March Break

Winter always feels so long, so I am always happy for March Break to arrive! I love the lighter nights and it is great to have a week with the kids! We started our week with a trip to the city. We wanted to get back to the Discovery Centre and explore a little more. It is so big and with the amount of people that are exploring it, it can make it hard to see everything the first time, so we wanted to get back. The kids loved finding a few more things that they hadn’t seen the first time.

We planned a games day for Sunday, so after church we had lunch with a couple of families and then we played a few games of Ticket to Ride, one of our favorite games! Each March Break our church puts on a VBS for two of the days during the break! The kids love it and this year both Caile and Ella were leading Worship. Caile volunteers with the Sprouts (Preschoolers) and Ella led in her group (Gr P – 5). They have a great group of friends that go to VBS as well, so it is always a highlight of the break for them!

On Thursday Noah went to a Basketball camp to help build some of his skills. He had a great time and we will definitely be looking into one this summer for him! Ella on that same day took a Braveheart Babysitter’s Course. It is hard to believe that she is 11 now and old enough to take the course! It is a great course for anyone who has children old enough to stay alone or babysit. Caile took it as well last year and I was excited that the Church was hosting one, so Ella could attend!

St. Patrick’s Day was a quieter day of our break! We stayed home and had the Merrill family over for supper. Waffles with green milkshakes and green whipped cream on our waffles! For dessert I had made some pot of gold cupcakes that the kids loved! They were most excited over the gold ball sprinkles on top lol!

The weekend arrived again and it was Em & Kate’s birthday! We took them out to Cora’s for brunch and it was awesome to see their excitement! Cora’s is filled with colorful signs and so much to look at, so they loved checking it all out! At the end the waitress brought out ducks that were carved from apples with sparklers in them. The girls were very excited! They loved Cora’s! That afternoon we had their party at the movie theatre where we watched Beauty and the Beast! I loved this movie! I was never a fan of the Princess Cartoon movies,  but these remakes are amazing! I loved Cinderella and now this one is my new favorite! I found it definitely for older children, although Noah enjoyed it as well. I know there were things that he would not have picked up on. I really think the movie was geared more toward the adults that loved the cartoon at a younger age! It was awesome!

Today was the last day of the break and I had a JK Party after church so Sandy took the kids out for Blizzards! It was a quieter day as the break had been so busy! We ended the evening with a walk around our subdivision. The kids love creating challenges out of our walks. At Christmas we would guess the number of houses that would have lights on. Today it was a guess as to how many animals we would see on our walk. I tried to think of how many dogs may be outside and the odd cat. I thought 3 was a great number. Caile guessed 6 which I thought was high, but of course, when we reached the top of the hill there were 4 deer in the field. Needless to say she won! Love how close we are a minute to town, but there is so much nature here as well!

I am sad to see the break end, but it means that we are closer to spring and all of the fun that brings! 🙂

 

My Little Prankster

This past weekend we celebrated Ella’s 11th Birthday a week early! She has been counting down to this, as she just loves her birthday and celebrating with friends. She wanted to start her party here at the house and then after cupcakes and presents we would head to the theatre to see Lego Batman!

A few months ago, Ella and I came across a fun article about silly things you could do to get reactions out of people. She loved all of them and has been begging to do some! She really wanted to do one of them at her birthday party since her friends and family would be there all at the same time!

The moment had come! We had just passed out the cupcakes and fruit and everyone was chatting and eating. Ella asks me loudly if she could get a different snack, she didn’t want any more of her cupcake. I told her since it was her party, sure, she could have anything she wanted. She proceeded to walk to the fridge and pull out our giant Costco Miracle Whip Container and walked back to the table. Already she had a few reactions from adults that had seen her. “Is that mayo she just grabbed?”

She sat back down in her chair, opened the top and put in her big spoon to get a bite. By now she had all of her guests just staring at her. “Are you really going to eat that?”, “Gross”, “I can’t even watch”, as well as lots of gag noises! She ate spoon after spoon fighting back her laughter!

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I decided to add my own fun and mention to her friends from school, “Have you not seen her bring this as one of her school snacks? She eats it all the time!” and to her dance friends, “She once ate an entire container between dances at a competition!” The looks were priceless!

Finally Ella blurted out to everyone that it was really Vanilla Pudding! Everyone had a great laugh! She was very convincing and was pleased with her little act! 🙂

Overall it was a great party! She has such a wonderful group of friends and family, I just love celebrating with them all! It was a great day!

Family Day Weekend

It has been about 7 weeks since Christmas Break when we decided to take the kids with a couple of other families for an overnight in the city. We all had such a great time that we decided we needed to do this again on our next long weekend! And Family weekend couldn’t have been a better weekend to pick, especially when this part of Winter usually gets us all down!

To give a little update first, it has also been about 7 weeks since I first picked up the book “Year of Yes”. I knew I wanted my year to change long before I picked up that book, but it told me all of the things I needed to hear to give me that nudge! I have now read 4 books and I am currently over halfway through my 5th called “Daring Greatly”. I LOVE audio books! No more silence waiting the in school loop or waiting at dance or driving alone on my way back from the school, etc. I love listening to the books at the gym as well! I can’t believe how much I am enjoying books again! We also loved the gym so much in January that we purchased a year long membership. I look forward to that little bit of exercise and stress relief each evening!

I have realized that it really only takes an extremely small chunk of my day to have a little me time and it has benefited all of us! I love all of my time with my children and I am thankful again for these little getaways with family and friends.

Before we left for our getaway we had an evening at the Fisher’s. They had dug out their firepit from the snow and created a great seating area! It was awesome! We enjoyed supper at their place and then outside for some s’mores and fun in the snow for the kids! We all headed back inside after for a game before heading home to pack!

We decided to go back to the same hotel since we had such a great experience last time. We went up a little early to treat the kids to a Cora’s lunch since we had more gift cards from Christmas to spend. The kids also had a little shopping they wanted to do and we had a little more time before check in so we had some “Roll up the Rim!” hot chocolate and then we met at the hotel at check in for a before supper swim!

We really love this hotel! Great pool and water slide, spacious suites, great location and an awesome breakfast! After the swim, we enjoyed a pizza supper and then spent the evening playing games! Ella had picked out an early birthday game while we were shopping called Skribble Heads so the kids had a blast playing it. The adults had 2 new games to try out, Ticket to Ride Europe and Citadels. Both were great games, but I am definitely loving the Ticket to Ride series of games, so that was my favorite!

The kids slept in a little so once they were up we headed down for breakfast and a morning swim, followed by more games before check out! We headed to the Natural History Museum to check out their Dragon exhibit. The kids had a blast and I definitely enjoyed the new exhibit. The museum was also free for Family Day, so that was an added bonus.

We headed home after some lunch and had an easy afternoon / evening. It was nice to get out, but also have some down time for me. I had bruised my ribs earlier in the week so some movements have been rough for me. This weekend was what I needed! We ended our evening with a family game of Skribble Heads. It is a great game and we had lots of laughs. It was such a great weekend, it is always hard to come back and start the week again. I really am thankful for the wonderful families we have in our life. We always have so much fun together!

Different Than When we Went to School

For those of you who do not live in Nova Scotia you may be unaware that for the last 2 months we have been under a partial teachers strike called “Work to Rule”! What does this mean? Simply put, the teachers go to work and do only what is required of them, what they are paid to do, no extras! Most people in this province had no idea how many things teachers do that are outside of their requirements. We have all learned very quickly and painfully!

I want to be very clear, that my support is behind two groups in all of this, the teachers and the students. I do not support this government or anything they have done during this negotiating process. I understand that the work to rule is the only form of pressure the teachers have on the government, but it does not make it any less painful. For my children who are heavily involved in extra curricular activities, they have all been cancelled, school functions, trips, band events… cancelled. My little Annie is still hoping and praying that enough of the year will be left for the school to still have a play! It has been a hard few months!

Some of you went to school with me in the past and I’m sure were surprised to see that in the end of my education, I never fulfilled my dream of being a teacher. See, when I started volunteering in the school system during University I learned quite quickly that so much has changed! I wanted to be a teacher of the past, not present! I knew after 35 years of teaching, if I ever made it that long, I would be highly burnt out!

My step daughter’s education is a great example of how the system has changed for teachers. She has severe ADHD accompanied with a learning disorder and in each of her classes she is roughly 1 of 10 children in that situation! The teacher must try continuously to keep her and those other children engaged without any extra support! On top of this, her work is modified. She isn’t on an IPP, which is a whole other blog post itself, but she does need each test, quiz and major assignments modified slightly for her. They also need to look at what assignments, tests, etc to cancel out, so that she can still make that passing grade. This term in particular I’m sure she’s realized she can get away with doing very little and they’ll find a way to push her through! And she is far from the only child being pushed through!

Is this the choice of the teachers? No, all of this extra work and lack of support has been pushed on them over the years and the teachers I have spoken to are feeling this weight! I’m worried for the children that are pushed through! What lesson does this teach them after their schooling is complete? You can put in half the effort, show up late and still keep your job! Doubtful! Most employers don’t put up with employees like that! Also what message does this send to the children that work super hard to get that A only to have kids around them that could care less and cause distractions knowing that they’ll pass regardless!

I am also aware that there are some children with modifications that are in severe situations that need this system and appreciate it! The teachers definitely need more support in all of these situations and classroom conditions need to change!

I could not be more thankful for our choice for the French Immersion program for our younger 3 children! For now, they haven’t seen the incredible strain on the system, but I know as they approach High School that will change! We have instilled some incredible values into these children, so I can only hope that will carry them through this flawed system! And I pray the teachers will win their battle and see the changes happen for our children that they and I so badly want!

In the meantime we can explain to our children what this fight is for, honestly and compassionately! The teachers need the support of all of us!

My First Paint Nite!

For quite some time now I have wanted to try out a Paint Nite! I have been following their page for a while and have seen many friends take part and post their awesome artwork at the end of the evening! Between our kids extra curricular schedules and where the Paint Nite’s are hosted, it has not been super easy for me to go. Candice went to her first Paint Nite in the Fall and assured me that I would love it! We looked at paintings together and found one that we both loved on a night that worked great for both of us! And of course GroupOn played a part! We found an awesome deal!

The thought of cherry blossoms makes me think of the Washington area and although I was not fortunate to be there either time during their bloom I had seen so many pictures of the amazing landmarks with the trees in bloom! This painting made me excited!

So for all of you that have never had a Paint Nite experience and have thought that you may not be able to do it, you are so wrong! I can follow lots of crafty things on Pinterest with the girls and we duplicate them as best as we can, but I am far from an artist person! If I can paint, so can you!

We arrived 15 minutes early as they suggested and we walked in to the back part of a restaurant in Bedford. Everything was set up and we found two seats together, but within a good viewing distance of the Artist and her painting! I looked at my pallet and was surprised to see that I had 4 colors lol! Black, red, blue and white. That is when Candice informed me that I would be making all of my colors and shades with those colors.

The Artist was so funny! She had me laughing many times throughout the night! She explains the brushes and your basic supplies and then you get started! She first had us paint half of our canvas white and then put dots of blue all over the white section, then we started to blend. We did the same with the lower half and the black dots. Once she explains, she then puts on the music so that you can work on it on your own and chat with those around you! Such a great casual setting, no pressure at all, the restaurant staff also come around so you can order drinks or desserts! I was so tempted by their dessert menu, but given that I had never painted anything like this before I decided falling in love with a piece of cake probably should not be my focus lol!

Once our background was set, we had to start our tree! It is impressive how she had us line up everything with dots and then connect them to create the base of our tree. From there we were on our own to make the branches how we liked with some suggestions from her. Next was the fence, another connect the dot section and then a lesson on shading. You really do take little steps the whole way along. It is so impressive to me how it all comes together! I love that each person can also create their own take on it. Some people had more posts to their fences, some more branches, thicker branches, bluer sky, etc. It was so neat to see how each person transformed their painting into their own.

The last step was the hardest for me. The blossoms were created literally by tapping the brush in  the different shades of pink that I created and just putting them all over the tree. The type A in me wanted more of a guideline for them lol, but it comes together quickly. The two and a half hours flew by, but were so much fun! I found myself looking at upcoming Paint Nite’s shortly after I came home. I have so many spots in our home that I can picture paintings!

I was so thankful to be able to go through a Paint Nite before Caile’s fundraiser in March. And now I am even more excited to take part in it. It is a painting I have seen a few times, I just love tree scenes and I am excited to paint it! I really think anyone and everyone can take part in a Paint Nite and have a great time! I had a woman sitting beside me, that has done a few of them and she just loves getting out, that was her focus. There were others that were definitely very artistic and it was neat to see their focus on what they were creating! Candice and I had a great time and it was nice to get out and have fun as well as grown up conversation! 🙂

GroupOn Makes Fun Cheaper

Being a large family that is addicted to travel and outings we find ourselves always looking for a better price or a deal of some kind. I am not sure where GroupOn was hiding most of my parenting life, but I only discovered it about 3 years or so ago. Since then it is the first place I look before I buy anything and often I will browse the app when I know I will be in a certain area or I am looking for something to do on a weekend in the city.

Some GroupOn deals only appear certain times of year. Last weekend we went to the Glow in the Dark Mini Putt in the city called Putting Edge. Our kids love it there and every year for the past 3 years we have bought the GroupOn which saves us more than half of the price for our family. We were excited and surprised to see that they had repainted a designed a bunch of the course. And with this newest GroupOn deal you can golf two rounds in the same day, so we took advantage of that as well!

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There is also a theme park an hour away called Upper Clements Park. We go every summer and the kids receive their passes free from the local library for their reading program. Sandy and I each year buy our passes through GroupOn where we again save more than half the price. We already have ours purchased for this summer! That is the catch though, you really have to look in advance and watch the expiry dates!

And some places only run GroupOn’s certain times of year. We were fortunate enough to find the deals for Get Air (an indoor trampoline park) in late Fall so that the kids could try the place out with friends. They loved it and can’t wait to go back again! During Winter months they often do not produce them since those are their busier times!

Noah and Sandy’s Christmas gift to see the Harlem Globetrotters also came as a GroupOn Deal, which we also received an additional 20% off of since they often have daily coupons as well! My canvases in my livingroom that were a Christmas gift from our parents also were on GroupOn.

This Friday I will be heading to the city with a couple of good friends to try out my first Paint Nite and I am sure you are not surprised that I bought my ticket through a GroupOn deal!

It really is the best way to save on just about anything, so before you pay full price for something, don’t forget to check, you never know, you may just find a WOW deal! 🙂

13 days in, my lucky number!

My grandfather was a very superstitious man, my grandmother was as well and I can remember little things like never changing a calendar before it was time or opening an umbrella inside were just a couple of things they would never imagine doing. I remember hearing my grandfather talk about Friday the 13th a few times. He always thought it was such an unlucky day, which of course as the child that I was, peaked my interest. A lot of any “unlucky” day is attitude and outlook. If you start a particular day feeling like it will be unlucky, then it probably will be! I decided at a young age to oppose all of these theories about the 13th and instead over the years it became my lucky number. I am sure a lot of it was my outlook. I always felt it would be a great day, so I woke up ready for it to be that way!

I am 13 days into “My Year of Yes”! Since my post on January 1st, I have completed the book “Year of Yes”. I also finished another book called “Delivering Happiness”. I decided for that book I would try an audio. Since the 2nd when the gym opened again, I have been at the gym 9 out of the 12 possible days. I spend 30 min and divide it between the treadmill and another piece of equipment like the bike or glider. During this time I have been listening to my Audio Book, as well as school pick ups, waiting at dance, etc. It is amazing how many little chunks of time I had that I can be using for something like this! It took no time to finish “Delivering Happiness”.

Although titled “Delivering…”, I almost felt the book focused a lot on discovering and defining happiness. It led me to ponder more my own life and long term goals of continued happiness and what it means to me. By the end of the book, I understood why the writer choose to name the book “Delivering Happiness” and I was fascinated by the approach the company took to delivering happiness to both their customers and employees! It would be an amazing company to work for! This intrigued me to move onto another similar book that I started a few days ago, again an audio book called “Be Our Guest”. Disney has a unique culture and service unlike any other and so far the book is very interesting! I may end up needing to take a Disney Cruise or Vacation in the near future thanks to this book!

It has been nice to have a little me time each day, but also still enjoy lots of quality time with my kids. We booked another little mini long weekend in February at the same hotel we used during the Christmas break. We had a such a fun time with the other families that we all decided to do it again for Family Day weekend! The Winter is long and this will be a great break away when it comes! Throughout this year we plan to continue to buy less things and instead enjoy more time away as a family and also with other families. This will continue to be our focus and in the meantime it is a lot of fun to spend my free time some evenings finding places to go and things to do! I love creating all of these memories with my children and I am thankful to be surrounded by families that have a similar outlook!