Monday, February 29, 2016

There's Always Something to Be Thankful For (On Monday)

I have that phrase framed in our homeschool room. "There's always something to be thankful for." 

It's a good reminder for the kids. When they're grumpy and don't want to do school or practice music... It's a good reminder for me when I don't feel like sitting there and marking work any more. It's a good place for that quote. But seriously... Even on my worst days- I've always had something (usually lots of somethings) to be thankful for. So I decided to start posting a few things that I'm thankful for every week. And I decided to do it on Monday since Mondya is my least favourite day of the week and usually when I need the reminder most. :)

So this Monday I'm thankful for helping hands. Because seriously, what did I do when I got sick with 5 toddlers at home? Besides call my sister... 😂 I love everything about having the girls help me in the kitchen. We have so many fun memories. Everything from turning muffins into a substance that resembled coal, to making up songs and ridiculous dances while baking late into the night.... They're the best.

Also, I'm thankful for home. We started out as a family in a little, dark, dingy basement apartment. But it was our first home and we loved it. 

When we had the triplets we lived in a two bedroom apartment with a huge 9th story balcony. While we didn't appreciate the broken elevators or the walk up nine flights of stairs with three car seats and a toddler.... We loved that balcony. That apartment felt like home and it was a bright and fabulous upgrade from a basement. 

When the triplets were a few months old, we had the opportunity to buy our first house. It was a small town home with turquoise and orange carpets, and three layers of wallpaper on some walls... But it was ours! We could choose flooring and paint colours. We could walk out the front door to play on a lawn with the kids and we were so thankful! We lived in that house for another 9 years and four kids. Even when 1,100 sq. ft. became really tight for our growing family- it was home. Then we were blessed to move into our last home.  We had four large bedrooms, three bathrooms (not one!), a garage, a fenced in yard! It was amazing. We felt so overwhelmingly grateful. 

And now, four years later, we are in another home. One that I can see us having our grandkids come stay at. One that will be perfect for family gatherings when our kids all have vehicles and kids of their own. God has always provided. We have never had any reason to complain. And so today, I'm remembering to be thankful for "home". Mostly the people who make it a home... But the actual house too. 

And just because it gave me a good laugh... I was reading with Lily in school the other day and she looked up at me and asked, 
"Who taught you school, Mom? Was dad your teacher?" 
That girl is funny one. 

Happy Monday! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wise Words From an Old Farmer

Some days I have a hard time focusing on school. This is the view out the window right beside my chair. 

I've been thinking a lot about the homeschooling post. I realized that we've been homeschooling for 11 years... Eleven. Next year, my daughter will graduate from high school. What?!

Anyhow, I definitely don't feel like a pro at the whole homeschooling thing. I look back every year and wonder what in the world I was thinking the year before. But I do know where I stand with my view points on it now. I do know what I believe about it and how to best serve my children with it. So I want to do the post justice. I want it to be able to encourage moms starting out, strengthen moms going through it, and maybe just shine a little light on what it is that we actually do everyday. I am working on it. I've started the first post and I honestly think it will be several more before I'm done. 
Taking pictures of the birds...

And here's the view out of one of the other home school room windows...

We had quite the snow/rain/sleet/ice storm last night. This morning everything is encased in ice. It's beautiful. Our power went out for several hours last night and we sat around colouring, playing instruments, eating cereal for dinner, and just enjoying eachother's company without any electronics. It was really nice. Scott suggested that we do it once a week. I'm all for it.

That's also why I failed at my Wordless Wednesday yesterday. I had a photo all planned out, but then I had no light and no power, and no internet on my laptop... So instead of the breathtaking shot I had planned... here's what you get.

We have way too much fun with the snapchat filters around here!

So I finished "Girl on the Train". I was disappointed. I didn't figure it out before the end and I can't really pinpoint why other than the fact that the book felt like it had no hope. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who may read it- but I like a clear cut good guy/bad guy story. I like for there to be a defined line. This book definitely didn't have that. I don't think there was any "good" at all. Just my opinion... but I wouldn't be recommending it. 

I'm on to the book that Keona is recommending for me by one of her favourite authors- James Dashner. I'm not big on sci-fi but I figure I can probably get through one book. Even if I don't read the two sequels.

I've exercised three times this week so far and I'm feeling great. I always feel like I have more energy when I force myself to get up and moving. I added weights to my routine and I'm definitely feeling the change in a bad good way. I have never been a dieter. I don't think I've ever gone on a diet in my life. I tried a fruit/veggie cleanse once and didn't even make it a full day! 
This girly likes to workout with me and then show off her muscles. ;)

I'm not exercising to lose weight per se... Actually, I don't even weigh myself. However, I do have an outfit or two that are still a little bit snug and I'd like to fit into all of my clothing. :) I could get discouraged about that but then I think about all that my body has been through- and I can't complain! 

It has served me well through 9 pregnancies, 7 c-sections, a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. It has nursed babies for over 100 months and counting. It's pretty amazing. I saw a quote the other day that went something like, "For every woman complaining about her stretch marks, there is another woman who would give anything to have them." That goes for an extra inch or pound too. 

Though I'd still like to be able to wear all of my clothes! 

Cause she's not a baby anymore. She's a walking & talking toddler. And I was looking through old photos...

Though I did have this lightbulb moment...  I sat in bed this morning and Scott handed me a muffin before he left for work. Two minutes later Lily came running in and hopped up in bed beside me. She looked at me and smiled. I broke my muffin in half and handed her a piece. Then I realized, that's probably the answer! Just say, "Yes" every time a kid asks me for some of my food! They ask without fail, anytime I'm eating anything. 
I would instantly cut my calories in half. 
I may just go with that. 
Or I'll just continue to keep the good stuff in my purse and eat it when I'm driving somewhere without them. 
One or the other. 
Also the result of looking through old photos... Courtesy of Eve. 

The other day Lily leaned into the homeschool room while I was checking work and said, 
"Can I have some of this yogurt with lunch?"

I said, "Um.. no. That's mine for the week."

She says, "Ok! I'm still thankful I have food! Bye!" As she ran back into the kitchen.

She may have gotten a few thankful lectures recently. 

Lastly, I ran out the other day when our driveway was a skating rink to grab some salt. I picked up the bag and went into the store to pay. There was a very old man in line in front of me. He turned around to look at me and insisted that I go ahead of him. I thanked him and set my bag down on the counter. After I paid he offered to carry it out to my car for me. He was incredibly sweet but I'm pretty sure he would have fallen over if he tried to pick up the bag. I told him I'd be ok and then he told me I had to let him get the door. So I waited as he (slowly) walked ahead of me and opened the first door... and then the second one. 

I thanked him and then he said, 

"My grandpa always said there's no such thing as bad weather - just improperly dressed people! And if the only thing you have to complain about is the weather- you should thank the good Lord!"
I smiled and agreed. 

Thanking the Lord for the beautiful weather we have up here today, dressing properly for the newspaper route today, and leaving you with that bit of advice from an old farmer in Home Hardware. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Excuses and All Things Food

So I think I was kind of setting myself up for failure by starting a reading challenge at the same time as I decided to start blogging again... I've been spending all of my (30 minutes) of free time a day- you guessed it- reading! I'm almost done Girl on the Train. I'll update the reading challenge list with my next book and a quick review next week.

I'd also say that I've been lousy at exercising lately, but then it snows, and shoveling the driveway totally makes up for it. Our driveway could easily fit 20 cars... We only shovel half of it- but still. That's a lot of snow! And I may be in the minority, but I'm actually loving this winter! We have consistently had several inches each week and it's gorgeous. 

If it's going to be cold it may as well snow! 
(Says the stay-at-home mom who doesn't have to drive in it...)

Prayer's picture. She's been trying to catch the Cardinal but in the mean time we've had lots of finches.

Today is our busiest day of the week. This morning started off with the kitten knocking my favourite plant off of the window sill and breaking the pot all over my bedroom floor. We flew through school without any kindergarten breakdowns. Lily did her best and wrote her neatest so she could show her dad all of her work! (I'm definitely going to use this incentive more often.) I bought new pencils for the first time since September! It's a new record for us making pencils last. They're almost like socks. Where they go?...  I have no idea! And the few we had left were too short to sharpen properly. Funny how they managed to hold on to those ones for the last two weeks. 

Grocery shopping was... grocery shopping. At least it's more fun when I take kids with me. Last week a (very large) disabled man gave (very petite) Keona a good shove in the produce section. Followed by a polite, "Excuse me!" His worker apologized and told him he should say excuse me before pushing someone. I had to laugh. Not at him- but at Keona. I'm surprised she didn't go flying. Then an old lady decided to shop from our cart and took a bag of apples while I stood there and watched. Ha! She was really old. She saw me and put them back! 

Today was pretty uneventful. I've been in denial about the fact that I now need two carts for the weekly shop. I had no choice today, as several older ladies watched me try to balance everything on top of the cart after packing it into my reusable bags. (I actually remembered to bring my bags! Hooray!) So I then had to go grab a second cart...  

The produce guy had a good laugh at the number of bananas I was buying, "You're either making banana bread or you REALLY like bananas..." 
I was tempted to tell him they were for my pet monkey. 
Instead I just said, "No, my 9 kids really like bananas..." 
To which he replied, "Wow! I wouldn't want your grocery bill!"
 Ugh... Thanks for reminding me. Though I was within 36 cents of the budget today! I think Scott's estimating abilities are rubbing off on me. ;)

Since pretty much the entire post has been devoted to food already... We went to Swiss Chalet for Family Day. This is an extremely rare occasion for us. Considering the fact that I could make 5 days worth of dinner and dessert for what ONE restaurant meal costs us... It doesn't make much sense. Other than the fact that I didn't have to cook! And we had gift cards... :) Keona and I are very similar. We both went with the tried and true 1/4 chicken dinner.

The triplets are adventurous. They all tried fancy stir fry and pasta dishes. Both Ella and Lily were most excited about the chocolate milk and all three boys ordered Shirley Temples. 

Yes, I said all THREE. The waitress got a good laugh out of that! It was a fun night out. Followed by Tim Horton's roll ups for everyone and a movie back at home. 

The last bit of light for the day.

And now... I'm going to read my book and watch Grey's. I'm really hoping it picks up because last week was kinda disappointing and really unbelievable. I mean, what else can they really do to Meredith? The poor lady needs a break. 

Night, everyone!


Edited to add: I've gotten a few emails about homeschooling and I'm working on a post about our curriculum choices, combined courses/grades, and basically what a school day looks like for us. Stay tuned! Hopefully next week!

Friday, February 12, 2016

This Week's Recap

So as I posted on Wednesday, we have a few extra family members for the week and our kids are having a blast! Last Sunday before they arrived Elijah said, "I'm excited to have an extra brother for the week, but that also means I'm going to have TEN sisters for the week!" 

   The boys have been busy tobogganing outside, stealing food from the kitchen, playing Catan, Minecraft (of course!)...

...and making everything from lie detectors to radios with an electronics curriculum that just arrived.

The older girls have kept the younger ones busy as well. Lots of Barbies, tea parties, colouring, braiding hair, and playing outside. 

Having thirteen kids here doing school during the day has been a little bit busy. We only had two breakdowns from kindergartners that wanted to go play and a few boys trying to skip out on classes that they didn't think I'd notice. :)

We plan to bake some special Valentine's Day cookies tomorrow. We'll see how that goes.

Now for an update about our reading challenge! I finished my biography book "Unbroken" and it was an amazing story. I can't wait to watch the movie! At some points it was almost unfathomable what Louis went through. What so many soldiers went through. It was an eye opening book for me. Keona's going to read it for her biography as well.

I started reading "The 5th Wave" series to screen it for the girls but then I got really into it and had to know what happened next... Scott bought me the next one in series and I plan to read the final book when it comes out in May. Like I said... I like teen books. :)

I started "The Girl on the Train" last week and am about a third of the way through. I'm reading this for my "a book I've been meaning to read." So far I'm enjoying it. I have no idea what's going on yet- so that's always fun. 

Keona is reading "Alex Ryder: Eagle Strike" for a book she's been meaning to read. Actually, Elijah has been bothering her to read it for a long time now! So that's what's going on there.
Addy enjoys reading the dictionary...

I'm pretty excited for Family Day! It's always nice to have Scott home for an extra day. We're planning a little surprise outing with the kids and then relaxing. Ah... Relaxing.

 Did I mention that we ran out of fruit on Wednesday? Cause yeah, thirteen kids go through a lot of fruit. Thankfully Scott was kind enough to stop on his way home from work with Keona to grab some apples that were on sale for 99 cents a pound. So he bought 20lbs worth... That should last a few days. Oh, and Keona started her first job! She's working part time in the office with Scott. Mostly just filing and data entry, but it's exciting for her. 

What else?...

Rain is getting bigger by the second. There was a day last week when I wondered what we were thinking getting a puppy. Justus is pretty much middle age now- for a dog. He just sleeps, eats, plays with the kids for an hour and then sleeps again. I had forgotten what having a puppy is like! Not to mention, we got Justus when he was 13 weeks and already trained to go outside. It never dawned on us that at 8 weeks... They couldn't be trained yet! *kicking myself* But she makes up for it all in cuteness! The kids have been a big help. The girls take turns getting up with her first thing in the morning and taking care of her. Even Prayer. Who has decided that she is not an animal person and her children will never have pets... 

And for everyone who has expressed concern about Justus... 

He is doing just fine! He's been spoiled with extra treats and attention. He spends lots of time running around outside with the kids. Only occasionally roaming off the property and getting into trouble. He even let Rain hide in his bed with him when a loud noise scared her. 

He even tried to protect us from the Bell guy by keeping him from getting out of his truck in the driveway. Poor guy...

I guess that's about it! Hopefully I'll have time for more than one post next week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Photos You Didn't See...

We kinda live in a world now where everyone shares everything. Or at least it seems as though everyone shares everything. While in reality, everyone is very selective and careful to only show exactly what they want people to see. I am completely guilty of this as well. Every once in a while I may take a cute picture of one of my kids and share it on Instagram right away. Most of the time however, I take several shots, choose the best one, and that's all people ever see.

I wanted to start doing a "Wordless Wednesday" again, but thought I'd start out with this.

So... here are a few of the pictures you didn't see.

Those who follow me on Instagram may have seen this adorable shot of Lily in the hat, gloves, and boot cuffs that I made her...

Well, this is the shot from a few minutes prior...

She was "too cold" and didn't want to be outside. I offered her a cookie if she co-operated.

I actually did post this one on Instagram. Sadly, Addy refused to lay down for my annual New Year's Day photo. I gave up trying. I kept this one to show her when she's a teenager.

And this one...
Adorbs! Right???
(I may have watched one too many Barbie episodes...)

Except that this was the reality of sitting in a van with a 1 year old while her older siblings visited and sang in a nursing home for an hour.

After this shot I made faces at her in the rear view mirror until she laughed.

The time my 4 year old wanted to make funny faces but I had no makeup on and hadn't done my hair...

Or when we tried to get 10 kids to look civilized in a picture with their aunt.

There were at least 4 adults standing behind the camera. Elijah was standing awkwardly off to the side so I told him to put his arm around his sister. But he didn't want to touch her... Pretty sure Meg had just threatened Carson. Addy ripped her headband off for the 1,478th time a split second later... But I love it all.
It isn't perfect and yet it's perfectly us at the same time.

I'd take some pictures of my laundry room, but I don't want to traumatize anyone.

Nobody's life looks like their Instagram account 100% of the time.
It's such a small portion of our real life that is shared.

Sometimes life is picturesque...

Like when my 13 year old makes heavenly cupcakes.

Or homemade bagels..

I really like bread. And cupcakes...

Hence the "after exercise" photo.
This is reality.
I was ready to pass out and my entire body aches.

But it's totally worth it to enjoy the cupcakes...

Rain agrees with me.

I promise that my next Wednesday will be wordless.


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