Wednesday, February 23, 2011

homemade cardboard blocks

At Christmas time my girls ate box after box of these Mandarin Oranges. I wasn't complaining...they were a great cheap healthy snack. I wish they would sell them all year long!
We turned the boxes inside out and used some of them as gift boxes at Christmas and the girls decorated them with markers and stickers and ribbon. I neglected to get any photos :(

The other day as I was about to finally squash them and put them out in the recycling as I was getting tired of looking at them all piled up on top of my kitchen cabinets, Aayla must have read my mind and she pointed to them. I brought one down to show her they were empty as I assumed she wanted to eat them but she started to pile them up. She must have spent a good 45 minutes playing with these. Before we sold the daycare THESE blocks (click) made by Melissa and Doug were some of her favourite toys to play with so it shouldn't really surprise me that she invented her own!

Fun to eat, fun to stack, fun to count, fun to knock down and start all over again :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun Family February days... (Feb nature connections)

OK 3rd post of the day...I'd save this for tomorrow but tomorrow we pick up our new travel trailer!!!! and that will be my focus :)

After spending a week in Jamaica without our children it was nice to return home...(OK honestly...I could have stayed another week in Jamaica but yes it was good to get home to our family)

We spent the weekend together with family and friends...Saturday we all went to White Rock Beach.

(Aayla walking and balancing with Grammy Sue)
(Aayla enjoying a walk over all the big rocks with daddy)
(wouldn't be a fun trip to the beach without getting wet!)
(Sierra giving Grammy Sues new puppy, Rosebud or Rosie for short, a little kiss)
And when the day was done, even though we had many stairs to climb, looking at these mosaics actually makes stair climbing enjoyable :)
on Sunday we went to Stanley Park with my brother Leif and his wife Laural. We had a nice day visiting the ducks,

playing at the playground

and of course climbing trees!

(Look mom I am a sloth!)
(Proud to have climbed up on to the tree all by herself!)

(Aayla with Auntie Laural)

(OK mom enough with the pictures as Aayla enjoys a free ride with Uncle Leif in his new wheelchair)

and enough with the posts for that matter!

Surviving Cancer....

This is my brother Leif:
and I'd like to take a minute to give anyone out there reading this blog who is dealing with Cancer or who knows someone with Cancer a bit of encouragement.

A few months ago at the ripe old age of 29, my brother was diagnosed with Lymphatic Leukemia. He was told he needed transplants: liver and bone marrow for sure and that was only if he lived past the next 2 weeks.

A shock non the less, to go to the hospital with lower back pain and find out your whole body is riddled with Cancer and you will be lucky to live another 2 weeks. He hung his head and was about to give up. Who wouldn't with news like that? ME...that's who. I believe our lives are what we make of them. If your mind gives up why should your body keep fighting?

I told my brother to go ahead and cry...everyone would with news like that. Take some time to grieve this devastating news...then sit up and deal with it! It may sound harsh but I believe it works. He has always been a fighter. He is strong and if he can fight with his mind, his body will have the strength to fight through the chemo.

I take no credit for the miracle of his survival. I gave my brother the tools to craft his own life, to make a choice, to deal with his Cancer, the same tools that helped me deal with my Multiple Sclerosis and I want to share it with you all...NEVER give up and KEEP POSITIVE! My brother should not have made it out of the hospital but he did! He is in a wheel chair for awhile but with time, and his determination, he WILL walk again.

Positive thoughts bring positive go on...go tell someone who is fighting an illness to BE STRONG and CARRY ON, and if it happens to be you needing this encouragement then I hope that reading this can encourage you to take your destiny in your own hands, BELIEVE in the POWER of POSITIVE thoughts! We do and it works for us :)

I wish you well on your journey and am thinking positive thoughts for you no matter where you are, what you have, YOU can conquer it!

"Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Francesca Reigler"

(This crow picture is dedicated to my brother Skye
who passed away at 29 with a brain anerisim. We miss you Twirp. We hope you are enjoying your days on your big rock candy mountain. We are thankful that Leif decided not to join you at 29 as well and wish you could still be here with us. All over the world, your friends and family unite in our love for you, and will see you again when our journeys here are done... when we take flight to come visit you)

Our Annual Jamaican Getaway

My husband and I have just returned from our annual getaway sans children... we spent a wonderful week in JAMAICA!

I must admit it is really nice to have 1 week a year where we can devote our time and attention 100% to eachother! I wish we could do it a couple times a year as it is so important to rekindle the flame even if it isn't flickering. We have chosen Valentines week to be our special week but we also devout time to each other on a daily basis as well. I think that is why after 12 years our love is still so strong. We cherish our love, we appreciate each other, we consider each others needs even amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

This is actually only our second getaway year as before then my girls were too little to leave and feel comfortable (now 3 and 4). I am fortunate that I also have a 22 year old Meadow, who offers to watch them now 1 week a year so we can go. Thank you again Meadow! You are the best!!!

We had a wonderful week soaking up the sun together. We stayed in Negril and on Valentines day went for a lovely walk along 7 Mile Beach. The sand was wonderful, the sun was amazing and the shells were plentiful too. I was so excited to find my conch shell. There were all kinds of them lying along one stretch of the beach without the tips but mine is all intact with only a few minor blemishes and I LOVE it!

Even though it was sunny and warm for us in Jamaica, it was windy and we were only able to go snorkeling once. We saw lots of sea urchins and small fish. Nothing too exciting but still lots of fun!

Last year when we spent our Valentines week away we did many excurions everyday (Duns River, and Horseback riding 3 times), but this year we just enjoyed the peacefulness of eachothers company...spending time together, discussing where we want to take our future, enjoying the sun and relaxation, our beach walks and we did take a sunset cruise on our last night. The perfect end to a fairytale week.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living and Learning: Nature Connections

I am having way too much fun discovering new blogs today.

I am making the choice to leave the pile of dishes and the unswept floor for a little longer and post about this great blog challenge...Nature Connections.

As I looked back at Januarys photos I realized I hadn't taken many :( and the photos I did take are all inside wrong is that!

I did however come up with these outside photos from New years day:

We had just spent a fast paced week at Disneyland, and January 1st was our day to visit our Aunt and Uncle in Woodland Hills California.

Here my girls are enjoying running around, playing chase in their backyard

Then it was time to discover the birdbath and enjoy some waterplay
Which led to finding some toy bird decorations and making them homes
Aayla carted her new friend everywhere that afternoon.

I find it really quite amazing that even though we spent a fortune at Disneyland and had a great time that this afternoon of simple, natural, outside play was even more memorable then Disneyland.

Nature Connections
is a collaborative link collection
posted at the end of each month
at Living and Learning.

It's purpose is to showcase photos of children
enjoying nature to inspire all of us to get outdoors more.

I am also tagging this with a year of choice as I choose to make a better effort at catching all the little moments, inside and outside on film.

A year of choice

I just discovered this blog "Family Life" and her post HERE about A YEAR OF CHOICE.

And had to pass it on, what a wonderfully amazing idea. Something I try to live by. I believe our lives are what we make of them. I believe that true happiness comes to those who believe in it. I believe we are in control of our own destinies in each choice that we make in life. What a wonderful way to give ownership to it. To be proud of the choices we make, to encourage us to make better choices, to learn to except the choices we do make... A Year of Choice...YES I am in, will you join too?

2010 was a year we had to make many choices...

We made a choice to close our daycare/educational/toy supply store in August. I was working way too much and couldn't have a minute to myself, rarely saw my family, was missing seeing my children grow up as an hour in the evenings wasn't enough! We chose to sell it and gain more family time.

In September we chose to sell the daycare as well. We were made an offer and couldn't refuse as it would give us even more time for family time.

In December my husband quit his job to go back to school part time to finish his engineering degree. The proceeds from the daycare sale allow us to not worry about working for the next few years which enables us to even more family time.

Last week we chose to buy a travel trailer so we can spend four months this summer between my husbands school terms, on the road. How amazing will that be.... a cross Canada, cross USA 4 month trip. Now where must we travel and what must we see...any suggestions?

We are happy with these new choices and look forward to our upcoming choices in the days to come!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Valentines Sensory Box and Sequencing FUN

Today we whipped up a quick little Valentines Sensory box. My 3 year old especially is very sensory orientated. All you need are a few supplies you probably already have around the house :)

We use a cardboard lid from a box of photocopy paper for our tray but you could use any rubbermade container, wooden tray an old shoe box etc.

Fill it partially full of rice, add some pom poms, foam heart shapes, felt shapes, Valentine erasers, craft jewel hearts, and some red glitter, or/and anything else you have that lends itself to a Valentine theme.

Provide some spoons or scoops, and bowls to use for holding items when scooped and poured and can also be used for sorting.

Your child will love to scoop and pour the items into the bowls. Usally we use wooden bowls but lately I like to provide my girls with real glass. At dinner we even use real glasses. (bye bye plastic...yeah) They feel so grown up and we actually have less spills because they are more careful and respectful of them. I purchase mine all from thrif stores so if one does get broken it's no big deal.

We had some left over Valentine erasers which I picked up at the dollar store:

which we used to make a matching page. I just laid the erasers out directly on top of the photocopier and made a colour copy. I did mine in lines so I can cut them apart to have separate lines for easier use with littler hands. This is a great sequencing activity, just provide a bowl of actual erasers and they'll have fun matching them to the photocopy. I am out of laminating sheets though so I will cut mine apart get the idea :)

We hope you enjoy these two quick and simple ideas...I know my girls sure do!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A sweet treat for Valentines Day

Aren't these beautiful??? I just loved making THESE and we had so much fun making them that they inspired me to make this years Valentines. They are super simple and lots of fun to make as well as give and receive. A winner all around in my books!

First you will need to gather your supplies:
  • Paint and brushes(I used tempera paint for these but the liquid water colours I used in the earthday flowers was much better)
  • newspaper & cardboard (we love to recycle our cereal boxes for is the perfect weight)
  • A marker/pen & 3 objects to trace to make circles (I used a glass, a bowl and some tape. You want each circle to be about 1/4 bigger then the first)
  • Scissors to cut, tape
  • And not pictured you will either need green paper for the leaves or you could paint newspaper green instead and last but not least,,,some yummy suckers
Have your children paint full sheets of newspaper in any colours you choose. We used pinks, reds and whites to keep with the Valentines theme but you could choose any colours. It's a great way to experiment with colour mixing :)

Sierra enjoyed trying to paint without using her hands (above) and all our sheets of newspaper drying (below)

While the paint is drying you can make your templates. You will need to trace around your 3 objects that are each about 1/4 size bigger then the first, onto your cardboard and then cut them out.

When your painted papers are dry, use your templates to trace the 3 circles per Valentine onto your painted dry papers and cut them out. You will also need to make some green leaf shapes that are joined together, but wide enough to have room to poke your sucker through still. (see below)

To assemble your Sweet Treats, lightly crumple your 3 sizes of circles, uncrumple and push a sucker through the centre of the smallest circle, repeat with the medium circle and the largest circle.

Next push the sucker stem through the centre of the green leaves and add a tiny bit of tape to the bottom to hold the leaf in place.

You can leave the leaves plain or write Happy Valentines on them. (this is easier to do if you do the writing before you push the stem through) If you don't like the words showing on the front, you can write them on the underside of your leaves :)

We hope you give these a try. They are very simple, yet elegant. Easy for even a two year old but I think these would be fun for an 8 year old too! Enjoy!