I've been trying to come up with a few more dramatic play "stations" for the kids. They offer so many great avenues for engaged learning and from what I understand from my Kindergarten teacher friends even Sask school systems are leaning more and more towards dramatic play and interest based learning in K.

On our agenda this week was to create a Gift Wrap Play station and a Mail and Post Office station.  Christmas is in less than a week and so both were relevant to life as we're finishing up the last of our wrapping and trying to START getting our Christmas cards mailed out! Oi.

I saw this great idea on Teach Preschool to wrap metal tins and cookie sheets and add magnets to bows. Genius! I just cut up a magnetic hockey schedule (sorry Bruins) and hot glued them to the bottom of the bows.

The kids could then decorate the packages with bows and deliver them.

I also cut up some index cards and wrote "To" and "From" on them. I explained that we label our gifts and what to and from meant. They decorated the tags with stickers and added them to their packages.

The boy one got lots of practice writing his name as he wrote his name in the "From" section on all of his gifts.

The girl one has just learned to write the first letter of her name - H! She excited signed all of hers with said H and 20 stickers. (She also had just had a bath and I didn't brush her hair).

A few boxes I wrapped a lid and box separately so they could add toys and odd items as gifts.

 Before they came to the table I had pre-cut a few pieces of wrapping paper and had a stock of boxes from the recycling reinforced and stacked on the table. They each then got to wrap their own presents.
I showed them a few of the basics and let them go at it. It was interesting that I had to teach that each piece of tape had to touch either both sides of the paper or the paper and the box.

 The boy one liked his presents pretty clean and simple. The girl one liked them heavily adorned.

We received piles of stickers from the ladies that work with the tall one at the Post Office.

Their stack of presents all wrapped.

I didn't really want to let them open their presents but what's the fun in that? So they started tearing into them.

It was cute. They exclaimed things like "Oh look, cake! Thank you."
and "I got tissue. Yay!"

The kids had a blast wrapping and giving gifts. Can't wait to play it some more.

Today I am one of the millions (I'm sure) parents whose hearts are breaking for the families who have been robbed of their precious children in these tragic acts of violence. We are holding our littles closer, not arguing when they ask to sleep in our bed and want extra cuddles. We are breathing them in and trying not to completely fall apart when we think of the overwhelming grief these other parents are facing right now. We are praying for comfort and peace and protection.

My Facebook feed has been justifiably filled with outpourings of thoughts and prayers for these families... and questions. My own mind has been filled with questions.

I believe in a loving God. An all powerful God. What the heck happened?

I prayed. I didn't even know what to pray most of the day. I said "Jesus" a lot.  What is going on Lord?

I heard him say, "There are two kingdoms in this world. This was not the work of mine."

In these days and hours I am sure that will be innumerable prayers uttered and cried. Many will find peace, comfort and assurance - and as people find that in the Lord there will also be accusations and anger directed at those who receive peace from God and at God for seemingly standing back and doing nothing to prevent this.

As I prayed I suddenly became angered with the thought, why does the enemy get off the hook for this? Why is there hardly any mention of the pure evil that is responsible for this tragedy?

There are two kingdoms in this world. There is no neutral zone, no Switzerland in this war. One rules with deception, hatred, bitterness, jealousy, hate and malice. Did the man responsible for this actively choose this kingdom? I don't know. But I'm guessing that he believed the lies the enemy fed him about himself. I'm guessing that things of this kingdom like hatred, malice and bitterness crept in and took root in his life.

The often scary part is that all day, every day we make choices to agree with one kingdom or another. Choosing not to choose a definite side doesn't leave us in some no man's land. There are two kingdoms, no neutral zone. When we choose to lash out at our spouse and refuse to forgive, we agree with the kingdom of darkness.

When we choose to extend grace to someone who doesn't deserve it in our eyes we agree with the kingdom of heaven. When we choose to give up our grievances and choose peace we agree with the kingdom of heaven.

Today I am praying for the Kingdom of Heaven to invade this earth.
Our Father
Who art in heaven
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven...

May this situation be invaded with peace, love, compassion, grace, healing, and forgiveness. Would every choice that is made to bring heaven to earth push out and silence the kingdom of darkness.

Would that the real enemy take the blame here and that we recognize it in ourselves.

*   *   *   *  *  *  *  *

I think this situation has shook a lot of people. I know it has me. We're all processing what has gone on, how do we respond, how do we stop this from happening in the future. I recognize that I am putting this out there publicly. I appreciate how with social media every person can have a voice. Please don't take this post as invitation to debate. I'm just expressing my heart and what I feel that Lord has brought up in the last hours.


by on 6:46 PM
Today I am one of the millions (I'm sure) parents whose hearts are breaking for the families who have been robbed of their precious chil...
It's that time of year again... time for our friends to get together, let our inhibitions go, get our creativity flowing and create our annual Christmas Music Videos at our Tunetastic party!

This year marks our 5th year and a return to our boys and girls separate videos. There's just something fun about the surprise of watching what the other group has created at the end.  If you want to read the details of our Tunetastic Tradition you can check it out here (and watch last year's video).

I'm very thankful to have such outgoing and fun friends. They're a hoot ;)

It's really interesting to go back over the previous years' videos and watch how our families and lives have changed. Back in 2008, 3 of the 4 kids there were under a year old. Now they are almost 5 with multiple siblings to boot and the young kidless ones of the group have added their own precious babes.

My kids already absolutely love to watch these videos (over and over and over and over) again and I'm excited for the collection that they'll have as they grow and for the day when we can hand them their own video camera and let them have at it. Good times.

Here are the links to youtube if you want to check them out!

Girls: Mistletoe by Justin Bieber

Boys: I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas - Gayle Peevey

Merry Christmas!

Tunetastic Legacy

by on 12:30 PM
It's that time of year again... time for our friends to get together, let our inhibitions go, get our creativity flowing and create our ...
I have a disorder and it presents itself massively during this season. I've named this condition "Gift Giving Impatience".

There is just something inside of me that finds it impossible  really, really, really hard to wait until a predetermined gift giving day (such as a birthday or CHRISTMAS) to give someone their present. Seriously - it takes the majority of my self control reservoir not to give it early.

I've been reflecting on this condition as of late and trying to analyze it a bit. I'm starting to see a trend that I "self medicate" by at least talking about the gift.

For example, during our first few years of marriage I bought Dean an awesome sword for Christmas. He loves swords and didn't own any at that point. It was a thing of beauty and I made the mistake of purchasing it a good two months before Christmas. Not wise when you have my condition.

It was just so pretty and he was going to love it so much! I started "medicating" by just telling people about it. Yeah, he's gonna love it. Then it escalated to showing one or two people the sword because I was just so excited about it! Before I knew it I had shown a lot of people the sword.

This one right here. Cool right?

Finally I was able to give it to the tall one for Christmas and he LOVED it! He was so excited to show his friends when they came to the house. Much to his surprise, most responded with "Oh yeah, Mo showed us it last month."

Oops! Sorry love!

It's no surprise that Gift Giving is one of my primary Love Languages but I wonder if this condition is normal in people like me?

It's really hard for me to buy birthday presents in advance even for my kids friends. One of their friends adores Cars (who doesn't?) and knows all of their names and where they appear in the movie and their most quotable line. I got him the Disney Cars Encyclopedia and instead of waiting until his birthday I gave it to him the day it came in the mail. Fail.

His birthday is in another 2 weeks and I've had to hide his present in my unused vehicle so that I don't cave and give it early. Seriously.

Mom's birthday is Oct.29 but I made it all the way to Thanksgiving! Yay me.

For the most part I manage this condition by not buying or making gifts until the last possible moment. It usually works pretty good but grates seriously with my pre-planning nature. I always like to be done something well before it's due. It's a tough balance ;)

And now I'm approaching what is sure to be one of my largest challenges yet. The tall one had been obsessing over this Fisher Price Dune Racer for months. He researched all the details, concluded that the design would be ideal for our lanky kids.

So we ordered it. Initially thinking they could have it for Christmas and then thinking that it'd be a cool
joint birthday present (as their bdays are 5 days apart). It would also fit in well with their camping themed party we are planning. Great....... erm except for this silly CONDITION I have!

I'm not sure I can wait 2 1/2 months. Already I find myself flipping to pictures of it on my phone and showing my son. "Oh Kai, isn't this a cool dune racer?"
"Maybe you could ask for something like that for your birthday?"

My son may or may not be referring to it as "his new jeep that's still at the store". 

So... I've got a problem. Thankfully on this one it's from the tall one too so he can help keep me strong. Though I wouldn't recommend that he leave me at home with this ginormous box that we could easily stumble upon and if they see it, well then they may as well have it, right?

Sigh... just a little glimpse into the weird head that is mine. Feel free to make bets on how long I'll last ;) Ha.

~ Monique

I Just Can't Wait!

by on 12:25 PM
I have a disorder and it presents itself massively during this season. I've named this condition "Gift Giving Impatience". T...
Last year I had so many grand intentions of filling the Christmas season with adorable crafts for my kiddos that I found on Pinterest. I think I maybe did 20% of what I wanted to do.

The main reason we didn't we didn't get around to all those crafts: In the day to day of raising toddlers I don't have time to whisk away for 20 minutes to do all the prep involved for a craft or we had time for the craft but didn't have all the supplies on hand.

This year I was determined to relish in the season's craftiness so I started early and prepped a "Christmas Craft Station".

I think part of the ambition came from my newfound role as a Kindergarten teacher. (If you know me you know that I'm wired as a junior high teacher and wouldn't survive a week as a K teacher but shockingly when you decide to homeschool you all of the sudden become a Kindergarten teacher!) 

I started by scouring Pinterest for the crafts I wanted to take on that were somewhat age appropriate for my kids. (I'll share that list at the end). 

For each craft I listed the materials that I would need.

Then I started prepping packets. If I needed little squares of felt cut for a mini wreath, I cut a hundred little felt squares and stuck them with a pipe cleaner in the envelope. 

Paper chain craft? I cut a few dozen paper strips ready for little fingers to glue into chain links.

It took me at least a week of sporadically adding to my craft bin. I wrote out what each craft was on the envelope.

Now, when we're in the midst of our school time and it's time for a Christmas craft I can just grab an envelope from the bin that I feel most suites their moods and we can craft. It's so easy! No running around the house gathering supplies or wondering where the heck the tall one put those light bulbs I was saving for glitter snowmen! It's fabulous!

Here are the littles working on their Rudolph Paper Bag Puppets

I pre-cut the girl one's shapes but just drew them out for the boy one (all ahead of time so I could help them during the craft!) and he cut out his shapes. Cutting is his favourite.

So cute. The bells are a must :)

Puppet show!

Mini Felt wreaths. This one is going to take a few sittings.

It can also double as an awesome bracelet.

We are loving our Christmas Craft Station and can't wait to try all the crafts in it!

Here is my craft list so far with links :)

Green paper, red bow, green paint

2) Photo Snow Globe
(I bought plastic snow globes at Hobby Lobby where you can add your picture.)

blue paper, marshmallows (mini), white paint

cardboard circles, embroidery thread

green paper, multi coloured tissue paper, glue

2 paper plates, ziploc bag, glitter, hole punched paper dots, markers

paper cutter, scrapbook paper

8) Bottle Cap Snowman (link to pin as I couldn't find the actual post)
bottle caps, white paint, ribbon

glitter, spray adhesive, twine, black beads, glitter

coffee filters, scissors

cornstarch, baking soda, water, cookie cutters

icing, waffle cones, candy

green felt, brown felt, buttons, glue

glitter, ornament, jar, super glue

15) Rudolph Paper Bag Puppet
paper bags, red pom pom, mini jingle bells, paper 

strips of scrapbook paper, glue

This is my list so far and I keep adding. If you want to check out my current inspiration you can check out my "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" Pinterest board!

I'm inching towards the finish line on the kids shared bedroom. It looks pretty fantastic already and I just need to tie up the last little touches. One of those was throw pillows for their beds and window seat. I wanted something that would be cute, personal and tie the room together.

Amidst my Pinterest searching I cam across adorable custom pillows made by Sarah  & Abraham. They have a line of Olliegraphic pillows where you can pick the face shape, eyes, hair style and then have your child's name embroidered on the pillow. They would be fabulous gifts!

I really wanted to make most everything in the room and wanted the kids to have something from me so I set out to make an even more custom pillow for each of my kids. I LOVE them.

I started out by sketching how I wanted their faces to look in a sketch book. I played around with it lots and tried to keep it simple (not my strong point).

Here was my instagram from the night of my sketching. The top pic is of the Sarah & Abraham pillows.

Next I traced the pictures using separate paper for the face shape, the hair "piece" and the eyes. I then cut out the "pieces" on paper and pinned them to felt and cut those out. (Sorry no pics of this process). I made sure to make the face shape larger than the hair so it would over lap and not leave empty space.

I then hand stitched the felt pieces onto my chosen fabric (already cut to the size I wanted the pillows). Once I had the face and the hair on I used fabric glue for the eyes (because I didn't want stitching there) and embroidered on the nose, mouth and name. I lightly outlined it in pencil first.

To finish all you need to do is put right sides together, sew it all up except for a 4 inch gap for stuffing and viola, you have a pillow slip cover.

The boy one was pretty pumped to receive his. He knew it was him right away. His hair is not "styled" here but it usually does look like his pillow :)

The girl one also knew immediately who the girl on her pillow was. I went with the pony tail to the side as her bangs grow straight forward and thus always need to be pulled to the side. We now also have to pull them to that particular side because of the whole head shaving incident.

The pillows were super simple to create and my kids love them. They would make fantastic gifts and would be so easy to ship as just the slip cover to any long distance kidlets.

One step closer to a finished bedroom!