*** This is a copy of my guest post on Shadow of Grace ***

Hi! My name is Monique and I'm guesting posting here from Pocket Full of Whimsy. If you check out the "about me" on my blog you'll see that I'm a "retired" junior high teacher turned "mostly stay at home" mom :) On top of raising my my two children, the boy one (Miciah) and the girl one (Hannah) I also run a photography business called Blink Photography and am a weekly columnist for the local paper (Lifestyles).

I'm happy to be here on Jen's blog Shadow of Grace. Jen and I met through Athletes in Action at the U of R and were roomies for 2 years in our stellar 1500 sq foot apartment. Such a great place, hey Jen?

Jen asked me to share in her "Intentional Home" series about creative dates for children, a topic right up my alley as my weekly column "ifamily" is all about creative dates for families.

I've been very blessed to be able to encourage families each week in my community to spend quality time with one another. Quantity and quality time are really important in our family and something that we are very intentional about. As a teacher I've seen my fair share of children who have grown up in homes where they were little more than accessories and have been left to "the world" to raise. T.V., teachers, coaches, and friends have had much more influence then their parents have. I believe that raising kids is a calling and we need to communicate value to our children. We can communicate that they are a priority in the time that we spend with them.

I think a lot of the time parents have a hard time engaging their children because they don't feel interested in the same activities and therefore find themselves often bored of "play times" with their kids. I'm not going to lie - I hate playing trains. My son however could play hours of trains all winter long. I can barely make it 3 minutes. If playing trains was the only way I could play with my son, it'd be painful. That's why I try to be creative and switch it up a lot. It makes the time we spend together fresh and exposes them to new things.

Last year I wrote a column about Family Track and Field. I had readers tell me about how they used the idea for family dates and how much their kids loved it but I had yet to actually do it myself! Bad - I know. This week I invited a couple of friends of ours and their kids to have a mini toddler track meet at the local school.

It didn't take a lot of supplies. I just filled this bucket with a set of pilons (Dollar store), 3 tennis balls, award ribbons and a set of flags I made from bamboo skewers and scrapbook paper.

We started out by trying a little running long jump :)


No need to take turns... just all run and jump :)

Hannah loves running long jump! Though she mostly runs up to the board and stops :)

Next up is ball throw! Have the kids grab a ball and take turns throwing. Place a flag where each lands and challenge them to throw farther than their flag. An emphasis on doing their best is what's important here.

Race time! Use the pilons to create your various length tracks and let them run! These guys ignored the pilons and just ran the entire school yard to the fence multiple times :)

On your mark, get set, go - or pose for the picture... whatever floats your boat.

Back to the jumping. Here's Hanny doing some standing long jump. (aka big step into the sand.)
You can also see in this pic the ribbons that we gave them for completing each event.

Friends :) And the only 2 of 8 kids that would pose for the group shot.

I really recommend getting in there and doing the events with your kids, they'll be so thrilled. My 17 month old calls me over and then gets up on the edge of the sandbox and counts "da, da, da - go!" and jumps steps into the sand. She loves to play "track" together and I enjoy playing it with her!

There are so many fun dates you can do with your kids that require very little money and just a little bit of planning. Some of my other favourite dates have been making a comfy bed in the back of the SUV, loading it with snacks and driving out into the country to park and watch a movie together on the portable DVD player, doing a progressive fast food supper (eating a different course at each restaurant), and pitching a tent in our basement for winter camping.

If you'd like more ideas for fun and creative family dates you can check out my blog Pocket Full of Whimsy and click on ifamily.

Thanks for having me Jen!

Mini Track and Field

by on 7:00 AM
*** This is a copy of my guest post on Shadow of Grace *** Hi! My name is Monique and I'm guesting posting here from Pocket Full of...
After the hard core push a couple of weeks ago to finish the major work on Elsie we've just been "putzing" in her doing a little here and a little there. It was a big night for me when I hung all the curtains and put in the cushions - the end was in sight!

Since then I've been cleaning and adding all her vintage accessories and purchasing what else she needs. I've waited and waited to do her official reveal pics because I wanted her to be truly done when I did. However, I'm not sure if that day will ever come! The tall one still has to tinker with some of the electrical and reinstall a few light fixtures. He replaced the tail lights this week and now one of us has to install the panelling in the storage room so we can put in shelves and start packing. We leave for the lake in 3 sleeps... yeah. What gets done will get done and so I've let go of my "perfect picture" dreams and you get to see her now as she is.

Here is the dining area :) It obviously also turns into a bed. I just painted the table today with Krylon Plastic Fushion. I'm quite impressed with the results. It went right over arborite and covered well. I just used a paper bag (as a fine grit sandpaper) to smooth in between coats.


I'm pretty excited about the clock you'll see on the shelf to the left. It was my mother-in-laws and we were able to grab it from the basement stash when we first got married. I've stored it since then waiting for the perfect place to display it and it's perfect in Elsie! In the mirrored case on top there are fiber optic flowers that light up and turn different colours. It's magical.

The door to the outside.


The kitchen. We left the stove the original colour. I'd still like to paint the counter top white but don't relish taping off and spraying in an enclosed place.

The living room/master bedroom :) The couch pulls out into a bed and the bunk comes down.

Magazine rack stocked with some good reads for the lake!

 And a longer view of the dining and kitchen area.

 All in all I am super happy with the results! Elsie is so perfectly "us". She feels homey and bright. I smile every time I walk into her.

We're hauling her way up North at the end of this week and I'm sure there will be many more pics to come! I'm also hoping to do a post on the fun random gifts we received from friends that "just belonged in Elsie!"

Elsie | Inside!

by on 5:00 AM
After the hard core push a couple of weeks ago to finish the major work on Elsie we've just been "putzing" in her doing a litt...
I'm loving the new scrunch tote that I made but am finding, as I do with most large bags, that I just keep filling it and it becomes a crazy mess. We only carry a diaper bag if we're gone for a whole day and otherwise I just toss an extra diaper and wipes in my purse. (Side note: I have decided that I will carry a pack of wipes with me for the rest of my life). My friend Jen shared a tutorial for a diaper clutch that she made on her blog Shadow of Grace and since it was fresh in my mind I decided to try it out.
I love it!

Now I have something to keep the essentials in order and like Jen mentions in her tute, it's nice for the dads to be able to grab and take for a changing as well.

Next on my list of things I need to make was an iphone pouch. My phone doesn't always make it into the cell pocket in my purse and even when it does I worry that the screen will get scratched. I started by measuring the phone. It was roughly 2.5" by 4.75".

I then cut a piece of outer material and a piece of felt lining 8" x 6" each.

Fold in half (so it's 3"x 8") and sew 2 sides (bottom and side). On the felt lining piece leave a 1.5 inch opening on the bottom for turning out. Now turn the outer fabric right side out and place it into the lining fabric (right sides will be facing).

Insert a hair elastic between the outer and the lining fabric on one side of the top of the pouch and pin. Then sew along the entire top opening and reinforce across the elastic.

After sewing, trim the elastic and corners.

Now pull the outer fabric through the hole in the lining and turn it all out.

Fold in the fabric around the opening left for turning and then sew it shut.

Next, stuff the lining into the out fabric and line up the seams and corners. Place your phone into the pouch and pull the elastic over until it is taut. Mark where the edge of the elastic comes to when tight, line up the center of the button with the mark and then sew in place.

Done! Now you can add it to your little collection of scrunch tote, diaper clutch and iphone pouch :)

Stand back and admire your super organized tote :)

DIY | iphone Pouch

by on 5:00 AM
I'm loving the new scrunch tote that I made but am finding, as I do with most large bags, that I just keep filling it and it becomes a c...
In the midst of all the camper renos I had a slight urge to create something that had nothing to do with the camper. My Amy Butler "Love Bliss" fabric kept calling out for me to make something out of it. I had considered making the girl one another dress but to be honest I didn't trust her with this fabric. She destroys a good three outfits a day... so maybe when she's older :)

Then I saw this pin on Pinterest and immediately wanted to make my own!

I highly recommend this tutorial from Nae Chic. It was very thorough and easy to follow. The whole process was quite quick except for when I couldn't get my interfacing to fuse - grrr.

I grabbed the belt at Sally Ann earlier in the day just for this project and it worked fabulous. I decided to use some of the left over polka dot material from the camper as the lining. My interfacing wasn't super stiff so I thought it best to use a thicker material. The duck cloth worked great.

And... here's a blurry picture with me wearing it to show the size. It was late and I was too lazy to set up my tripod or focus the camera apparently.

I'm pretty much loving it and think I need to make an iphone pouch and diaper clutch to go with it!

DIY | Scrunch Tote

by on 5:00 AM
In the midst of all the camper renos I had a slight urge to create something that had nothing to do with the camper. My Amy Butler "Lov...
I have trouble restraining myself when it comes to thrift shopping for two key reasons:

1) It's usually a good deal. More like a really good deal. Like, how could I pass up 5 antique elementary bent wood school chairs for $2 each? You can't, that's right. Be sure to tell the tall one that, he doesn't get it.

2) It's more often than not something you're not going to be able to find again. When you're at Walmart you can pass something up and just go get it if you decide to the next week. Not so with thrifting! If you don't grab it, it's lost. Lost forever.

One great thing about Elsie is that she pretty much counts as another house that I can fill up with cool stuff. Her kitchen needs dishes and what better than vintage Pyrex?


I did a quick little search on Pyrex Love and found out that this is actually a Cinderella Chip and Dip Bowl set only produced as a promotional item in 1958. I just thought they were cool mixing bowls. I'm guessing that the "Cinderella" is referring to the shape of the bowl.
The motif is "Balloons".

Yellow will be one of the main accent colours in Elsie so I've been grabbing what yellow items I can find. The juice pitcher on the left was another score from "Thrifting Tuesday" and will fit perfectly in the camper fridge. The mugs are Tupperware and also have the cool little "lids" that turn into saucers. Awesome. The carafe was from a flea market in Shell Lake.


Old school Tupperware salt and pepper shakes. $0.50 each.

I also found this cute quilt. It's not as great as the others and I was going to use it as a bed quilt but I think I'll just use it for a beach blanket instead. It's Fortrel on the front and back so it'll wear well :)

I was quite pleased with my haul and was even making it out of the store before any child melt downs (mostly due to the fact that I allowed my son to ride a trike that was for sale up and down the aisle!) when Dani spotted a really cool vintage camera. She went to purchase it along with the box when we realized that the box was actually for another cool camera.

This was one of those if I don't get it I'll lose it forever kind of times and so I got it. It's a cool old Brownie with flash! Now I just need to figure out where to display it.

I can't wait to start organizing all these goodies into the camper shelves. Someday when I'm able to take time and just sit I will read these 2 magazines that I've been waiting over a month for due to the mail strike.


Hopefully the sitting time comes before we're on actual vacation but I'm not holding my breath!
I can't even count the number of hours I spent working on Elsie last week. The fabric arrived on Tuesday - yay! I cut and sewed all the cushions Wednesday and then cut, ironed and sewed all the curtains on Thurs. Saturday I spent the entire day repainting the interior (in +30 heat) and then spent all day Sunday painting the exterior in +33 heat which with the humidity was over 40 degrees. It was nuts. I could only paint around 6 inches before it started drying.

I am so sick of painting but I am so pleased with the results! If you recall, here is what she looked like before.

And here is what she looks like now!

Loving it! The white is Tremclad gloss white and the yellow and blue are Rust Coat. I definitely recommend the Rust Coat brand as it was the only one I could get tinted, it was $5 cheaper and it went on the best.

The tall one is still working on finding replacement tail lights. I told him I preferred the 2 L Pepsi bottle with Tuck Tape. I said it added character. He didn't agree.

I can't wait to hitch her up and take on the highway all pretty :) Tonight I set up a work light and finished putting up curtain rods and hanging curtains. I also put all of the cushions in. It's looking so lovely... I'm going to make you wait until most everything is put in before you get to see those pics. 

            It is a true testament to the evolution of technology that I’m going to write a column about the best iphone an ipod apps for toddlers. I remember feeling so advanced when in grade one we received the first Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas and I passed the “flying fish” level! As I recall, our school got dial up Internet when I was in high school. My children though are fully capable of using the DVD players strapped to the seat in front of them and can whip through my iphone almost faster than I can. It is truly a different world to grow up in!
            Now, if you can wrap your head around letting your toddler play with a  $700 phone, I have a few recommendations of applications that will keep them entertained and might even teach them a thing or two. At the very least they are good for fine motor development! Here they are in no particular order:

Helicopter Taxi – this app uses your devices camera to capture a live stream of background that your helicopter can fly around just by tilting. You receive calls and have to make pick ups for various clients.

Piano Free – displays an accurate keyboard that you can play with your fingers. It sounds realistic and you can select a “learn” mode that drops notes that you have to play to play an actual song.

Tappy Tunes – great for babies as all they have to do is tap the screen anywhere and the app will play a note from a song. The tempo in which they tap determines the tempo the song is played at and so they feel like they are playing the song.

Smack Talk – this one is pure entertainment. Everything your toddler says, a really cute guinea pig, puppy, or kitten will say back to them in a squeaky voice reminiscent of “The Chipmunks”. My kids are in constant giggles when playing this.

Little Red Sled – allows your toddler to navigate a sled down a snowy slope and perform tricks on jumps just by tilting and shaking the device.

            All that said, I am a believer that our kids do not have to be entertained every moment of their lives but I do think it’s fun to let them play a few games now and then – especially on road trips!

Jolie Walliser was another lovely grad that I had the privilege of shooting this year. I was loving her leopard print dress and we worked downtown Estevan to capture her and her escort Klae.

How stunning are her eyes? And does she not look a little bit like the Bachelorette Jillian? he he.

I had such a great time shooting the both of them! Good luck guys!

~ Monique