22 Weeks

Well. We’re past the halfway mark. July seems so far, yet so close. I’m just dying to meet our baby girl, to see what she looks like and to snuggle her close. Britt and I went out thrifting yesterday afternoon and we found some of the most adorable newborn outfits for summer. Hanging them up in her nursery closet just made things feel a whole lot more real.

How Far Along? I’m 22 weeks but I feel more like 30.

Weight Gain: The honest truth?! I’ve gained 16 lbs so far. Eek! I know it’s mostly in my thighs, bum and hips. haha. Thats where I always gain first.

Sleep: Sleep is fine! I normally wake up to pee a few times through the night but that’s about it.

Symptoms: So much better than before! The nausea has gone away and with the exception of the odd one, the headaches have mostly subsided as well. Thank goodness! I still experience extreme exhaustion from day to day but that’s pregnancy I guess! On Saturday it was a friend’s bridal shower and I was helping to host it. I woke up feeling great that morning but I had a few last minute errands to run for the shower so I headed out pretty early. After running in and out of about 3 stores, I came home feeling like I needed to take a 3 hour nap. Making a baby is tiring!

Movement: I swear little girl is gonna be a dancer. I feel her kicking all day long…mostly when I’m sitting or laying down. I was telling Ron yesterday that I almost feel like she moves more then BOTH the twins did around this time but maybe I just can’t remember. All that to say, she is very active in there! But I just love every minute of it.

Food Cravings: Carbs and sweets. Bagels, muffins, pasta, give me all the comfort food. And chocolate is just a given. I was so turned off of healthy foods all of first trimester…I couldn’t stomach a salad or any sort of raw vegetables and most meats made me nauseous. Thank goodness that’s gone away and I’m eating much more nutritious meals again. Now it’s just the extra snacking that’s the problem but what’s pregnancy for right?! In my first pregnancy, I had a thing for cheerios. I would go through a huge box of them weekly on my own so I’ve recently gone back to eating those and that’s typically my go-to evening snack. A big bowl of cheerios topped with strawberries and banana yum! And better then a bowl of ice-cream or chips right?

Stretch Marks: No new ones!

Names: Not any further along in the name department. In fact, we’ve added a few that we love which just makes the list we have to choose from longer. Names are so hard you guys!! Would love to hear any ideas you have!

So I think that’s all for updates. Thanks so much for reading!

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Our Minimal Playroom

If you’ve been following along with my blog the past few months, you’ll know that our family has been on a journey towards living a minimalist life. (You can view our minimal kitchen HERE!) So what does this actually mean? For us, it’s not just about getting rid of stuff, but it’s about living a life with intention…in every area. Our home, our calendar, our relationships. It’s been quite the journey but we’re already seeing the benefits of the changes we’ve made thus far and it’s been so so freeing.

Today I want to share what we’ve done in our playroom as I know a lot of parents would argue that it’s impossible to have a minimal and tidy home with children. I mean doesn’t everyone tell you (in baby mags, blog posts, and on pinterest) everything that you need when you have kids. I mean seriously, right from the newborn stage and as our children grow into toddlers and then reach school age, we feel the need to provide them with so much stuff. I’ve come to realize how wrong this way of thinking is. Living with less, has proven to not only be freeing and beneficial for myself and my husband but for my kids as well. It’s completely changed the way they play and interact with each other and I’m so excited to share HOW!

We have literally gotten rid of garbage bags of toys, books, stuffed animals, etc. from both their bedroom and playroom over the past few months and they haven’t missed a single thing! At first, I began the mission on my own, during nap-time or when they were asleep at night and for real, they never noticed that things were disappearing. They would just tell me how much they loved the open space. They noticed right away that there was more space to run around and play instead of every square inch of the outside of our playroom occupied by toys or toy storage. (I wish I took some before shots but our playroom was a disorganized clutter filled MESS.) But then I read somewhere that it’s important to make our children part of the process of de-cluttering/minimalizing, teaching them from a young age to have a healthy view of their stuff. I want to teach them that the items we own, should enhance our lives, and not hinder them. Therefore, I have started to talk to them about donating items to other children who would have a better use for them. We talk about which toys they haven’t played with in a very long time and why it’s time to remove them from our play space to give us more space to play with the things we do have. So while I used to sneakily get rid of things while they were at pre-school or in the evenings, I now allow them to see me dropping off their old toys at the local Goodwill, or giving them to a younger friend who would get better use from them and they are starting to get joy out of this. I love that they’re learning not to become too attached to material things from such a young age.

So what have I noticed about the difference in their play? In the past, I would go down to their playroom after a half hour of them being down there and there would be toys EVERYWHERE. Not that that’s a bad thing…I mean what’s a playroom for right? They’re welcomed to make all the mess they want while they’re playing. But it was evident with the time that had passed, that they never stuck with one activity for more then a few minutes. They were overwhelmed with all the choice and would hop from one bin to the next, dumping, playing for a few minutes then moving on to the next thing. I don’t blame them one bit, I would be the same way with so many options!  Their play was not focused or intentional. It was scattered and disorganized, like our home. Now, every toy we have down there serves a purpose, we have removed the clutter, we have removed everything mismatched and everything that wasn’t enhancing their play. For us, this was A LOT of plastic…silly items we had grabbed over the past years at yard sales, toys that were missing pieces and parts, old happy meal toys, extra stuffed animals, etc., Most of those white bins below used to be stuffed to the brim with mismatched items. Now, everything has a spot, a designated home. We have one bin for playfood, one for toy animals, one for balls, one for cars and trucks, one for instruments and one bin for odds and ends (mr. potato head, a fishing game they love, a doctors kit, etc.,)

They are really into building and constructing lately so they have a separate small expedit in their room with duplo, lego, and bright builders. We also have a puzzle cupboard in our upstairs living room as well as a games closet where we store all the board games we own. Other then art supplies, playdough etc., this is the extent of their toys you guys.

So now, they will literally go down to the playroom for an hour and a half together and be so engrossed in a game of make believe that I have to go down there and sadly end it so we can eat supper or head out for an errand. Their make believe games include grocery store, fire station, beach day (where they use my blue yoga mat as water ha!) and they often pretend the spare room next door is a hotel and set up a restaurant and everything. Some days they’ll play trains for a good 30 min and their absolute favourite game right now (since they got mini sticks and nets for Christmas) is hockey because now they have enough ROOM to play it! Their play in general is so much more focused and they spend twice or three times as long as they would in our playroom then when there were SO many more toys! Sounds ironic huh? Try it…I promise you you’ll see the difference.

 

While I did such a large initial purge of the playroom, it’s important to note that this is an ongoing process. They have grandparents who like to spoil them and they’re always getting little knickknacks from birthday party treat bags, souvenirs when we’re on holidays, birthday and Christmas presents etc., so we need to constantly be purging in order to maintain a minimal play-space. But it’s SO worth the up-keep to see them so much more creative and focused with their play.

And every good play room needs a chalk wall right? This one has been well used!!

 

A dress-up collection is another essential in my opinion! This was theme of their Christmas gifts two years back and they’re really just starting to use them now! 

 

So that’s how we’ve minimized our play room and the benefits we’ve seen from it! Hope it’s inspired you a little? Thanks so much for reading!

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Some Reason’s We’ve Decided to Homeschool

Ever since I shared our decision to homeschool the twins next year,  I’ve had a ton of people ask me to share the reasons for our decision.

I’ll start by saying that I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I have so many great friends who are already sending or planning to send their kids to public school or private school and I completely respect their decisions. After all, it was what we were planning to do too until we strongly felt it on our hearts over the past months to go this route. This post isn’t meant to try and persuade anyone or make you think that we believe homeschooling is the better option. We just feel it’s the right option for our family at this time and since I’ve been asked,  I’m happy to share some of the benefits we see in it.  Most of these reasons come from my own homeschooling experience growing up as well as my own experience with teaching in the public system. But some of them we found while doing our own re-search on the benefits of homeschooling and we couldn’t agree more. For those of you who don’t know my background, I was homeschooled myself from JK-grade 11, went to Catholic school for grade 12 and then went on to University followed by teachers college. I supply taught for a year before I had the twins and then I never went back.

So here are some of the benefits we see in homeschooling that have really helped us to solidify our decision:

Flexibility and Freedom

This is probably one of my personal biggest draws of homeschooling. I love that while homeschooling, we will have the freedom to teach our children what we want, when we want. Of course we’re going to ensure we’re meeting the curriculum standards of our province. However, I love that we won’t have to live by the schedule of the private or public schools. We don’t have to rush the kids out the door at a specific time each morning. We can go on as many field trips as we want for real life learning experiences. We can be done school at 10 in the morning if we want, leaving lots of time for other interests and hobbies. We can take holidays through the school year, taking our work on the go, if we want. And the list goes on. It works really well with my own work schedule as an entrepreneur as well, as I can take my own work on the go too!

Child-Led Learning 

I think we would all admit that we learn more effectively when we’re learning about stuff we like and interests us as individuals. While I realize this has become a priority in the school system in recent years, it would be impossible to allow each child in a classroom of 25 kids to focus on what specifically interests them. Just not possible. So while my kids will have core subjects and lesson’s we have to work through, there will be lots of room for them to explore what specifically interests them while also learning at their own pace. Sometimes kids just need to slow down to fully understand a concept before moving on and sometimes they may be way ahead of everyone else, sitting around waiting for their classmates to catch up. I even notice this just between my two twins. One of them gets certain things faster, and the other gets other concepts faster. Homeschooling will allow my children to move along at the pace that’s just right for them.

No Homework woooo! 

I know it depends on the teacher, but while I was in teachers college and supply teaching, I was sometimes shocked at how much homework went home in the evenings and weekends. Kids are in school at desks all day long and they are expected to do MORE desk work after that? I mean the obvious reason is because there is often so much wasted time during the school day and it’s not the teachers fault…it’s simply the way the system is set up. So many children to one class, so much time spent moving from one class to the next, lining up for recess, waiting for other students to quiet down so the teacher can actually teach etc., etc., With more focused work time around the table, we will be able to get done in 2 hours (and more like 30 min in kindergarten) what would take the entire day in the classroom setting. Then we can spend our evenings and weekends with my husband doing fun family things and spending quality time together or taking them to extra curricular’s without having to worry about cramming in homework before bed.

More Opportunity for Hands-On Activities

While everyone has different learning styles, I feel from both my own educational and teaching experience that there is so much value in hands-on learning and that children should be given more opportunity to do so. As mentioned above, I love that on any given day we can leave our desk work at the drop of a hat to go and have a real-life experience. Whether it be to the supermarket to let them help me plan healthy balanced meals or count out change at the till. Or maybe to the fire station? Or perhaps a local conservation area to study eco-systems and journal about it.

Fosters Independence

Ok this is also a huge one coming from my own experience. One might have thought that I would be completely lost once I got to University after not experiencing the classroom setting, lectures etc., until my final year of highschool. It was however, quite the opposite. Thinking back to what I saw in a lot of my peers around me, I don’t feel the school system adequately prepares most students for what is ahead. In most University classes,  you listen to lectures and then you write exams at the end of each term. Sometimes, you have essays or assignments to complete.  But no special help or guidance along the way, no reminders or anyone checking up on you, not normally any formative assessment with quizzes or small tests to ensure you’re understanding the concepts. You’re basically out on your own to pass or fail. While a lot of students do catch on and do perfectly fine, I would also see a lot of my classmates leaving say, 3 papers until the very last minute and having to pull all nighters because they didn’t know how to manage their time in the weeks and months prior. I watched some have breakdowns and eventually drop-out. While university was still a big challenge for me, the format was nothing new. I had learned to manage my time properly from a very young age, having been given the same sort of flexibility and freedom with my studies. I had assignments to complete and deadlines to meet but for the most part, I could decide when I wanted to get it done.  I had learned to be very independent with my learning and these skills have carried on to my adult years as I’ve started my own successful photography business in where I essentially taught myself everything I know about shooting as well as running a business.

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One-on-One Learning

Or one-on-two or three?! haha There is most obviously so much benefit to learning in a smaller group setting. I will more quickly and easily be able to pick up on what my children’s strengths and weaknesses are and focus on them. I will have the opportunity to cater to my kids specific learning styles which likely wouldn’t happen in public school.  We will also be able to get tasks done more efficiently. I remember how some days, when I was homeschooled, I would be done my desk work by 10 in the morning if I was determined.  Then I could spend the rest of the day reading novels I was interested in, doing art, practicing an instrument I was learning, cooking or other hobbies. How cool is that?

More Sleep = Better Health

Kid’s need sleep. My twins still nap 2-3 hours most afternoons, especially after a long morning of pre-school. They come home just exhausted and basically collapse into their beds by 12:30. Every child is different of course. (Some of my friends pre-schoolers dropped their nap by the age of 2!) Thinking about sending my boys for full day school next year just made me cringe. I know as their mom that they would struggle to get through the day and would likely be little irritable monkeys by the time they got home. Not having to wake them up super early to rush out the door in the mornings and giving them the flexibility to nap still if they need it while they’re so young is another huge benefit in my opinion.

Increased Family Time and Instilling Values

This kind of goes along with my last point as I love that I’ll be able to spend time pouring in my children’s lives during their best and most alert hours of the day. My husband was telling me the other day that recent studies have proven that physical activity at the start of the day is very beneficial to your focus and attention span through the rest of the day. The fact that we would have the flexibility to implement things like this, even if it’s just a short walk first thing, is so great! As far as transmission of values, I love that we will have the freedom as our kids educators to emphasize and focus on things that our very important to us like our Christian faith, scripture memorization etc., and leave out things that we don’t agree with in the public school curriculum. I am fully aware that there is lots of time and opportunity for instilling those values outside of school hours but how much more awesome will it be to have that much more time to teach and equip  them while they are young.

Now don’t get me wrong, while I have laid out all the great benefits of homeschooling, I don’t expect it to be easy by any means. I know that taking my children’s education into my own hands is going to be a huge challenge and there will likely be days I regret my decision altogether, especially with a brand new baby to tend to as well. I have thought all this through, trust me. But I truly feel that the benefits I’ve listed will be entirely worth every hard and trying moment and I’m so excited to give it everything I have.

I also wanted to note that some may argue that homeschoolers aren’t socialized enough or that they don’t get to experience things like track and field, participate in school plays, etc., The good news is, they DO! There are so many support groups, co-ops, etc, in place where our kids can have the opportunities to be a part of  larger group activities like plays, book clubs, nature groups, and there IS even a track and field for homeschoolers (something my husband was happy to hear! 😛 ) We will also make sure, as my own parents did that our kid’s are involved in extra curricular’s, and have the opportunity to meet lots of other children, whether it be other homeschoolers, friends at church programs or on sports teams. They’ll get socialized so don’t fear!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this you guys! Again, I’m only sharing it so that you might get a better understanding of why we made this decision for our family and so that it might help you to better understand some of the benefits if you are or ever have been curious about homeschooling yourself!

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Nursery Inspiration

It’s finally starting to sink in that we’re having a little girl. I’ll soon be kissing my daughters sweet little toes and smelling her soft newborn skin. July can’t come soon enough. I was holding off on any nursery plans until we found out the gender and now that we know, it’s GO TIME! Even though we still have a good 4 months, I know time is just going to fly so reno’s are in full force. We’re currently using our third bedroom on the main floor as an office/art room for the boys. With our decision to homeschool them next year, we’ll be creating a functional school space downstairs and so the majority of the furniture/supplies in the office will be moved down there. Ron is currently replacing the floor, putting up new dry-wall etc., so once that space is complete which should be in the next week or so, we can officially get moving on the nursery!

The photos below are ones I’ve pinned to my nursery board and their sources can be found here! As you can see, there is a common theme of white walls (my entire house now ha!) lots of plants, lots of wood, and of course pops of PINK.

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To make the best use of space since the room is pretty small, I think we’re going to just have a make-shift change table on top of a dresser as pictured above. Ok, that oversized plant might be a bit much for the room but you get the idea. 😉

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How sweet is this print? a53649174da9c2b8665d3abec09b0ce5

More green and and white and pink! I have toyed with the idea of doing a super soft pink accent wall or something two-toned like this but I’ll likely just stick to white for the walls and pull color in elsewhere! abb7ced616f468356f5b86b2199d82690ec2cce9

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I want to find a similar rocking chair to the one above and I just love all the girly-ness of this room!

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Adore that huge wreath! Love the warm vibes in this photo and we’re getting that same crib from IKEA.

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Where can I find a cactus like that one?!?!?!

Can’t wait to start working this nursery! Thanks for reading.

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Baby Girl!

We are beyond ecstatic! We’ll be welcoming a baby GIRL into our family in July! Skyler and Bryson guessed right. Sky was convinced from day 1 it was a girl and he wants to name it “Hunny Bunny Bunny”. We’ll have to work on that one. Either way, we couldn’t be more thrilled and are super excited to share this news with you! gender-reveal-5-of-8

Thanks to our amazing and talented friend Sophie for capturing these precious memories for our family! And my bestie Britt for taking the video! Moments we will treasure forever. xoxo

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