Monthly Archives: January 2017

New Year’s Resolutions to Make the World a Better Place – Part 1

 

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions for 2017? How are they coming along?

If you’re like most people, even if you’re doing awesome with your New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll fall off the wagon as soon as March (if not sooner). And it’s not surprising, really.

If you follow the blog, you know it’s no secret that I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Not just because they’re the most ineffective way to reach a goal, but also because they tend to be too near-sighted and belly-button focused. The majority of people who make New Year’s Resolutions are thinking only of themselves when they make them. Case in point: the top New Year’s Resolutions are “losing weight” and working on self-improvement.

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Sunday Treats & Family Time

Our church has a lovely fellowship hour after mass. When we left Kingston temporarily between 2006-2008, one of the reasons we really yearned to come back was our church community. It was hard to find that back in Ottawa.

Not only do we get to spend some time chatting with our Sunday family and just hanging out, we also get some lovely treats, too. Thoughtful folks bring lovely treats each Sunday, and the kids really enjoy them. The kids they run around in the back of the hall and burn off their energy before we go home and put them down for rest time.

Today’s nice thing is being free to attend church, hang out, and have yummy treats.

The other nice thing is to be able to spend time as a family, watching our kids quickly acquire new skills by using the indoor playground daddy built. We’ve got some pretty cool monkey bars and a trapeze in our basement now. My hubby is awesome. In so many ways.

Those are my nice things for Sunday. What nice things happened for you today?

Thank you to Dream Big Printables for this post’s great image. Check out their awesome art!

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Getting Paid for Your Writing

 

 

I’ve been working on something super exciting this year! If you’ve always wanted to make writing into a career, I’ve got just the course to get you started. Hop on over to Facebook, read the note, and follow the steps. I’ll be selecting 10 people to participate in the first go-round of this course for FREE! Click here to get all the details.

Homeschooling Items that Make My Life a Little Easier

 

Even before I had children, I already knew I wanted to homeschool. There are a number of reasons for this, which I’ll write about in a future post. Homeschooling is a lot of things. It’ fun, interesting, joyous, and often exhausting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keeping myself organized (or at least trying to) can help curb homeschooling exhaustion. To that end, I buy a lot of “essential items” for homeschooling online. Because we have a very active homeschooling community in Kingston, I already drive to a lot of places with the kids, so minimizing the amount of driving I need to do is one of my priorities when it comes to planning. Purchasing things online helps with that. Certain items that I need to buy in bulk are also often cheaper online (even with the shipping fees). Here are some items that we use frequently, which I now no longer go anywhere to buy (thanks Amazon!):

1. Notebooks – Lots and Lots of Notebooks

I love notebooks of all kinds, and with three kiddos at home, plus a Mama who can never have enough notebooks, buying in bulk just makes sense. And if you’re buying online, you might as well get all the notebooks you need at once and save on the shipping fees. If you don’t use all of the notebooks this year, you just save them for the next. This 24-pack of 70-page notebooks covers all the bases. Here’s what we use our notebooks for:

  • Checklist Notebook
    • Each day, I write a checklist of the tasks that need to be completed. Each kid has their own notebook for this. I help the younger ones check off theirs, while my oldest girl reads the items and checks them off independently.
  • Free-flow Notebook
    • All three kids have notebooks in which they can do anything – draw, doodle, write, etc. For K-girl, my oldest, who loves to draw, I’ve gone through several notebooks in the last couple of years (which is why buying in bulk is sort of a necessity).
  • Math Notebook
    • My 7-year-old has a notebook on which we do some math problems and projects. We use Right Start Math, but I also develop my own word problems and projects, depending on her interest and ability level.
  • Writing Notebook
    • I tried and tried to find calligraphy notebooks in town, but never did find them. I was looking for the ones with the lines that help kids to differentiate between lower and upper case letters, etc. Well, since I couldn’t find these (or at least none I liked), I went through the painstaking process of making my own by hand. I just used  a ruler and two different colour pens and made my own lines in a plain notebook. I personally like the spiral notebook for this, but if you can’t be bothered to make your own, there are alternatives. Here’s a “tablet” for handwriting that has coloured lines also. It uses a landscape layout and is not spiral bound, which is why I don’t use it; however, if you don’t need the spiral, it could be a good option. And, if you have a doodler like I do, I finally found a writing notebook with “primary rule” lined pages that also has a space for drawing. This may well be the next purchase after K-girl is finished with my current homemade notebook.

We have other notebooks as well, but the above are the ones for which we use spiral notebooks. We also use exercise books that have lined pages with a blank space above the lines; mostly we use this type for science. That way, we can make pictures of our experiments and then write about them as well as answer questions below the picture, on the lined pages. Here’s an example of this type of notebook.

2. Pens – lots and lots of pens

With a daughter who loves to draw and will use any writing utensil in her reach to do so, plus a household full of people who don’t live by my motto of “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I’m constantly losing pens. So I bought an obscene amount of them in the hope of curbing the great mystery of the disappearing pens. I love to write too, so having a lot of these is never a bad thing. These are my favouite.

3. Plain old regular paper plates

My 7-year-old daughter loves crafts, and it’s always nice to do an activity the whole family can enjoy – her siblings can join in on paper plate crafts. Unfortunately, I can’t find plain old flimsy paper plates anywhere in town! Not only are the only ones available more expensive, they don’t work that well for a lot of crafts. So off to Amazon I went, and I found the ones I was looking for! These paper plates are great for all kinds of crafts. Beware that they are flimsy and thin, so I personally recommend them for crafts but not for actual use as food plates – it’s worth investing on the sturdier ones for that (or better yet, use reusable plates). Check out my Pinterest boards for some ideas for paper plate crafts.

4. Foam Sheets

Keeping with the craft-theme, foam sheets come in really handy for a lot of the creations my daughter decides to make. I’ve purchased them at the dollar store before, but because she goes through them so quickly, it actually ends up being more expensive. The craft store’s packages are far too expensive as well, so once again, I turned to purchasing them online. We got this pack. Be aware that these are thinner foam sheets than some folks are used to, but for our 7-year-old’s crafts, they work just fine.

5. Modge Podge

Again with the craft stuff. My daughter has become slightly obsessed with My Froggy Stuff videos – and I don’t blame her. This woman can do insane things with cardboard boxes and scrapbook paper. Her videos are pretty amazing. But I have found myself in the position of needing to buy things I had never even heard of to satisfy my littler girls’ love of crafts (have I mentioned I’m the least crafty person on the planet?). Mod Podge is one of these things I hadn’t even heard of before we discovered My Froggy Stuff. It is, however, a really great tool for crafts of any kind. It’s basically a glue and sealant at the same time, so it works for a lot of different things.

6. Electric Pencil Sharpener

This is probably one of the items I’m most thankful for purchasing. With three kiddos who love to draw and colour, I was getting irritated with the amount of times I needed to be sharpening pencils – the two younger ones don’t quite have the coordination to do it themselves yet. I was fortunate enough to find an electrical pencil sharpener at Dollarama, of all places. It cost $3.50 and it works just fine. If you haven’t been as fortunate with your bargain finds, here’s one that’s a bit more expensive, but looks pretty good, too. Personally, for home use, I wouldn’t fork out any more than $20 or $30 for one of these, since the less expensive ones work just as well. If you’re buying one for a classroom full of several kids, though, you may want to consider the heavy duty options.  I highly recommend getting one with a cord (because batteries are a pain in the behind). There’s also options with USB connections now, but I didn’t see the need for this. My inexpensive one that I can plug into any outlet works well for my family’s needs.

These are some of the items that make my life easier as a homeschooler, especially since I don’t have to get out of my house to buy them. Online shopping for the win.

What items do you consider essential for your homeschooling?

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you decide to purchase an item, I’ll receive a small commission. This has no extra cost for you.

Husbands Who Cook

Today’s nice thing was that we had some more folks over for dinner. Dan decided that this year he’d like to have people over for dinner on most weekends. We had found we were getting a little too socially isolated, and we wanted to re-connect with friends and re-establish a social life. After all, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” as they say.

So today’s nice thing is that we had a lovely family over for dinner. I met Chris when I performed in my very first play last spring – an adaptation of the Princess Bride. I like to joke that I was in a play with Johnny Depp, because it’s uncanny how much this dude looks like the actor. Anyway, after doing the play, we became friends with Chris and his lovely family. So we invited them over a couple of times, one of which was for yesterday’s dinner. Their kids and ours get along well, so they played and we actually got to have a fairly uninterrupted conversation, which was nice.

But the other nice thing is that the entire meal was cooked by Dan. Dan really enjoys cooking, so he takes pride in making the meals when he invites people over. And sorry, family, but he also makes the best “pudim de leite condensado” I’ve ever had. I don’t even make the stuff (I refuse to, ’cause there’s no way it can compare). When we first got married, Dan was a better cook than me. Now I think we’re pretty much on par. It’s nice to have a dinner cooked for me though 🙂

Today I’m grateful for an involved husband and father who can cook, dance, fold laundry, change diapers and clean toilets, and who enjoys entertaining guests. Looks like I hit the jackpot (but I already knew that).

What nice thing happened to you today?

Thank you to Dream Big Printables for this post’s lovely image. Check out their awesome art.

Mighty Fingers and Good Movies

Today I went to hand clinic for the third time. Back in October, I broke my left pinky finger playing basketball. To make a long story short, I was given some exercises to do, and the nice thing for today is that the exercises seem to be working. My range of motion has improved greatly from when I first landed at the hand clinic. I don’t have full extension yet, but I should get back to almost full if not full extension if I continue doing the exercises. My flexion is almost normal, though it still needs a little work. I’ll always have a “fat knuckle” (doctor’s words, not mine), but I don’t mind.

The other nice thing is that Dan went to the library and surprised me with some movies for us to watch. Yesterday we finally finished Saving Mr. Banks, which I’d been meaning to watch since it came out in 2013. It was a pretty good movie, but, as expected, was very loosely based on the true story (just as Mary Poppins was very loosely based on the original books).

But the nice thing about watching that movie is that now I’m very curious to learn more about P.L. Travers, so I decided to read her biography – and it’s available at my library. Yay! Can’t wait to learn more about this really interesting (if very odd) author.

What nice thing happened for you today?

Thanks to Dream Big Printables for this post’s great image. Check out their awesome art!

Skipping School

This post is part of a daily series to notice “all the nice things” in 2017. I encourage you to also keep a journal of all the nice things that happen this year. At the end of December, you’ll have great memories to look back on. Thanks to Cesar Abeid for the idea.

Today’s nice thing: skipping school.

Yesterday was a rough day with the kiddos. I love them and I love homeschooling, but it’s not always easy. Some days are really hard. Yesterday was one of those days. Today, in order to re-set, I decided to go with the flow of the day. I wasn’t going to nag the kids to get their chores done (or to do anything, really). So I just kept to myself for most of the day, attending to them as needed, but not asking much of them. They ended up still getting all their chores done (albeit it took them 3 hours), playing really well together, and I ended up being able to clean up my inbox while they played. And we still managed to make it outside to play in the snow.

Sometimes we skip school. We’ve been judged for this, but we don’t care. We’re living life on our terms. We don’t need to explain why skipping school is OK, but I’ll write a post about it later on, because I’m tired of people talking about stuff they know nothing about. Skipping homeschool lessons is perfectly fine, not only because we still get all our work done by the end of the year, but also because life experiences, even (and especially) at a young age are much more valuable than structured lessons. There was no time when our kids learned better than during our bike trip this summer. During that time, we did not do structured lessons at all. Yet, my son’s speech skyrocketed (he has a speech delay), my oldest daughter finally got the concept of how a story is told (beginning, middle, end, characters, conflict, resolution – she’s still working on setting), and my youngest girl learned from her siblings at a pace much faster than what she does at home.

Today I’m thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling.

Another nice thing about today is that because yesterday was so rough, hubby gave me the night “off” tonight, which means I get to sit down and do one my favourite things – write. I also got to go to the gym and do a quick workout and have an uninterrupted shower afterwards.

Today I’m thankful for showering at the gym.

What nice thing happened for you today?

Thanks to Dream Big Printables for this post’s great image. Check our their awesome art!

Singing Glory

Today’s nice thing is that we had a “new” Gloria at church, and I really enjoyed singing it. I say “new” because it’s not really new – just different than the one we’ve been singing during advent. We sing this one every year too, but it’d been a year since we last sang it, so it felt new.

I sang it well and felt uplifted singing it. When I was thinking about it after church, I thought about how much I enjoy singing, and I was reminded of a great group I participated in last year. It’s called Rabble Singing Kingston, and they call themselves the “one night stand of choir singing.” It’s a lot of fun, you just show up once a month, learn a song, and then all sing together. No commitment, no signing up, no strings attached. I looked them up, but it turns out they’ve been put on hold for a while. It was nice to remember the fun times singing with them though. I only went a couple of times, but they were both really great.

Another nice thing for today was helping K-girl to learn about the mass and continue to get her ready for first communion. I got this book for her last year – it’s called Let’s Celebrate the Mass!and it helps kids to follow along with the service. It’s great to help her go through the book as mass happens, and she gets more interested in what’s going on that way. I think she’ll be ready for her first communion soon.

And finally, another nice thing that happened today was playing tag with the kids in the basement. It’s always so nice to drop everything and just have fun playing with them. Parenting is definitely challenging and it’s often not easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What nice thing happened for you today?

Thanks to Dream Big Printables for this post’s great image. Check out their awesome art.

 

Good Food and Good Friends

This post is part of a daily series to help me notice “all the nice things” that happen in 2017. I encourage you to keep a similar journal – you’ll have lots of wonderful memories to look back on at the end of the year 🙂

Yesterday, we had two of Dan’s co-workers and their girlfriends (Dave, Kaitlyn, Graham, and Becky) over for dinner. Hubby cooked pulled pork and served some raw veggies, and fried up some of the almond-crusted fish I had made the day before. The friends brought some pretty delicious wine, a great salad, and some very nice flowers. Dan also made “pudim de leite condensado” (condensed milk pudding), which I have to say, is the best one I’ve ever had (sorry relatives!). I don’t even make the stuff, and I’m from Brazil, where it comes from. Dan has mastered the art of the “pudim” and frequently makes it for guests, who always enjoy it. We also had some caipirinha after dinner.

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Cursive Writing Mad Skills

 

Today’s nice thing: my 6-year-old daughter read a card that was written in cursive today. She’s a great reader and reads above grade level; however, she has never been taught to read or write cursive. I was impressed at her mad skills. This kid is smart.

Another nice thing: my 2-year-old in her comfy PJ’s that her nana made. She looks so super adorable in them. Love, love, love it.

Another nice thing? I recorded the voice-over for the first two modules of my writing course today. Things are looking great 🙂

What nice thing happened for you today?