Friday, March 31, 2017

Q-Tip Painting

Let me start off by saying why have we not done this more often?  We had only used Q-Tips to paint when we were exploring textures to paint with.  That is until last week, when we sat down and used Q-Tips for a painting activity.  I went online and found Q-Tip painting sheets.  Basically they are pictures with little dots in them that are the size of the tip of a Q-tip.  The pictures we printed off had two different levels.  The ones I printed for the girls were an egg that had white dots to be painted in the designs and the one for Joshua also had the background that needed to be filled in as well.  I went through with each of them what colours they needed to complete their pictures and then honestly showed them once how to match the paint colour to the dots to be filled  and they went to town.  They sat for over 45 minutes quietly and patiently trying to dab the right colour of paint with the end of their Q-Tips onto the paper.  It was crazy how patiently and diligently they worked.  There was absolutely no paint on anything. Not one finger, not the table nothing!  I think we will be printing off more of these sheets in the near future :)

Now that's a look of concentration...even Joshie was silent concentrating for this one!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Birthday Wishes

Yesterday I celebrated another birthday.  The boys school was actually cancelled due to snow yesterday so they stayed home for the day with us and celebrated.  We played some games and activities during the day and the boys decorated my bedroom with birthday decorations.  It was nice to have all the kids home with me during the day.  I was spoiled again with way too many gifts and of course the meal and dessert was my choice.

Maybe I am starting to get emotional because I know our time here in Alaska is nearing an end but I can honestly say that I sat down many times yesterday with the boys and read through the birthday wishes that all you guys had sent me on Facebook and in email.  It was so incredible to read the wishes that everyone sent and to explain to them how I became friends with each of them.  It was an incredible walk through memory lane as I read each message and thought of each and every one of my friendships and memories.  I really am blessed to have met so many great people along the way. Each of you have made my life a little bit better and honestly, each birthday wish added to my day.

I am so grateful for all the love that surrounds me and here's hoping the next year around the sun is as good as the past one :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Other Uses

As you can probably tell, one of my passions is researching and doing educational activities with the kids.  I am always on the lookout for something new and fun to try with them.  I love buying and teaching them how to use educational toys.  For some of the harder concepts, I like to buy/make several different activities that build on or teach on areas of interest using different methods.  We have a few sets of stringing beads that have always been popular in our house.  Sometimes it's great to see toys used in another manner to work on other things as well.  A quick activity that the girls enjoyed was naming the colours of the beads and placing them on the paper that matched their colour.  It was neat to see them self correct if they placed a colour on the wrong page and was interesting to see how much fun they had.  Once they were all finished we noticed that Joshua had gone over to the page and then organized each page of colours by shape as well.  All this to say that some of the really great learning toys can be used in multiple fashions.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Learning About Flowers

I like to introduce the kids to many different activities so that we can discover what things they are really interested in or what they have a knack for.  Last week the three smallest and I started our little unit on flowers.  We made flower pictures by glueing different parts of the flower to card stock.  We then went on to read a few of our books about flowers/gardening.  After finishing our reading, we glued the things on that a flower needs to grow ie. soil, water, air, sun.

On Joshua's picture we then placed labels on all the stuff we talked about.

They were very interested in labeling the names of the different parts of the flower so we extended that a bit and took turns naming the parts on our real flowers.

We finished up the little lesson by matching different flowers to their names.  Matching with 'Toob' toys is one of my favorite activities.  Basically each Toob comes with little figurines that all have to do with one topic - backyard birds, dogs, flowers etc.  I then go online and find pictures of these same items or sometimes find someone else who has already done it.  I just print them off and laminate them and all the kids can be found matching the items to the cards.

After we finish a little unit like this I can assess whether the kids showed a lot of interest or not.  Sometimes they have tons of questions and we do more activities surrounding the topic and other times what we did is enough for now and we continue to another unit.

Honestly, I love sharing this type of things with others so that if you are home with little ones too, you can just replicate what we have done and you don't have to do all the research to come up with different activities on your own.  This is always why I love when friends share with me what is happening in their activities as well :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

That time we forgot our clothes

I know I have written a blog before about how I pack all the kids clothes in zip lock bags by outfit.  That's just how I like to keep everything organized while traveling.  Another thing that I have done is make lists. Lists upon lists for everything we need to go on different types of outings.

I have a list if it's a getaway with a pool, a camping weekend, an entire week of camping, a resort getaway, a hot vacation, cold vacation... Honestly it's quite ridiculous.

I have done this since we got married.  We have always traveled so much and liked to get out so often that I can have our entire family packed for any type of vacation in under half hour because I just get the list and quickly gather everything up.  With this being said, there is sometimes human error.  We often laugh about our GT boutique weekend.  This was quite awhile ago now; before we were even married.  Jason and I were living in an apartment in Ottawa and we were going away on a last minute meet up with friends in Deep River to go camping.  Super easy! There were just two of us but because we lived on the 14th floor we had to bring all the camping stuff downstairs to load the car.  We just followed the list and were loaded in the car ready for a great weekend.  We drove 3ish hours and started setting up the tent.  Following regular protocol, Jason sets up the camp outside, I set up inside the tent.  I had the bed set up and was putting the clothes in the right spot when I called to Jason to bring in my bag of clothes.  His reply was that he already had.  We do have a 12 man tent but let's get real here, it's not big enough to miss a red duffel bag.  So we talked and searched a bit more and then Jason looked at me and said "oh the red bag". I replied yes of course! His reply "ummm it was holding the door open at the apartment and ... it may still be there.  So my list was complete but my bag of clothes with my shoes tied to it was sitting three hours away holding the door open at the apartment.  Deep breathe and long sigh. Anyone who has been to deep river knows it's no metropolis.  I think we could probably count on one hand the number of stores that even sell clothes.  So along with our friends we headed to the GT boutique (fancy way of saying Giant Tiger) to buy me clothes and shoes for the weekend.  We laughed our heads off all weekend at my choice of attire but honestly it is a memory we laugh about often still.

So fast forward to a few weekends ago.  The whole family was going down to the Kenai area for a long weekend for Mathew and Zachary's hockey tournament.  So Jason and I got everything on the list ready the night before we were heading out.  We were shocked that all Mathew and Zachary's close fit into one big bag, Jason and I had another duffel bad and Joshua and the girls had all their clothes in one blue duffel bag.  Quick, effective and simple.  The next morning Jason packed the van as I got all the kids ready and an hour later we were off.  Jasper was actually in the van with us for this trip so we had his cage as well between two kids in the back seat.  I can't remember what we were talking about but it came up that at least we know we only needed 3 bags to go away for a few days still.  We were about two hours away from home at this point, we had the first game starting in about two hours and I mentioned that the blue bag that the three little ones clothes is packed in even has a wet pouch so we can put all the swimsuits etc in there if they are wet on the way home.  Jason then has a look of shock in his eyes. He says "that blue bag, where is it"?  I replied no idea it's gotta be in here somewhere it was on the list.  He says he honestly didn't remember putting it in the van this morning.  Eeekkk so we are 2 hours from home, 1.5 hours from destination but the hockey game starts soon so there is no way we can double back.  Our options are
a) I make the return 7 hour trip solo and pick up the bag.
b)  We hit up any store that is open in the off season in the Kenai and buy some clothes

So option 'b' it is.  We lucked out because Walmart was having a clearance on a lot of kids clothes so we were able to get all three of them outfits for the weekend for pretty cheap.  Shockingly it's pricey to buy kids undies and socks last minute hahaha!

So even the best laid out plans fail sometimes and yet not sure how much of a fail it was because every time I grab that sweatshirt to put on the girls, it makes me laugh thinking of racing like crazy through Walmart picking up whatever was their size on sale before the hockey game started :)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Working on Glueing

The girls have been proficient with glue sticks for quite some time now but we have been working on using glue bottles.  It takes a bit of practice so you only get a little glue not a whole pool of it.  They love it!  To many mornings of glue bottle crafts hahaha!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Sound Game

The littlest three and I have been reading books and working on different senses for the past few weeks.  When the boys were off last week, I decided to try a super simple little activity that was very appropriate with Easter coming up.

Basically I just chose little things that were around the house that made sounds when they move.  I chose Easter eggs that were all the same color to make it trickier so the kids didn't remember the colours with the different sounds.  I put the same amount of each item into two different eggs.

Once all the eggs were closed, the kids sat down together and took turns shaking the different eggs to listen to the different sounds.  They then matched them up in pairs that they thought were the same.  Once they thought they were right, they gave them to me and I opened them up and we checked to see if they were correct.

A fun little add on for the older kids (and Jason) was that I got them to guess what they thought was in each set of eggs before I opened them up.

The kids often go ask for the tray that I store this activity on and sit at the table by themselves and listen to the sounds.  It was really neat to see the different strategies each of them used to find the matches.  Some would shake one egg and go through all the other eggs shaking at the same time to find it's match. Others would shake one beside each ear trying to find the same sound on both sides.

So easy, lots of fun and this can easily be switched up with new items.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Oh time change

We turned our clocks ahead last Sunday. Indirectly for every parent out there, this means we lost an hour hahaha but it also meant that everyone was able to stay up a little later without being in the overtired stage.  The sun was out all day yesterday and the temperatures are starting to warm up so we decided to head out on a little post dinner hike.  Running around in nature, laughing and enjoying each other's company with these beautiful views was the perfect start to the week :)  Makes me excited for the spring to come where we can get out and explore every evening together :)

Mathew likes to stop and read every sign and information board along the trail.  


How many brothers does it take to hoist their little sister up to take a look?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A new lens

I am currently reading Ann Voskamps book.  Finishing up the first chapter she has a quote "Brokeness Can Make Abundance".  I am sure there are a million interpretations for this but for my life this speaks to me in terms of being able to embrace what life has thrown us.  Being a military family we are forced to be uprooted every so often and restart family life in a new city, country or even continent.  This can be trying at times and trust me there are a lot of difficulties and planning involved behind the scenes when moving a family.  There are a lot of stressful times and sometimes you feel that you are being tested.  Jason and I were just relaxing tonight and we got talking about all the potential postings that are out there.  Some are good, some not so good and some ughhh you don't ever want to go there, but honestly I think there is something to be said for looking for the positive.  Maybe we need to look at it through the perspective of a new adventure for our family to embark on and an entire new location for our family to explore.  Living in Alaska has allowed us to explore nature, mountains, the ocean etc and I am sure that if we look deep enough, each of our following moves will also provide us with new great memories and life experiences.  Wouldn't it be great to be able to explore more of the world with our children and allow them to not only hear about, but live and experience so many great things that the world has to offer us?  Ann's quote makes me think that moving is challenging, moving is difficult, moving is heart breaking when you leave friends and family but maybe, just maybe, through this 'brokeness' we are able to make new friends, reunite with family and experience the great things that each location has to offer and embrace the abundance of life/family memories.  Sometimes we are not in control of the ride, sometimes we fall off the ride, sometimes the ride is downright horrible but perhaps we need to realize that we are not always in control and the bigger powers have a greater plan for all of us.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


The sun is coming, the sun is coming!  I have mentioned it in previous posts about the daylight and darkness here in Alalska.  We have long dark winter days and hot sunny summer days that last nearly 24 hours.  We are currently reaching almost 12 hour days of daylight and every day we gain almost another 5 minutes (right up until summer solstice).  We are fortunate that our house faces the right direction and the distance from the mountain is perfect so that we get sunlight in our house for the small amount of time it is up in the winter.  I have noticed recently just how early it has started to get sunny during morning playtime.  Sometimes the kids just love sitting in the sun, playing trains and drinking their smoothies.

On a side note, I swear we dust but when that sun comes streaming in, it seems to pick out every single dust particle we have missed hahaha.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Back at it

Gosh I have gotten away from blogging for way too long.  For the last few months it has just been easier and quicker to put pictures on Facebook then to actually blog about them.  I do enjoy doing that and it gives friends and family that are far away a chance to see what is going on in our lives but it doesn't give it the context that the blog provides.  So I will try. I will try and sit down and document the little things because honestly the kids are growing so quickly it's nice to have a record to be able to look back on.

We have started going to a preschool coop.  Basically you attend with your child (children) and there are some amazing ladies who have volunteered their time to set up weekly activities for the kids to do.  Honestly it has been amazing!  My kids absolutely love it and I find it kind of like a day where I don't have to be in charge of coming up with a million learning activities and crafts.  It also allows us to try things that I wouldn't have thought of myself.  Last week we learned about presidents.  A little fact that many people don't know about our family.  We do have 5 children but only 1 was actually born in Canada.  The first set of twins were born in the Netherlands when we lived in Germany and the girls are actually Americans (and Canadians).  We embrace what each of these countries have shown us and I love when my kids participate in an activity that is outside of my teaching.  So last week the kids made American flags, organized American coins etc.  They learned the preschool level of how the voting system works and just had fun.



I still giggle when I see this picture.  Little Joshua will start school in September in Canada.  I wonder what his teachers will think when he says "W.....W is for Washington".  My little world travelers :)