Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I bet fashion bloggers never have a bad day.

#february or #january

Today is one of those days where I wish I was a super cool, trendy, get-all-my-super-cute-clothes-for-free, my-kids-are-always-photo-ready-and-or-at-school, blog moms because then at least I'd look good.

Because things are swirling out of control around here; there's puddles of pee on the bathroom floor, I don't want to do schoolwork anymore, I'm in a terrible mood, the floor needs to be swept, and I'm not even dressed yet.

But in an effort to turn this day around I thought I'd ramble over here a bit.

Things over here have puttering along quite February-like. February is such a month isn't it? This February has actually been much better than past Februarys because the weather has been livable, we've seen friends, and even went out for our bi-annual date night. These are really great things that have helped this month move along nicely. Sometimes it's just these things that give me enough to look forward to and to stop dwelling on the February-ness of it all.

But that being said we're now two weeks into Lent and I have no idea how I'm doing. I'm feeling like what I gave up must not have been enough because I don't feel as if I'm under a burden and dreading another month of Lent. I've actually kept up with my 40 Bags in 40 Days goal which is pretty remarkable, because I get so bored of decluttering and cleaning. The decluttering has seriously eaten into my free time though. Because I just don't have much extra time in the day for anything. Add in a bit of extra cleaning -- even 20 minutes worth -- and I feel like my free time to write or read has evaporated.

Who says I need to declutter??

I've also discovered that I have a WHOLE lot of unopened wedding gifts. Almost 10 YEARS later! I don't know what to say other that I got a lot of useless wedding gifts that I somehow thought were going to become magically useful in the future. This is what happens when you never move, isn't it??

If you're ever tempted to buy someone a spice rack for a wedding gift -- PLEASE DON'T!

Downton was great this week! I've honestly felt that not much has happened this season. I still really love the show, don't get me wrong, but the writing moves at a snails pace that honestly the first 6 episodes of this season could have been condensed into 2 had Julian been as masterful as he was in this last episode. It almost makes me madder that an episode and it's writing can be so great like this past episode, rather than one continual rate of writing quality. Am I overly picky? Yes, yes I am. Also; Mary's wedding look. If I got married again tomorrow I'd want to look like that. I'd have to be about a foot taller to pull it off, but darn that I don't love it!

Ok, that's really all my shallow thoughts for right now. I can't write about deeper things when I'm this crabby because things would get ugly around here. I promise to not give up blogging for the rest of lent.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Great Games for Little People: Games to Start With That Won't Make You Crazy

Games for Kids - fountainsofhome.com

I think it's safe to say that I'm an expert in winter and being cooped up with a lot of little kids! Winter is "challenging" to say the least, and I've had many days where I'm more than proverbially pulling my hair out, but this year we've really turned a corner in how my kids can entertain themselves and I'm really excited and grateful for it -- they're old enough to play games by themselves! With each other!

It's really a remarkable ability that we're just getting a handle on around here, but not only is it a great winter activity, it's also really helping them grow in critical thinking skills, reading, logic, and a little bit in sharing and taking turns. I think there's something wonderful in the fact that kids can still play with tactile games and not simply click, swipe, and push buttons. It's also really great that I can tell a couple kids to go pick a game off the shelf and that they can play it without my help!

Here's some games we own that we have seen used really well in our house for all our kids, I'd love to hear your favourites too because I think games are a fantastic investment and that you can never have too many!

Games for the Tots

Good games for toddlers are hard to come by. They need to be simple, yet still appeal to fun and competition or else a toddler has no desire to stick with it. They also need to not drive the parents insane or else they'll never come off the shelf. It's a tough line to walk but we've found these games have been successful with the under 5 set. My toddlers can play these all with their older siblings and even on their own, although we all know they greatly prefer if mummy plays with them!

Hisss Card Game

This game is based on color matching and it's simple and fun. My 3 year old can play it with the older kids and that's a giant plus.

Little Orchard Game

This one was a great hit at Christmas with my now 4 year old son. He really gets a kick out of it and I play it with him and our 2 year old. It encourages good turn-taking, doesn't take too long to play, and has a giant wooden dice and pieces that the kids love to touch and play with.

Pop-Up Pirate

This one has appeal to little kids, it's simple and tactile, but comes with lots of pieces. So it has driven me a bit crazy, but I trade that off with the 15 minutes of peace I can get out of the kids playing it together. Full disclosure!

Spot it Junior Animals

One of the best games around, this card game that encourages matching and visual concentration can be played in a myriad of different ways. My 3 year old could play many different versions of it and had a great time, but this game is fun for all ages and the grandparents play it with the kids regularly. Highly recommended!

Great Introductory Board Games

These games are more for 4-5 years and up. They're great for introducing kids to the basics of how to play board games, taking turns, beginning logic, and the fun that comes from playing games. These are also great games that you can just tell your kids to go play and shouldn't involve much from you for them to both play and clean up.

Trouble Game

The popping can drive you a little mad, but if they play it in the basement everybody wins! For some reason this is just a hit with kids. All my kids have enjoyed playing it, and once they were taught the ins and outs my husband and I can bow out and get away from the noise.

Battleship Board Game

This one is a little bit more complicated, but it's a really great game for critical thinking skills. My boys especially appreciate it, and it's a great activity for quiet time.

Uncle Wiggly Game

A solid beginning reader's game. Enough action to keep them involved.


I know, I know. Who plays checkers anymore?! But this is a great game for building critical thinking skills. I've already seen improvement in the kids' thinking skills just from playing this game. It's great for friendly competition and learning strategy.


This one doesn't see as much play in our house, but when they bring it out everyone wants to play it. Again, a great beginner's game, perfect for number recognition and matching. And easy to learn!

Memory Game

I feel silly saying this, but I remember thinking Memory was stupid and why would anyone have fun playing it. Now I stand corrected because my boys have a great time playing it and are killer good at it. I always lose...to my five year old!

Connect 4

I know, it's just tic-tac-toe. But if a crazy plastic board gets my kids to play a game by themselves then I'm up for it. Perfect game with easy clean up for times when you need kids to just do something by themselves.

Beginner Card Games

My husband and I love cards. Our families love cards. We're really big card game people. It is one of our family tenants to have card game playing children who can identify trumps by the age of ten. Right after fulfilling our baptismal promises for our children comes "teach them how to play cards." Okay, I'll stop now, you get the picture. So far these have been great:

Old Maid

Classic. And if you get a fun deck with cute occupations and illustrations it makes it a lot easier and fun for young kids to play.

Uno Game

Another classic game that's easy for kids to pick up. We haven't played this game as often this winter, but it is a great starter game that's easy for kids to learn.


This game is a good one. Adults like to play it and it's a lot of fun. Our kids have so far gotten the hang of it, but still need an adult to play with them, but that's good too. Family games are good games!

There's A Moose In The House

This game is silly but fun and has some good card game fundamentals that aren't in many beginners games. It's probably perfect for our 7 and 8 year olds, but the 6 year old has picked it up just fine.

These are what we've been filling the cold afternoons and long evenings with this winter. Hopefully we'll build upon our repertoire of games and my kids will continue growing up enjoying playing them together. And I might just survive the long Canadian winters!

What are your kids favourites?

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 137

Joining the great takers again this week -- head to Kelly's for the best of the best!


February. Whew. 
This week was fine. My kids have gotten over a bit of sickness that knocked us over last week, the weather has been pleasant, we made appointments and activities, but man, oh man, it feels like tough going somehow. I mean, I looooveee routine, but even I am getting weary of the same thing day after day. Or so it feels. I think it's a February effect. It can feel tough doing the same thing day in, day out, and to wonder to yourself, "What am I even doing everyday??" I feel frustrated in my creativity and thinking and can't seem to pinpoint what it is that needs to change or happen. There it is!


Lent is right around the corner! I hope that maybe focusing on Lent and the aspects of battening down and focusing on sacrifice help me a little bit. I think it'll be good to readjust my focus off of me,myself, and I-stuck-in-the-mud, and on to more prayer and God-focused-ness....yes, I can't describe what I'm going for at all... 
I'm still trying to decide what to give up/do/read! I might have to try out several things and try to come up with things that might be more challenging for me that I can do for others. There are so many great options out there for reading as well that I'm going to try and pray and see if there's anything I should focus on. Kelly recently had a great collection of spiritual reading recommendations, and I've written a post here about good things to read in Lent if you're still looking around.


I bought a couple rare books from Britain a few weeks ago that I was happy to receive this week and in the package was the bookstore's brochure of their brick and mortar store in Northern England. It is located in an old railway station, has thousands upon thousands of books, and is the place where the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" sign was found! I'm just in love with it! In my daydreams I'm just flying off to England to get lost for a while...


I'm currently reading new biography on Frances Chesterton which I'm really enjoying. It's giving the perfect insight to the importance and beauty of what wives do behind the scenes of famous husbands. I know it's very antifeminist to think that wives were actually quite important to their husbands work when they did small things like make sure they ate everyday, made it to all their appointments, and had their hats, but it is something so beautiful about it that I just love learning about. Doing important work usually is more work than just one person. It's so difficult to maintain a home, a balanced and healthy life, let alone a myriad of outside duties and tasks without someone supporting you, even if that means getting the nitty-gritty non-glamourous stuff done. Frances of course had her own brilliance and creativity, and they fed each others work to a great degree. I just love the interconnectedness of wives and husbands working together that we just never hear about. 


I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Superbowl. I'm officially cheering for the Broncos because I love Peyton Manning with a deep, abiding love. But Carolina I don't hate and they're really, really good. I'm also craving stuffed potato skins, and possibly mini-hotdogs...
I also will love Coldplay until the day I die, and if you haven't watched this yet you're in for a giant treat!


We had a great podcast episode this week with our guest Meg Hunter-Kilmer talking all about Lent. Meg is really encouraging and really got me in a great positive mindset for Lent this year. I hope you all can listen. 

I was also a guest on the lovely Erin's podcast The Right Heart this week. We chatted about how moms can make time for themselves when it's tough and it was a really fun conversation!


This is what crafts make me want to do!!

Who's the patron saint of mom's who hate to do crafts? Because I need their intercession! I can't even do Valentine's without losing my mind!! It takes over an hour to just help people write names on the store-bought variety and I just lose the will. I'm documenting this so that my children will one day look back upon this blog and realize the source of all their problems. I honestly need to find someone who just wants to craft with them. 

Anyway! My coffee is cold and I'm off to give someone their fifth apple of the day...and after that I'll probably need to go grocery shopping....again. Happy weekend!

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