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It’s Monday

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Monday morning. Most people dread them. For a stay at home mother, it feels like every other morning.  Caffeine, breakfast, cartoons, sweeping the floor, caffeine, clothes, dishes, laundry, caffeine…. you get the idea.
On the weekend, the girls got new rain coats and gum boots (rain boots) for the Spring. They were SO excited. I found a cute Ladybug raincoat for Charlotte at the local Goodwill store for $4 and it looks brand new! Charlotte loves, loves, loves bugs so this was perfect and it will fit her for at least 2 years. We found Miriam’s coat at the local Once Upon a Child Store, also for $4 and looking brand new. Hers is blue, yellow and orange and I think she’d wear it to bed if we’d let her. The boots came from the Tractor Supply Store where we got to take a peek at the baby chicks and ducks one more time.
*sigh* I really want to have a pet duck one day. Chickens would be nice too. Useful even. Fresh eggs? Yes please. But a Duck! I’ve wanted a duck since I saw the movie Fly Away Home. I know that was a flock of Canadian Geese but….
Anyway! Amongst dreaming about one day having a Duck and some Chickens in our family, the girls were all ready for some serious puddle jumping and just needed some serious rain. There were comments like “maybe the rain saw my raincoat and is scared of it” (Charlotte) to justify the lack of rain. Saturday afternoon, after some grocery shopping, the girls were in luck. Rain! They stayed out in it and walked up and down our sidewalk soaking it up. We realized that rain is fun if you are properly equipped. Just like snow is fun if you have the right attire. Getting stuck outside in the freezing cold without a coat is no fun but give you some snow gear and you are all set to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great analogy for life really, don’t you think?
Last night (Sunday) it rained, so everything is well soaked outside and Miriam had to go out and get the puddle report. Our family usually takes mornings slow. It’s 10am right now and I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my PJ’s with a cup of tea by my side, dishes are done and the laundry is going. Getting dressed is optional most mornings. But Miriam was quick to throw on some clothes underneath her new rain coat and boots and was outside before 8am! She checked the front and then the back yards and came in to let me know that there were no puddles, with disappointment spelt all over her face. She went back out and did some art work on our pavement with sidewalk chalk, requested to eat her vegemite on toast outside and while she waited for her breakfast she stood out the front and waved to each car that passed. Timidly waved her little hand that peaked through her new, blue rain  coat. This made me smile.

Miriam- so sweet.

Wants to be adventurous.

Doesn’t like bugs.

Wants to like puppies and cats.

Enjoys the outdoors no matter the weather. “Coats are optional”.

Somehow she always stays warm!

As I sit here with my tea and the laundry going I am enjoying the smell of chicken stock on our stove. Peter and I have been collecting our vegetable scraps in a plastic zip-lock bag in the freezer. Things like asparagus ends, potato and carrot peelings, onion skins and left over parsley. We’ve also switched to buying whole chickens and Peter cuts it up into two meals- legs, thighs and wings/ chicken breast fillets. This leaves the carcass, which is perfect for making our own chicken stock. Saving our pennies (or many dollars if you are buying the organic version) and filling the house with this great aroma. So this morning I threw the frozen carcass and frozen vegetable scraps into our biggest soup pot, added a few teaspoons of salt, filled the pot with water and turned it on to boil. After boiling it, it then simmers for the rest of the day. Later today I’ll drain it into a large bowl, saving any chicken pieces from the carcass and then, once it’s cooled, I’ll divide it into a few freezer bags and always have homemade chicken stock on hand. This makes sure that we never use Chicken Stock cubes or store bought stock, full of which we are trying to live without.
This Monday morning also brought a phone call from a good friend, finalizing our plans for a weekend away with them. We plan on staying at a for one night in Ottertail, MN and then staying an extra night at our friends house in Waconia, MN. We LOVE these weekends together and plan on them at least twice a year. Our kids are all very similar ages and my girls already have plans on marrying their two boys lol. In two weeks we’ll be enjoying a mini-vacation!
What has your Monday brought you so far…..?

Let’s do dinner! with REAL people

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It overcomes me sometimes. The urge to entertain, host, give gifts. It must be one of my love languages. So my idea came on Thursday- we should have friends over for dinner.
I made the call and around midday Saturday it was arranged. Friends! Friends for all! since our chosen dinner companions for the evening have littlies the same age as our older two girls, this was going to be a fun-packed night with high-pitched squeals, dress-ups and dancing going on upstairs, good food, wine and great conversation. Actually the conversation was what left me feeling revived.
I know that we fit when our conversations include the following:

Benefits of bone broth

Psychology of a toddler in regards to sharing

Beards

Beer

Awesome Ikea cheese graters

How having a home birth has changed you

What were you doing on 9/11/01?

How hard it is to find a babysitter!

Yogurt cultures from Bulgaria

Intricacies of Baby Sleep

Oh the list goes on….

But I feel revived.
I woke up this morning feeling less than revived after a very rough night with little G. My chunk of sleep happened in between the hours of 6am-9am, interrupted twice and changing location once but still better than the previous 6 hours. A big pot of Irish Breakfast Tea was waiting for me downstairs and after a bagel and a shower I felt like I could face the day. Then I started thinking about the real people we have as friends. People who come in to our home and feel AT home. Open our cupboard doors to get themselves a drink and grab a couple of our books to read to the kids. You know… no awkward tip toeing, just real. Reflecting on this made me realize that I waste a lot of my time getting sucked in to other peoples not-so-real life in the form of Facebook personalities.
Let’s face it. We don’t have to be accountable for much online and there are many persona’s on Facebook that are less than real. So, today… I cleanse myself of some not-so-real relationships by thinning out my FB contacts. If I haven’t had any interaction with someone in the last 12 months, and they don’t call me or wouldn’t talk to me if we saw each other in public? Then we’re not being real.
We are in the thick of Lenten Season right now. Forgiveness, cleansing, focusing on what is truly real and important, getting ready for Easter, letting go of things in order to make more room for God in our lives. This is what I think of for Lent. Did you give up something for Lent? Why?……
I haven’t chosen something to fast from for a few years. The purpose of fasting, alms-giving and prayer is to help deepen your faith and commit to living the Gospel.

In 2011 Pope Benedict addressed an audience explaining the lenten season, noting that fasting is not just to deprive yourself but to lead a more moderate life. He asked everyone to give alms and do good deeds for others. For the pope, Lent is less about the observed laws and precepts and more about the person coming closer to Christ.
The idea of giving up chocolate, or soft drink, like I did for many years, had good intentions but served no purpose really. Did it bring me closer to God? Did I feel more connected? Not really. So I gave up all together on the idea of fasting from something petty, actually on fasting from anything. Prayer always picks up during lent for me, so that is one thing that I’ve got covered but I really wanted to make an effort this lent to DO something rather than GIVE UP something. My choice: to spend more time outside.
This may seem lame to some, but this Aussie girl was not built for below freezing weather day in and day out, so the thought of going outside just to enjoy being outside rather than scrambling from the car to the front door of our home, had to be a conscious decision. I’ve included my girls in on this lenten movement also. They, like me, could very easily spend most days sitting cozy warm inside, playing board games, baking, watching movies and doing their ‘school work’. We talked about God’s creation, how God made everything they see. The pretty and the not so pretty, all have purpose. It’s been fun having these conversations with the girls. It feels real and we are definitely looking forward to spring. To new life! to Easter!!
Today, I feel revived from good conversation with REAL people. For lenten ‘fasting’ that feels REAL to me. For surrounding myself with a little less purposelessness. Is that a word? My computer doesn’t put a redline under it, so it must be real. Ha! lol
So here’s to being REAL, friends. No tiptoeing. If you were Jesus, I’d open my front door and invite you in. Offer you a beer and a home cooked meal. Just like we did last night.

DPP 2012 // home made gifts

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December 21st
December Photo Project.
My Christmas to-do list is getting smaller thank goodness. These are my stocking stuffers for my Minnesotan family. Homemade disinfectant and homemade wood polishing/dusting agent. Also on my list is chest rub for the kiddos (like Vicks vapor rub without the petrolatum, camphor and turpentine oil ick) and nice smelly room spray. I’m pretty sure none of my Minnesotan family read my blog so it’s safe to post 🙂
BTW I got the awesome bottles for these gifts from specialtybottle.com

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Morning moments

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Sweet morning moments (how it usually goes):
Charlotte wakes up at 7am (no matter how late she went to bed, how does she DO that?) and drags me downstairs for some quiet cartoons and breakfast. We share in a little conversation about how much snow has fallen or what our plans are for the day. Sometimes Charlotte will remember a dream she had through the night and share it with me. One on one time with my 5 year old, even for just a few quiet minutes in the morning, is something I want to remember.

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Then, about an hour later, Miriam sneaks downstairs and curls in to me without a word. All warm from her sleep and sweet smelling, rolled up in a sighing ball of 3 year old girl. When she finally lifts her head to look at me she usually says, ‘Mum? I’m hungry?'(with a question, even though it’s more of an announcement).
But this morning? She said, “Mum, I gave Gianna a kiss and then I came down”
*heart melts*
Well, to be honest, my first thought was “you better not have woken her!”. But I went up to check on baby G and she was sleeping peacefully. She doesn’t even know, yet, how much she is loved by her sisters. People often speculated while I was pregnant, how the older two girls were going to interact with their new sibling. Many thought that after the initial excitement of the baby arriving that their interest would wane. Not these two! Every day since Gianna joined us, her sisters have talked to her, teaching her about kid life, cooed at her, laughed at her facial expressions and baby-isms and held her. Sometimes I have to referee between the sisters as to who’s turn it is to have Gianna’s attention.

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Our morning routine for the moment, allows us to get breakfast done before Gianna joins us. Oh, and when I bring Gianna downstairs after she has buried her face in to my neck, she looks up and connects with her sisters with the biggest smile on her face, so happy to see them. And then our day begins…..

Small things with great love

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I’m so proud of my girls today.

We’ve just spent a few hours going through their toys and books. This is a job that happens about twice a year. Re-organizing, tossing, finding, matching etc.

Today we had two laundry baskets. One for junk and one for toys to give to other kids. I explained to my girls that there are some children who have very little and by giving some of their good toys away, it will make another child’s Christmas extra special. Miss 5 was totally on board. She wanted to give one of her baby dolls away which took me by surprise. She stayed focused on the task for a good hour before doing the typical kid thing and rediscovering her toys as I neatened them up. Miss 3 had some trouble with the concept of giving her toys away, which is ok. She’s only 3. She did decide to give away one of her treasured dinosaurs that she’s had for at least two years (she loves her dinosaurs). I explained that she didn’t have to give away her most favourite things but she wanted this in the give away box so we did it.

It feels so good to have the toys organized and I know it will only be for a short time before it all goes awry. The Mr. Potato head is with all his pieces along with the train set and wooden blocks. Upstairs in the girls room is where the dress ups and baby dolls (including those small pesky Polly Pockets clothes) are. I’m hoping to be able to keep all the small toys that baby’s like to put in their mouth upstairs and away from Miss 6 (almost) months.

This organizer is now just holding books. The green and pink baskets are all completely empty!

We ended up with an overflowing laundry basket full of toys and books to donate tomorrow and the girls are already excited about our trip to the Salvation Army. I feel like this is an important tradition to keep in preparation for Christmas. Our children will hopefully remember these days fondly. I don’t want it to be traumatic in any way, clearing out their belongings. I strive to teach them a lesson in being selfless and giving with grace. I know this is just a small little thing that we did today but Mother Theresa said “We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.”