Family Painting

Family Painting

We are going to redo out children’s shared room this summer and I wanted to add some of their own little projects to the decore. Problem is that they are only 1 and 2. Not much obvious talent in the art department… yet! So I was inspired by an Instagram project I saw and decided to collaborate with my children. #KMSlittlehandsproject

I love how it turned out. It is going to look great on their photo/art wall. I have a few other projects in mind that will need their help. This experience has only given me more of a drive to do more:)

-Lion

Family garden Project 2.0

Last year we planted a Garden in our back yard. It was a project that was kind of last minute and thrown together. It ended up being so awesome. We had a bunch of veggies that didn’t work and a few that were a hit. So, this year as I was planning what to grow I took this all into consideration. 

I also wanted my children to be more involved in the process and take more pride in the garden. So I created a bunch of little projects for them to do. 

1. We made Veggie Signs for where the seeds are growing. Easy project that looks really cute. 

All you need is paper, crayons, Sharpies, Laminator, Chop sticks, and electrical tape/ duct tape.

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I Googled clip art of each veggie/herb that I planted and copied a picture with my sharpies and outlined it boldly then got the children to color it in with crayons that I chose to match the colors of the veggies. Then I laminated them and taped them to the chop sticks. Easy peasy! Done:) water proof and look adorable. I guess not everyone owns a laminator but you could always take them to a local staples and get them to do it.

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2. Another way I got them involved was I got them to plant the seeds. This was their favorite part! I plotted out the garden with which seeds would go where and then got them to match up the garden markers with the right seed packs. Then I dug the holes and held the seeds while they planted them in the ground and then covered them up.

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3. I gave them their own jobs when it comes to watering. They are not allowed to touch my big gardens but they are allowed to water their little ones. I have a few little window boxes that I put in their play area with strawberries and herbs that they are allowed to water. They take great pride in making sure that their plants stay hydrated. At first I was worried they would over water them but they don’t. They know to just water it one time a day. Which is pretty awesome for 2 year olds:)

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Best part of the Family Garden Project 2.0 is that my children are older this year and love it even more than they did last year. They enjoyed planting it and because they were involved I believe they do not feel the need to mess with my garden. They know that I don’t go in it anymore and so neither should they. Now, I just need to figure out how to keep our local animal scavengers from eating my seeds!!

 

-Lion

Being a Mom and not just a friend

As I have been adapting to my new role as “Mom” to my son, I am also realizing that I have changed how I treat and share my life with my youth. I don’t want to be a friend, someone they gossip too and I just listen and say “SWEET” or ” crazy” or ” i can’t believe that”, I want to be someone they can ask questions, feel comfortable but want an answer and someone to walk alongside them for longer than a year.  Why do I want to be more than just a friend?

Growing up, I had lots of friends, some, my friendship was longer than 2 years, but almost all of them, I was friends with for a season, i shared all my hurts and desires and life with them, but right now, I have nothing to show for it. We have become friends on facebook, but that is all. I know we go through seasons of change, but I also know that some friends last forever, like my sisters friends, she has a clique (sorry) that she had from the first day of grade 8. these are her friends, and she still cherishes every rise and fall in those relationships. 

Back to teens,  I want to be there for them, not just when they are struggling and wanting someone to gasp for them in horror of whoever said that or did that. I want to be a mom, someone who they have everyday, but instead of gasping and always saying how awful, i want to tell them its going to be okay, and I am here if you need me, or what do you want for dinner, things that usually you only say when you feel comfortable and loved. I am not trying to replace there mothers, but I know that my role now in a teens life, is no longer BFF, but someone who IS older, who IS potentially wiser, and someone who you share life with longer than a season.  

 

– Owl

Practice what you Preach

I have been thinking a lot about this topic since working with children. It comes up even more now that I have children, especially a daughter, of my own. What example are we setting for the next generation of children about their body image? It is kind of a general statement but it really covers a bunch of different areas that occupy my thoughts. 

What example am I setting? How are my Words, Actions, facial expressions, deep sighs as I look in the mirror, affecting the little eyes watching me. Children do not understand Sarcasm and take what we as adults say very seriously. They learn from watching more than they do from being told what to do. I will make my children a healthy snack and then tell them it will help to make them strong and give them lots of energy to play and then I sit down and eat some chips and complain about how tired I am. I make a joke about how tired I am because I have to “keep getting up all night with you crazy kids”, but really, I am tired because I am not respecting my body. I am not practicing what I preach. 

I have been athletic my whole life and involved in very competitive sports. It was not until university that I started to really become aware that I was no longer able to burn off all the calories I was ingesting. My life was busy with studies and work and I was no longer playing sports. I tried to take up running but was not as motivated as I wanted to be. Joining a team or a gym was something I just didn’t have the money or time for (mostly money). You make time for what is important. I made time for friends and my wonderful boyfriend. The time spent with my boy friend paid off though, he married me:) . 

After I got married I worked while my husband finished school. I cooked the meals while he studied. We enjoyed our freedom to eat and make what ever we wanted. After our first year of marriage we noticed we had gained a bunch of weight so we went on a “diet”. We made healthier lower calorie foods and worked out together each day. It was wonderful. We fell into a routine and started to quickly see results! I had never been more happy. Then we moved. We moved back to where our family and friends lived and our simple little life got disturbed. Then we had kids. It all spiraled down hill. 

Life got better but our weight gain got worse. We were no longer in control and the negative thoughts started to creep out of our mouths. Worst part of it all, we now have children who are listening. So now it is truly real. Now we need to take charge and be our healthiest both in body and mind. We are teaching our children about how much God loves them and how He made them to do great things and that we need to follow his plan and respect ourselves and our bodies. Yet, I preach this as I stuff another donut in my mouth. Donuts are not the enemy. My own laziness is. 

So, what is the plan?

We have been talking about following some sort of diet or plan for a while and keep putting it off. I really don’t want to be on a “diet” because I want this to be more of a huge life change. I need to view food differently and have a positive out look on being healthy. I do not want my children to even notice. I just want food to be something they eat to gain more energy. Not something they use to reward themselves, comfort themselves, or even something they do to pass time. Food is amazing. Food is delicious. Food is fun. But food should not rule your life. Food should compliment your life. Like a good wine. Do not have too much, just enough to fill your appetite and last you until your next meal. Why do I always eat like its my last meal? sheesh!!

My family has decided that it is also important to exercise our bodies. We have explained to our children that we need to keep our bodies strong and an important way to do this is to play outside, ride bikes, go swimming, go for a run, play sports, or go for a hike. We make it a priority to do something active with our children each day. They are only 1 and 2 but we want them to have a successful start in life. We want it to be the norm. Form the habit early in life and it wont be hard to keep up later in life. It is super easy to motivate my children to get active. It is harder to motivate myself. I seem to have a list of excuses saved up in the back of my mind for whenever I don’t want to exercise. I just pull out a great reason to not break a sweat and I feel like I am off the hook. 

Practice what I preach.

So here are some ways that I am finding are helping our family move towards a healthier and happier life style:

1. No Carbs at dinner. This is working great so far. My husband and I substitute the carbohydrates at dinner for a salad. My son and daughter will still have some rice or pasta with our meal but I am noticing that they want to have salads as well. Of course they do. They are watching. They want to be just like their mommy and daddy. Have you ever seen a 2 year old boy devour a spinach salad? I have:)

2. Food is not a reward. This one is hardest for our family to follow. We love to celebrate with ice cream or give a jelly bean for peeing on the potty. But we are finding that material rewards actually work better. So in place of the jelly bean we made a trip to the dollar story for little toy cars or other trinkets he finds fun and we are giving those as a reward to small accomplishments. When he does something major or our family has something worth celebrating we now do something together. Examples: finger paint as a family, go play soccer, go for a long bike ride (family favorite), or just play outside at the park. We want to reward our children with things they love not things they love to eat. We still get treats but we do not put labels on it such as “you get this ice cream cone because you shared with your sister”. I mean candy and pop corn are amazing when watching a movie. Who would deprive anyone of that? Ice cream cake for birthdays? I am not saying no! We are just learning to watch how we use food. Changing our mind set and becoming less lazy.

3. Watch our words. This one is hardest for me. No more standing in front of the mirror and frowning. No more complaining that my clothes don’t fit right. No more whining that I am too fat! No more joking that I am too fat. No more Fat talk!! It has been banned. No more pinching my roles and avoiding pictures that involve a full body shot. No more! I am learning to use loving words and emotions towards my own body image. I am learning that this is only a stage and it will take work to be at my healthiest. Complaining and then doing nothing is only hurting those around me. It is only setting an example of how to be defeated by own words. I want to show my children by my own actions and words what being healthy means. I do not want the word “Fat” to be used when referring to their own bodies. By changing my words I am changing my outlook on my own body. 

4. Enjoying nature. A great way to get active is to step outside your house. Go for walks, hikes, bike rides. We make every Saturday a family adventure day and we go for an adventure. Mostly we go for hikes and explore this amazing Province we live in but other times it is a near by beach, or a bike ride to our favorite river. Our son owns a bike and a bike ride has been his reward lately. Man do we feel great after hiking 15 km up and down a mountain. We started out small but now we go for day trips and are hoping when our children are older to do an over night hike. The Grand Canyon! We can not wait!!

5. Make a list. I have made a list of recipes, snacks, activities, etc. to help me when I am stuck. Some days I just resort to my old habits because I go on auto pilot and do not have the energy to do different. So I have a list of go to snacks, dinners, lunches. I also have a schedule of what my ideal day would look like. There is a few slots marked out of where I could fit in exercise, devotions, and cleaning. It is my choice of what order I do them in. Some days I feel more energetic and I do my exercise first and others I need to save it for last.
The point is that I have a schedule to follow and it allows for flexibility.  This helps me because I love check lists! something so satisfying about getting to check something off with a pen!

6. Water. This is an easy one. We each have a water bottle and my husband and I have to drink 3 a day and my children have to drink 2. Its easy and it is fun and it helps our children see how important water is for our bodies. Plus, it helps with appetite. 

7. Facial expressions. I know I talked about this one already but I think it needs is own point. when you look at yourself in the mirror, Smile! Write positive encouraging scripture, sayings, or quotes around your house instead of looking in the mirror if that is more helpful. Smile more. Be positive. You are beautiful. Your children are beautiful. Your life is not perfect, but whose is? Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. This is so important. surround yourself with people who you want to be like. People who encourage you to be the best you can be. People who do not want you to change but will support you as you do. If you don’t know anyone like that, then dump all your friends and make some new ones. Smile. If you can not find anyone who you think loves you, there is a God who does. He made you. He loves you. He supports you and has a plan for you. He wants you at your best loves you at your worst. He loved you before you loved Him. Unconditional. Smile!

Those are just a few ways we are changing how our family sees and treats food and exercise. 

I really want every child to have a positive outlook on their bodies. Every little girl is so beautiful in their own way. I am not going to blame society for the fact that children are developing eating disorders or being bullied about their weight. In my opinion, it starts at home. Children need to have positive roll models to show them how to treat their own bodies and how to treat others. If we are teasing each other about our weight or out ward appearance, how do you think children will treat each other? I know there are a bunch of different factors that come into play where eating disorders and bullying take place, but I am focusing on the little worlds we can impact. We can control what language is being used in our house and what your family holds as its main priorities. 

Please, be careful what you say. Please, be careful when you do. Please, be careful what you deem important. Be a safe place for children to grow and learn and make mistakes. Set children up for success. Set your self up for success. 

Most of all. Watch your facial expressions and know that you are Loved!

-Lion

10 Summer Time Tips

  1. WATER- Water is so important. Especially because children and babies don’t know how important it is. If a child says they are thirsty it means that they are already dehydrated. Some ways that I keep tabs on my children’s water intake is they each have their own water bottle. I refill it at each meal/snack and take note of how much they have drank. They only get Water. They can have juice at morning snack.  I make their water bottles available every where they are playing. It is important to make sure you do not leave their water bottles in the sun or in the car. If they were left outside in the sun or in the car just pour out the water and refill it once the water bottle has cooled down. 
  2. Sun Screen – Obviously. But here are a few tips of how and when I apply it. With my baby i apply it when i change her diaper in the morning and before i put her clothes on. Then I apply it again after her afternoon nap. With my toddler i put it on in the morning right after he wakes up and then after his afternoon nap. 
  3. Hats with Dorky Brims – Yes I know these hats are not the most in-style or fashionable hats out there but man do they work. They not only shade the face of your child but also their neck and ears. It is like applying sunscreen for the second time. Trust me. You do not want to deal with burnt noses, ears or necks! worst!! 
  4. Healthy Juicy Snacks – water melon, freezies, frozen yogurt, fruit, or anything with lots of liquids. This will help with keeping them dehydrated and happy:)
  5. Avoid 11am-2pm – Stay Inside during those hours. The hottest time of the day is between 11 and 2 so it is best to plan to be in doors during those times.
  6. Umbrellas – Use Umbrellas to cover the areas that children are playing. But Remember, not all umbrellas are UV protected. Children can still get a sun burn under it. A trick that I do is I put a sheet or blanket over top of the umbrella if children will be under it for long periods of time. 
  7. Towels – I use towels as door mats during the summer. When the children come in I wipe their feet on the tops and bottoms with it. Then at the end of the day i throw it in the laundry and put a new towel down.
  8. Cinnamon in Sand Boxes – This keeps ants and cats out of it. I also keep our sand box covered when we are not playing it. Keeps the sand cooler and cat poop free.
  9. Windows – Cool house means longer naps and happier mommies.  To keep my house cooler I open all the windows in the morning  and then I keep them shut from 10am – 4pm. (including closing your blinds) Then reopen them and your windows to let in the cooler evening air. 
  10. Get dirty. This is a great time of year to get dirty and not have to clean it up right away. We often spend our whole morning outside and then come inside for lunch, bath and nap. My kids sleep way better after a morning of playing. I have a few shirts and a few pairs of shorts that become their “play uniform”. They wear them during the day. I take them off for nap time and put the same clothes back on. Then I threw their clothes into the wash after their nice fresh bathed bodies are in their PJ’s. 

 

I hope this list is helpful. It is a good reminder to me of the habits i need to form again. I love summer but I hate sun screen applications 🙂

 

– Lion

going back to work early

My sister and I have had very diverse posts lately, hers on being in the “trenches” of having two kids and I going back to work and decorating a rental home.

When I have told a few people that I am going back to work (GASP) before my maternity leave is up (GASP) even though my son is 8 months old (GASP) and was born 6 weeks premature (GASP GASP). As you can tell by my sarcasm, these conversations usually end in someone not understanding how I could leave my child with someone else. This someone else being my new neighbour that I have only known for 2 months now (GASP).

I understand, most people wouldn’t take a job that doesn’t give you much more than maternity leave gave you, no benefits (which you had when you were on mat leave), and on top of that you are working 24 hrs a week (technically). If you knew me, you wouldn’t question why I chose this path of ending my maternity leave and working.

This is my explanation to those of you who want to listen. I LOVE YOUTH, I LOVE MY CHURCH, I LOVE COORDINATING EVENTS. I do love my son A LOT! and of course it is hard to see him have some first with my neighbour (going to the zoo, potentially starting more foods), but at the same time, I was already loving on my youth girls, and loving my church, and helping plan events for our youth group. So this roll that came up was an obvious answer when they asked.

If you know me, my daily life consists of 2 girls (sometimes more) coming over after school, eating dinner with me, playing apples to apples or skipbo or cheat, hanging out with my son, sometimes feeding him or getting him out from his nap, playing with him, and after he goes to bed I drive them home. This has been my daily regular, since moving back to Abbotsford I have been able to do daily life with youth that I have known for 2 years and love. So it was a natural role to go into when our Youth Pastor quit.

I have worked for just over a week now, and I love my new role, I have funds to take youth out, I have resources to plan awesome events and work with the other leaders I call friends. I get to go to high school plays that some of the other kids are in that are not in my small group, not because I couldn’t go before, but because they want me to go and see them.

being on maternity leave was great, sometimes not so great, but going to work part time has made me really cherish the time I spend with my son and my husband. I come home, play with my little owlet, he is super happy to see me. I have started establishing non-technology time, where I just put my phone and my computer away, and just spend one-on-one time in the mornings for around an hour, I have really enjoyed this one-on-one time. I can say with a smile, my relationships have been deeper,more loving, and I cherish every joy-filled moment.

 

– Owl

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Remember the Trenches

Dear Future Self,

Remember that time when you became a mom? That first moment when you held your new born son in your arms and you couldn’t stop the tears. You weren’t sure if you were crying because you were relieved that your labor was finally over or if it was because your son was just so beautiful. Remember how you wanted to just sleep and knew you should because that is what all the doctors, nurses, family, friends, and even your husband kept telling you. But, all you could do was sit there and stare at your new baby! 

Then he woke up crying!

Remember how you were the one who was supposed to make him stop crying? Remember how you had no idea what to do and had to flag down a nurse to ask your 10,002 questions?

Food.

Remember how the answer is always food. Remember how everyone else who held him when he was fussy would hand him back to you telling you he was hungry. “He must be hungry”. That almost became his actual name. Solve the problem mom. Whip it out. Feed your son. He is fussy. Remember how even his own father would get the luxury of handing your crying son to you as he walked away saying “I will leave you two alone as you feed him”. 

HE JUST ATE!!!

Remember when you got up all night every 2 hours to feed your new born baby and then people would come over every two hours during the day to visit. They would bring gifts and hold your sleeping baby while drinking the tea you offered and the snacks you scrounged around to make. Remember how tired you were? Remember how you tried to keep a smile on your face and say how wonderful it was to be a mother, but really you would just sit at the window rocking your baby envying anyone passing with out a baby in their arms. Even the old man walking his dog. Even the construction worker with his butt crack hanging out fixing the power lines across the street. Yup. That happened. I was jealous of a butt crack man! 

Remember when you had to do all the laundry, cook all the food, take care of the baby, clean the house, teach your child to nap, entertain the relatives, make it to family functions (bringing food), and try and keep up with your childless friends. All while worrying about meeting new “mom” friends and making sure your child “socializes”.

Oh yeah, Sleep!

Remember when you decided you didn’t need to sleep anymore? It definitely made life easier. I will sleep when my kids go to school. I will sleep when my kids sleep. Ha! like that ever happens! Remember when your child started to grow and you started to freak out about everything? Remember when you would rush and “Google” ever thing that had to do with your child’s eating habits, fever, sleeping, and developmental stages? Remember when you were asked for advice from a new mom, even though you had only been a mom for a month? Remember how Proud you felt? Remember how shocked you felt when actual good honest advice came from your sleep deprived brain? 

Don’t Forget!

Remember these times. Remember what you went through. Remember how it felt. Remember what you most desired in those moments. Remember what you feared. Remember what you longed for. 

Remember how all you wanted was:

1. Someone to come clean your house. Please just come over and let me nap while my baby naps and clean my bathrooms while you are at it. My house is a mess and I am learning a whole new skill and could really use some help with the messy annoying stuff. Bathrooms, wash the floors, wash the windows, laundry ( all three stages : clean, fold, put away).

2. Food. Please bring pre- made meals for my family. Frozen, Fresh, anything! Lunches are great too. enough said. This is key to every new moms survival. Frozen ones are great because then I could use them when my child is older and we are just having a bad day. Actually Keep the food coming. For the child’s first year of life. Keep that food coming!

3. Force me to Leave the house for 1/2 an hour with out my child.  come over. Get me to feed my baby. Then make me take a shower and send me to get coffee. Even if it is just to get a cup to go. Send me out without my baby. 

4. Have patience. Let me make mistakes and feel vulnerable. Being a new mom is scary. People almost always assume as soon as the baby is placed in your arms that you will know everything. Wrong! I almost feel like you go backwards. You loose brain cells you know. Children strip you of your brain cells. Let me say no and not feel guilty for not wanting to go out. I am tired and dumb. I need to just sit and rest. (At least for the first few months)  

5. respect my schedule. My new world consists of nap times, feedings, diaper changes and best of all Bed Time. Please have patience with my new schedule. know that when my child is asleep I should be sleeping or showering or watching TV or reading. Nothing else. No visits. No hosting parties. No laundry. come over when my child is awake or after bed time. Also, DO NOT stay late. Come early, leave early. Anything past 9 pm is too late. I will be up all night long every two hours with a baby while you sleep all night long, just like my husband. Know that as soon as you walk out my front door I am making my way to my bed and falling asleep before my head even hits my pillow. Also, when you come over without a child to keep my crazy toddler company, know that my time will be divided and that our conversation will not get too deep:) 

6. Know that I love you. Know that I still love being your friend, daughter, sister, acquaintance, wife, etc.  I still want to hear your stories and be there for you when I can. Even if it is just in spirit. My time is divided but not for long. One day I will be boring again and I will have time to help you. I will have more time than i know what to do with. but for now. I am in the trenches and I just plane ol’ need help! I need you more than you need me right now. I know I did it to myself and I didn’t ask you if you wanted this (besides my husband) but I will be there for you in what ever decisions you make one day. 

So Future Self, if and when your children get married and hopefully decide to have children. Come back and read this. Read this and remember what you most desired from people. Help them. Help them in a way that is actually helpful. Avoid that part of you that just wants to cuddle the baby all day. Show up at their door with a bucket full of cleaners, frozen dinners, and gift cards to actual restaurants that allow babies. Remember this when your best friends have their own kids. Remember this when neighbor does. 

Remember when it took you 12 hours to write this because your children kept interrupting your train of thought because they needed something?  Do not just remember all the good times. Remember the trenches. Remember the battles. Not just the war. Motherhood is amazing but not always wonderful. Motherhood is fulfilling but not always filled with Joy. Motherhood is exciting and ever changing but it is also scary. Motherhood is never boring, but sometimes it is. 

My goal is to remember the trenches and most importantly, how I got out. 

Sincerely,

Lost in the trenches of toddler-hood

-Lion

p.s Remember that time when your son was 6 months old and you found out you were pregnant with baby number two? Remember how you just needed a hug. Go, give some pregnant mom holding a baby in her arms and nice hug. Ask for his phone number and show up when that baby is born and be helpful! BE HELPFUL!!

 

From maternity leave to working mom

I had no expectations towards this transition. I have worked full time for years as well as had a busy lifestyle with school and sports. It is hard to leave your son at daycare while you run around, only to come home to a sick baby cause of germ spreading ( pretty normal from what I hear), after running around for work (which I love my new job) to being with him and trying to compartmentalize work and home life. Working with youth can’t be separated from your home life, so it’s deciding what is for work and what is just your lifestyle.
This jumbled post is exactly how my thoughts are, all over the place and full of lists and plans.

Here is a small piece of my new complex life.

– Owl