A Less and More Christmas

My tea is beside me, steaming and spicy. I’ve changed up my normal black tea for chai spice with a splash of store-bought eggnog. It feels indulgent and Christmasy. The baby is still sleeping upstairs and the girls are happy as larks in their mostly empty playroom.

There are still paper scraps on the floor from this morning’s snowflake and airplane making extravaganza, the couch is missing all its’ cushions but one because there were forts that needed to be made and the house smells amazing because I’m drying apple slices for a garland.

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I read an old post of mine recently, from three years ago called Sparkle and Light: a December mindset. I wanted to hug that old Breanne. She was wonderful and all the things that she wrote about and did with her two little girlies were perfect for that season. I’m not that Breanne anymore. My little girlies are far more into independent play then that me could ever have imagined. The day has finally arrived when I don’t wake up to cut hair and kitchen messes, and quiet is now (sometimes) a really good thing.

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The snowflakes were cut out this morning by my six year old. She made a heap and had such a jolly time and it made me so happy. I sliced up apple stars to dry because apparently this is my year to make ornaments from food – I’ve already made an orange and cinnamon stick garland and it makes me so happy.

I’m not declaring a “Sparkle and Light” December, although I love that idea. No, this year I’m declaring a mindset of “Less and More.”

Less doing the things I feel I should do and more the things we want to do. Less pictures posted on Instagram and more “in-the-moment-mom.” Less fussing over the messy bedroom and more seeing the loving relationship forming between my girls. Less go-go-go and more holding my baby, dancing with him to Christmas music and just sitting and being.

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We’ll do less baking; only the really special ones that we all like – and that means rolling out sugar cookies because that is what my girls have been asking to do for weeks. We’ll do less real crafting together but more time creating together because we all have our own ideas of how things should look. We’ll do more outside time even when it’s cold because it’s so good for all of us. We’ll do less book school and more Christmas school: my version of an Advent calendar this year, because we all need a break. We’ll do more delight learning – reading books! making cookies! going to an old-fashioned farm!

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The ice is being prepped at our local outdoor skating rink and I can’t wait for snow to fall so we can go snowshoeing and then cozy up with books and cocoa. Together.

I’ve already bought all of our Christmas gifts and just need to order our family pictures online and slowly start sending those out. There’ll be less shopping and more being. It’s been a big year for our family, full of adjustments and adventures and we’re all in need of quiet days.

I hope your December is everything you need it to be, full of all the things that make this season twinkle bright for you; hosting parties or decorating cookies or creating a soft place for your people to land.

And I hope that you have some time to be quiet by a Christmas tree, with a mug of something hot and delicious and ponder the Hope and the Light and the baby Jesus who came to give us life.

 

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Embracing Winter (it works for the Danish)

The sun set today at 4:57 pm. We watched the fiery ball illuminate the bare branches of the birch and add a glow to the already golden tamarack trees.

We were out for a walk in the woods, bundled against the cold. We needed to breathe the fresh, crisp air if no other reason then to fully enjoy hot cocoa and popcorn when we made our way back indoors.

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The clouds part just enough to let the moon peek through. It’s huge, full and close. We see the first evening star as we come inside, shedding layers, lighting candles and beginning supper prep. Our pace is slow, helped by the fact that for this weekend home is an AirBnB in the wilds of Cape Breton but I like to think that this is the start of a winter rhythm.

The Danish call it hygge – slow, intentional embrace of the winter darkness and cold with light, coziness and seasonal activity.

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I’m going into this winter season with more intention and awareness then I have ever before. It can be such a hard season, and the last two years have been especially hard for me personally. But this year feels different. Winter is such a rich season, maybe not as blatantly glorious as Autumn or as long anticipated as Spring but rich in it’s own right and full of its own needed gifts of slowness and home.

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I loved our cozy weekend in Cape Breton and I appreciated a getaway in the middle of November, just before the grey really sets in and it’s just so gloomy. The kettle was always on for hot cocoa and tea, we had a slower pace to read books and to play games together, we went to bed early (because children and also exhaustion) and made the most of the daylight.

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Now that we’re home, I’m lighting the candles at 5 o clock and closing the curtains. I’ve pulled out all our afghans and keep the library basket stocked for cozy reading. We’ll be outside every chance we get, moving our bodies and soaking up the sunshine or at least the fresh air. We’ll bake cookies and linger a little longer in the mornings, I’ll pour a second and third cup of tea and remember that this is the slow season. The deliberate season to be at home. Our commitments outside the home are starting to dwindle, French is over for the semester and we’ll renew it in the Spring. I’m decluttering to make space for us to just be at home, embracing the mess that means and welcoming the slower pace of Winter.

Tell me about your winter ideals- what are your best ways to practice hygge and make the most of the Winter season?

P.S. For more about hygge check out, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.

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Autumn Reading (my quick lit picks)

Sharing what I’ve been reading this autumn and linking up with Anne for Quick Lit. A little classic fiction, historical fiction and some good inspiring non-fiction! I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately or what you think I should read next!

 

Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
 I read most of this book while on a weekend getaway in the wilds of Cape Breton, just a few hours from Prince Edward Island. It’s Anne’s coming of age story, when she realizes so many true things about herself but as with any journey, there’s some heartbreak and hardship involved. This is the perfect book to read in November, so much of the book deals with grey days, both literal and emotional. But there’s charm and delight as there always is with Lucy Maud’s work. It’s been years since I read this gem and I think I’ll be reading my way through the series this winter.
 

 

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

This was a delightful read, unexpectedly gripping and just the right length. It is as the title describes, set in the summer before World War I, time is slow and as it always has been in the countryside just outside of London. There’s a new school teacher, a female one and she must prove herself to all the traditionalists. There’s gypsies and poets, titled gentry and the village people who would like life to carry on as it has forever but war breaks out in Europe and everything is turned upside down. It’s another war story but I found it a very timely read in our own time and place in history.

 

 

 

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’ve seen this book everywhere this past year and resisted reading it because the description sounded too sad and too emotional. I was pleased to finally read it and find it wasn’t the emotional wringer as I thought it might be. Emma marries her high school sweetheart, and moves away from everything – her hometown, her family and her family’s bookstore and they make a life that looks nothing like how they grew up. Until her husband goes missing and she needs her family. She finally settles into her new reality and then Jesse is found, Emma has to choose between her high school sweetheart and the man she’s come to love. I loved it for the bookstore setting and the travel adventures. There were parts that seemed a little far-fetched but overall it was a good read.

 

Design Mom by Gabrielle Blair
 Design Mom was one of the first blogs I read, nearly a decade ago when I was rocking my baby to sleep and dreaming about the home we would make once we settled down. I don’t read blogs nearly as much as I did then and we’re fully in the home making process now. I loved this book! She combines design, style with great practicality for families. She has six children, ranging in age from elementary to university and has made homes in France and California. This book was hugely helpful in casting vision for how I want the rooms in our home to look with plenty of eye candy and delightful essays on parenting in the 21st century. We’re slowly making this house into the home we want and her book is the inspiration I need, when Pinterest is just too much.

 

 

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Earlier this year, I read Essentialism by Greg McKeown and it was the book I needed right then to give me perspective in my mothering. This fall I read Deep Work and while it’s not written at all as a mothering book,  that was where I found it most applicable. I’m not trying to advance my career or get papers published but I am trying to be the best mother I can be to my three kidlets. This book gave great insight into deep work and how to do it, staying focused and purposeful in your work (whatever work it is) and gave valuable insights on managing social media and still getting things done. This is a book for everyone, in my opinion, because doing deep, good work is something that everyone needs to do.

 

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

I heard about this book on Anne’s podcast, What Should I Read Next (if you’re not already listening, you need to start. It’s a gift for any bibliophile!), and it sounded intriguing but not captivating. This fall I found myself in a fiction rut and read it, loved it and promptly read the sequel in a matter of weeks. It’s set in the South, where a young orphaned Irish girl is brought to a plantation and raised by the slaves there. Her parents died on the plantation owner’s ship and so the girl became his property. Her red hair and pale skin in stark contrast to the other slaves. This book is a book about slavery and freedom and the South but it’s more about relationships and trust and friendship and the truth that we all need kindness in our lives. I cried at least once.

 

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

I appreciate when a sequel picks up where you want it to pick up and doesn’t lack any of the original storytelling. Glory Over Everything picks up years after The Kitchen House and is set mostly in the North where colour and race and social standing are still a big issue. There’s escape on the underground railroad and secrets and heartbreak. I found the underground railroad thread most intriguing and informative as well as how they managed medical care for slaves.

 

 

For many more titles and some great kid lit picks, head to Modern Mrs Darcy. And tell me what you’ve been reading lately!

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31 Things I’ve Learned (a birthday post)

  1. Planning a birthday party for myself is great fun (more details to come soon!)
  2. I have waited years to turn thirty and this past year was totally worth the wait. I finally feel as if I fit myself. I’m excited to be in my thirties.
  3. I can’t not read, I actually feel anxious if I go without reading for longer then a week.
  4. I love being a boy mum, it’s such an unexpected gift and a delight.
  5. Autumn is truly my favourite season- the colours, the crisp air, the sweaters and the daily lighting of candles.
  6. I enjoy homeschooling more then I ever thought I would. It’s a delight and also the greatest challenge I’ve taken on thus far.0b0oqeun2w0yrn0nqow8xm3pqqkk
  7. Kindess, honesty and genuine interest in others are some of the greatest qualities.
  8. The internet is a magnificent invention- so much information, inspiration on the daily.
  9. Too much screen time is not good for me. Practicing ‘work hours’ with my computer and phone have been life-changing.
  10. One doesn’t need many friends, one just needs a few really good friends. I’m so grateful to have a few kindred spirits local to me and a few friends that I can talk with regularly who get me.img_1335
  11. Introverts love people too and need regular gatherings.
  12. By the water will always be one of my favourite places to be. Or the mountains.
  13. I love to make things pretty, especially with natural elements. Light a few candles, bring in a few branches or scatter some leaves around and I’m a happy girl.img_1125
  14. I have a long runaway (thanks Anne for the terminology!), this means it takes me awhile to think about something, process it and make a decision. Once the decision is made, I’m solid. It just takes me awhile.
  15. I have spent years trying not to be like this. I also spent years trying to be an extrovert.
  16. It is much better to embrace one’s uniqueness then try to fit into someone’s else style.img_1179
  17. I hate clutter. I am constantly tidying up and do it for my own sanity as much as keeping my house neat.
  18. I’m not a great house cleaner. I can putter, tidy, and make it pretty but the actual cleaning I have to motivate myself to do.
  19. Biggest splurge if we could afford it would be a regular house cleaner.
  20. The older I get, the more nature nerdy I get. Mushrooms, birds, leaves, moss and lichens. They make my heart sing.
  21. I’m really fast at washing dishes. When we moved into this house, we opted to have the dishwasher taken out. I wash a lot of dishes and I’ve gotten fast.
  22. Routines keep our house running smooth. And we all strongly benefit from them. I’m really good at routines.img_1154
  23. I’m not good at spontaneity or surprises.
  24. Having one of my oldest friends take photos of us this summer was pure joy, I love how she captured us.
  25. I really like hanging out with Jared
  26. A weekly date night in has been one of our great habits of the last year and one of the highlights of my week.
  27. Food is my love language- making it for people and eating good food.
  28. Hermoine was right- when in doubt, the library is always the place to go.
  29. A grateful list trumps any anxiety or discontentment.
  30. I will never drink coffee like a Gilmore. My body can only handle a small amount of caffeine and I’ve finally made peace with this.
  31. Coming up with 31 things I’ve learned is hard but 31 things about motherhood, books, travel or homeschool? That I could do easily.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Let’s continue the fun, I’d love to know three things about yourself.

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Unexpectedly Home

We walked through the tunnel of trees, our feet crunching on the fallen leaves and stepping over the occasional big branch that the windstorm had brought down. The path opened into a perfect clearing with a fire pit, picnic tables and those classic red adirondack chairs that identified this park as one of Canada’s national treasures.

The girls immediately skipped down to the beach saying how much they remember this place and it’s their absolute favourite. This was after a whole van ride of ‘where are we going?’ ‘why are we in the van?’ and ‘can I have a snack?’.

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I immediately spread our quilt on the forest floor, letting Kieran play with a big stick and soaked in the glorious Autumn light. We packed it all in that day- picking out pumpkins to carve, stocking up on squashes and pears and fish from our favourite farm market. We took a hayride under towering yellow trees winding around an apple orchard and then we filled bags full of apples. Cortland, Macintosh and Ida Red. We just grabbed a handful of Ida Red because after my eldest and I taste tested them, we decided not to fill a whole bag of this variety despite how much I love the name.

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This is our fourth year of picking apples and pumpkins in the pastoral Annapolis Valley, savouring Autumn’s goodness before the chill of the winter comes. Our fourth year of making new traditions in a new province with new friends. Our fourth year of sending pictures of our holiday celebrations back to our families in the West and saying good night as they dish out pie.

As recent as this past spring, we entertained ideas of moving back to where our families live. We only ever intended to be in Nova Scotia for a couple years. Jared was going to get his music degree, win an audition and we were going to move, our time in Nova Scotia being an unforgettable experience. Life happened and circumstances were different then what we anticipated, we’ve bought a house and a business. We have friends who feel like family and a wonderful church community.

We had friends over for dinner a couple weeks ago, long time friends from the West on a Maritime getaway week. We swapped stories about children and work and marriage, catching up and digging in as best as we could in a few hours over a spaghetti dinner and pear tart. As we waved them off, I realized that Nova Scotia had become home.

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We’re rooted here in ways we never have been before. Our children won’t know any difference in their Atlantic experience where looking for shells and wearing rubber boots is normal. It’s a surprising realization. I never dreamed of calling Nova Scotia home but now that I do, it feels right. Some days the distance from our families feels very far and it’s so hard, but most days I’m grateful for technology to share snippets of life with those we love.

 

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We watched the sun go down at the lake, bathing the trees with a last golden light, the evergreens showing their sharp silhouette against the evening sky. The harvest moon beckoned us as we drove around the windy roads, becoming like a treasure to hunt for as soon as the trees cleared, all of us gasping when we saw its’ huge, orange colour.

Until next year, rich Autumn.

Tell me about your traditions, what makes them special to you and how do you celebrate the seasons?

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A Notebook of Happy // Vol 4

It’s been a whirlwind of life over here, we’ve started our homeschool year and we opened a business. We’ve switched from summer mode and paternity leave to full on routines and Jared going to work, for himself. It’s been a crazy time of transitions and  adjustments for all of us.

But on this first day of Autumn, I think we’re going to make it! I hope that your corner of the world finds you well, soaking up the rich sunshine of September as you anticipate the cooler (or warmer!) days just around the corner.

Life has felt a little bonkers in the last month but as I pause and take stock, there’s so much goodness in the crazy.

  • I’ve been taking a late afternoon cuppa out on our front porch most days, I let my little bear cub sit and I sip my hot tea. It’s a pause before the busy dinner prep, tidying and bedtime routines are upon us. Sometimes I spread a quilt in the backyard and sit while the girls flit in and out of the forest and Kieran laughs at their antics. It’s incredibly restful and I know these early Autumn days won’t last forever.notebook of happy//vol 4 :: this vintage moment
  • School routines have been saving my life lately and I’m so surprised. Back in August, I mentioned to a few friends just how overwhelmed I was at the thought of homeschooling two girls plus a wildcard of a baby. But now, two and half weeks into our school routine, I can’t imagine life without it. We have time to linger together at the table over read alouds and memory work, the girls are eager to learn their reading and math lessons and their afternoon play time is all the sweeter because of their structured day.notebook of happy//vol 4 :: this vintage moment

 

  • One of Jared’s big projects during his paternity leave was to make a playroom in our previously unfinished basement. It’s a bit of a dark, dingy place with low ceilings and cement floor, used for storage during the year we’ve lived here. But he made a room in one corner and now it’s a blank space to become a delightful bright, warm playroom for the kidlets and a welcoming guest room. Over the next few months, I’ll furnish it with shelves and art tables and hang pictures on the walls. We’re all absolutely delighted with the space and I’m in awe of Jared’s ability to make a room where there was nothing before.

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I will always have a few different books on the go- a well-written novel, a non-fiction read, perhaps a parenting or homeschooling book and whatever grabs my attention from the quick reads shelf. Lately I’ve been reading cookbooks like novels and marking recipes that I want to try. Thick stews and pots of soup, spiced baking and warm breakfasts. I’m so ready to get back in my kitchen and good thing because in our current busyness, a good menu plan is needed.notebook of happy//vol 4 :: this vintage moment

 

I’d love to hear what is on your short list for making you happy in these September days!

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The Great Canadian Road Trip

The fog has settled in low to the ground and the humidity is high, true autumn is just around the corner and I’m ready for it. Our mail holds parcels of school books for the next homeschool year, we’re re-organizing rooms and talking about fall routines. I’m a reflective (overthinker, maybe) person by nature so I like to think over the past season and dwell on the highlights, remember the lowlights and think about how we will remember summer of 2016.

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The biggest memory, the one that was possibly the climax of our year, is our Great Canadian Road trip when we traveled as a family of five for five weeks across this great country of ours and back again.

I don’t remember exactly when it started being fun and worth it. I do know that when we passed the border into Quebec, Jared and I gave each other a high five and the trip felt like it really started. We love to travel, we love to talk about travel and we love to think about all the wonderful places we haven’t been yet, all over the world.

The great canadian road trip || this vintage moment

We got the idea for this trip one winter’s night, our new baby boy  was just weeks old and we were missing our family across the country. We looked at airline tickets and then quickly talked about other options. What if we drove? Would that be crazy? Yes, it would. Would it be worth it? Absolutely.

Our five weeks were filled with far too many adventures and experiences to summarize in one blog post. On any given day, I’ll tell you a different highlight, a different story that is my favourite.

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But for now, here’s what I know about our trip- travel is always, always worth it. Spending time in close quarters, learning how to talk nicely when you’re exhausted or hungry or just can’t stand being in the van for one more minute. Seeing awe-inspiring scenery day after day with my nearest and dearest tops my list of why we travel.

We rehearsed Canada’s topography in little chants and I loved seeing our girls’ faces when we  would reach a new landform. Trees, prairies, mountains… 

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The learning opportunities were out our windows, daily. I wrote about how we did road schooling, here.  The giant goose in WaWa, Ontario that is an historic marker for the  Trans Canada Highway. The monuments to historic moments in Canada’s history – the route Terry Fox ran to raise awareness for cancer, the train station where a little bear cub named Winnie was bought by a man named Harry and became one of the most beloved bears in history. Tunnels and bridges named after Shakespeare’s characters making me wonder about the man who named them. The difference between the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean, both so captivating and beautiful.

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The time spent with friends and family was absolutely priceless, we stayed up late night after night, cramming as much conversation in before we hit the road again. Kissing babies that we’ve seen grow up over social media, making new memories with cousins and grandparents and great grandparents. Watching our girls run and play and experience places that we experienced as children ourselves. Kilmeny had her first sleepover with the daughter of my friend, whom I had my first sleepover with decades ago. My sister and I went shopping together and out for coffee, pretending that we didn’t live on the opposite sides of the country then each other and could  share a little more then just a few days together. Seven of my eight siblings gathered at my parents’ farm, we stood around the kitchen talking and laughing over a movie, just like no time had passed. We visited Jared’s grandpa’s farm with seven of his fourteen siblings, great grand children playing with the same toys and exploring the same farmland that their parents had played with years ago. I was able to spend a morning with my adored Nana and see her love on my children with the same endearing love she gives to everyone she comes in contact with.

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The days of travel sorted themselves into rituals and traditions – coffee as soon as possible and quiet play for the girls while Kieran took his first long nap of the day. Colouring and books and dolls and audio books occupied the girls for hours along with plenty of snacks. We stopped for bathroom breaks and stretches and then kept on going. We kept the iPad for the last couple hours of the day when we were all tired of traveling but still had miles to go before our home for that night. We learned to be flexible and hold plans loosely like when it poured rain when we planned to camp- we drove until midnight and then crashed in a hotel. Or when our air-conditioning unit combusted requiring a day in the shop and an unexpected rest day for us- pool time and pizza and hotel beds. Or when our weekend of camping in the mountains became an afternoon at Lake Louise due to the vehicle issues.

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Was it worth it? Absolutely? Will we do it again? Maybe, in ten years. For now, we’re happy to be home and settling into our next season of adventures in Nova Scotia. It all seems like a bit of a blur, like maybe we rushed our first cross-country trip with the kiddos. But both girls can still recite all ten provinces and facts about them, sometimes geographically correct and sometimes a memory from that province. Like collecting eggs in Alberta with Nana or camping with Grandpa and Grandma or playing with friends at Montreal’s jazz festival.

We came across an inukshuk , months after we got home and my daughter and I recited all the different structures we had learned about on our trip and identified this particular one as a window, marking a good view. It’s these layers upon layers of learning and memory that make travel worth it, from learning about inukshuk in Manitoba to seeing one in the wild in our Nova Scotian home.

Thanks for reading and sharing this wonderful adventure with us! I’d love to hear about some of your favourite travel memories!

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Date Night In: our one habit of 2016

The kitchen is a mess from the busyness of the day, coffee mugs and plates piled along with mixing bowls and way too many glasses. There’s still a pile on the entry bench from where I gathered all the loose items from around the house but didn’t get a chance to put them away. Jared comes down quietly from upstairs where he has just tucked the girls in, whispering because Kieran is almost asleep.

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I’ve cleared a spot on the counter for our cutting boards and I start prepping while he mixes up an evening cocktail. It’s Thursday and it’s date night in.

It’s a simple practice that has become a weekly anchor and highlight for us. It’s not been easy or magical and there’s been a lot of interruptions in the form of little people but it has been so worth it. We’ve tried new foods, learned new techniques and had a lot of fun together.

A serendipitous late Christmas gift of the cookbook Date Night In , and the adjustment of a new baby born in January making going out more challenging has helped make this habit become a weekly priority.

We stick pretty closely to the cookbook, Ashley has done all the work of putting together menus, grocery list and prep timelines. She’s a busy mother of three and the cookbook came out of a desire to connect with her husband in these busy, exhausting years of raising littles. I read the book while feeding my very hungry newborn son and cried while reading almost every essay. This is a hard season, running on little sleep, parenting challenging children, making decisions about careers and balancing all the different relationships in our lives. Making big plans and dreams for house and property while also trying to love these little people and finding time to connect with each other.

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We unwind by chopping vegetables, stirring and tasting. We light a candle and clink our glasses, quietly, to us and our marriage. Good conversation happens, we laugh together and we do a little big dreaming or just quietly eat while our food is hot and the wine is cold.

We alternate planning the date nights, one of us picks the menu and I just add the items to our grocery list. I’ll often glance through the recipe the day before and see if there is any marinating or prepping of sauces to make date night easier. We tag team on bedtime and date night prep. I’m often doing some prep while feeding the girls a very simple supper of toast or popcorn and smoothies. While I put the baby to bed, Jared is heating up the oven or mixing a cocktail. Sometimes we end the evening by cleaning the kitchen together, other nights we stack the dishes in the sink and call it a night.

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Lately we’ve added a little more simplicity (and more budget-friendly) to the mix; we’ll pop a big bowl of popcorn, pour some wine and watch a movie or several episodes of a show. Some weeks we order takeout and sit on the couch, eating out of the containers while we talk over the week to come and relive good moments from the previous week.

Our favourite at-home snack is a tapas platter- we take whatever assortment of pickles and olives we have in the fridge, boil some eggs and slice up whatever cheese is in the fridge, adding some dried fruit, nuts and crackers. Sometimes we get fancy and stuff dates with goat cheese, wrap them in bacon and broil them for a few minutes.

We love cooking together; good food and drink is one of our favourite experiences to share. But the weekly connection is more then just good food, it’s time to talk and reconnect, to let the candles burn down low and to remember the person we married.

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Now that Kieran is a little older and can be left with our awesome babysitter, we have gone out a few times especially if there’s a movie we want to catch on the big screen (I’m looking at you, Jason Bourne) or a patio we want to experience on a Halifax summer night. But we still come back to our weekly anchor of sitting together at the kitchen table, sharing good food and good conversation.

I’d love to know what your favourite date night in ideas are!

 

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Road Schooling Across Canada

I took some books, catalogs and big legal pad along with us to the beach last week to start sketching out our next homeschool year. I love casting vision and writing down all the things I want to accomplish and then pare it down by fifty percent.

But before I plan out a big picture for next year, I reflect on the past year- what worked and what didn’t? We finished our school year on the road, with a big epic adventure of driving across Canada for 5 weeks.

It was fantastic and memorable and exhausting.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

I knew that I wanted to incorporate a study of Canada into our trip and so as I typically do, I went to the library. For the month before we left, the girls looked at books of provincial emblems like the flags, plants and birds of each province. We read about some of the historic figures that make up Canada’s story. We read books like M is for Maple ,A Day in Canada and The Kids Book of Canada. I put together activity binders for the girls that would incorporate the geography study as well as keep them occupied for the many hours in the car. Thanks to Pinterest and free printables, I had a page for each province that had a picture of the flag, map outline of the province, flower and bird. We made a big deal when we crossed each provincal border, stopping to get a picture and then we were on the look out for the provincial flag as we drove. Kilmeny, a new reader practiced reading the names of everything and Khaira practiced her letters by copying out the names and capitals of each province.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

We chose just a few attractions to go to along the way that would enhance learning and hopefully provide a tangible experience of the things we’ve studied in the past year. One highlight was the Upper Canada Village  near Morrisburg,Ontario, this was one of the best historic villages I have ever been too. The characters were very knowledgable, there was plenty to see and experience and it brought stories like the Ingalls family to life by giving my daughters a visual of a farm house with a butter churn and a man plowing a field. We talked with a broom maker and a spinner and I fed my baby in the upstairs room of the local hotel. As we left the village, all sweating buckets, my six year old thanked me for reading the Little House books because now it all made sense to her.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

Thanks to an instagram video of the zoo, we had the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg high on our radar for months. We knew we wanted to make this an all day excursion partly because we were driving for two straight days from Ontario and a rest day would be quite welcome. We were all completely smitten with the zoo and in particular the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Churchill, Manitoba is home to polar bears, arctic foxes, seals and other Arctic animals. The zoo has done a great job re-creating that special area of the world with displays and information both interactive and visual. We all loved watching the polar bears swim and play in their habitat and thrilled at the seals turning circles as we walked through a tunnel of water. The girls followed along the zoo’s map, figuring out where we should go next. I’m excited to further this study by learning about arctic animals this winter and will bring out pictures from our visit to the zoo.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

There were many learning moments along the way like the time we pulled into the tiny town of White River, Ontario to see the train station where Harry Colebourn bought a bear cub named Winnie and brought him to England along with his Army regiment where a small boy named Christopher Robin met Winnie at the London Zoo. Before our trip we had read multiple books about Winnie the Pooh both the stories by A.A. Milne and a sweet picture book narrating the true story of the loveable Bear. It was an absolutely delightful experience. We followed the train tracks all the way to Winnipeg and despite the long day of travel, the girls got excited at any glimpse of the train track because they knew we were traveling the same route as Harry did, decades earlier.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

Another route we followed was that of Terry Fox’s marathon of hope. I wasn’t sure how much of his story to share with my daughters, and in the end shared enough that my older daughter understood who Terry was and why he died. We had a few sobering conversations about cancer and big dreams and death so that when we stopped at the memorial overlooking Thunder Bay, Ontario it wasn’t just another bathroom stop. We had read about Terry Fox in The Kids book of Great Canadians, another fantastic learning resource.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

 

I traded my book copy of Story of the World Vol. 1 for my friend’s audio version of this fantastic history resource and we all loved listening to Jim Weiss tell tales of the earliest civilizations. The girls also listened to favourite audiobooks like the Ramona collection, Pippi Longstocking and Betsy-Tacy. It wasn’t all free drawing and audio books, the girls had iPad time almost every day we were in the van for the last couple hours of the day. This was a complete sanity saver for all of us and since we try to be fairly screen free except for movies at home, playing games on the iPad was a novel and exciting experience.

Road Schooling Across Canada www.thisvintagemoment.com

 

We drove through the heavy forests of Ontario often beside water of some kind into the flat prairies of Manitoba with its checkered board landscape of crops which blended into Saskatchewan with bright yellow canola fields and brilliant blue sky. Alberta was much of the same with the never-ending fields reminding us of the vast Atlantic ocean waves of our home.  Crossing into British Colombia with the mountains on every side and the ocean ahead of us was such a momentous feeling. The day we put our toes into the Pacific ocean was a hot one, we were all tired and a little grumpy but knowing that we had literally driven coast to coast as family with three young children was deeply fulfilling. The girls hunted for treasures and played in the wet sand as Jared and gave each other high fives at this huge adventure.

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Reading Around the World: Australia

 

13641234_10209865754549706_2876752510244736224_o (1)Reading is one of my favourites go-tos for learning, both for myself and for my girls. A story captivates us and draws us in, making that information stick. I was so excited to join the Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club and I knew I wanted to co-host for the country of Australia. It’s a special country to me since we spent a couple weeks there in our first year of marriage and now we have a few friends who live there. I’m looking forward to reading these books with my girls and learning more about Australian culture. The books we’ll be reading for July and August are a picture book, middle grade and a non-fiction book.

 

 Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more.

 

 

 

 

 

“After all, if you don’t ask the world questions, then you won’t ever work out where the rainbow begins.” And, boy, does Cedar B. Hartley have questions! Like, why won’t her Mum tell her about her father, who died when Cedar was a baby? And what happened to her older brother Barnaby, who ran away from boarding school and keeps in touch sporadically through cryptic postcards? The only thing that helps Cedar forget these troubling questions is her new hobby; acrobatics. When she goes tumbling with her new friend Kite, who can fly just like the bird he was named for, she comes close to finding the start of that elusive rainbow. Missing brothers, mysterious fathers, and the funny, more-than-friends feeling she has for Kite aren’t going to keep Cedar B. Hartley from finding the answers she’s looking for to fulfill her plan for an “unusual life!”

Debut Australian author Martine Murray is a writer to watch. Equal parts Pippi Longstocking and Anastasia Krupnik, her audacious Aussie tomboy Cedar will quickly charm the Capri pants off the female pre-teen set with her pithy sayings and sweet naiveté. A thoughtfully placed glossary of Cedar’s slang is included at the end of the novel for those young readers unfamiliar with the jargon “down-under.

This extraordinary story of courage and faith is based on the actual experiences of three girls who fled from the repressive life of Moore River Native Settlement, following along the rabbit-proof fence back to their homelands. Assimilationist policy dictated that these girls be taken from their kin and their homes in order to be made white. Settlement life was unbearable with its chains and padlocks, barred windows, hard cold beds, and horrible food. Solitary confinement was doled out as regular punishment. The girls were not even allowed to speak their language. Of all the journeys made since white people set foot on Australian soil, the journey made by these girls born of Aboriginal mothers and white fathers speaks something to everyone.
 

We’ll be having all the discussion on our Facebook page, I hope you’ll join us!

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