Family Hiking

The break the kids get for Christmas and New Years is wrapping up this week, and we have had such a nice, quite couple of weeks. We hardly have went anywhere, other than spending time back in our bush, going on little hikes with all of us.

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While we haven’t left the farmstead really at all, we have been all over! Each time we went out we had a different plan for where to hike to and where to explore. Our woodlot is actually quite rolling; there are lots of high ridges, and there is a creek running through a good part of it that we had to figure out a way to get across. Since we’ve had such a wet late-summer and fall, the water was quite high and moving fairly fast. We walked a good bit along it before finding a narrow spot to walk through (in our tall rubber boots, the kids got carried across).

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Of course our dog, Coco got to come too. She was in heaven each time. This is Coco in her element — exploring, colder weather, getting to run free. She was mostly staying with us, with the exception of chasing a bunny she happened to come across on one of our times back at the bush.

Beyond that, we didn’t see much wildlife. There are tons of fresh deer trails, so they have definitely been around, but they probably heard the kids coming from a mile away and were long gone by the time we made it inside.

The sun is still setting fairly early, since we’ve just reached our longest day of the year. Most days by 5pm it’s dark. All the day we went back to our bush but one we had overcast, grey skies, so those days light faded even quicker. We did get some nice sunshine one of the days though, and it was lovely to see it shining through, warming us up even though the air was still cold.

Homemade Quilt

For Christmas this year I made Averianna a quilt that would fit over her whole bed. She previously only had her little crib-sized quilt. Now, I’m not any kind of an expert when it comes to sewing, but I really do enjoy watching something like this come together.

The kids each got a quilt a few years ago for Christmas (the crib-sized one for Averianna mentioned above, and a double-sized one for Cayden). Both quilts were quickly pushed away to get to the real presents, the toys! Now, I am totally okay with this — I mean, they are kids after all! But leading up to Christmas day this year I started thinking about how this gift (and the homemade pillow I made for Cayden) would be received amongst all the excitement.

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What I realized during this reflection though, was the timelessness these gifts have, even if they aren’t the highlights of their Christmas morning (and I definitely do not expect a quilt to by a highlight for either of my kids' on Christmas morning, just to be clear!) Cayden has to have his quilt on his bed every night, and often he chooses to only sleep under it. And I’m pretty sure if you asked him what toys he got the year he also got his quilt, he would draw up a blank.

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This fall I told Averianna that I would make her a bigger quilt if she wanted one; of course she said yes. Knowing this quilt would become a Christmas present, I also asked Cayden if he’d like me to make him a new one, not to replace the old one, but in addition to it, because I didn’t want him to be disappointed Christmas morning having not received one. Cayden said he’d like me to make him a pillow (which I also quilted) instead of a quilt, so that is what he ended up getting.

The homemade presents were opened with joy this year. Both kids said they forgot I said I would be making them anything at all, so it was a nice surprise for both. They also both gave huge hugs when opening their homemade gifts this year. I know it comes with them getting old, but this Christmas was filled with as much excitement as the last few, however, was just a tad bit slower, and seemed to come with a lot of gratitude, which of course fills me heart with joy.

Christmas Eve Day Explorations

We have a woodlot on our property that we really haven't spent much time exploring. But the weather has been fairly mild and the kids needed to get out of the house. We found this little clearing in the bush and our minds were racing with all the fun things we could do here...including building a "Snow Deer" (Cayden’s idea), and a snow man of course. I'm envisioning a winter fire pit where I can warm up as the kids do all their snow building and exploring.

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Now we wait until there is enough snow for all our ideas. By the looks of the weather we won’t have any in the next couple weeks. We got a nice coverage in November and haven’t had much since. We are definitely ready for a little bit, to toboggan in as well.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and the best for 2019!

Our most special Christmas tree

This November, somewhere along the line, in all my crazy, I decided that we would try to decorate our entire Christmas tree only with homemade ornaments. It started with me looking on Pinterest for some fun Christmas activities/crafts to do with the kids, but eventually the pins started to accumulate to the point where I figured we could make this happen. It did take a bit of forward thinking (this is not something we could have pulled off the weekend before getting our tree), and prep work since the kids are in school full time now. However, I was already trying to stay on top of the Christmas fun in November since I knew I would be away from home the first part of December.

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We started by getting a big pack of Sculpey clay and pulled out our Christmas cookie cutters and stamps. We rolled out the clay and stamped trees, stars, holiday greetings and snowflakes all over the clay. We then cut them out with the cookie cutters and put a hole in the clay (to put on our tie for hanging). Once the clay was baked, the ornaments hardened up, and then we tied on a variety of ribbons and twins to hang them in our tree. We got a ton of ornaments this way, and the kids really loved making them. It was fairly mess-free and they were able to do a lot of it themselves, with the acceptation of me rolling out the dough and the baking.

Another decoration we did was a homemade garland. The garland was part of a kit I purchased, but I thought it would work perfectly with the aesthetic of the other ornaments we had made and still have that “homemade” feel. I purchased a few of these kits and I assembled them with the kids. I figured out a pattern that would work well with the beads and tassels that were in the kits, and then had the kids help string them all on.

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Cayden didn’t show interest in helping until I got to the third (and final) strand, but Averianna enjoyed helping or at least watching with all three. I love how these turned out and I’m tempted to get a couple more sets to hang on our stair railings or in the kitchen next year for Christmas.

We dried orange slices this year, which was really easy and the end result looks great! I just thinly sliced the oranges with a knife, and we put them in the oven at 200F for approximately 4-5 hours. I had to keep flipping them and rotating them though, so it was a bit of a process.

I really loved the wood slice photos I found on pinterest, so off I sent Erik with a chainsaw to cut some slices! haha! I couldn’t find pre-made ones in any craft stores, but these worked just fine. I printed off a bunch of photos with the kids in them, and we used Mod Podge to attach the images to the slices. These also became Grandparent gifts.

Averianna and I gathered a bunch of pinecones from some of the trees we have on our property. I baked them at low heat in our oven for a good 45 minutes to an hour. This just helps dry them out and also takes care of all the little bugs that tend to live inside of the pinecones during the colder months. Once they were dried, I waited for a nice weather day and spray painted them gold outside.

We also collected sticks and twigs and used Christmas coloured yarn and twine to wrap around them into snow flakes, stars, and Cayden made one into a Christmas tree. This was fairly easy for them to do, once I prepped their twigs and hot-glued them into place.

Above you can see how a bunch of it came together. It really was such a special Christmas tree this year. I will definitely be doing this again with the kids because I feel like they took a lot of pride in seeing all their ornaments on display as well. I’ll be on the hunt for some new ideas and I’m sure they will “grow into” some of the more challenging crafts for next year’s Christmas tree!

Three Years Time

March 2014 vs 2017

Taken March 10, 2014

Taken March 10, 2014

Taken March 11, 2017

Taken March 11, 2017

These two photographs are taken three years apart.  The top photo was taken on March 10, 2014, and the picture on the bottom was taken on March 11, 2017.  I always loved the first photo because of the way Averianna looks at her big brother and I thought it would be a fun photo to recreate with them.  I showed both of them the picture, and Averianna was excited to be “the baby” in the recreation.  Cayden also agreed to do it.

So I went and found the blanket, which sadly had been put away.  The blanket that I used quite often when Averianna was a baby, just to lay down on the carpet and set toys out for her.  This blanket was often hung over the Ikea chair that sat in her bedroom when the crib was still set up, and was there for convenience in case either of us got cold while nursing.  I took the blanket, and laid it out, being mindful of where the giraffe was (who is visible in the first photo) to ensure I got this recreation as close to the first as possible.

Next I rallied up the troops.  I had already put Cayden in a plain shirt first thing in the morning, but in the back of my mind was thinking that I needed to change Averianna’s shirt before we attempted the photo.  Of course, by the time we got to making this picture happen, naps had just finished and we were thinking about going to the barn, so Averianna’s shirt no longer was a priority, and instead I thought that I better just get this done before everyone lost their patience with me.  

Both kids had bunnies in tow, and I let them know that first we were going to take the picture Mommy had in mind, and to appease them for their efforts they would get to take a few pictures with their bunnies.  I carefully laid Cayden in position first,  because he has more patience and is way more cooperative than Averianna at the moment.  I checked my camera to make sure all the settings were as I wanted them, and to make sure that what I was seeing in the viewfinder was as the original had looked as well.  Confident in how everything appeared through the viewfinder, I grabbed Averianna, and positioned her arms and feet as best as a three year old will allow (especially considering they don’t quite bend and curve like they did as when they were babies).   I got up on the bathroom stool and “coached” them a bit, taking photographs.  Of course, once the camera clicks once or twice, they think they are done, and all cooperation is out of the window. 

I re-focused them, laid Cayden out again, brought Averianna over again, and tried a few more shots, before they are both completely “gone” and Erik started to look at me like it was time to go to the barn 5 minutes ago.  Finally I tell them, “go get your bunnies,” so we can wrap this up, figuring I’m going to have to attempt this very shot again tomorrow, since time was clearly running out.  

Over the bunnies came and they both laid down one more time.  I take some photos because that was my promise and to my surprise I get the second photograph.  Averianna again with that same expression on her face, looking at her big brother, who she looks up to in so many ways.  It’s not an exact replica, but it reminds me that a copy is never what I was going for.  It was the look in Averianna’s eyes as she gazes at her big brother that initially drew me to the first photoraph, and it came at the very moment when I couldn’t have staged it even if I tried.  

The love they have for each other is something that makes my heart feel full.  And through the fights and bickering, the hitting and the teasing, it’s that look, and love for each other that I need to remind myself of, to keep sanity through this thing called parenting.

This is me

Simply, stated, this is me.  In my coveralls, at the barn, taking a selfie when I should have been getting some work done. 

The 100th Day of School

Today Cayden's JK class celebrated their 100th day of school!  He came home as proud as can be wearing his celebration crown.  It was a 100 connect the dots, with 100 dots to connect!  They were making Fruit Loop necklaces today as well!  He was pretty excited about it and has been practicing counting to 100 for the last couple weeks.  He mostly can get to 100 on his own, he just needs help when he gets to the next "set of tens" (ie/ going from 39 to 40, he needs help with 40).  He's really loving his math and counting!

One of Averianna's favourite things to do is make puzzles.  She often will come over and say, "Mama, make puzzles me?" and it's very often she grabs the box with four wooden puzzles (one is pictured below).  She is so independent and has to do it all herself, but she does need a little guidance and coaching here and there!  

School Valentines

Cayden was pretty excited about all the Valentine's he brought home today.  He ended up with four tattoos, a button and a ton of candy as well.  He loved looking through them and seeing which friends had given which Valentines.  

Photographers in the Making

Duo of photographers — taking photos with their cameras.

Cayden taking charge of the first digital camera that Erik and I ever owned -- also a Fujifilm camera!  We let him play with this several months ago and he had little interest, however, today he took full control, documenting his time at the barn.  

Averianna got her hands on this little toy camera (OK, little is and understatement).  When you push the "shutter" the picture in the viewfinder changes between different animal pictures.  However, for her, she was also taking charge of her camera!

Siblings that chimp together, stay together?

Dirty Windows

I'll admit, I'm a bit of a perfectionist (I'm working on that), and usually when I see finger & hand prints, licks, smudges of who-knows-what, I am pretty quick to grab something to clean it all up.  But this is life right now.  This is everyday, and when the kids are grown up and gone I'm going to miss every little bit of this, even though in the moment, seeing these smudges and prints may drive me a little bit crazy.  

Hint of Warmth

In January, in Canada, you don't get much sun warmth.  But when you get that warm light, especially after a whole day of blowing snow and freezing temperatures, you are reminded that only a few month separate us from the spring time! 

All the beautiful things