJ, we looked at MJ's book too.  He did one page by following the directions.  The next page he decided to make it a connect the dots instead of doing what the activity was.  Then he decided that the book was really a farm cut-out book.  He went through all the pages to create the fabulous farm scene above, complete with a whale in the pond with a river, windmill, tree, barn, tractor with trailers.  He is totally not the type that would thrive in a traditional school setting or at least having to do work-sheets. CHECK out our FaceBook page for a video about his farm!

A friend of ours gave us some electric toothbrushes because they knew we wanted to make some doodle bots. We tried several different attempts but the motor wasn't strong enough to move the robot.  TJ got out one of his other robot pieces that we attached a marker to.  He them made a cute flying robot from the toothbrush after experimenting with using it for painting.  MJ made a bark grinder robot from his toothbrush.  Again you can see their videos explaining the robots on our Facebook Page.

At the end of the week one of our homeschool groups had a very belated spring egg hunt and nature walk.  The children had a blast searching for eggs, decorating walking sticks, nature scavenger hunt and a hike!!  We are organizing the literature fair for this group next month.

Congratulations to TJ for reaching his reading goal.  If you remember TJ has been learning to read naturally (see this post here).  He was so excited to be close to his goal that he started reading three to four books each day near the end of the week.  The final book TJ read was a wonderful book that my mother wrote.  My younger sister made all the creations for the pictures and her friend did the photography.  TJ was thrilled to be able to read it on his own knowing that the book was made by his family.  We took a trip to the book store where TJ chose a huge space book and we decided to help MJ find a book too.  MJ chose a little farm book with a white board marker and some magnetic animals (perfect for our creative little farmer).

A whole new world has opened up for TJ now.  He had a hard time sleeping last night so I gave him a book to look at.  He kept coming out of bed to show me all the different things he could now read on his own!

I have been posting a lot of extra pictures and even videos on our Facebook Page.  I hope you'll follow us here on the blog and on FB.

PLEASE do share what you have been up to.  You may inspire another family on their journey too!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our Week: Enjoying Spring

Time for a catch-up on what we've been doing around here....
The boys are still very much interested in space exploration and tractors, with the nicer weather our gardens have also become a great learning space.

TJ built some unique Lego creations.  
One has has lots of motors and gears, the other is his Mars rover.

We went for a fantastic walk in in the forest in the fog.  The boys explored, gained confidence in balancing and had lots of fun. 

I was inspired by some other blogs to work on our art and watercolour painting.  First I laid out Watercolour paints and permanent markers.  The boys weren't too into it so I had fun experimenting.

The next day I got out watercolour paints, coloured sand, glue and markers.  The boys watched me start then got really into adding texture and details to their work.  Mine is a person jumping in a puddle, MJ made some tractors and a big glue/sand thing (it's about the process not the product!), while TJ made a lovely garden with some weeds and a person.

Another day we got out the oil pastels and chalk pastels to see what the effect might be.  TJ created some war machines.

MJ explored white on black and mixing different colours together.  He asked me to work on a farm picture together.

The beautiful weather means we have been outside a lot more.  The boys have been checking on their seedlings daily.  We have spent hours cleaning out the gardens and flower beds.  One day the boys found some scrap wood that used to be our balance beam.  TJ created a see-saw.  With a little assistance he even added handles and a way to keep the board centred.  Both boys enjoyed balancing on the boards and paying together.  MJ has kept his pieces as loose parts so that he can change the configuration more often.

Earlier in the month TJ and a friend created a fort of scrap wood in the front yard.  We asked him to move it to the back yard which didn't go over so well.  After some frustration, daddy suggested that TJ could use the swing set frame since the boys hadn't used it much.  It was a learning process for all of us.  Clear communication and expectations were needed.  It took a while but we figured out how to work better as a team and the results were great (a cool forts and stronger relationships).  TJ chose to use some of his money to buy furniture for the fort.

Another beautiful day for a walk.  

We watched a Canada Goose on her nest and some snakes warming in the sun.  TJ brought his new fort furniture for snack time.

The boys measured themselves against their favourite tree and then explored the creek.  We had lots of discussions about nature, changes in seasons etc.

MJ brought his little gardening tools to play with.  He even took time to help water all the trees he could find.  YES those are his awesome fuzzy lizard pyjamas.

We also led a book club with our homeschool friends.  The boys asked to do robots for the topic.  I read a few stories then the children all made robots from recycled materials.  It was great fun.

We also went back to the same spot from our walk earlier in the week.  This time with our outdoor playgroup.  The children led the way and chose to go for a long hike up the escarpment, through the forest and back down again.  They ended at the creek where the boys all picked up sticks.  As parents we wanted to stay back and see what would happen but did remind them to be careful.  Most of their game was sword fighting but as we hadn't gone over stick usage as a group before hand we asked that they refrain from hitting each other and keep some space this time.  Once they all realized that they wanted to be on the same team as 'good guys' negotiations and discussions began.  They tried to do Eeny-meeny-miny-mo to select some boys for the 'bad guy' team.  Math was done to figure out how to make the teams equal.  Since no one wanted to switch sides they decided to run up and down the hill for a while.  One boy tripped and they all rushed to help him up.  Then they moved on to hide-and-seek along with exploring.  It was fascinating to watch and exactly what the group was created for!  Looking forward to more get togethers.

SHARING TIME: Please do share what you have been up to.  Perhaps you will be an inspiration to someone else!

Linked to
Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-up

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Handmade Baby Gifts

Is it just because I'm pregnant or is there something in the water?  But it seems to me like there are so many pregnant people that I know!  There is due to be a baby born every month from now until the end of the fall from just friends around me.  Needless to say that I am super excited and having way too much fun being crafty.  So here are some adorable projects for you that I've been working on.

Taggie Blanket

MJ wanted the baby to have a matching Taggie blanket to his only it had to be green.  Well I found the perfect material at the fabric store that was green with stars.  We had enough to make a blanket for our baby, one for a friend, and the boys used the left overs to make themselves a smaller blanket each!  So easy to do.  
Cut two pieces of material whatever size you'd like.
Cut a lot of ribbon approx 4inches in length.
Pin the ribbons to the font of one piece of material with the ends sticking over the edge a bit.
With right sides together, sew both pieces of material together (leave a gap)
Turn right side out.  Sew up the hole.
Over stitch near the edge if you'd like.

Soft cubes (with tags)

This one was super simple too.  Each cube requires 6 squares (around 5 inches each).  Sew them into a cube shape adding as many tags as you'd like.  Here is a tutorial someone else did if you'd like.

Sock Owl
About a year ago I used to sell my crafts online.  Sock Monsters and other critters were a huge hit!  I still had a few sock owls cut out, so I decided to make them up to add to baby shower gifts.  Be sure to use felt or material for the eyes.  Buttons are dangerous for little ones as they might chew them off and choke.  Here is a tutorial on how to make these cuties.

Knit bonnet

I love those little hats babies often receive from the hospital when they are first born.  The only trouble is that they pop off as soon as the baby moves.  Most baby hats are like that.  I decided to knit an old fashioned bonnet for my little guy in a very soft bamboo silk yarn.  I can't wait to him to wear it!!  Here is the pattern (there are so many beautiful patterns on Ravelry to choose from)

Knit mittens

I had some yarn left over after knitting up the bonnet so I decided to knit up some mittens too.  This pattern was super simple but I did make some slight changes.  I was running low on yarn so I used smaller needles and shortened them a bit. I also couldn't be bothered hunt down my double point needles so I made them flat and sewed up the seam.  Here is the pattern for the mitts.  I plan to make a larger pair for the winter.

Knit booties

Baby socks and many styles of cute booties never stay on wiggly baby feet.  These adorable booties have a cuff that can roll up so they go farther up the baby's legs.  You can use any combination of colours for the foot and cuff, it really doesn't take much yarn.  I made these to fit in the fall and I'm working on another winter pair.  Here is the pattern for these sweet baby booties.

Summer bonnet

I am super excited about this sun bonnet.  Having already had two spring/summer babies I know that a hat s very important.  However, many hats with large brims fall off a baby' head when they lean against you or anything really.  There is something to be said for those old fashioned bonnets.  This hat is made of a grey linen lined in a pale blue cotton.  I used Simplicity 1600 pattern, although I also found this great tutorial online too.

Winter hat

For this warm winter hat I simply used a slightly larger version of the baby bonnet.  The lining is actually a pair of my boys' footie jammies that no longer fit, they are polar fleece.  The outside is a wool sweater that I felted and shrank in the wash.  I made the bonnet without the brim.  Here is another cute winter hat for babies.

Gnome hat for the older boys

Okay so with all the adorable baby crafts I've been working on, I didn't want to leave out the big boys.  They've had plenty of my crafty skills over the years.  Check it out our old blog under the labels baby, clothes and crafts.  This week I added a fleece lining to the fabulous gnome like hats I had made for the boys.  I know the boys love their hats but like me, we find wool to be a bit itchy.  They lining now makes these hats a favourite and still worm since the weather is still chilly here.  Here is a tutorial incase you want to make a hat like this too.  I plan to make a small one for baby next year.

Coming soon:

Knit vest
Our little man is just begging for a knit vest.  I'm still picking a pattern but here are a few I like

Knit pants
I'm all about keeping babies warm and cozy.  How cute will my little guy be a pair of knit pants. Now I just need to decide which pattern to use.
Booty extreme knit pants
Maternity Clothes
I've already made myself a PJ shirt and I'm working on a wrap dress.  The key for me is easy access for breast feeding.  I'll make a separate post soon.

This post is linked to:

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Get outside!

So last week I posted about the importance of play for children.  Today I want to share with you how important it is for children (EVERYONE) to get out in nature!!

Here are some observations I've noticed from my own family, running a home daycare and participating in a nature-based playgroup.

Exploring the forest after a rain
Being in nature is calming.  Just getting outside in any weather can drastically change anyone's mood.  Of course dressing properly also helps.  When my boys are full of energy and bouncing around the house we all go crazy being stuck inside.  But that same energy more spread out and in nature is very different.  We have more space, a change of scene and new things to focus that energy on.  If anyone is grumpy, tired or depressed that extra vitamin D, sunshine and fresh air does wonders for your mood.  Natural lighting too affects people vs those artificial lights indoors.

I haven't even begun to sing the praises of appreciating the beauty and wonder of nature.  Going for a walk can clear your mind.  Focusing on local plants and animals rejuvenates the soul.

Walking along fallen tree alone
Being in nature can build confidence.  I had a little girl in my daycare that had to hold both my hands tightly to cross a low balance beam made of tree stumps and a wooden beam. She would get very upset if anyone came near incase they wiggled the beam.  Of course my own boys grew up with the balance beam always being there and would bounce about and leap along.  Over the course of just one summer with us she was so proud to walk almost unassisted along and jump off the end.  Now a few years later (even though we see her less often) she is willing to try and climb trees with the best of them!  We never pushed or insisted on any skills the children wanted to practice.  I was simply available to them if they asked, but there is something compelling and driving these wonderful children to concur that fallen log or climb that leaning tree.

My boys were in the forest last week.  They wanted to walk across a fallen tree so at first they asked to hold my hand. Then they each tried to go a little bit on their own.  After the first slip one was ready to give up. I reminded him that we had plenty of time, he could go do something else, or try again but perhaps hold his body slightly differently.  He thought about and tried several different ways to get across and was so proud of his efforts.

For myself I too have benefitted from my outdoor experience.  I really wanted to grow vegetables but was rather clueless with how to start.  I joined a local garden plot and randomly stuck in a few plants (mostly tomatoes that year).  You can't imagine my excitement when something actually grew!!!  The other gardeners were very encouraging and so were my boys.  Each year now I have been more brave and adventurous.  I have taken time to research which plants to grow and what to do.  Last year we

had a huge variety and also started planting at home too.  I'm excited about planting again.  My boys are caring for the seedlings themselves. Each morning they rush to see how everything has grown a little over night.  All this happened because I was willing to give it a try.

Daycare feeding their pet lion (that is what the tree looks like)
Being in nature develops so many skills.  Just like playing indoors, children need unstructured time in nature.  Think of how much physical activity they get by running around, rolling down hills and climbing trees.  Far more than at a metal playground.  Fine motor skills are strengthened by picking up leaf stems, pine needles, dandelions and bugs.  Observing changes in seasons, carefully inspecting a beetle or flower are all amazing skills that children can work on for free just by stepping outside.  Think of the concentration they have by watching a line of ants try to get around a pebble in the path.

Get more than one child together in nature and amazing things can happen.  Grand adventures full of imagination.  Team building and negotiations happen in all sorts of ways.  My daycare children loved to use our outdoor play kitchen.  It was simply some cinder blocks with wood on top and a few kitchen items.  They'd work together to create restaurants and meals for each other and the squirrels in the forest.

Just the other day we had over some friends whom we hadn't seen in a while.  Outside the children worked together to build a fort in out front yard and played beautifully.  In our nature playgroup the parents don't intervene very often (occasionally for safety reasons).  The children become explorers, take turn as leaders and have a wonderful time.

Visit to 'the pond' in our forest
Certain spots in nature can become like a second home.  You don't have to have a huge yard or live in a forest (although we are personally blessed with both).  Try visiting the same location in nature weekly or monthly and watch that relationship blossom.

There is a little tree on a path that we visit often.  Every time we go my boys take turns measuring their height against that little pine tree.  When my oldest was about 3 or 4 they were the same height.  It is like a little friend to him.  We have a tree in our yard that my friend gifted to us.  My boys tenderly clear the snow from around it, water and love that tree.  They each have their own flower bed (okay they claimed one each that was already at the house), but they know each plant personally.

We often visit 'the pond' (it is just a part of the forest that fills with water in the spring and snow in the winter).  The love to make predictions about they changes they observe.  Each log and rock is so familiar to my boys.  We've named a few and have adventures each time we visit.

So excited to see a new tulip bloom
Being in nature develops responsibility.  If we want our children to grow up respecting the environment and caring for the earth, they need to get outside and experience it personally!  They need to love nature, see how their actions affect it, and develop that special bond.  My boys always want to pick up trash on our walks because they deeply care for the world and know what it takes to keep it healthy.

My boys help with the leaves, snow removal, planting, etc.  They enjoy it and often ask to do these tasks for me.  Through real life experience they also see what happens when we let things slide.  They are learning life long skills and responsibility just be getting out and joining in with what my husband and I are doing.  This weekend they spent more than five hours outside caring for our yard, gardens and helping with some house renos in amongst playing in the sand box.

Puddle jumping in the driveway
Nature is the best sensory experience!  We all know that there are hundreds of Pintrest boards full of awesome sensory ideas for children.  We love our sensory bins and acknowledge that interesting sensory experiences are great for growing babies and toddlers.  What better way to fulfill these nees than to get outside!!  Imagine taking off your shoes and feeling grass tickle your toes, sand running between your fingers, mud squishing under your feet.  So many different textures, sounds, smells to experience.  Each season brings it's own unique treasures to explore.

Fort building
Want to know more? Instead of posting all about the research that is already out there on the internet, just do a search for the importance of children in nature or connecting children to nature or something similar.  There is so much information about how beneficial it is!!!

Now it's your turn to share:  What are your favourite reasons to get outside?  How have you been experience nature?

This post is linked to the following:

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Let the children play

I have written before about how important play can be here.  Today I have a few more observations from watching me boys.

Play is the work of children!! Okay that is a broad statement and rather obvious.  For some children it could be fine motor skills that are improving by playing with Lego or creating art.  Others may improve on heir gross motor skills with a fun game of soccer or tag.  There are social skills involved with interacting with others, hand eye coordinations, really the list is endless.  But through play with out pressure or set out comes, a child is more relaxed and engaged with what they are doing.

With my own boys I have noticed that their play really solidifies what they have been learning about.  After reading a book on tractors my youngest will then build his own tractors out of different materials.  He talks about his creations and all the features he has added.  Everything in the house is a farm!  Our seedlings are a delight as MJ brings his tractor over to observe their plants growing.  TJ's current interest is space exploration.  He draws detailed pictures, builds models and plays out different explorations with his creations.  They are using what they have learned and putting it to use in a very tangible way.

One of my boys is very straight forward and slightly inflexible.  He loves to follow the set directions and often only sees one solution to a problem.  He has become more flexible over the years but at times he does get rather frustrated and stuck on problems that arise throughout the day.  When playing pretend all those walls come down.  He is more flexible.   My boy can pretend anything he likes and there are not set rules to follow.  He does still check in with me "Can I pretend this happened...?"  "Is it okay if we forget what I said and pretend this instead...?"  I always answer cheerfully and remind him that he can imagine anything he likes.  I have also noticed that his problem solving is worked, challenged and improved (especially when playing with others).  He can come up with creative solutions to pretend situations and also work with his friends to come up with more solutions to their real problems during play.

Play also allows children to work out very personal problems they are facing.  One of my boys came to me and said that one of his stuffed toys was feeling left out.  He asked me to help talk with the other stuffies about how they were treating their friend.  Together my son and I talked a lot about being different from other kids, accepting each other, making new friends, introducing others to a new group and more.  His stuffed animals are all good friends now and appreciate the differences in each other much better after our little talk.

Still not sure?  Just do a Google search for the "importance of play" and you'll find numerous scientific studies, academic research reports and many many blog posts about just how important play is for children.

Now it's your turn!!  What observations have you made about your children's play recently??

This post is linked to

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Our Week: Happy Easter

Happy Easter!!

We've been up to lots over the last two weeks.  The weather has been all over the place.  The boys have been enjoying some spring sunshine.  We've also been getting ready for Easter.

The boys passed another level of swimming.  They are very proud and have been doing so well.

Almost daily MJ has been making farms out of paper, stickers, cardboard and everything. He loves to recreate farms and tractors with lots of details.  TJ too has been joining us in our creative times.  He is very interested in the Mars rovers.  I love his attention to details.  He is sure to show which ones are still working.

TJ has been practicing reading with everyone who comes by.
One night TJ asked how many letters were in the alphabet.  He wanted to count them all.  My husband was so wonderful in his approach.  TJ wasn't sure how to get started. Daddy helped by writing out the alphabet with spaces for TJ to write all the numbers.  Later we practiced writing in secret codes.

We had a wonderful time visiting the local nature centre with my mom and the boys together.  They had a fabulous frog exhibit.  We say all sorts of different frogs, and had some interactive fun.

On Palm Sunday we didn't quite make it to church, so the boys and I organized our own family service.  TJ helped with the order of service and the craft (he helped us to make palm leaves), MJ did the music and I read from the children's bible.

I've been trying to get the boys outside a lot more now that the weather is getting better.  TJ tried his stilts and is always on his bicycle.  MJ loves the mud and dirt.  He is constantly digging.  There is no point trying to clean their coats and splash pants.  I just wait till they dry and get the kids back out again.  

We dyed hardboiled eggs with a kit I got last year from the dollar store.  Oh the boys were having so much fun!

TJ and I also went to the church up the street to do the Stations of the Cross activities they had set up.   We had such a lovely time.  TJ has a tender heart and was very insightful and sensitive as we moved through the stations.

We love going to the forest in our front yard.  The boys enjoy noticing changes in the seasons and visiting familiar spot.  We went to a spot with an awesome hill/pit for the boys to climb in.  They had an awesome muddy time.

We planted our seedlings.  The boys chose which veggies they each wanted and enjoyed planting the seeds.
TJ also made it halfway to his reading goal!  25 books hurray!!  With each book, TJ gets stronger and more confident in his reading skills.

We went with our outdoor playgroup to the lake front.  The children were so enthralled with the swans, geese, and ducks.

Later we heard the ice cracking and melting.  The children were so excited to see the ice pushing up on the shore. We explored outside for more than two hours!

I am thrilled that the weather is finally starting to warm up.  I feel that getting outside has been a huge difference for all of us.  I have had the sense recently that we are all getting on each other's nerves.  I'm hopeful that patients, better communication and such will continue to improve.  The boys are getting older and we are all getting used to these new stages for everyone.  
We have more projects and interests coming up. I can't wait to share with you.

What have you been up to??