It’s a…

We’re thrilled to be welcoming another baby BOY into our family. This little monkey tricked us as we ALL thought it was going to be a girl again. Even these two. But when we told them they were getting another brother, they were equally as excited! So far, their votes for names are Hunny Bunny Boy, Glider, and Vancouver. ha! Don’t ask.

As for us, we are thrilled! I have come to absolutely love having boys and I see it as such a privilege to strive towards raising up strong, respectful, and integral men.

So bring on more trucks and mud, hockey and skateboards. We’re ready for you baby boy!

Thanks so much for reading you guys!

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15 Week Update

Each day that this little life grows in me is just another gift from the Lord. We don’t know what the future holds, what is in store for our family. None of us really do, right? But we wake up each day, making another conscious decision to trust. To trust that He know’s what He’s doing. To trust that we serve a God who is sovereign and merciful and just. And with Him in control, what do we have to fear? 

How Far Along:  I’m just past 15 weeks. I know that’s still pretty early but for a pregnancy that I thought would seem like forever, it actually feels like it’s going by really fast.

Weight Gain: This is something that’s been a bit difficult for me. I normally love being pregnant and embrace the changes my body undergoes to grow a healthy baby. But the weight I gained in my pregnancy with Paisley, I didn’t lose before I got pregnant again. So while I’ve gained around 14 lbs in this pregnancy thus far, I’m about 25 lbs heavier than I normally am at the beginning of second trimester. :S  I’ve been trying to just be ok with it and focus on staying healthy and eating well but it has been something I’ve struggled with some days when I realize I have to go out and buy a whole new maternity haul that fits.

Mood: Pretty good for the most part. Considering the road we’ve been down over the past 6 months, there have definitely been hard days when I’ve found it challenging to navigate through all the feelings of grieving the loss of one baby but being excited about another. It might seem to some like all is well for us now, because we are pregnant again. But the truth is, a new child doesn’t make the loss of another any less easy. It’s been really hard for me to be around other newborns, especially during the months of July and August when Paisley would have been with us. It’s just painful reminders of what our family is missing. But again, we most certainly feel completely and truly blessed that the Lord has given us another baby so soon and for the most part during this pregnancy, I have felt really good.

Favourite Maternity Clothes Right Now: hmmmm I’ve been pretty much living in dresses all summer. (Pink Blush, Maxi dresses from Old Navy and my Dwell and Slumber dress have been my faves!) They’re loose and cool and comfy and while it’s normally my favourite season for fashion, I’m a little nervous for the transition into fall.  I’ll have to go out shopping for some new maternity jeans, leggings, sweaters etc.,  I want to find some more loose fitting shirts like the one I’m wearing below! It’s from Deck and Oar and it’s sooooo comfy you guys! I’ve been wearing it on repeat these cooler days since I received it! And if you head over to their site, you can get a shirt of your own for 15% off with discount code: NATALIE.

Sleep: Sleep has been fine. No changes really other than waking to go pee a few times a night.

Symptoms: So this pregnancy has been identical to my pregnancy with P and I’m just going to come out and say it…  I have a strong feeling this baby is also a girl. As I’ve mentioned before, my pregnancy with the twins was a breeze. No morning sickness, full energy, my skin was amazing and I just felt great. With this pregnancy, as with P, I’ve felt constantly nauseous, extremely exhausted, really bad migraines and the worst food aversions. I will be VERY surprised if it ends up being a boy! ha!

Movement: I think I’ve felt a few flutters here and there but I’m not completely convinced it’s the baby and not gas bubbles.

Cravings: Again, same as with P, so different to the boys when I didn’t really experience cravings at all……Bread, bagels, muffins, pasta, more bread, and sweets. I could literally just eat a bagel for breakfast, lunch and dinner at this point. I’ve been trying my best to maintain a healthy balanced diet though!

Stretch Marks: Just all the same ones as last time, becoming more prominent as my belly expands and grows.

Names: Hmm we definitely have our tops but nothing set in stone yet. We’ll have a better idea once we find out the gender.

Least Favourite Food: Meat has probably been the biggest thing. Just not feeling it much at all. But veggies have been hard for me at times too, something I normally eat a ton of.

Nursery and Baby preparation: It’s been difficult to continue with working on our nursery since we had started it for Paisley and are now finishing it for this new babe. It brings back all the memories and feels whenever I enter that room. But at the same time, it has also been healing for all of us to have something to be excited about again. To have a reason to finish the room and know that the crib and other things that were meant for little P will be used by her sweet sibling on the way. When my sister was down last week, we prepped the walls for painting and so will be doing that soon.

Things I’m looking forward to in Second Trimester:

  • Seeing our baby lots! We had our first appointment with our OB last week. It’s the same one we had with the twins as I’m considered “high-risk” again. While we’ll also be using our midwives through this pregnancy (I don’t think I could ever not!), we’ll be having bi-weekly appointments and ultrasounds with our OB from this point onward so I’m excited to be able to watch our baby grow!
  • Less nausea and headaches – it’s already gotten so much better thank goodness.
  • Finding out the gender!
  • Working on the nursery and buying all the baby things.

That’s pretty much it! Thanks for reading guys!

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Our Un-Schooling Approach to Homeschooling

I’ve been asked a few times recently which approach we’ll be taking to homeschooling this fall, which curriculum we’ll be using, etc., The truth is that I really struggled for a few months not knowing exactly which route to go. I mentioned in a previous post that I was homeschooled myself and I’m also a teacher so I think most people just assume I have it together and have this amazing plan in place. But I don’t. Things have changed so much since I was a kid and there are sooo many different curriculums to choose from and different approaches to homeschooling. So I started to do some research. I watched a lot of you tube videos and read a lot of other blogs about what other homeschooling mama’s do. But to be honest, that kind of made things worse. The options were overwhelming and every time I felt I had made a decision, I would hear or see something else and change my mind. Having a type A personality doesn’t help either because I like to have everything organized and ready to go far in advance.

It was only as we began to dedicate some time to trying “school work” a few times a week (as a sort of test drive) that I have realized what will work best for our family as we dive into this new adventure. First off, my boys are SO different when it comes to learning. I love this about them. They are both very bright and like to learn but Bryson has a longer attention span and his fine motor skills are a lot more developed then Sky’s. He will sit down and color and won’t leave the table until every spot is complete, trying his very best to stay within the lines. Skyler will do some quick scribbles and be done with it. Bryson was writing his name on his own a while before Sky because he loved the challenge of being able to do it on his own. He would sit down and practice in his own time and would run up to me and show me his paper, so proud of what he had done. Skyler couldn’t be bothered until just recently, when he was good and ready. I was soon noticing that forcing Sky to sit down and practice printing or do a worksheet for more than 5 minutes was an extremely gruelling task. This kid has a wild imagination, and he is such a creative little soul but extended periods of seat work is not what he enjoys doing right now and it wasn’t fun for any of us. I was starting to get frustrated that the boys weren’t always interested in what I had planned out for them and I began to really question my decision to homeschool. But around that time, I remember reading about how at this age,  it’s important to focus on instilling a love for learning. I realized I wasn’t doing a good job of that. I was forcing the boys to do things they weren’t always ready to do and while it’s a good thing to push and challenge our kids,  I don’t feel I need to do a lot of it quite yet at this age.

SO. Things changed. I decided right there and then that I wasn’t going to order a set curriculum for kindergarten. I wasn’t going to follow a rigid schedule for the year with planned themes and activities the way the traditional teacher inside me wanted to. Instead, I was going to take an un-schooling approach. The definition of un-schooling for those of you who are a little confused is: an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. In other words, I want the interests of my children to be a guide for what they learn about.

Studies have shown that children retain a lot more information when they actually enjoy what they are learning about and I started to see this myself since we’ve begun to implement this way of learning. So using a recent example, the kids have been really into “maps” lately. I noticed they were drawing a bunch of shapes and lines on paper, mixed with some letters and then they would roll up the paper and carry it around as their map.  Taking note of this interest, I told them that next week we would learn how to make a real map. I’ll teach them how to make a title, a legend, and a scale and we’ll probably start with just making a map of their room or the upstairs of our house. This may sound a little advanced for 3 year olds but they’re into it and excited to learn. And by making maps together, we’ll be tying in math, writing,  geography and art all into one project.

Using another real life example, the boys have just been introduced to chewing gum and one day one of them swallowed his by accident. They both started to cry worried that something bad would happen because they knew that swallowing their gum was forbidden! After calming them down, we came home to the computer and I found and printed off some diagrams of the digestive system and they learned about how it works. This made both the boys feel a whole lot better when they learned that the gum would slowly but surely make it’s way through. They colored in their diagrams and they can now tell you by pointing to each part how everything we chew and swallow travels through the digestive system from start to finish. Again, sounds a little complex for a 3 year old? My kids are not little geniuses by any means. I’ve simply been observing their interests and using them to determine what we’ll learn about next. It’s been working great. 

And don’t get me wrong, there is most definitely a time to practice printing our letters and numbers and all that important stuff, (I’ll make sure we get through the kindergarten expectations) but we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach. I give them a worksheet (we have a few workbooks from target and scholars choice and the amount of free printable’s online these days is amazing) or have them practice printing a letter a few times a week while I’m preparing their lunch. Or on this particular morning, we brought these fun new chalkboards from Chalkfull of Design  to a coffee shop and worked on number practice and shape recognition after they enjoyed a yummy treat. The boys LOVE these boards and I’m totally planning to order the letter and clock one as well! Learning can happen anywhere and you might just find us taking our books or printing practice to the beach or a park too. The flexibility of where and how we learn is probably the thing I love most about homeschooling.

So while we haven’t officially begun our school year, the focus of the year for us is going to be about instilling a love for learning. It’s kindergarten. We’re going to be doing a lot of play, a lot of free exploring, and our learning will be guided by their interests. I’ll jot down their interests as they come up and in future weeks, we’ll take out library books based around that topic, plan activities and field trips around it, etc.,   We also have a weekly nature group in place for the fall with a number of other homeschool families. We’re really excited about this as our kids already LOVE to be in nature and it provides so many opportunities for learning and free-exploring the world around them. A few weeks ago after a hike through the woods, we had seen a huge turtle in the water and the boys wanted to know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle so we came home and researched it together. Learning can be fun. And that’s what this first year of kindergarten is going to be all about.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Baby on the Way

12 weeks. Here we are again for the second time in 6 months. I feel extremely blessed and overjoyed to be carrying a baby once again yet it’s also been a difficult and emotional journey thus far.

I remember it like it was yesterday…crying to my husband as I lay in that hospital bed waiting to deliver Paisley. I told him that I never wanted to do this ever, ever again. I remember saying that I couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t go through the heartbreak of possibly losing another baby and I couldn’t put my precious boys, him, or anyone else through it again either. He just held me and hugged me. He didn’t try and convince me otherwise at the time. I don’t know what was going through his head in that moment and I don’t imagine he even wanted to think about what our future would look like after we left the hospital the next day. I know I didn’t. We were just so filled with grief, so broken, so completely devastated over what we had lost. I didn’t feel I would have the strength to carry another baby after this.

Yet the moment I had Paisley in my arms, everything changed.

When I stared at her perfectly formed fingers and toes and kissed her sweet smelling newborn skin, I knew I had to do this again. She was perfect. Such a gift from the Lord. And even though He had chosen to take her home early, I just knew as I held her and sobbed that Ron and I were going to have more children together, that our family was not yet complete. That God had more in store for us, despite the immense pain we were feeling in that moment. When I shared my heart with my husband a few days later, not knowing where he stood on the issue or what he was feeling about our future, he cried as he told me that he wanted to have 5 more kids together as soon as he saw Paisley (ok we both decided after that 5 may be a little excessive). But it just confirmed to us both that God had more in store.

So here we are. 12 weeks along with another beautiful blessing growing inside me. It feels surreal, to be at this point again so soon but we have seen God’s hand so evidently in this pregnancy since the very start. There have been emotionally draining moments when fear and anxiety have gripped a hold of me. But in those same moments, with full and complete surrender, I have felt God replace those feelings with overwhelming peace and a strong prompting to simply trust.  I wish I could share everything with you in this post but it would likely be a novel. I will say though, that we believe that the Lord has allowed us to experience this journey for a reason. And we have been learning as a family that faith is not about everything turning out ok but about being ok no matter how things turn out. For God is good. His plans are good. And He says: “ You don’t see now what I am doing, but you will someday.John 13:7 

A scripture verse God revealed to us at the beginning of our pregnancy and one that I have reflected on over the past weeks  is this one:

Isaiah 43:19 – “For I am about to do something new! See I have already begun. Do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 

Thank you Jesus for blessing us with another precious gift. We are placing this new life once again in your hands and choosing to trust you through it all. 

 

Thank you so much for reading and following along with our journey.

 

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The Twins Minimal Bedroom

The twins bedroom is one of the rooms in our home I’ve been most excited to share since we’ve started living more minimally. I think because people often ask me how we live minimally with kids. They don’t understand how we can have such a minimal toy/clothing collection for two active three-year-old boys. But I actually LOVE the challenge of keeping their wardrobe as small as possible. I mean, the seasons change constantly where we live and they grow out of the things we buy them before the next time that season rolls around again.  And while I understand that some items (t-shirts, jeans etc.,) can be worn for multiple seasons, living minimally I like them to have a small collection of basic and neutral items that can be worn multiple times/week and be mixed and matched well with each other instead of just having a massive amount of clothes. It does take some planning ahead and not just grabbing things of the sale rack because they’re on sale.  But for us, it really pays off and keeps their closet organized and to a minimum. I’ll explain more about what their wardrobe entails further down.

I blogged here about our playroom and how we keep the boys toy collection to a minimum. In that same post, I explained the benefits of this as well. It’s been a game changer in the way our kids play and interact with each other. The bins in their closet are the only toys we keep in their bedroom. Actually, they’re the only toys we keep on our main level. One is filled with lego, one with duplo, one with some other building toys and then they have a bin for little figurines they collect. My kids are SO into figurines (their collection involves some from disney, paw patrol, peppa pig etc., some from mcdonalds and some from the dollar store,)  but we have to keep this collection under control so I currently do a monthly purge for smaller toys they don’t care for or play with much anymore. The boys help me with this. As I mentioned in the playroom post, I love that from a young age they are learning not to be too attached to material things. They’re starting to tell me now that they think another child would play with this or use this item more than they do and we add it to the “to give away” pile for that month. I love this.

As you can see, the twins art station is right in their bedroom.  Since around the age of two, they have both been my little artists. They love coloring, painting, cutting and pasting. So this little station is a recent addition to their bedroom and they’re obsessed. We keep a pile of paper in one of the top green bins in their closet and at least twice a day, the house goes quiet for a good 20 minutes or so and you can find them in their room doing art together. I get that this may not be the best idea for every 3 year old out there but we’ve taught them to be responsible with their art supplies from the start and so far, we haven’t had any issues. (knock on wood!)

Now to chat more in detail about their clothing collection. What is hanging up in the closet and the two shelves of folded items is all they have for the spring/summer season. We don’t have another hidden dresser or anything like that. As I mentioned above, we keep everything pretty neutral. Below is what they each have:

  • 3 pairs of shorts – 1 denim, 1 navy/grey, 1 faded striped
  • 2 pairs of leggings – 1 grey, 1 navy and grey striped
  • 1 pair of skinny jeans
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 2 tanks
  • 3 dress shirts – 1 denim, 1 light wash, 1 striped
  • 1 zip-up hoodie
  • 1 sweater cardigan
  • 3 pairs of p.j.s each
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 1 pair of rubber boots

Since this has become my master list for shopping and each new season I’ll look at what they’ve grown out of or what won’t work for the weather ahead and replace those things with some new/different items. For example, for the fall, we would replace the shorts with a few pairs of new pants, and the tanks with a few new long sleeves /sweaters/cardigans. Otherwise, everything else would remain much the same.  My favourite stores for different clothing items for boys are as follows:

  • Jeans/pants/shorts – H&M (I love skinny pants on my boys and I find theirs are always the slimmest and best fit)
  • T-shirts/tanks – Old Navy, Zara (affordable and
  • Sweaters and cardigans – GAP, H&M (the GAP is obviously more $$ but the boys will get SO much use out of a neutral sweater or cardigan so I don’t mind)
  • Jackets – Zara
  • Leggings – Os and Oakes, Zara, Von-bon
  • Shoes – Footlocker Kids (Cute kids shoes is one thing I’m a little obsessed with and again don’t mind splurging on a bit because they get such good use of them for an extended period of time. They each had a pair of Converse for a good year and a bit and we recently just got them both new Vans.)

The bunk beds are another fun new addition to their bedroom. It was time we moved them out of their cribs(turned toddler beds) and into something more long term. They LOVE the bunk beds but the funny part is that they have decided they want to take turns sleeping on the top bunk every other night so that’s a bit challenging to keep track of but that’s what we’re doing for now! The duvet covers are from an awesome company we recently came across called Ooh Noo. I wanted to find something neutral but fun and they love the robots on this design! Linking the rest of their room items below.

Bunk beds – Ikea/Light fixture – Ikea/ Duvet covers – Ooh Noo/ Discover pillow covers –Land of Nod/ Alphabet Print – This Modern Life/Art Table – Ikea/ Chairs – Hobby Lobby/ Wall organizer- Homesense/Closet shelf organizer – Ikea/ Never Stop Exploring Print- Kardz Couture / Monster stuffies – This Modern Life

 

 

Thanks so much for reading!

 

 

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