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.

.  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.

This post is linked to:

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Guest Posting at Forever Joyful

My boys love listening to stories.  Whether I’m telling them a story, acting one out with toys, listening to podcasts and audio books, or curling up with good book, my boys are captivated!!  I am always happy to nourish their love of literature.  So today I thought I’d share a few of our favourite books with you.  

Please head over to Forever Joyful 
to find out what we have been reading!!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Guest Post: Let Them Make Cake (or: How My Kids Brought Joy Back Into the Kitchen)

I am so blessed to have the most amazing writers offer to write guest posts this month!!  Heather and I met at a local meet-up for families getting their children out into nature.  Today she is sharing about spending time in the kitchen with her boys.  This brings back so many wonderful memories with my own boys when they were the same age.

 Let Them Make Cake : How My Kids Brought Joy Back Into the Kitchen

I was going to write about my passion for hiking and getting out in nature with my three boys, particularly since that is how I met Meaghan.

But as I was brainstorming... Roo (my 5 year old --five and three quarters actually) said, with chocolate chips in hand, "I want to make something".  And so I got out some ingredients and he did.

Roo and Sweet Pea co-creators in the kitchen
It's been going on since he was old enough to hold a spatula in his hands, these kitchen adventures with Roo --first, simply as a 'passenger', watching me stir and chop, and gradually as a participant and collaborator in the kitchen.  One of his first sentences was "let's make", at which point we'd pull out the blender and make humus, or alfredo sauce or muffins, or granola.  We would follow recipes, naming and tasting the ingredients.

A Young Sous Chef
I've made a point of being as hands off as possible while accounting for his abilities (and my acceptance of mess at that particular moment) as well as my taste preferences (tahini in moderation, please).  I got into the routine of setting the ingredients out pre-measured so that I could stay close by and prevent eggs from slipping to the floor, and so that no matter what happened, it would still be OK, even if it didn't turn out the way the recipe called for.  It also helped me focus on being with Roo, instead of frantically grabbing the next ingredient before he dipped his hands into raw egg (I'm not always the calmest cook).  Know thyself!

Planning ahead helps create calm for me = more fun for the boys

I stopped measuring after he had learned to level a measuring cup with a knife (or his fingers) and when he could pour syrup or break egg yolks without tipping the bowl (mostly).

Happiness is mixing dough for something tasty.

And then the day came several months ago when he said he wanted to make something without a recipe.  It started with syrup and honey (ah, the primary motive, I think, was licking the spoon).  It included an egg, or maybe two, some almond milk, flour (at my suggestion), some baking soda (at my urging) as well as spinach and ketchup.  I did well to bite my tongue, and I envisioned the many wonderful culinary experiments and the cooking "failures" (too runny, not sweet enough, burnt) that would lead him to a career as a chef (professionally, or more simply but no less worthy, for his future family).  It turned out well: he ate it but said it needed more honey.

Sweet Pea ready to flip some walnut lentil burgers.​

The latest recipe just last week included help from Sweet Pee, his three year old brother who usually would rather wash dishes (aka splash in water and pour stuff).  The concoction is called "Chocolate Power Wrench" and has carob chips, 2 eggs, almond milk, coconut flour, almond flour, and baking soda (his idea).  Both boys have been enjoying its sweet soufflé consistency and have been wondering why the chips sank to the bottom.  The scientist in me is curious about food chemistry.  The reluctant cook in me is enticed.  And the mom in me is proud.

"Making" stuff with them has made the kitchen more fun (and not really that much messier).  It forces me to practice my patience and to let go.  It brings joy into the kitchen on days that sometimes seem to be burdened by the constant question of "what will I make for dinner?", and it helps me enjoy the process just as much as (or more than) the outcome.

No time to invite boys to do the cooking?  I still have help prepping raw vegetables.​

​Fine motor dexterity, measuring, and life skills all rolled into one.​

Heather Boyd is an amazing mom to three young boys.  They are often in the woods, and spending precious moments playing together. She is considering starting her own blog, which I can't wait to read!!  Let me know if you'd like to get in contact with her to write for you too!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Our Week: life with a new born

Wow I can't believe baby JJ is already two weeks old!!  He has grown so much and is spending more time awake too.  We are both doing well.

JJ's brothers are enjoying holding him and helping out as much as possible.  I very much appreciate all the help.  We are still adjusting to life with a new born.  I'll admit there are days when I worry, feel like I'm not doing enough, and am overly tired.  But overall we feel so blessed that pure joy and peace are the best words to words to describe this time.

When I look at JJ while he nurses and sleeps through the commotion of his active older brothers, I am overwhelmed by the peace he exudes.    I so wish I could feel so rested while life is swirling on around me.

My little baby is so precious and fragile.  I am reminded how much I need the Lord.  God gives me strength, peace, everything I need!!

Over the past two weeks we have had several midwife appointments, a baby shower, and several visitors.  Our family and friends have jumped in to take the older boys so daddy and I could have a break.  I can't tell you how much we appreciate everything people have done for us.  For gifts, meals, spending time with the boys, visiting and encouragement!  We are truly blessed.

MJ has been to the Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto and the African Lion Safari with his friends.  The kids had so much fun together with loads of laughs and giggles.  My friend is a super mom for taking on MJ with her own two little ones!!

MJ building robots
TJ has been to some splash parks, his cousin's and had several meals out with mommy or daddy.  He has been enjoying this special one-on-one time.

I am enjoying this slower pace of life.  Nursing and cuddling JJ is a great excuse to slow down, relax and rest.  However I really do hope to keep this slower pace.  I am enjoying just being with the boys instead of always rushing off.  Yes the basic housework is getting done and I still have time to snuggle, watch the boys play AND take the occasional nap!!

TJ hosting another party n the forest

Monday, 10 August 2015

Guest Post: Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto Consumer Review

Today I am very excited to share with you our first guest post!  We have been to the Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto twice as a family and MJ also went with his friends recently.  I am very pleased to share Katie's review with you all.  

Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto Consumer Review
BY: Katie Morrison

Way back in my pre-children days, I would see the moms in the mall with their kids on a leash. Have you ever seen them? The kids strapped into a fluffy backpack with a mom tether attached on the other end? I finally understand now why they are necessary.

Today, we took my very energetic 3-year old to Ripley’s Aquarium. Toronto’s newest attraction, opened in October of 2013 and 2 years later still welcomes visitors with an entrance line-up as long as an American Idol audition queue. As my son and I slowly made our way down the sidewalk, at the base of the CN Tower, we wondered to ourselves – is this really worth it? It definitely was.

Once we waited in line to get in the front doors, and then gave them this month’s rent in exchange for 3 family day passes, we were finally inside! We were greeted by a massive aquarium of tropical fish. The crowds wove their way into the belly of the building surrounded by tanks full of diverse marine life, 13,500 different species of sea animals. The facility was immaculately clean considering the sheer volume of tourists passing through the halls. My son was in awe at the 3-story kelp forest and the monstrous Giant Groupers. Apparently there was a spectacular sea horse exhibit, but the small viewing areas made some of the creatures difficult to see.

The horde of anonymous tourists funnelled their way into the ‘Danger Lagoon’ suggested that the most dangerous part in this tunnel may be claustrophobia. As the mass of people channelled underneath the foreboding sign and assembled onto the conveyor belt that would transport you around the shark lagoon. Once you step onto that moving sidewalk, you journey underwater. Completely surrounded by glass and 2.9 million litres of water, you move with the others visitors along the path and watch as a variety of exotic species, including Sand tigers, nurse sharks, sawfish and a moray eel pass along beside and above you. The children were all squealing with delight at such a close encounter with dangerous predators. 

The facility was child friendly offering interactive exhibits, a petting area, lots of education displays and an indoor fish-themed playground next to the food court. Even though it is extremely stroller friendly, strollers are not recommended since the tunnels can become crowded and though simple to maneuver around the exhibits, it is not so easy to maneuver around hoards of people.

Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto is open 9-6 Monday-Thursday and 9-9 Friday, Saturday and holidays. It is worth the effort to fully research when the peak times are and schedule around that. The exhibits are incredible to see and the facility is one of the best aquariums in the world, but the crowds can be the only negative in what could be wonderful family time memories.  A great educational opportunity visit: to plan your adventure!

Guest blog post by Katie Morrison.
Katie is a freelance writer, sport enthusiast and stay-at-home mom of a high energy, four-year old. Katie has recently embarked on homeschool preschool adventure with her son. Together, they are learning with an eclectic, child-led, road schooling curriculum.  Born in Hamilton, raised in Brockville, Ontario and then recently returned to steel city to raise a family, tackle the real estate market and play competitive dodge ball as often as possible.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Welcome to the world baby

Welcome to the world baby.  This week JJ (sorry no real names for the blog) blessed our family and came out into the world.  He and mommy are both doing very well.  He is perfectly healthy and a great eater.  Very snugly too.

Baby Jackson
JJ is about 4 days old as I write this post.  I am overwhelmed by so many emotions each day.  Mostly amazed that this little guy was just in me the other day and now he is out, home, ours! I get to keep him!!! God truly creates miracles all the time and this tiny infant is surely one of them.

Daddy and baby right after delivery
As I lay on the delivery bed, moments after our little one was placed on my chest, he instantly began looking around, licking his lips and trying to nurse.  How awesome is that, they come out knowing exactly what to do.  Unbelievable!!

Mommy and baby just before going home
It is hard to believe that every single thing out little boy does is a first for him.  The very first walk I just took with him up our laneway, his first bath, first piece of clothes to touch his tender skin... he will never have those firsts again, ever!

Brotherly love
I am overwhelmed with love.  The whole family is.

Our God never ceases to amaze.  He thought of us in the beginning, knew us intimately before we were born.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of it all...

Snuggle baby
And so we start our new family adventure.....

Boys heading out to stay with my parents.  They each got a new toy to remember the day.
Last photo of our family of four
Meet the Jackson five

This post is linked to 

My Joy-Filled Life