Update!

Standard

 

I’ve been an absent blogger for far too long…but I had a great excuse ūüėÄ

Clark-30  Clark-20

So very delighted to introduce the newest addition to our family! Meet Babykins, the beautiful little girl, who has already nuzzled her way into our hearts and has 3 adoring siblings to prove it!

  Clark-62  Clark-78

Turns out finding time to blog (let alone bathe, sleep or eat) becomes increasingly difficult with each pregnancy and additional newborn! But I am¬†finally now feeling like I’m¬†returning to “normalcy” (which in my world is really just embracing the chaos!) and am carving out some time to get back to writing and sharing here!

Clark-94

Photo credit: My wonderful and talented friend, Erin Petruska Photography

 

Happy Sign-Off Sunday!

Standard

IMG_6533

Every Sunday our family goes screen free, in an attempt to tune OUT some of the noise and be present IN the moment with the amazing people in our lives!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday! 

Enjoy a magical day with the awesome people in your life ♥

‚ô• 100 Acts of Kindness ‚ô•

Standard

 

 

the-time-is-always-right-to-do-what-is-right-martin-luther-king-jr

We are accepting the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge 2015, a fun and wonderful challenge shared by some very inspiring Mommas on the blogesphere, Kristina of Toddler Approved and Megan of Coffee Cups and Crayons.

The challenge is to keep¬†track as you and your family complete 100 acts of kindness over the course of a month (today until¬†Valentine’s Day!). Seems very fitting if you ask me to begin a kindness marathon on Martin Luther King’s birthday and to wrap it up on a day focused on all things nice and lovey (see those inspiring Mommas are smart too!).

We participated in this challenge last year and it was very fulfilling for our family and pretty amazing to watch our children not only want to show kindness to others, but also begin to acknowledge and show gratitude to those who showed them kindness.

IMG_4731

This time around I REALLY want to instill in my kids that kindness doesn’t cost a penny and that it can be done without needing to purchase anything. Our family budget is currently very tight, so this is a necessity for us, but regardless I think it is invaluable to teach our children that giving of our love and time is very often much more appreciated than giving of any material items.

IMG_2481

We began our discussion today about the challenge and the kids decided they wanted to use a heart banner to display our acts of kindness this year. We thought it would be nice to use our acts to help wrap our own home in kindness. And so we will hang our banner around the perimeter of our family room tomorrow and begin recording all of the kind things we do.

 IMG_2623

At bedtime tonight, Little Momma asked if we could write our acts of kindness down on her magnadoodle before saying prayers, so we listed them off – and I ran out of space, so we are off to a good start!

IMG_2624

Little Momma also wanted to make note of why she acted kindly today, (and to be honest I was a little worried she would say it was at my recommendation or to try and ‘win’ the challenge) but instead she very thoughtfully shared that she “really wanted to be a nice person”.

*Melt*

And right there¬†is a summation of why I LOVE this challenge and can’t wait to see how we grow in kindness and love once again this year!¬†‚ô•

“Frozen” ~ Birthday Party

Standard

IMG_2343

Somehow, though it only seems like I blinked, this little girl who made me a Momma is 5 years old – a whole hand, it’s crazy!

|Invitations| 

 IMG_2478  IMG_2479

Though there are many difficulties about having a child’s birthday around the holidays, it’s pretty fun when you find a way to work it to your advantage!

Little Momma has caught the Frozen-bug, bad…going on a year now! So we knew a Frozen-theme would be top request. I saw these cute DIY melted snowman ornaments on Pinterest¬†and thought they’d fit lovely with an invite to build a snowman!

|Decorations| 

 We did mostly Target and Dollar Store finds for balloons, tablecloths, plates, napkins, hanging swirl decorations and the sign pictured above.

We also added an effect of Winter with some frozen marble balloons to line the walkway with, seeing as we had no snow here over the holidays.

 |Food|

For snack we had these cute ‘Melted Olaf’ pudding cups with some blue lemonade we called ‘Frozen Waters’.

IMG_2341

For lunch I laid out some potluck-style items with little signs that read as follows:

  • “We finish each others…sandwiches” – assorted sandwiches
  • “Trolls” – meatballs
  • “Olaf’s Noses” – carrots and dip
  • “Sven’s Snacks” – cheese and crackers
  • “Olaf’s Arms” – pretzel sticks
  • “Frozen Hearts” – white chocolate dipped strawberries

The cake is always my favourite part. See, I got it in my head early on that I always wanted to make each child’s birthday cake, so it’s special for me. I feel like all of the birthday details and fuss will probably wash away in memories, but that the love that goes into these perfectly, imperfect cakes¬†that their Momma makes will be felt forever {I’m cheesy like that!}.

Our Frozen Elsa cake was created using three round 8 inch chocolate cakes stacked and covered with blue icing. The snowflakes were made using white chocolate piped onto wax paper and set. The ice shards in behind Elsa were made using this recipe for blue rock candy.

IMG_2327

|Activities| 

It’s fun to get to an age where kids can play games at parties! Here are a few that we enjoyed:

Pin the nose on Olaf

I free-handed an Olaf outline and cut out one carrot per child. The kids had fun spinning and trying to pin on Olaf’s nose!

IMG_2328

We had planned to be outside for some snowball toss and snowman building, but alas the weather would not bring snow! And so we played a snowball toss game using baskets and styrofoam balls, along with this alternative snowman activity.

Building Little Snow-Girls

Using toilet paper, button and carrot cut-outs, along with some scarves, the mom’s wrapped up their daughters and turned them into little wadding snowmen – it was pretty cute!

IMG_2349      IMG_2331

|Loot| 

For lootbags, I found some plastic Frozen cups at the Dollar Store and we filled them with some blue jellybeans, a wand, some Frozen glitter temporary tattoos and a Frozen bracelet and necklace. They were wrapped in cellophane and tied with a note that said, “Thanks ‘snow’ much for coming”.

IMG_2324

Happy Birthday to my amazing Little Momma – we are so very proud of the girl you are becoming – may all of your wishes come true!

IMG_2338

And a BIG thank-you to all of our wonderful friends and family who helped us celebrate another year of loving you! xoxox

Leezoo: Day 10

Standard

Today Leezoo was found playing board games with some of the kids toys!

IMG_1806

He must have known we were attending a Homeschool Workshop today, as he suggested we try to befriend someone new and be extra kind!

IMG_1813

 Check back daily for updates on how our Elf on the Shelf is helping to promote kindness this Holiday season!

Adventures of Leezoo 2014

Standard

Do you “elf on the shelf”?

We are avid “elf on the shelfers” and love the fun and joy it brings to our household each year! My hubby and I are forever thinking of new adventures that our elf, Leezoo, can get up too. It’s like¬†reliving a tiny bit of the magic and wonder that is Christmas when you’re a child (and we’re all about being kids again!!).

This year, however, I was really wanting our elf to be more than a threat or looming reminder that “Santa is ALWAYS watching”. Although I cannot say I’m not guilty¬†of ever using the Santa bargaining chip, I would prefer if my children learn to behave year-round, not because of a bribery for¬†presents, but because they are learning that that is the RIGHT thing to do.

After coming across The Imagination Trees¬†kindness elves¬†at the end of last year’s Elf on the Shelf season, I knew I wanted to incorporate an element of community service and kindness into Leezoo’s shenanigans this year! And so begins Leezoo’s adventures for Christmas 2014! Come see what he gets up to and find out how he is encouraging kindness, while still getting up to his notorious mischief!

Day 1: Leezoo’s arrival – Wrapped our Christmas tree in toilet paper

Day 2: Leezoo is covered in band-aids

Day 3: Leezoo is baking up a storm

Day 4: Leezoo is supporting the army men

Day 5: Leezoo is a bird on a bird feeder

Day 6: Leezoo hangs Christmas socks by the fire

 

Come back to see what silly Leezoo gets up to next!

I will be posting each day with Leezoo’s silly mischief and the act of kindness he has suggested ūüôā

Big Announcement from an Absent Blogger!

Standard

IMG_0640

As I slowly drag myself to the 13 week mark, I am happy to announce we will be welcoming a new family member in May 2015! I also want to apologize for my lack of blogging, this pregnancy has KICKED. MY. BUTT., and so I have been stuck in survival mode, just trying to make it through the day, which has meant the other activities I enjoy….like blogging and bathing, have taken a back seat. I will try to do better as I hopefully begin to regain some energy in the upcoming second trimester!

And as much as I’ve been feeling like poop, I am over the moon excited to be adding to our family. I have always dreamed of having a large family, (although Hubby and I have different visions about what number constitutes large!) and love watching as we grow, shift and evolve as a unit through the years! I love my clan like crazy!!¬†‚ô•

IMG_3754

Oh, and I will try to minimize the pregnancy spam (read:whining!)….but newborn baby spam, come Spring, holds no such promises ūüėČ

Becoming a Homeschool Mom

Standard

Today I became an official homeschooling mom. After much discussion and prayer, we determined that Little Momma would benefit most from home instruction for her Junior Kindergarten year. This does not mean I think every other kinder parent who put their child on a bus or dropped them at school today made the wrong decision. It simply means that our children are different, our families are different and as a result, we may do things differently. So please don’t feel even for a moment that my decision passes any judgment on yours (and I ask for the same treatment in return please!). I am fully aware that each of us is on a mission to do what is best for our individual families and children, and you’re best, and mine is AMAZING!

 IMG_9679

Our first day was not perfection…in fact it was far from it! ¬†Mr Man was a feisty terror, Baby Girl is cutting a million teeth and we had some extended family health issues and an extra canine family member to add to¬†the mix (nothing short of exciting over here will do!). And yet still, more than once today I stopped and commended myself for sticking with my gut and making this difficult, and against the grain decision. Although I’m still finding my bearings, I truly believe this is going to be a beautiful and fulfilling journey for all of us!

My *goal* is to journal daily for each child on what we touched on that day (for the assessment and reporting obsessed teacher in me!) and I must say I am flabbergasted at how much we covered for our first day. Check out our Instagram feed @mommyschool for details on today’s activities! And keep following along to see what we get up to in the coming year. I am looking forward to sharing our adventures!

I hope to find my groove in the coming weeks, but for now I feel a sense of peace, telling me that for the time being, we are exactly where we are meant to be ♥

IMG_9697

Happy Back to School (or not) to everyone! ūüôā

 

 

Diamond Jubilee Park ~ Splash Pad Review

Standard

We are keen on soaking up some sun this Summer, while staying cool at the same time – and what better way to do this then hitting up the local splash pad?!

We always seem to end up at the same few splash pads, not necessarily because they are the BEST ones, but honestly because they are familiar {I know how to get there, where to park, etc…}. So to keep things fresh, we are on a mission to explore and discover the splash pads of West Ottawa this Summer. We will be checking-out at least one new one every week and reporting back here with our most and least favourite things they had to offer. Come along for the ride, as we travel the world of Splash Pad excitement!

¬† ¬† ¬†¬†This week we made a pit stop at a newer splash pad and park in Findlay Creek. It would have been a trek if we weren’t already out that way, but I’m so glad we checked it out. It’s a new favourite for sure!

Location: Located off of Bank Street at 2810 Findlay Creek Drive. There is a parking lot, an adjacent skate park, gazebo, picnic tables and lots to do!

Featuring: An awesome splash pad with lots of neat features – showers, animal squirting cannons, sprayers, fountains, misting archway, water dome and jets. The ground is also more spongy than a typical splash pad surface, which was really great for running and jumping on (especially for barefooted Mr Man and newly toddling Baby Girl!).

IMG_9134

The two play structures also offered many opportunities for climbing, sliding, swinging and playing!

IMG_9118  IMG_9124

How to turn the water on: By holding your palm over the silver sensor on the red flower post.

IMG_9143

Most Favourite: While the kids really enjoyed the splash pad, the biggest smiles of the day were found on the swings! There are two baby swings and 2 accessible swings.

IMG_9127  IMG_9126

This Momma absolutely loved this ASL alphabet board over on the play structure, too!

IMG_9119

Least Favourite:¬†Little Momma enjoyed the squirting animals, as long as they were not aimed at her…Mr Man felt the same ūüėČ

IMG_9133  IMG_9132

Verdict: { 5 out of 5 stars} ‚ąó‚ąó‚ąó‚ąó‚ąó

See our other Splash Pad Reviews:

Huntley Centennial (Carp)

Citiplace

Bandmaster Park

Andrew Haydon Park

Bluegrass Park

Centrepointe Park

Riverside Park

Brookshire Park

Richcraft Park

Walden Park

Water Dragon Park

Family Fire Drill

Standard

¬†One of Little Momma’s favourite things to do is practice our home fire drill plan. This kid is not only cautious, but also quite insistent on being prepared for all scenarios (much like her Momma ūüėČ ).

So when one of our good friends had his awesome firefighter-themed birthday party (complete with a tour of a fire station!), you can bet her little mind was spinning with how our own emergency plan added up against the pros.

 IMG_3604  IMG_3606

Following the party the kids thoughts and play were only of fire and rescue! And as soon as the little kids were up from nap, Little Momma ushered us to the table to get to work on creating a map of our fire and emergency plan, using the awesome templates we got from the fire station!

  IMG_3657 IMG_3658

We have 2 separate exit plans and have discussed a number of scenarios with the kids on when each one would be used. However, instead of having one central meeting place, we have one in the front yard and one in the back yard, seeing as our kids are still quite young and wouldn’t be able to leave our fenced backyard without help. We do plan to merge to one central meeting spot once they are a bit older.

We practiced our primary escape route first, which is out to our front yard, where we convene by the largest and furthest tree.

 IMG_3660 IMG_3661

Then, we tried a backyard emergency exit, where we meet at the furthest point by the back fence, until an adult is there, the kids know to wait.

IMG_3667

Every time we do a drill we are sure to discuss the importance of feeling doors for heat before opening them, crawling beneath smoke, staying visible (NEVER hiding) and calling for help if you’re trapped, as well as how to Stop, Drop and Roll should your clothing catch fire.

 IMG_3662  IMG_3663

IMG_3664           

         STOP                                                   DROP                                              ROLL!    

 

Although this can be a difficult topic to discuss, let alone role play with your family, as you never want to actually live this experience. The confidence it gives your children is invaluable, people who are prepared act faster and smarter under pressure in emergencies. You WANT your kids to be in the know!

Practice your family fire drill today and then again every couple of months to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. Let your children’s questions help fuel your own preparedness in keeping your home as safe as it can be.

And if you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend with such a sweet birthday party, contact your local fire department for a tour and some of their awesome resources!