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Preview: My House of Giggles

My House of Giggles

Updated: 2018-03-17T05:37:25.570-07:00


Our new homeschool room


After four years of using our dining room as our learning space, we finally have our very own school room. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to this mama it's HUGE! I've had dreams of this space for so long now that it hardly seems real. We start our new school year this week, and I can hardly wait! My three little students are equally as excited about their new room, and I overheard them saying "I can't wait to start school! It's only three more days away!". That's a win!Since I had been using our dining room furniture in our previous learning space, I had to start from scratch with this room. Thank you IKEA for having so many wonderful pieces at such reasonable prices! I braved the IKEA shopping trip on my own, and was quite a spectacle trying to juggle three carts through the self-serve area. The main pieces of furniture were from IKEA, and the other little decor details were mostly from Home Sense (my all-time favourite spot). The letter board (which I absolutely love) was purchased on Amazon here.Our nature table is actually our old diaper change table, and it works perfectly for housing the larger Montessori learning materials and STEM building sets, etc. I love that it's all out in the open, inviting the kids to use it. For our large table, I actually used two small IKEA table tops (and the corresponding legs). I attached them using white zap straps around the legs to keep the two tables from sliding apart. The little blue IKEA cart was in our school area previously, and it works perfectly as an art cart. I love that it can be moved around as needed. The small bookshelf behind my chair is for my own use, and holds my journals, books, day planner, and planner supplies/stickers (yes, I'm a total Happy Planner geek!). I've tried several different planners over the years, and the Happy Planner is most definitely my fave. (And no, they aren't paying me to say that 😉).I think this is my new favourite room in the house! I'm so looking forward to many, many days of learning with my boys here. This homeschool journey is not without its challenges, and certainly not for everyone, but I feel so lucky to be able to do it. I can't believe this will be our fifth year of school at home! I blinked, and my big boy is in grade five! This year is going to be a good one. I can just feel it.E[...]

Focusing on Nutrition Facts (starting them young!)


The boys are I were invited to attend the 'Focus on the Facts' Nutrition Education event last week, to learn more about how to read the nutritional labels on the food we buy/eat. The event was held at Save-on-Foods on Cambie Street, and it was a lot of fun! As we arrived, the boys were given super cool Sherlock Holmes-esque detective hats and magnifying glasses, as well as a cool bag that they got to decorate while we waited for the other guests to arrive. They couldn't wait to get started on their mission to find and compare food products around the store.We started off by learning about how to read the nutrition labels. It's really quite simple, and the kids caught on really quickly :)The first thing you need to look at is the Serving Size. The serving size is the amount of the product that would need to be eaten to receive the calories/nutrients listed on the label. It's important to be aware of the serving size and to adjust the nutrient amounts as needed, if you're consuming less or more than the serving size. The next important number on the label is the %DV or Percent Daily Value. This shows the percentage of the recommended daily value of each nutrient that is found in each serving of the food product. We learned that 5% or less is a little, and 15% or more is a lot!  There are good nutrients that we look for (Calcium, Iron, Vitamins, Fibre, Protein, etc.) and some not-so-good ones such as Trans Fats and Sodium that we try to avoid.You can see more information on nutritional labels and how to read them here.Our family tries to avoid as much sugar as we can, so we also look at the Carbohydrate/Sugars amount in the products that we buy. Some products are tricky, and show great %DV of nutrients such as Calcium and Iron, but at the same time have very high amounts of processed sugars. We prefer to avoid these types of products and get our vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, such as Kale (the boys LOVE Kale chips!). Wouldn't it be great if kale had a nutrition label to show the %DV of Vitamin A (206%!) and Vitamin C (134%) that it contains in a serving size of just one cup (chopped)?  We're going to continue on with our nutrition eduction, and learn more about which fruits and vegetables contain the most amounts of nutrients.It was a great learning experience for my little men (and ME!). We were asked to search the store for products that we could compare in three different categories: Breakfast foods, Soups/Sauces and Breads/Grains. The little detectives got out their magnifying glasses and figured out which products were more suited to our family, and which ones we would rather avoid.I try to do most of my grocery shopping around the outer edges of the grocery store. I always start with fresh produce, and fill my cart up as much as I can with the good stuff before moving on to anything that comes in a package. That's not to say that we don't buy some healthy-ish snacks and treats as well ;) I just notice that we all feel much better (and have less dodgy grumpy days!) when we're eating right. After all the chocolate they consumed this Easter weekend, we're going to be eating extra healthy next week! Our new favourite breakfast is a smoothie bowl with chia seeds and fresh fruit, and it sure starts the day off right! If you'd like to enter to win a $300 Grocery Shopping Spree, check it out here. :) This event and post were sponsored by Health Canada, the Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). [...]

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party (Rory turns 3)


My tiny man is 3.eeeeeek!I need to start getting used to this growing up thing. I am sentimental to a fault, and cling to every stage like my life depends on it. For some reason, it's harder with my baby! Why is that??Maybe it's because I feel like there are so many 'lasts'. The last time I'll have a two year old. The last time he'll nurse (and no, that last still hasn't happened yet).  I need to shift my focus to all the wonderful firsts instead, right? The first time he'll say "I'm FREE" (three). The first time he'll get to go in the IKEA play area with his big brothers, because he's finally not needing a diaper. The first time he'll ride a bike. SO many firsts to come. Thank goodness!But for now, he's still my tiny man....and three is still pretty tiny, right? He's following in his big brothers' party-planning footsteps, and had this party planned before I even had a chance to hit up Pinterest! He chose the theme himself (his favourite book right now!) and insisted that his party needed to have "ALL the sings (things) the catuhpilluh eats!". It was tricky, let me tell you!I couldn't find plums. That was the only thing, believe it or not! Other than that, we had all sorts of caterpillar-friendly fruit and snacks. I found a 'bulletin board pack' for teachers on Amazon, and used the little cutouts for making the food signs as well as all of the 'story board' decorations on the wall. The birthday boy and his big brother had all their friends sit down while they told the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (using the story board pictures on the wall).  For favours, I made some playdough and put in it mason jars. Simple, easy, and doesn't include more sugar ;). The cake was inspired by one that the birthday boy spotted on Pinterest (yes...he likes to browse around with me for party ideas). It was super easy to make, so I was in! Tiny man was so happy...surrounded by his little buddies.  All in all, it was a fun little party. :)[...]

Uncommon Gifts for Boys


It's that time of year again! It's getting chilly out, and all sorts of holiday decorations are going up. My boys have started asking how many weeks until Christmas, and are wondering if maybe, just maybe it will snow ;). There are just over 7 weeks left until Christmas, and this year I want to be organized. I want to make or buy meaningful gifts that aren't chosen in a rush, just for the sake of having something to give. Having said that, I always have very good intentions of making fabulous handmade gifts, but the reality of this mama's life right now is that there just aren't enough hours in the day. So, I'm thinking that the next best thing is to purchase gifts from a company that believes in sustainability, and sells products that are handmade, organic, recycled, etc. That's where Uncommon Goods comes in :). I love this store!! I discovered it just last year, and have been hooked on it ever since. When they contacted me to see if I would be interested in a store credit in exchange for writing a post about their gift products, I was so excited!! They carry so many awesomely unique products; things I've never seen anywhere else. Check out their gift selection here. Their products are made by artists and small manufacturers (most of which are made in the US) who also believe in the same standards of sustainability. This organic-loving, chemical-hating mama loves to know that the gifts I give my children (or anyone else for that matter) aren't full of horrible chemicals and toxins. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago, when I ordered a cheap plastic alphabet popsicle-shaped puzzle toy for my then one year old. I opened the package on Christmas Eve and the toxic smell of rubbery plastic filled the entire room! ugh. Not cool! So, I'm compiling a little list of gifts that I know my boys would love. There are some seriously cool uncommon gifts to pick from! You can take a look at the whole selection of incredible gifts for boys (and girls) here.1. Blockitecture2. Electric Light Blocks3. Stack and Scare Block Set4. Magbot Magnetic Block Set5. Scratch Map6. 104 Things to Paint7. Fingerprint Art Set-Bugs8. Colour the Earth Kit9. Kinetic Sand10. 5-String Banjo11. Build Your Own City12. Choo Choo Train Dining Set13. Circuit Board14. Rory's Story Cubes15. Stop Motion Claymation Kit16. Construction Plate and UtensilsThere's another great blog post here with a list of excellent STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gifts :) As a homeschooling mama, I'd LOVE some of these in our collection![...]

A Lego Party (Finny turns 6)


It was birthday time in our house once again! Our little Finn turned 6 last week, and it honestly feels like we just had his 5th birthday! eek! Stop going so fast!!Finny has been wanting a Lego themed party for the past 6 months at least, and came up with a lot of the ideas himself. Quite handy, actually ;) It saved me from having to think up games, snacks, etc. He's a party guy, and parties are my love language ;) Works well!I loved seeing his face light up every time I showed him a new part of his party that I'd been working on (favour boxes, banners, etc). He's into the little details, and notices every single thing. A man after my own heart ;)A Lego theme is actually really easy to do since it's all done in primary colours. Easy to find poster board, plates, etc. One thing that made it really easy were the Lego sticker books! We put Lego stickers on everything! I made the invitations using PicMonkey, and decided to make them like little Lego sets. Too much time on my hands? ;) hah! Not exactly. I actually find this kind of crafty stuff relaxing! I had the invitation part printed as 4X6 photos then glued it on the front of the box (which I made out of card stock). I then made the number 6 out of lego, and drew a little instruction sheet. I dug around our Lego stash, and found enough pieces for each little lego set, and put them in mini zip top bags. Finny couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that he had his very own custom Lego set! :) I made the minifigure heads using paper plates and permanent markers. I found the square yellow plates at Dollarama. The "Finn is 6" banner was made using felt rectangles that I also found at the dollar store :).The snacks were very simple. Cookies, popcorn, chips, fruit, marshmallow pops and cake. The cake was a specific request from Finny for a "Lego Brick". I wasn't sure how to make it, but it was actually pretty easy! I just did three layers of chocolate cake in a rectangular pan, then iced them and draped yellow fondant over top. Then I wrapped Oreo cookies in fondant to make the "dots" on the top. It was looking a little rough around the edges, so I did a little embellishing with Lego/Duplo bricks and minifigures. It worked perfect to cover up the dodgy corners where the icing was oozing out ;).The favours were also kept really simple. I found these little boxes at the dollar store as well, and the boys had fun putting lego stickers on them. We packed them with a Lego minifigure in its packet,  a couple of treats and a glow stick.The Birthday boy blowing out his 6 candles!These stuffed balloons were a lot of fun! Each kid got to pop a balloon, and get the prizes inside. Finny's idea for a game was 'pin the moustache on the  Lego man". Haha! Hey, it worked just fine!Another fun game was "throw the Lego bricks into the cups". So random, but they loved it! I gave them tickets for each piece that made it into a cup, and they proudly showed off their long strings of tickets! Once the game was over, they got to trade their tickets in for a turn to pop a balloon pinata.It was "the best day ever!" according to Finny :)Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us! Our little man was so excited about this day for so long![...]

Summer Learning with Hot Wheels


Happy Summer, everyone!We are so enjoying this beautiful hot weather, and have been spending most of our time at the cottage! Our days have been spent playing at the beach, building a treehouse/zip line platform (yes, the boys and I did it ourselves...and it's actually standing!), chasing wild bunnies, picking blackberries, riding bikes and just having lots of good old fashioned fun :).It's been such a lovely break from our usual routines of homeschool and activities, but when Hot Wheels got in touch with me to see if we would be interested in trying out their Hot Wheels Fundamentals learning program, I was all for it! (And so were the boys!). It's a program focused on making learning fun...and that's right up our alley! There are some fun summer activities for the kids to do when they need a break from the sun, and some downtime in the middle of the day.We decided to try out the Cityscape activity, and it kept the boys busy as bees for quite a while. #win Yes....I actually got to sit back with a cup of tea and a book! Sweeeet! ;)They coloured away, and folded and fiddled, and were so proud of their creations! The Cityscape activity can be downloaded for free here.Thank you, Hot Wheels! We can't wait to check out even more learning activities when we start up our homeschooling again in September![...]

An Outlaw / Cowboy Barn Party


It was birthday time again in our house (and man, it seems to come around a lot quicker now that we have three kiddos!)..... Toby turned 8! I'll save you from hearing the same old.... "how is he possibly this old? where does the time go? blah blah blah" line, but I have to say that 8 feels big. This little man has grown up so much in the past year, and has amazed me, and surprised me, so many times! He's a sweet, sensitive soul who picks up on the emotions of everyone around him, and sometimes that can be hard on a little guy! He also happens to have an excellent sense of humour, and an easy, infectious giggle! We love him to bits, and are so lucky that he's part of our family!When he suggested we have an outlaw party in our little barn, I was in!It was the perfect idea!! We feel so, so lucky to have this little property in Point Roberts, WA, and are thoroughly enjoying every minute of downtime spent there as a family :). The little barn is perfect in every way, and I had so much fun decorating it for the party! I kept it pretty simple! A scavenger hunt, some zip-lining (we have a little zip line from Amazon, and it's a whole pile of fun!), roasting marshmallows and making s'mores around a campfire, and a 'dirt and worms' birthday cake (Toby's specific request).No fuss, just a bunch of kids running around on a beautiful sunny day having fun!Ok, so the one thing I did spend a few evenings on was these WANTED posters :) I found pics of each little outlaw, and used PicMonkey to edit them and make them look old/western. I had them printed at my local print shop, and they turned out so well!The birthday Outlaw himself ;) Looking oh so seriously 'outlaw-ish'.My tiniest outlaw ;) (moments before he decided it would be a good idea to take a large bite of a foil-covered chocolate gold coin .... wrapper and all!) Let's just say it was a rough night!It was the perfect sunny day, and the little outlaws seemed to enjoy themselves! Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate our biggest little man!xo[...]

A Puppy "Paw"ty (Rory turns 2)


I cannot believe my tiny baby is 2!seriously.How did that happen so quickly?  I get it now. I get it that the days are long and the years are short. Because they really are! And there were definitely some loooong days in there ;) But somehow they still fly by, and before you know it your tiny baby is no longer quite so tiny. His chubby little roly-poly legs have grown longer and he's lost his rolls.  *sob* I think it's just hitting me harder with this little man because this is the last time we're planning to go through this whole baby stage, and I just want to savour every little bit of his "baby-ness"! So, when the boy asked for a puppy party, a puppy party is what he got ;)Anytime I asked him what he'd like to have at his puppy party, the answer would be.."ummm....shmarties....aaaaand puppies....aaaand shmarties (smarties)"I asked him if he would like a cake, or cupcakes... his answer.... "PUP cakes" :)Perfect. Done. (well, sort of. He didn't seem to care that they looked like gremlins)The only problem was that big brother Finny had to go under anaesthetic for dental work a couple of days before the party, so we decided to have a very small party to keep stress levels down for this mama (I was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to Finny's surgery, and it took me the good part of a week before I felt back to normal anxiety-wise).  I wanted to prepare as much of the food, etc beforehand as I could, so I decided to serve it "picnic" style in little brown bags/baskets. The kids, I mean "Puppies", ate out of doggie dishes (new ones, of course!) around a low table, as doggies do ;). My blue-eyed birthday boy! (serious business, this "Happy Birthday" thing ;)When I ask him about his puppy party, he says "Eweebody shing...Hhappy Buhhhhfday dear Woweeee" and "Niiiiishe puppies....nishe pupcakes!!" I think he approved. ;)[...]

Bunny turns 50!


I think I've hit a new level of crazy ;) But, before you think I've gone completely nuts by throwing a birthday party for a bunny puppet....let me explain...This is Bunny.He belongs to Finny, who apparently met him in the wild, and says that it was the best day of his and bunny's whole life.Bunny actually came to our home by way of a sweet lady who we've never actually met. She sent a gift to our family when Rory was born, and Finny adopted Bunny. As soon as I put him on my hand, he became part of our family too (along with a new baby brother, of course).That was two years ago. Bunny is still going strong. Finny's imagination is so vivid that he talks to Bunny as though he's a very real friend, and won't even get changed in front of him! ;) In fact, Bunny has been a huge help in many situations...going places with Finny to make him feel more comfortable, or helping him face his fear of ditches (yes...ditches).  I've overheard more cute conversations between Finny and his beloved Bunny than I can count, most of which end in ..."Oh Bunny, we'll be together fowevuh. I love you, and I'll always keep you safe" :) *melt*So, when Finny informed me that Bunny had a milestone birthday coming up, how could we NOT have a proper little celebration??  "Mama...Bunny told me that he's only going to be 49 for a few more weeks, and then he's turning 50...and once he turns 50, he would like us to call him Rabbit!"  heehee. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!So, we had a very small, but very fun Bunny party.And yes, I made a "Bunny is 50" banner. A new level of crazy.*Bunny's present and card from Finny) :)Fenton and his bunny "Big Ears" brought Bunny a birthday present of chocolate Lindt carrots! Bunny really enjoyed those! ;)Children's imaginations are magical, and I'm so lucky to be able to join in on the adventures :).  I truly believe in keeping them little for as long as possible. There's so much push to have kids grow up so quickly it seems, and this precious little time is so so short. So, as crazy as it seems, we're going to grab every opportunity to be silly. Why not, right? :)[...]

Barn Gift Boxes


It's been a ridiculously long time since my last blog post, but life is busy these days and something had to give ;)I'm up to my ears in toddler 'dump-everything-on-the-floor' messes, lego destruction (with its usual big brother anguish), and homeschool. It's messy. But it's real life. Real busy momma life.And just when I'm thinking that I could use a few more hours in the day post-bedtime, I decide to start a business. Call me crazy, but I love it! I love having a creative outlet....something to create once the littles are in bed. Something that helps me remember that there's still a part of "me" in it My new baby ;)It all started with this....Our beautiful hundred-year-old barn in Pt. Roberts, WA. I feel so completely fortunate to be able to call it ours. It's got oodles of rustic charm, and I love the idea of our boys growing up with it....making all sorts of good old-school memories. So...what does it have to do with gift boxes? Not a heck of a lot, to be honest ;)This barn just inspires me. It makes me want to live a simpler life. Do more of what I really enjoy doing, and less of what I think I 'should' be doing.  Nurture the much-neglected creative side of me that needs to come out. So there you have it.....curated gift boxes it is. This is definitely me. It's got me written all over it ;) I love love love picking out gifts for people, and seeing the look on their faces when they receive them. I love deliberating over the perfect little treasure and wrapping it up. It's my love language. I've been busy scouring the city for the best locally-made delicacies, and am having so much fun putting them all together to make up these boxes. Visit for more details on the contents of each box.Home Sweet Home BoxValentine Box for her''[Valentine Box for more boxes coming soon.....custom boxes always sweet baby boy :)[...]

Navy and White Upper Deck / Patio Makeover


Our deck was in dire need of some TLC, so we decided to give it a little makeover!I wish I'd remembered to take a "before" pic.  Just picture a really ugly, weathered upper deck with absolutely nothing going for it. ;)A fresh coat of "deck coat" (thank you Dustin!) and a new privacy hedge of potted cedars were in order. These made a huge difference to the look/feel of the deck! A fun navy and white chevron rug from Target, as well as some bright outdoor cushions added a bit of punch to the whole place. We have been loving every minute spent on our deck since we spruced it up, and I'm sitting out here as I write this post with my feet up at the outdoor propane fireplace :). Bliss.We are so lucky to have little chickadees living in our birdhouse for the first time! There's a whole family of them in there, and the chorus of tweets that rises up when mama chickadee comes home with a snack is so adorable. We can't wait to see them all fly out when they're ready!I'm looking forward to lots of summer days and evenings on our deck! It's already had a lot of use, and the season is only just starting.  The boys were so excited when they first saw it all set up and have been loving the much-needed extra living space to play in! " this ours to keep?? Like our very own hotel?" haha! Have a wonderful week!xoOutdoor Sectional: WalmartOutdoor cushions/pillows: TargetPatio Umbrella: TargetOutdoor Rug: TargetBBQ: WeberPropane Firepit: London Drugs[...]

A Rockstar Music Party


I think we lost our marbles when we agreed to a rock and roll music party for Toby's 7th birthday!It was all his idea. Right down to the band, the cake design, and the drumstick favours. I've created a monster!!A party monster!You know I love it, tho ;) I'm a complete sucker for party planning. I love all the little details, and the fact that I don't have a lot of extra time in the day makes things just all the more interesting!We rented a little hall for this party, and it worked out perfectly. There was a stage for the band, and lots of room for the musicians to go wild! And let me tell you,,,,they partied hard. The band rocked out to a variety of tunes.....ok...mostly "Sweet Child of Mine" (Toby's current favourite song to drum to!) :) And it was LOUD!! eek. My ears are still ringing.But seeing the looks on their little faces as they sang/drummed/played/danced their hearts out was worth it! sigh...I tried to make Toby's cake dreams come true. Thankfully, small boys don't notice things like bulging/collapsing fondant ;) What I got was "Oh MAMA!! You did SO well!! It's the AWESOMEST CAKE EVER!!" :) We had some fun in the dark with glow sticks (during intermission)A HUGE thank you to everyone who came to party with our little man! And to everyone who helped with the music equipment (yes...there was real music equipment on the stage! Us "grown ups" enjoyed a little jam session after the party as well!) and cleaning up afterwards! (you know who you are) :)I can't believe our Toby boy is 7. Somehow that just seems pretty big. Several times  during the party he ran up to me just to say "This is the BEST PARTY EVERRRR!" :) And that's why we do it![...]

The ever-changing living room mantel...


This is a completely random post.whatever.As I was climbing up onto a chair to pin up balloons and tissue poms for this party, I thought about how many times I'd done that over the past few years and decided to take a walk down memory lane :) I might be a little out of control with the mantel thing. Just sayin'Our plain jane little painted fireplace mantel has been dressed up and undressed more times than I can even remember. The thing is, I really love doing it :). Such a nerd. And this is how it looks these days....Betsy Frederick still has her place of pride on the mantel. I, surprisingly, haven't got sick of her yet. She makes me happy, with her big long eyelashes and bright cheery colours. Have a great weekend! xo[...]

A Woodland Gnomes and Toadstools Party for Rory!


It's party time in our house again :)Our tiniest man turned one today!! I simply cannot believe my baby Rory is already a year old. And yes...I happen to be one of those over-sentimental types who mourns every past stage before being able to move onto the next. Still not quite ready to admit my baby is a one year old. It'll come. Just give me a day or two ;)I had so much fun planning/collecting/crafting stuff for this woodland/gnome party. I figured it was one of my last shots to have a "cute" party theme ;) You know....not so BOY boy boy. You know I love my boys more than words could ever express, but sometimes this girly momma just craves a little "cute" :)That's fair, right?So, I decided a woodland/enchanted forest/gnomes/toadstools party was in order. There's just something about a little garden gnome that makes me smile. Throw in a toadstool or two, and I'm positively giddy ;) hah. The boys and I took some pics of our little birthday "gnome" sitting on a tree stump in the backyard and I doctored the image up with PicMonkey for the invitation. I added a little felt gnome for fun.I had a lot of fun doing up the party table! Lots of greenery and woodsy things :)Here's the birthday boy himself! (Wearing Didda's cap!)I made these little gnomes and toadstools out of Sculpey III polymer clay to use in the favors. It was a liiiittle bit fiddly since they were so tiny, but I enjoyed sitting in front of the fire and working on them. I plopped them into a mason jar with a bunch of rocks/pinecones/branches and called it a party favor ;) Random, I know, but they did the trick.The baby guests at the party received these little finger puppets (from IKEA) to take home instead of a jar full of choking hazards ;)I kept the cake very simple this time around, and just made a 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I added Cadbury Flake bars as logs on top, as well as crumbled them around the top and sides. After I had added some whipping cream to the chocolate cake, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to eat any of the cake (Rory is still nursing quite frequently and doesn't do well when I eat any dairy), so I made another dairy-free cake on the side :).  Don't judge. I LOVE birthday cake!! Especially the leftovers the next day!I added some woodland animals to the top (with party hats of course), and a little cake bunting.I made a cutout of a gnome to take pictures of all the babies. Easier said than done! ;)Here's the birthday boy...Happy birthday boy, waiting for his cake!Happy Birthday, tiny man!!We love you so much, and can't imagine our family without you!!Toasted sandwiches got gobbled up :)This little guy was so completely spoiled, he hardly knew what to do with himself!Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate our sweet Rory boy! We made it through the first year with 3 kiddos ;) WOOOT!xo[...]

Eating only RAW FOOD for one day a week (starting small)


I need some energy.I need to have a stomach that feels happy after I eat.I need to clear out the brain fog.I need to have a calm mind. the list goes on....I've decided to eat only raw food for one day out of every week. I've read a lot about the benefits of eating pure, real, clean food and I want to put it into practise. (I'm super awesome at researching all sorts of things, and never actually DOING any of them!). Classic me.I know it's a trendy, super cool thing to do these days, it seems (eating raw, paleo, juicing, whatever...), but I am doing this to feel better. Trust me, my life is hectic enough these days without adding the extra pressure of "non-convenient" food! We've already added green smoothies to our diet every day (LOVING my Blendtec Blender), but I feel like I just need to do something more. This will be a start :)I've already proven that I feel better when I eat clean, healthy food, so I want to take it up a notch without being completely overwhelmed. I know that when I try to go overboard with something, I never stick to it and end up right back where I started.One day a week feels do-able to me right now. The plan is that I hope to feel so incredibly full of energy and revitalized, on the days when I eat only raw food, that I'll want to do more days every week. :)We'll see.I'll keep you posted!I've been pinning away on my "Raw Food" pinterest board, and there are so many delicious looking meals/snacks to make!  These are some of the ones I'm going to try first:Raw TacosQuinoa/Avocado SaladCollard Green WrapBerry Banana Ice Cream Cake (Yummm!)There are many, many more but I don't want to get in over my head ;) Check out my Pinterest Raw Food board for more (I'll keep searching and adding more as I go)Wish me luck!xo[...]

Valentine's Day Gummies/Marshmallows (with Gelatin health benefits)


 It's that lovey dovey time of year again :) Forgive me for recycling this blog post, but these little Valentine's Day treats are super easy to make, and were a huge hit last year. And to top it all off, they're actually very healthy. And not in a "just not bad for you" kind of way. They actually have health benefits! Treats with health benefits? what??The super awesome, multi-talented ingredient is Gelatin!  And not just any gelatin....grass-fed organic beef gelatin...this stuff.The best part is that these have super-duper anti-ageing power! Yes.....the kind of power that smooths out sagging/thinning skin (which I've been noticing to be an increasing reality for me now that I'm safely "into my 30's" ...33 to be exact). And they don't just have the power to work on facial skin/wrinkles...they can actually help tighten up saggy tummy post-baby skin as well. And let me tell you, after having 3 giant baby boys live in this belly of mine, I need all the skin-shrinking help I can get!Also, these gelatin-rich beauties are great for your joints/soft tissue/injuries. Yep...they pack a punch in the injury repair department as well. sign me up. :) (stay tuned for a future post about different ways to add gelatin and its amazing health benefits into your diet)Raspberry Lemon Gummy Hearts/Lollipops I found this super-easy, 5 minute (literally) recipe here and made a couple of changes.3 tbsp Grass Fed Gelatin Powder (I bought this brand)3 tbsp Raw Honey1/4 cup Lemon Juice2 tbsp Raspberry Juice (I used frozen raspberries and heat them up in a saucepan with a little bit of water, then let them boil/reduce for a minute or so and strain to get the juice)2 drops Young Living Lemon Oil (excellent immune-boosting health benefits, as well as anti-bacterial/fungal/viral properties)I just followed the instructions on the Mommypotamus blog (lots of awesome GAPS/PALEO recipes on her blog!...definitely worth a peek).I found some heart shaped silicone moulds in our local kitchen store, as well as little Valentine themed "lollipop" moulds at the Daiso. They both turned out really well, and I'm always surprised at how easy it is to pop the gummies out of the silicone moulds (they come out so perfectly and are pretty much indestructible!)Recipe #2....Fluffy Peppermint Marshmallow HeartsAnother recipe that I found on Mommypotamus and just did some minor changes...1 cup Filtered Water (split into two half cups)3 tbsp Grass Fed Gelatin Powder1 cup Organic Honey1 tsp Vanilla extract (I've also used vanilla bean seeds in the past, which worked really well)1/4 tsp salt3 drops Young Living Peppermint Oil (excellent digestive/stomach benefits)1 Packet all-natural (no artificial food colouring) carnival sprinkles for sprinkling on top! (OPTIONAL)These are a little more time-consuming to make than the gummies, but don't be intimidated!! They are super easy. You do need a candy thermometer, tho. At least, it's easier if you have one. If not, you'd probably be safe with boiling the honey/water/vanilla mixture for about 10 minutes.Directions are here at the Mommypotamus, for the original "plain" vanilla marshmallows.Once I followed her directions, and spread my marshmallow cream into the pan, I sprinkled the fun sprinkles on top, and let it set for about an hour. Then..I used a little heart cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes. This part is a little tricky...but I found it was easiest when I lightly greased the inside of the cookie cutter with butter (it didn't stick to the marshmallow so badly!). I put the marshmallow hearts into little[...]

In over my head....


(Begin rant.)Ever have a day when you just feel like you might actually sink? Like you've just been treading water for too long, and it's getting exhausting? That's me today. I'm seriously in over my head with this mom-of-three/homeschooling/GAPS dieting/kids-in-the-bed/french immersion/Post-traumatic-stress-disorder craziness. Something's got to give, and I'm just not sure what. We didn't do school today. So sue me.I've had a few people tell me that they're so impressed with how I seem to have it all together (what???!). How I can plan parties and bake healthy treats for my kids, etc. Well....honestly...I don't. Not even close to together. And, to be honest, I feel like planning a birthday party right now to take my mind off the everyday worries of 6-year old mood swings and babies that never stay asleep long enough for me to rinse the conditioner from my hair. My house is in shambles right now. It seems like as soon as I manage to conquer one room (and by conquer I mean get it tidy enough to be able to see the floor), there's another mess being made somewhere else. It's usually an even bigger one. But the thing is, it's not the fact that I can't keep the house under control, or the supper made (last night was a hodge-podge bbq beef sandwich made with leftover roast beef that I took one bite of and couldn't stomach the rest......somehow my gracious husband managed to get it down), or the homeschool lesson done for the day, or the kids to sleep in their own's just the feeling of never having it together. Funny, right? I honestly think that someone needs something from me every single moment of the day. Ever felt like you spend the whole day getting snacks, and wiping butts, and breaking up fights, and getting more snacks and more snacks...and more flippin snacks? Everyone tells me that I need to take time for myself. Go to the gym, get a massage, take a bath, go to my Trauma Release therapy (EMDR), the list goes on......but I honestly just don't know how to fit that into the day. "Make it a priority", they say. Easier said than done. Getting them all dressed/fed/packed into the car and heading to the gym daycare takes more energy than I have available. I get to the gym and I'm so exhausted that the mere thought of hopping onto the elliptical is nauseating. I've been known to just sit on my yoga mat and try to clear my head (ok...I might throw in a few sun salutations just so I feel like it's all been worthwhile) for the entire 45 minutes. Oh my. I don't even know why I'm writing this. Keeping it real, that's all. I'm just tired. I know it's just a stage, and I need to enjoy the moments when they're little. And I do. I really do enjoy a lot of moments :). But I'm in over my head. Out of control, crazy, mayhem.....this motherhood thing ain't for the faint of heart.(end rant) ;)So...if there's anyone out there that feels like they're sinking today...I'm right there with you. The good news is that somehow us mommas are pretty buoyant and we always seem to come back up. Tomorrow will be a better one. It almost always is :)Now...I'm back to planning my tiny man's first birthday party. How is my baby almost one already?? What's that they say about the days being long and the years being short? So, so true. Hang in there, mommas. We can do this.xo[...]

A Party in the Jungle!

2013-10-20T22:32:46.219-07:00's party time again in our house! And, like I've said before, I'm in wayyy too deep with the parties to turn back now. Finny is literally planning for next year's party already. Oh my. What have I created?? Party animals?! hehe...pun intended!Well, this time around, Finny really badly wanted a "Juuuungle Pawty", so jungle party it was :). I actually had a lot of fun getting ready for this one! It's super easy to find jungle "stuff" because it's a fairly common theme. If you have lots of cash to spend, then there are some amazing realistic life sized jungle animal props (no...I didn't splurge on those, but stuck to the super cheap "stick on the wall cartoon" variety). I mostly used green plastic table cloths, poster board leaves (that I cut out) and tissue paper. I twisted/glued some craft paper "vines" and hot-glued poster board leaves to them. I ordered a cheap plastic jungle mural from amazon and, as cheesy as it was, it really transformed the room. Add a few random sprigs of greenery/plants and it was a jungle in here! Seriously. It really feels very jungle-like. I found some cute balloon animals that we filled up with helium and the kids walked them around on leashes :) It was so cute seeing them each go home with a big animal under their arm :). I had a lot of fun making/decorating the cake! I used a Wilton grass tip to make the fuzzy looking grass, as well as some fondant leaves and vines. I just added some of Finn's plastic animals for an easy topper. I used the Kinnikinnicks Gluten free cake mix (substituted milk instead of the water and added a squirt of mayonnaise to make it extra moist). This was my first time using this mix, and it was excellent! It doesn't even taste/feel like a gluten free cake! I used both the white and chocolate mixes, and followed this tutorial to make "zebra" stripes inside the cake :). it didn't turn out super clear and very zebra-like, but it was yummy none the less!The food was really simple and I tried to keep it all in individual portions since it's cold/flu season and I figured it might keep any germs from spreading :). The invitation was made using PicMonkey and I just glued it to some card stock, then added a couple of moveable leaves over top (not in the picture).Our sweet little Finny boy! I can't believe he's 4 already. It really seems like no time since we were having this party when he turned one!He's my snuggly, loving, wonderful little full of love and hugs :) And he tells me that he loves me at least 10 times every day. Love this little guy so much!All that party planning/decorating was worth it to see how excited he was with his very own jungle!Thanks to everyone who came to party in the jungle with us!! Finny was so happy to see all his little buddies coming in the door! We had so much fun :)xoxo[...]

Fall Family Photos


I've been wanting to have family photos done for ages, and I am so, so glad we finally had them done!I couldn't be happier. They are even better than I could have imagined, and I feel so good just knowing that we will always have these to look back on. I'm a seriously out-of-control sentimentalist. No...really....I really really am. I get sentimental/nostalgic about everything. I absolutely LOVE looking at old photos and remembering just how I felt at that moment. If you've been thinking about having family photos taken, but just haven't gotten around to doing it....GO! Do it now! It's worth every penny. I honestly think it's something that we will never regret investing in.  Having said that, I think you have to have the right photographer. One who understands your vision, or one who you at least mesh well with :) We found that in Ali of Bella Photography. She seemed to know exactly what we wanted, and captured our family so perfectly. She was amazing with our boys, and knew just what to do to make them laugh and smile naturally. That is no small task. Seriously. All Finny wanted to do was show us his best "all teeth" cheshire cat grin. Thank you, Ali!! You are so good at what you do!I love these boys :)[...]

Living Room Refresh (a DIY Kilim / Aztec Rug and an abstract Cow Painting)


In case anyone happened to be wondering....I'm still alive over here!Wrapped up in the crazy, hectic, out-of-control whirlwind that is life with 3 small boys. I can hardly believe that my baby boy is 6 months old this week! How on earth did that happen, and where did the past half year go?? I've been dealing with some postpartum anxiety (not fun), and so have been trying to force myself to take it as easy as possible. It's so easy to over-schedule and over fill our days, and I just can't do we've been having a pretty low-key summer filled with short bike rides, local parks, and lots of backyard play time :). Suits this mama just fine! The only problem with spending a lot of time at home is that I tend to see so many projects that could be done, and things that I'd like to change.  So...without overdoing it, I decided to do a little "refresh" of our living and dining room. Nothing crazy. One little painted rug and a few new cushions. Oh...and 4 new chairs. And a new rustic light pine table top (but that doesn't count, because my awesome husband whipped that one up for me one evening) ;)I just felt like our home needed a little extra punch. Something out of my usual comfort zone. So...I went a little crazy and painted an IKEA Erslev rug in a crazy black/white/pink aztec/kilim-inspired pattern.  I got this cute cow painting at Home Sense, and fell in love with her :) My sister in law had spotted her and knew that she was right up my alley!I couldn't resist a couple of new, very reasonably priced, IKEA cushions as well. I like the contrast they add to the room.Also loving these new chairs :)Look at those eyelashes! How can you not love her ? :)I purposefully made the rug a little bit imperfect.....ok...maybe I just really didn't want to take the time to measure it all out, so I "winged" it ;) I love how the table top turned out! We were going to invest in a Restoration Hardware Flatiron table...but then decided that, with 3 little boys colouring/glitter-glueing, etc. all over it, we didn't want to have to worry about it. This table top cost a total of $25. Perfect.  We had planned to distress it/age it, but I fell in love with the light pine Scandinavian look, and we've decided to just put a clear wax sealer on it and leave it as is (the actual colour is not as honey-toned as it appears in the's much lighter in real life). The bottom of the table is the base of our old IKEA glass-top table.To make the rug, I used regular latex paint, but added a fabric medium to it (bought at Michael's crafts). I just taped off a random pattern, and then painted it quite roughly with a regular big brush. No mystery to it. The taping took the longest...approx an hour (after the boys were in bed one evening). It's amazing what a few small changes/updates around the house can do for your well-being :) I'm enjoying spending time in our living room again, and it's all thanks to a new rug and a big cow.[...]

A Nautical Baby Boy Shower for Malcolm


A very special little man came into the world perfect, snuggly little nephew....Malcolm James!He is utterly adorable...with the roundest, cutest little face you'll ever see! And those big brown eyes will just melt you :)  And the most wonderful thing is that he is only 9 weeks younger than our little Rory boy, so they are destined to be best buddies (even though they don't know that just yet!). I decided to host a little ladies' lunch to welcome this little man, and since he's been spending a lot of time in a little seaside cottage lately, I thought a nautical theme would be perfect :)My beautiful sis (in law), Dayna...with the guest of honour :)Look at this sweet baby! I wasn't lying...he really is THAT cute! Those cheeks. My tiny baby ( maybe he's not *so* tiny anymore..but he's tiny to me!) getting some snuggles.Dayna and I with our littlest men.And no...before you start wondering..."where on earth did she get the time to do all that baking??" hehe.....I didn't! Are you kidding me??  Not even remotely possible ;) Thank you Thrifty Foods. I love doing the little decorating bits and bobs. It's relaxing to me :) I did this after the kids were in bed in the evening, or during nap time. You can do a lot with some scrapbook paper and a pair of scissors :)  Oh..and Toby helped me make the paper boats. My beautiful momma...holding my tiny baby :)It was so unbelievably wonderful to have these two grannies here. They are the cutest! My granny in pink...(here from Ireland)...and Dayna's granny in blue.Rory loves his auntie Dayna!Cutest little smile!It was a lovely relaxed lunch...with some very lovely ladies....and lots of baby snuggles.[...]

Our boys' Top 15 Favourite YouTube videos...just for fun


Just a little collection of our long-standing favourite youtube videos :) Nothing too stimulating and crazy...just low-key songs and stories that ours boys seem to really enjoy! allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">[...]

Honey Caramel Nuts (GAPS, no sugar, healthy snack)


I made a batch of these chewy little morsels this week, and decided that it was time to share their yumminess with everyone else!As you know by now, we have a little man who is on a restricted (GAPS) diet, and it's pretty tricky to find some "treats" for him to have (always nice to have a special little treat when you come in from a rough day at kindergarten!).These are perfect. They are sweetened with honey, super easy and quick to make, and the kids LOVE them!They are chewy, 'caramelly' goodness! Finny couldn't wait to get his hands on them while I was trying to take a couple of photos! recipe (if you can call it that) is really simple.You really can't mess them up (unless you burn them!). All you need is a bag of raw organic pecans (or almonds, cashews....whatever nut you like, actually!) approx. 2 cups, about 1/4 cup of butter and about 1/2 cup of raw honey (I sometimes add a little splash of organic vanilla extract at the end).Just put all of the ingredients in a frying pan (I use a le Creuset cast iron pan because I find it works the best), on medium heat, and let it all bubble up, while mixing constantly. Don't stop mixing or it will burn. If you want to do a quick job and turn the heat up, be extra careful because it will burn quite quickly if you stop mixing. Let it boil for about 3 minutes, while mixing/coating the nuts. Remove from the heat and spoon the hot mixture (watch is VERY hot, and will burn your skin if you splash a little!..been there, done that) into a parchment paper lined pan, or little parchment paper mini muffin cups (I prefer to use the muffin cups because they're then in little snack-sized clusters, and don't have to be cut up).Let them cool in the freezer for a couple of minutes, and you're done!  I keep these in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or so, in a sealed container. Enjoy! :)[...]

A High Tea baby shower for one very small man (and his momma!)


This is just a quick little "mostly pictures" post for my own memory of a perfect afternoon tea party with a group of very lovely ladies and one very small man :) (I've been meaning to write this post for about a month now, but just can't quite find the time to do it anymore....hmm...I wonder why not?) ;)My little Rory boy was given the royal welcome with a delicious high tea (thank you thank you thank you to each of you that planned and made this little tea party know who you are! :)  And thanks so much for all of my wonderful friends who joined us for the afternoon. It was wonderful. There is a well-kept little secret in Steveston (a little fishing village town near where we live).... and that is the Adorabelle Tea Room. It is a great little reservation-only tea house in a cute heritage building (used to be the old Steveston Courthouse). The food was amazing, the ambience perfect, and the service was flawless. We couldn't have asked for a better venue for our little party!The man of the hour :) (he slept through most of his party!)photos courtesy of michelle @b3 :)And just for fun.....a picture of two baby bumps (9 weeks apart), who have now turned into two babies! We sat up this evening with our two little boys in our arms, and talked about how it felt like they were just inside our bellies not very long ago![...]

A Karate/ Martial Arts/ Ninja Party!


So....I thought about *not* having a party for Toby's 6th birthday, what with a new baby and all......but soon found out that I am in wayyyy too deep with the parties to just simply not do one! ya right, mom!hah.Not only were we to have a birthday party, but it was, once again, a very specific type of party....with many "custom" requests from one very enthusiastic Toby boy ;)It would involve ninjas and martial arts....and weapons. Oh my. Let me just tell you that I do not love weapons. They're just not my style. I tried to avoid any sort of weaponry in our house for a long time, but sigh....I've given up.  I decided that if we were to have weapons at the party, they would have to be made of foam. 12 boys in a room with foam weapons is bad me! ;) So...I headed to the hardware store and picked up a whole bunch of "pipe insulator", duct tape, and electrical tape. Toby requested that they each had a "bo" and nun chucks, so I got busy. I used zap straps for the nun chuck "chains", which I poked through the foam handles.   They were definitely a hit :)I figured that theere was no way we'd be able to host 12 little ninjas in our home, so we rented a room in our local rec centre, which worked really well!The invitations were made using PicMonkey with a photo I took of Toby pulling his fiercest look ;) I just added the wording, etc and had them printed on photo paper, then glued them to black cardstock. Nice and easy.;The cake was completely basic, and it just wasn't my proudest moment....but the boys thought it was the best thing they'd ever seen...and that's all that matters, right? :) I just made three 9X9 square cakes and layered them, then iced it with buttercream. I cut out the fondant silhouettes and stars a few days earlier, so that they'd be hard enough to stand up. I bought some ninja weapons at the dollar store (washed them really well!) and jammed them randomly in the top of the cake. Done. I kept the food very simple, and decided that having everything in individual portions would minimize any germs from little fingers :) I served grapes, carrots, raspberries, blueberries, Pirate's Booty, bunny crackers, Smarties, and chips in little shot glasses, cupcake wrappers, mini muffin cups, etc. I used chopsticks to make strawberry skewers as well...and that was about it. Nothing fancy!The red mesh bags were found at the dollar store, and were the perfect size to fit the weapons, a white karate belt, headband, etc. Everything a little ninja would need ;) Wee man Rory taking it all in !I found some balsa wood strips at Michael's, which were perfect for "breaking boards". I bought the 3/32 width, but could have probably gotten slightly thicker ones to make it a little trickier (I just didn't want any little ninjas to feel embarrassed/frustrated if they weren't able to break their board!) Better to err on the safe side, right? ;) They boys were awarded "medals" for breaking the boards.Dustin was a good sport and donned a martial arts uniform to be the "sensei" :) He set up a simple obstacle course, which involved kicking the target, etc.Didda (my dad) arrived, and was instantly attacked by about 10 little ninjas! Fierce!Our little Finny ninja :)I used plastic tablecloths to make a quick backdrop because I figured the wall at the hall would most likely be somewhat unsightly. I made 4 big chinese lanterns with poster board[...]