Thursday, June 26, 2014

books we have loved this year

This year we have read some great books together. Charlotte adores listening to books aloud and will listen for long, long periods of time.  I love to read out loud so it is a wonderful way to learn and and spend time together.  Lila has a bit less of a tolerance for long read alouds, but I have to remind myself that she is much younger and also has a different personality than her big sister.  She does really well, in that she only interrupts when she is really, REALLY bored!

So here are some books we have really loved this year, some we have read over and over again.  These books are all part of Sonlight K curriculum.

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" by Judi Barrett

This book was written in 1978 and is a fascinating and creative story, written in a lovely way.  The grandpa in the story is inspired to tell a story to his grandkids after flipping a pancake high in the air at breakfast.  In his story, a community of people receive all of their food from the sky, instead of from the supermarket. The illustrations are beautiful, some black and white line drawings. This is one we have read and enjoyed many, many times.

"The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner 

We have loved many of our novels this year, but this one was loved so much, Charlotte wrote and directed a play based on a few of the chapters.  There are many, many books in this series, numbers 1 - 19 were written by the original author Warner in the 1940s.  (The first book was first published in 1924.) Charlotte reads these with her daddy at bedtime snacktime, they have just finished book 7. The original book is about four siblings who are orphans and find an abandoned boxcar to live in.  The joy the children find in simple things is refreshing and inspiring.  The children eventually end up living with their grandfather.

"The Usborne book of Living Long Ago" by Felicity Brooks and Helen Edom

This book is divided into four sections: Clothes and Fashion, Homes and Houses, Food and Eating, and Travel and Transport.  Each section moves through history in these topics.  It covers a lot of information with activities and recipes too.  We have read through this book a lot and although I did not expect it to be a favorite with Charlotte as it is all non-fiction, it is.  We are working on a "Living Long Ago" play based on the sections on the pioneers.  This book was published in 1990, so it is not necessarily current (I edit the term "Indian" to first nations, and we have had lots of conversations about this) but it is still a great book to inspire a love of history.

"Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion" by Andrea Gianopoulos

This book is a historical account of Isaac Newton in graphic novel format.  This is one that I didn't think Charlotte would love, but she does!  She loves graphic novels and this book has a lot of information in it, as it presents the laws of motion and how Isaac Newton came to create these laws. We have had conversations about force and motion and Charlotte remembers these scientific principles!  

Right now we are reading:

"Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We have read a few of the Usborne beginner books for science this year, and are about to read "Caterpillars and Butterflies" by Stephanie Turnbull.

We read Mother Goose weekly, the poetry book "The Llama who had no Pajama", our missionary stories and Bible. We have just finished "The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury" for Lila's book list and there were favorites in that treasury for sure.  

I would love to hear what some of your favorite children's books have been this year!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

family reunion - our March

Bit by bit I have had this blog and my writing percolating in the background of my mind.  I have started five posts, only to not finish and publish them. Time has passed and slipped away from me.  I am determined to get back to writing slowly and surely.

Our March was a very special month as my sister Kathryn, her husband, Tim and their two daughters flew across the world (literally) to visit with us and all of the family.  They moved to Perth, Australia two and a half years ago.  They had an itinerary set and we were very very excited to see them again, and to meet their daughters (the eldest was a baby when they left and I had not met their youngest).  They came to stay in our city for 5 days and we had a friend offer us their house to live in while they were here.  It was generous and amazing to be able to stay all together.  Then I went to Nova Scotia for a week and a half with the girls to visit while they were visiting my parents and sisters.

 first real play in the snow for the Australian girls!

Charlotte was teaching how to move around on the snow without sinking in

 sliding down the hill

my girl adores the snow

 happy cousins

reading one of Lila's school books with auntie - perfect bedtime stories!

We did not check very many things off of our curriculum in March, but we were able to engage in lots of creative play, and lots of bonding time with our cousins, aunties, uncles and Grammie and Grampie.  It was a very special family time.  We hosted an Australian learning forum and got to see real Australian money and eat homemade pavlova! 

We even got an Australian dollar to keep!  We learned about animals and the sound of the kookaburra (Uncle Tim does an amazing kookaburra).  We read lots of stories and built friendships with our family that will last.  We even went to Kings Landing and learning about how they collected sap to make maple syrup long ago.  We went on a wagon ride and got to see and touch a butter churn which we had learned about in one of our favorite school books, "Living Long Ago".  

We ran in fields, explored apple orchards, saw eagles and pheasants, played at an indoor soccer field and attended an amazing story time in Wolfville library all about Dr. Seuss.

It was an incredible month with many beautiful memories made and difficult to be out of routine, away from home for so long.  We are so very thankful to have had the opportunity to visit and get to know our Australian relatives!  (They are almost Australian, in the process of becoming so!)  We are very grateful, and we continue to practice life learning in our homeschool, one that sometimes veers from the curriculum and offers so much opportunity and joy in the process.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

thoughts on three

*I wrote this months before Audrey was born, but did not have the courage to post.  After re-reading, I have decided to publish, and write more on parenting in the  future. I hope you enjoy!*

It is hitting me. In those moments when I have a minute to breathe, I realize that it will soon be completely different. Although it has been two and a half years, I do not forget the 24 hour demands of a newborn. I do not forget the exhaustion, the wondering if this baby will ever go to sleep!  There is so much joy, so much dependence and so much love.  It is also really, really hard.  Sometimes it is hard to admit it. For fear of admitting weakness as a parent, for fear of admitting the reality is not exactly as we hoped.  

"We worried that we were not strong enough as mothers. That we were lacking in some fundamental emotional point of clarity or spiritual virtue necessary to parent our babies correctly. ... One-size-fits-all parenting advice provides peaceful affirmation for those parents whose own personalities and babies' temperaments happen to fit the prescribed mold.  In those for whom the neatly-packaged advice does not resonate at a heart level, however, it can stir up not only massive amounts of fear, but heavy guilt and shame as well.  For a new mother, the perception that either she or her baby is failing in some way is an incredibly difficult burden to shoulder amidst the already exhausting day-to-day life with a newborn."
(Tietz and Oyer. Spirit-Led Parenting, p. 38)  

Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer have written a beautiful book about dealing with the fear and struggle of parenting a newborn. Both mothers felt the pressure to follow advice from other mothers in their circle, as well as from traditional parenting books.  Both parents broke away from this to discover freedom in their parenting. (This book is written from a spiritual perspective, as both moms turned to prayer and the Holy Spirit for direction in their parenting.)

(Charlotte, 7 months old)

(Charlotte, 4 years old)

I too, read many books, including "The Baby Whisperer", "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and others which prescribe certain ways of caring for newborns.  These ways encouraged babies to sleep, eat and play within prescribed rhythms throughout the day. I will never forget walking Charlotte in her stroller, while she was crying at the top of her lungs, because it was not her time for feeding within the rhythm.  We desperately longed for a sense of "normal" in her "schedule".  The reality was much different. Then I decided to sell the books and forget the ideas. They did not work for us, and for our baby. 

(Lila, 1 or 2 days old)

(Lila, 2 years old)

Lila came with a huge personality and a huge set of lungs! The nurses in the hospital thought she was so fussy because I was tandem nursing (although Charlotte did not nurse the entire time I was in the hospital) and my mom was worried that she had colic. She cried a lot.  I don't even think I remember the extent of it. And now, as I snuggle her and nurse in the evenings, it seems like ages ago.  She is confident now and although she soaks up physical affection and snuggles (perhaps physical touch is her love language?) she does not cry often. 

The truth is, a baby changes a family.  A newborn is a miracle. Don't be afraid mamas, to ask for help. Because it is desperately hard, and we are living in a Facebook, Pinterest world where making comparisons becomes second nature.  The mama you see baking fresh bread, engaging in art projects while keeping a beautifully neat house... that mama has struggles and fears too.  Listen to your baby, and listen to their needs.

These words are for myself. I am trying not to cry when I think of everything changing once again.  I wonder how I will meet one more person's constant demands through sleep deprivation.  I have no idea what three will look like in real life.  I do know that I will respond to my baby's needs and wants to the absolute utmost that I can. My two older girls will learn about caring for another person and what it takes to sacrificially love. They will learn to love this new little one too.  The love will multiply in our family as we learn to love another new little person.

Yes, we are pretty much a full fledged "attachment parenting" family, including co-sleeping as needed, full term breastfeeding and tandem nursing, and baby wearing. We did not set out to parent this way, but through life and learning to listen to our children's needs we have decided to parent within this philosophy. I feel strongly about it, and although "Spirit-Led Parenting" isn't really an attachment promoting book, it does present some attachment concepts as possible options within a Christian context.  In reality, our girls sleep primarily in their own bed now, Charlotte has self-weaned, and our discipline is a non-punitive approach. Often, I keep it all to myself. Because of fear of others thoughts and opinions of me. I think the time has come to write and reflect on these choices as the months pass and baby number three is about to make an appearance! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

finding words

I've avoided this writing space for a while... since the beginning of January, actually! Almost 8 months and it has completely overwhelmed me to think about beginning to write again.  I've been reading a lot but writing, not so much.  Then I read this post, about the brave ones, the blog updates come in my e-mail.  The thing that I long to do, yet do not do, is write.

There have been many reasons, one being that so much has happened, I do not really know where to begin. I went through a very dark period this winter and I'm not sure what to share, how to process it with words.  I birthed another baby girl, and she is in my arms most of the day (and used to be most of the night) so having two hands to type was impossible.  We have celebrated birthdays, family visiting from away and 9 years of marriage. We made a decision about schooling for Charlotte. I wasn't sure where to start!

If you can believe it, all three girls are sleeping right now! This is so completely unusual, I wasn't sure what to do!  Sleep would be so, so amazing, or I am reading a fabulous book right now for book club so curling up with a book sounds very pleasant!  Instead I washed a load of dishes while making tea and sat down, read some e-mails.  Then I came upon that post and I realized what I really needed to do with this silence, was write.  To fling my words out there, as exhausted and incoherent as they might be.

Our family of five, coming home from the hospital.  Our precious baby girl, Audrey, was born extremely fast, at home in our bathroom. (I will tell the story another time!) She is incredible, so alert and awake, and so very loved.

She has grown so much!  Two months old now.  The three of us enjoyed a couple of hours out celebrating 9 years of marriage!  (Wow, did I just write 9 years....?!)

These 9 years have been full of joy and love, with some sorrow and struggle. I am grateful we get to keep walking it out together.

My first baby?  She just turned 5, with a rock star birthday party, complete with stage, mics and amps and an incredible amount of fun.  Can I believe it?  Hardly.

These photos are just a quick snapshot, but hopefully enough to throw me back into writing again.  Because I think I have a lot to say and just needed a way to start.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


These past few months have been months of change.  Oh how I have longed to write and record everything that is happening, but in the midst of it, everything seemed too much to record. How can I put this life into words?  It seemed impossible.

The days scurry along and sometimes it seems impossible to catch a moment of quiet. Balancing homeschool preschool, doctor's appointments, playdates and mom's group, housework and errands has been tricky at times. Balancing being busy and then having that downtime, playtime at home that the girls crave and love - it's hard. Our biggest news the
                                                                                    past few months is #3... #3 is coming! Nausea, exhaustion, and just trying to figure how a pregnant mama can do all this - that has been the past few months!

The girls have been fabulous, and although we have had our struggles they are beginning to internalize everything that is happening, primarily through play.  They play birthing babies and have packages of goat's milk to play with (wipes refill packages), they carry their babies everywhere too.

They are great friends and their pretend play is amazing.

Tim's sister got married in November and we had a lovely time celebrating with family and a few of her friends that flew to Fredericton for the occasion.  Charlotte was a flower girl for the very first time!  

Lila had a matching skirt (all homemade... not by me!) and did pretty well throughout the ceremony and photos.  

She even had some flower petals to sprinkle!  It was a great time to connect with family, eat yummy food together, stay up late and celebrate together.

Christmas has come and gone, in a bit of a whirlwind. I was quite sick up to the holiday, so preparations were minimal. We had a nice celebration with family, and made it to Nova Scotia on Boxing Day to visit my family.  

New Year's Eve we spent with close friends in Moncton and had a really nice visit with them and their boys.

Now we are home, the Christmas tree has yet to be taken down and to be honest, I feel like I am grasping at  loose ends, trying to live these days with purpose and joy. What's to come in the new year?  I'm not exactly sure, but there will be love and growth and change.  I know that for sure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

strength and fitness

My fitness routine lately has been slack.  Let's be honest, it is non-existent.  I searched quickly through some photos, looking for examples of exercise and couldn't find anything that is recent. Oh, there is the odd family hike or walk on the trail or in the woods, but that is it.  I'm becoming aware of a loss of strength, endurance and health due to a lack of fitness, and I'm not sure how to fix it.

August 2012

I hope to not be depressing, just honest!  I honestly feel better when I work out. I honestly don't know how to fit it into my life in a practical, affordable way. When I reflect on the time that I felt the most in shape, it was when I was regularly attending Goodlife, a local gym within walking distance to our townhouse, lifting weights, attending the Body Flow class and also, taking a class on Nordic walking as well.  I was preparing myself to hike Mt. Katahdin and using my poles, walking all the way up Smythe Street to work and then often walking at lunch with the poles too. (I can't really believe I had the guts to do it at the time, I was the crazy pole walking girl, but I didn't really care!)

July 2007

Oh, and did I mention that was before kids?  

I am in this weird place right now, of trying to eat enough and not lose weight.  The restricted diet (no gluten/dairy) combined with breastfeeding makes for a tricky calorie balance.  I would love to learn about about nutrition and the best way to feed myself and my family.  

July 2012

I think health is a combination of many factors.  We have never had a scale and it is not about the numbers for me.  It is about food, exercise, sleep (?!), strength, outdoor pursuits and cultivating a sense of peace in life.  I have a few pieces in place, but it is always a journey.  But that fitness/exercise/strength piece is just not there at the moment.  I have experimented with working out at home before, with Leslie Sansone's Walk At Home program and the Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.  Videos aren't motivating to me lately, it seems every time I sign a workout video from the library, I never even open it before it is due back.  Our living room is our business office, play room, music room, and more. There usually is no space to work out!  If there are any suggestions out there I'd love to hear them.  If I come up with a plan, I will share it, and continue to share my journey!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

a message for the mama of a little one

Mama, I remember.

I wish I had thought to capture some photos. Picture memories of daily life at the time. Walking endlessly, nursing endlessly, crying and crying and pure and utter exhaustion.

Mama, I remember like it was yesterday.  Not knowing how on earth I was to get it all done. Begging Tim, please, please, please can't you stay home from work another day.  I just can't do it. One week at home, and one week working from home was a lot compared to some, I realize now.  But my confidence was buried in a pit somewhere, and no one could convince me that it would be okay.
Mothering two came as a huge shock.  I entered motherhood the first time with pure joy. I do remember walking Charlotte through the house in the middle of the night, living room to kitchen door to bedroom, watching Tim sleep wishing, wishing I could be too.  But I had become a mama, and it had been a longing of my heart for a long time.

Exhaustion was pure.  It was intense with two.  Two babies, two years and newborn. So many needs, only one me.    

Mama, please know that it is going to get better. It is going to be okay. Surround yourself with loving support. Accept meals, accept help. You are in a season. It will be okay. Discover what brings you peace and joy and DO those things. Even if it's every once in a while, it will make a difference. 

One day, you will turn around and your children will be playing happily for chunks of time at a time and it will take your breath away. You will realize that you have space and a second to breathe and relax. Please don't feel guilty about this! Feed your mama soul during these times. 

Mama, know that you are not alone. Reach out and lug your newborn to a coffee shop with a friend and spill your heart. Saying that it is hard out loud, like nothing you ever imagined, it will help.

Give yourself grace, mama. It's a hard season, that season of newborn to one year. And even beyond. 

Much love,

(photo credit - Shanie Stozek)