Cardboard Challenge

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The school that I teach at decided to hold a school-wide “Cardboard Challenge“, inspired by the youtube video “Caine’s Arcade“. There were many reasons why we decided to take on this challenge, but... READ MORE

Hands-on Inspiration

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It seems like an old concept, “hands-on” learning; but isn’t that what the new curriculum in British Columbia is really all about?  I always feel inspired by the local “Hyde Creek Salmon Festival”.... READ MORE

Weekend Away

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I enjoy a fall weekend away, just to relax, spend time together and to notice the changes of the season. Fall walks are my favourite kinds of walks.  Through the woods, or even along... READ MORE

Cloudy summer day? Bake a pie.

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 We’ve had plenty of days like this lately, but in my opinion, it’s the best weather for berry-picking.   We have farms like these a few blocks from our house, which makes it convenient.  And... READ MORE

First Days of Summer…

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  We’ve been starting our summer out right with all of our favourite beginning of summer activities.  This is the Point Roberts Marina.  I’ve been getting more time to run.  Here’s my favourite route... READ MORE

Explorer Art: Northwest Passage

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          My students have been beyond excited to learn about the first Canadian Explorers, especially the stories, the risk and the adventure.  I came upon this book, called Northwest... READ MORE

A Few of My Favourite Things…

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Over the holidays, I get time to enjoy the things I love the most: To name a few; running and hiking in nature, trips to the library to take out many books, time spent... READ MORE

Morning Start

posted in: Family Life | 0

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The beginning of the day is such an important time: getting prepared for the day; eating a nourishing breakfast and spending a bit of quality time together;  setting the tone for the day.  It’s my great desire to make mornings organized, peaceful and relaxing, but so many times this is hardly the case.  There is a lot of coaxing, reminding:  “Hurry up!  Get your clothes on!” (Even yelling!)  Sometimes crying, meltdowns over a certain outfit, huge spills at the breakfast table, panic, pressure.  “We’re going to be late!!!!!  Hurry up!!  Brush your teeth!  Do you have your library book?”

“Mom, I just have to get my show and tell!!”

Sometimes I’m just about in tears leaving the house.  I know I’m not the only mom who’s experienced this; I’ve talked to lots of moms about it.  One told me, “I’m like an animal in the morning!”  I have three children ages two to six. One way that I have tried to bring some level of order to our mornings is through the Morning Start chart.

 

I saw it on the Super Nanny Show and a friend of mine had one that she had drawn by hand.  This one the girls and I made together.  I think they were five and three years old.  My oldest daughter created the title.  The chart takes away the nag factor.  If the girls are forgetting their responsibilities, I ask them to check the chart, or I say, “Morning Start.”  For the most part, they are eager to do what’s on the list, and I can attend to other things, like cleaning up the table and even doing my own make-up in a leisurely manner.  Then the kids get time to play before it’s time to leave for school.  We have also been setting the timer as a “race” to see how fast they can do shoes, coat and backpacks at the door.  One minute is the current record.

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Morning Start certainly helps to make our mornings more pleasant and manageable.

How are your mornings?

Pinecone Turkey Craft

posted in: Crafts for Kids | 1

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Thanksgiving is a holiday which encourages one to pause and give thanks for the abundance that we have been given: family, friends, nature, pets and nourishing food.  It is also a time when one can think quite a bit about turkeys, which are typically ugly, but not the ones in Thanksgiving stories and the very cute crafted ones.  On a sunny October afternoon, paper bag turkeys, plate turkeys and hand turkeys can be seen proudly paraded about the schoolyard.

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I thought I’d join in with these festivities by making pinecone turkeys with my class at school and with my children at home as well.

They need a lot of white glue, or a glue gun works well, too, with a smaller group.
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The stands are made from sawed off “wood cookies”, which my husband kindly provided.
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The bodies are pine cones and the heads are made from acorns. Then add on the googly eyes, a felt beak, feathers and puffy orange pipe-cleaners for the feet and waddle, which Miranda differentiated from the “snood”.  Sometimes a small part of the pine cone has to be removed for the acorn to sit right.

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And there’s one cute Thanksgiving turkey.  Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!!

How to Make Caramel Apples

posted in: Recipes | 0

One rainy night, something exciting was happening in our kitchen.IMG_9372

Can’t say that some samples weren’t tasted.

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It took awhile to unwrap all the toffees.

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We got the sticks from Michael’s.

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One thing to warn:  The hot caramel is very, very hot (we had a burn).

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But they were oh, so fun to make and tremendously delicious.

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There aren’t many things better than homemade caramel apples.

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Blue Sandbox

posted in: DIY, Home Projects | 0

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Just over a year ago, I mentioned a dream and a plan we had to build a blue sandbox in our yard.  We finished it in the spring and all summer long it was enjoyed over and over again.  Next to the sandbox, we planted the kids’ veggie garden.

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Here’s the original space,

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and here’s the original plan.

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I think it turned out very well, thanks to Mark’s fine engineering.  I finished spraying the rocks for the play area a few weeks ago.  We took the rocks from the rubble of our renovation and the kids have painted them all.  What I’ve learned is to paint both coats on the rocks on the same day (so the paint doesn’t chip and crack), and dry them on a hot, sunny summer day.  We sprayed them with a glossy varnish.  I hope they last through the winter!

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There is a cover over top of the play area so the sandbox play can continue rain or shine.  There’s also a bird feeder hanging to invite some friends from nature.  There’s hours of play to come in our beloved blue sandbox.

Making Leaf Fairies

posted in: Crafts for Kids | 0

I have to admit, this November has been a pretty rainy one.

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When we have those few rare days like these, we make sure to go out and enjoy the last of the brilliant autumn colours.  The kids love to collect fall leaves

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and make beautiful leaf bouquets.  We press the best ones, usually in our big atlas.

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This year the girls were eager to make fairies out of their leaves (a great rainy day activity). So first, we cover the pressed leaves with Mod Podge. I think one coat on the front side is enough, but we read the directions from this blog, Gingerbread Snowflakes!

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To make the fairies, first fold a pipe cleaner in half and insert it into a wooden bead for the head.  Then wrap the another pipe cleaner around the base of the bead for the arms.

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We used a styrofoam head for Megan’s fairy because she had bigger leaves.  Then make holes through two leaves layered on each other and insert the arms.

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The girls added faces with Sharpie pens, glued on wool hair and made wands out of skewers and star-shaped beads.  Miranda added some wings made from another pipe cleaner and loved her sweet little fairy, who she named Emily.

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Lots and lots of imaginative play started with the leaf fairies flying, hiding and chatting to each other around the house.  The directions suggested using artificial leaves, but we thought it would be fun to try real ones.

Here’s to those magical moments in your week!

Best Homemade Chilli

posted in: Recipes | 0

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One of my favourite meals for cold winter days, or even rainy ones, is homemade chilli.  We do ours in a crockpot: fill it in the morning and scoop it out at dinnertime.

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Like all our favourite recipes, this one has a bit of a story.  Before we had kids, our Bible study group helped serve dinner for an Alpha course.  The food was planned and prepared by a Singaporean woman with a passion for cooking.  She shared this recipe for her chilli, which was the best we had ever tasted.  It freezes well and it’s easy for a large group meal.  I think the secret is the brown sugar and cinnamon.

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I’m still working away at my recipe book, and purged numerous old recipes over the holidays.  I’m down to just a few favourites and looking for more…

Hope you enjoy some chilli this winter!!

Fairy Birthday Party

posted in: Events | 0

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First she wanted a bike party, and then asked for a fairy party.

There’s somethings so magical about fairies.  A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Peter Pan
Mark and I inspired ourselves by staying up late decorating and watching Finding Neverland.

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I love the greens and lavenders that come with this theme.  We filled the house with “fairy” lights (white Christmas lights) and balloons hanging down with ribbon.  We used store-bought Tinkerbell invitations, that also came with plates, napkins and a wonderful variety of goodies for treat bags!

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These fairy crowns also came with the Tinkerbell favours. The children enjoyed making “fairy necklaces” as a welcome craft.  For games we played freeze dance to the “Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairies”.  Later, the children found “fairy kisses” hidden throughout the house, which were made of Hersey’s chocolate.  Fairly finger sandwiches would be great for lunch (we had hotdogs and veggiedogs.  They are always a hit!)  Megan  opened her gifts and a “fairy cupcake cake” from Safeway was served for dessert.IMG_8621

This little guy wore mole skin on his ears for the cutest elf costume!

A wish and a sprinkle of “fairy dust” (glitter) was how we said good-bye to our guests.

Fun, simple and lovely.  Happy fourth birthday, Megan!!
I wish you so many magical moments.

Autumn Exploring

posted in: Family Life | 0

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There’s something about autumn that makes me want to head into the woods, and the leaves haven’t even changed colour yet!  We have the river and trails right behind our house, so out we go!

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The weather here in Vancouver has been completely fabulous!  Sunny everyday!!  This weekend it’s getting up to 30 degrees!  We’ve been to the beach, shorts to school everyday, had the pool out and let me tell you, this is not usual for September.  It’s great.

Last Spring, I found these mesh bags at the dollar store (one of my most favourite places to shop!!)  I had always felt uncertain about shopping there, until our house designer told me that she shopped there all the time!  Now I shop at the dollar store with pride.

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So I bought these “explorer” bags and filled them with goodies that are great for discovering!  Bug holders, clipboards, magnifying glasses, and I recently added a mini spiral-bound “nature journal”.  The girls love them!

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It feels so great to share in my kids’ learning.  I deeply believe that parents are the best teachers and when I am working with the students in my class, I realize this is true.

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Whatever your interests, I encourage you to share them with your children.  There are few things more powerful than shared experience.  Finding fun things to do together that everyone enjoys.  It might not be a nature walk.  It might be kicking around the soccerball, biking, painting, going to see a show etc.

I think a home can be a place filled with rich learning opportunities from the time children are very young, continuing through the school years as well.  Kids are never too young or old to learn with their parents and enjoy.

Homemade Crackers

posted in: Recipes | 0

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If there’s one thing that kids love to eat, it’s crackers. But I never feel that great about giving my children crackers because they are full of added starch, sugars, oil and other preservatives.

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Have you ever heard of making your own crackers? When we were at the farm, Rachel made these whole wheat crackers from a recipe in the good, old Company’s Coming series. This recipe is from Muffins and More. On a side note, I don’t actually like most of the recipes in Company’s Coming. I find them bland and uncreative, “add a can of this, a can of that”, and for some reason she loves to use 1/8 tsp of various spices. However, Jean Pare does have many practical recipes in her various books, such as preserve recipes, breads and obviously, crackers!

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The kids loved these crackers and I felt great about giving them crackers with healthy ingredients. If you can’t read the recipe in photo above, check out this website with twenty cracker recipes.

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Happy snacking!

I Love Where I Live

I mentioned some time ago that we moved last spring.  We used to live in a neighbourhood that was nestled next to the Coquitlam River.

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We had our little river bank spot that we would visit each season and the woods that we would take walks in.

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Realizing how much we love nature, we moved to a place where we are still next to the woods and the river,

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and even more nature, abundant nature.

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It feels a bit like the countryside.

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It feels like living in a kind of sanctuary.

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In the past we spent time on the weekends adventuring to new places,

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The house we are building is coming along well too.  Have a peek at Mark’s blog: The Build for more details.

Have an amazing week!

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