Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Needle Madness

Another Christmas has come and gone. How sad is it that I have NO pictures of it? I guess when you are hosting an event you have other things on your mind!

That's right! Dave and I hosted my family this year for Christmas. Counting 12 children, 1 teenager and 8 adults, it was quite the party... although I guess that is what most Sunday afternoons look like also. 

We decided to do something very untraditional. To keep stress low, lasagne, garlic bread and salad for Christmas dinner. I was able to make the lasagne several days ahead and freeze it, leaving the majority of the work in the past.

I believe a good time was had by all and the food seemed to go over well also. Always good when that happens.

Boxing day, however, means, "get this tree out of my house"! Christmas is over, now lets clean up.

A good sign of a neglected tree is if it looks like this:

Where are all the needles you ask? Scroll down.

 Yup! there they are.

Several factors contributed to this mess. First being that I didn't water it. That's a big one. Initially I had it in a huge bucket of sweet water and I just never added more. Second factor was the bucket. We don't use a stand, simply a bucket with the tree tied to something. So the tree branches are actually resting on the lip of the buckets making it quite the task to try and get more water into it. Third factor, it is in the same room as our wood burning fireplace. It gets quite hot and very dry in the house, let alone that room alone. Over all, the tree and I didnt really stand a chance. Even if I had been a bit more diligent.

What did that get me?


I had to empty my vacuum three times just to clean up the needles in the house. Lets not even mention the needles on our porch and out the back door! Dave actually got out the blower and blew the needles out of the porch so we would stop tracking them in on our boots every time we went out.

I love real trees. Ill deal with the mess. No big deal. I am thankful for Christmas and I am also thankful that it is over for another year.

Tonight is New Years Eve. May you all have a wonderful new year. We plan on staying in and keeping it low key. This year has been strange. We plan on finishing it the same way. Doing nothing!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Christmas Read

A fun, dark and fantastical story or who Kringle is and where he came from.

I really enjoyed this read but am very thankful I stopped myself from reading it out loud to the boys without having read it first. I'm thinking it is a bit scary for young ones.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Activities and Guests

Family is very important to me. I get tired, I get grumpy and I get overwhelmed but I can very rarely turn down the opportunity to be with family. It has been build right into my being. Through the loving parenting and teaching we had as kids, family (both blood related and not) has become one of our essentials. A support and network that is there in thick and thin. 

Sunday afternoon, my niece asked if she could spend time with us this week. As talk of this ensued, a nephew also made the request.  As an Aunty who didn't wish to leave anyone sad, I told them both to come on over and visit. 

Until Wednesday evening I am the mother or 6! I love it. Its loud and messy (wait, thats no different than normal) but at times easier than normal. New distractions and all.

Monday, I took them all with me to get some gingerbread houses so we could have a fun Christmas project to do together. It was an adventure with an extra two but they were so well behaved. Once we waited for Mr. Declan to nap, we got started on the building.

The finished projects next to the poinsettia that Dave bought me.

Ewan got to do his house solo (with a bit of help from mom).

Matthew and Isaiah worked away, compromising with each other about the placement of each candy.

Norah busily worked on the house while Levi snuck candy after candy into his mouth.

Messy and loud!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Trimming the Tree

We usually try to get our Christmas tree around December 5th since it is Sinterklaas. My sister in law, Vanessa, gave me that fun idea. Our husbands, who are brothers, are Dutch and as a way to do St. Nicks in our own way, we try to get our tree and decorate it.

This year it was the 6th. So we failed a bit but no one seemed to really care or even notice. Daniel and Amanda ( my brother and his wife) along with the kids, and Connor (my other brother) came with us this year to Thomas Tree Farm to chop down our tree. We hop on a wagon pulled by some horses out to the trees and come back on a tractor ride with our freshly cut tree.

Its expensive but an enjoyable tradition ( at least the boys and I think so).

The boys decorated vigorously and within 5 minutes they were done. I managed to catch Matthew adding a few ornaments but it lost its appeal after a handful or ornaments were placed.

From this picture, you can clearly tell they were the ones decorating. I think there are 5 ornaments on one branch. Pretty! I told myself I would go back later and move things around but it appears not to bother me. I think I just like the warm lights. I dont actually pay attention to the decorations once they are on the tree.

Along with the fresh cut tree I added some other trees (just not real).

This is usually the tree that the kids are able to decorate and undecorate all month long. They never really got to it though. So, it remains mostly plain which is still warm and cozy.

Are you wondering how the tree is standing up to Declan? Its a good question. I think one of the reasons I haven't noticed the crowded ornaments is that Declan removes them quickly and in great number. I have found them all over the house. Once I find them, I find a place for them on the tree in a slightly higher location. By Christmas all the ornaments will be at the top of the tree.

Meh! Its what we do :)

Hope you are all having a wonderful time getting set for Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Counting Down

Growing up, December first was exciting because we got to start opening our daily chocolates from our advent calendars. Counting down the days until Christmas morning.

I decided to continue the tradition, as so many do, with our boys. However, it hasn't gone as smoothly as I remember. One of the kids would go to open their chocolate only to find the treat missing. I guess their moving it down from its shelf proved too rough and the chocolate would slip down to the bottom. So we would have to rip open the cardboard to find the culprit and in so doing cause others to fall out.

This year I decided to try something new. 

These are my home made calendars. Each boy has a different colour and each pocket contains its treat. Yummier than the store bought cardboard calendars (though I am sure the kids really don't care).

I folded origami pockets, and stamped each one with the date. Some are all mixed up. It lets the older boys hunt for the number and the younger ones are in order so I can quickly grab their treat and hand it to them.

This is also not going as smoothly as I would have liked. Mostly because Declan is a climber. He brings a chair up to the calendars when I am out of the room and steals envelopes off of whichever is closest. Thankfully I have extra treats to replace the stolen ones.

Another tradition that we started several years ago is opening a book a day. They are all Christmas books and they are put away all year long so they aren't boring. 


Each child takes a turn opening a book until Christmas eve. They love it.

That's how we count down to Christmas. How about you?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Solar System

This year I tried teaching science to the boys but the topic they chose was the human body. It took us way too long just to get through the intro and some of the first chapter thus I quit. It actually caused Matthew to become a germ-a-phobe.

After some thought, however, I realized it wasn't science but the topic that was making learning hard so I decided on a new topic without the boys input and I chose space.

What a great choice, if I do say so myself. I chose Exploring Creation with Astronomy from Apologia as well as their Junior Notebooking Journal and it is so much fun. We do little bits at a time and we have only finished two chapters; the intro and the Sun. The model above was after the introduction. We learned the name of the planets and also learned to use a mnemonic device to remember their names.

Here is the one we created together:

Matthew Vacuums Every Monday Joyfully, Sometimes Under New Plants

We have included Pluto for now because as we study each of the planets, we can decide what we think about its Planet-tude (invented this word).

Just thought I would share a little snap-shot of our schooling thus far.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lipstick Anyone?

No, Don't Worry!!! I didn't let him play with my makeup...

He sucked on a marker!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Candy and Costumes

Please forgive the quality of my photography. I am a point and shoot kind of photographer with a very poor tool at my disposal. Sometimes I get a decent shot, but most of the time they are... blurry and sad. Oh well. the moment is caught to some degree.

Declan as a puppy.

 Matthew as a fireman.

Levi as the bumblebee (its been around for many years!)

Ewan as a giraffe. 
As you can see he will no longer be able to wear this as it is much too small.

The 2014 crew. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Its always a feat to try and do anything creative when at home with little ones. However, I find it one of the greatest rewards when I actually finish a project. It gives me a sense and creative accomplishment.

I've never been terribly gifted in the area of fine arts but I still enjoy trying. I've also found I have a passion for needle work (knitting, sewing and embroidery) which can still be classified under art in some way, shape or form.

Currently I have 4 projects on the go. Three days ago I would have has to add another to that list. Its finally finished, however.

Cohens baby blanket!

How sad is it that it is only NOW just finished? I've been working on this for over a year. It took so long because it was a little bit boring. Knit, purl, knit, purl... The duck was fun. I had never made a picture before. That's what made this project new and exciting.

My sister also showed my a picture that I found inspiring and decided to give it a try. She found this woman who turns regular things you wouldnt think about into art. One of these ideas were leaves. She would take them and paint on them, making them a new kind of beautiful. 

Here is the first one I did (and the only one I have finished):

This one is my Oak leaf that is not finished yet but you can get the general idea. I have to add embellishments with black pen inside some of the coloured layers. 

 As it is the first time I have every really painted with acrylics, I am very happy with the project. I plan on doing a number of leaves I can find in my backyard and them string them together in a garland. Something happy to look at during the long winter coming upon up.

I hope you are all finding time to be creative. Its amazing what it does for your mood.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving and Pumpkins

It was a very fine and beautiful day this year for our Thanksgiving celebration. It began quite cold but the sun was out in its full beauty and the kids were thrilled to be with one another. 

We spent the night over at my sisters place ( a bit of  sleep over for us all) and then started our Thanksgiving Monday together. 

We took the kids to a pumpkin wagon and grabbed a few pictures as well as some pumpkins to decorate. After that, the kids found their own fun for the rest of the day.

The kids found it hard to keep their eyes open in the bright morning sun. Matthew is here trying hard to smile.

Declan is attempting to carry his own pumpkin... with little success.

Levi figures his makes a wonderful seat until someone else is willing to move it for him.

Declan is stuck a midst the pumpkins, the perfect opportunity for me to get a picture without him moving. 

I made three attempts to get a picture of all the boys in the photo and not a single one was perfect. This is the best one of Ewan from the whole morning... that says something doesn't it? Matthew is trying hard again but the sun is winning. Levi is chilling just to get it over with and Declan is considering how he might escape off the wagon. A puzzle that left him still for a moment to snap a few photos.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing with family, eating wonderful, non traditional thanksgiving dinner and chasing Declan around. He is trouble I tell you. Into absolutely everything. 

Thank you Jo and Aidan for such a lovely time. It is always so nice to get together and enjoy food and company with little to no stress. I just hope I didn't get you all sick.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Older, Much Older

Can you believe it has been over a year and a half since I last posted??? I don't have much to say right this moment but I thought I could show you a few pictures of the boys now. Much different than the last post I did.

Declan- 1 1/2

Levi- 4 1/2

Matthew- 6 years

Ewan- 3 years