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    Family Life, Motherhood

    Life Lately // March

    Spring is finally here. I have literally never been so happy for a season to change. This winter felt exceptionally long and painful. I think having two busy toddlers makes winter so much worse than it used to feel. I’m so done with spending money to go to the museum or play place. The library is great but I end up paying for a whole book every time because Elle always gets her hands on one and rips a page or two out.

    I will say though, another reason I am so excited for this season to change is that the kids are at the BEST stage. Last spring/summer Elle wasn’t even walking yet and Dex has gotten so much smarter and more fun. I’ve never done this on here but I thought it would be fun to do a little update on the kids at their ages. When I started blogging, I loved doing posts like this. Little posts that I love to read back on and that keep a sweet memory longer than my brain can.

    Dex at three. Dexter is so much fun lately. He is wild and testing the limits but he’s so so much fun. This kid is truly my comfort zone. Those rare moments when he wants to snuggle or when he is calm and tickles my head or says “beautiful babe!” when he sees me completely melt me. We have the best conversations, tell knock knock jokes for an hour or solve a mystery (really just me hiding a toy and calling it “The Case of the Missing (insert missing toy) and him looking for it). He will be 4 in August and is starting school (homeschool – you can read more here). He is starting to be really protective over his sister and I love it. If he hears Elle cry from her crib before I do, he always calls out “Did ya hear that mom?” to make sure I’m going to get her. He loves rocks and just started a collection (that I’m always stepping on). He wants to be a firefighter when he grows up (prompted by our visit to the fire station). He can write his name and play mary had a little lamb on the piano and it makes me want to clap and cry because how in the actual heck, can my baby boy play piano??!?

    Elle at 22 months. Elle is really fun too right now! Her voice is easily the most adorable thing about her. Every time I post an Instagram story I always get a bunch of messages commenting on her sweet voice. She is obsessed with bunnies (all animals really),  Daniel Tiger, and hugs and kisses. She’s such a ham lately and is always trying to make us laugh. We’ve noticed that she really gets funny and outgoing when it’s just her and Dex is with his Grandma and Grandpa. She’s a sassy and sensitive little thing and if you even raise your voice in the slightest way, she’s in tears. Heck, if you even look at her the wrong way, she’ll probably cry. She’s really nurturing and her idea of a good time is gathering all the animals and dollies and kissing them on the lips one by one.  In spite of the fact that she is super tiny, she’s the best and least picky eater ever. It’s convinced me that it doesn’t matter what you do, some kids (ahem Dexter) are just picky. She eats almost anything but is particularly into broccoli, lettuce and sweet potato. Every time I have a salad, she’s over there the whole time “more lettuce, more lettuce”. Having a daughter has completely changed me. Our relationship is so easy and close and I just can’t wait to see how she grows and changes. She will be TWO in June and I’m already dreaming up some simple party plans for my girl.

    As for my husband and I. We are dying for spring, working on some home projects (mostly painting and finishing Elle’s room), looking for a new car and  keep it all together. Our daily schedule that I posted about last week has been going well. We completely ignore it somedays but it’s still a better system than before. I’m reading this parenting book, listening to the new Bird Talker album and trying to find the perfect pair of overalls (kinda liking these!). We’re going to the sugarbush this weekend, which is one of our fave traditions. I’m trying to get better at meal planning and have successfully quit drinking coffee (I can’t even believe I’m typing that. I feel half happy and half really sad and desperate for a coffee right now!).

    I know, I know. What an exciting life we live. Haha. It’s simple and the highlights include baby snuggles and successfully meal planning, but we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

     

    bonnet // moccs // snap back hat // leggings

    Thanks for reading!

    Family Life, Motherhood

    Daily Schedule of a (formerly) Disorganized Mama

    I shared last week on my Insta story that I was trying to get my crap together and had made a daily schedule for me and the kids to follow each day. I got so many DMs about how organized I am and how people want me to share my schedule with them and I had to first, laugh hysterically and then immediately come on here and share the full story.  (I’ll share my actual schedule too at the end – don’t worry!)

    I am not a schedule person. Rhythms yes! Routines sure. But a rigid schedule makes me squirm, and honestly, I don’t trust myself enough not to break it and so I just save myself the trouble and forget the whole thing. I LOVE spontaneity. I love surprises. I don’t find out the genders of my babies. I just don’t NEED to plan. I don’t NEED control. I’m okay with a little mess.  I’m just not a planner.

    I used to think this meant that I wasn’t type A enough or that I just kind of sucked as a mom, but then I realized that it’s because I am such a type A perfectionist that if it’s not going to turn out perfectly then I’m just not even going to try. HATE to admit that one, but it’s probably true. Another reason I had kinda brushed off the whole schedule thing is that my husband and I both work from home and our days of the week just never look the same. Each one is always different and while I thought this meant I probably couldn’t make a schedule work, it actually means that I will drown without one (speaking from experience mamas!).

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    I want to find time to work and blog and do emails and I always wondered how all of those other mom + bloggers made it happen, and while I haven’t been at it for too long, I have a feeling that THIS is how. Prioritizing the things you love, being intentional with your time and kicking that mom guilt to the curb!

    I’ve realized (after a long time of survival mode, flying by the seat of my pants and general chaos) that this whole “not a planner thing” just isn’t working out now that I have kids. It’s a known thing that children thrive off of routine and with a little encouragement and help from my (super planner) husband, we wrote out a daily schedule (the one on my story).

     

    I’ll share it below but I want to mention a few things first.

    1. As I mentioned above, my husband works from home and works in our home all evening. So you will see pockets in the day where Zach spends time with the kids and helps me out a lot! This allows for me to get some rest/blogging/shower/cleaning time during my day but night time, I’m on my own. It’s kind of like our days are flipped from the usual work all day and then family time at night.
    2. I don’t do all of the things I write beside the time slot. Because I like a lot of flexibility, I decided to write a list of “suggestions” for myself of things to choose to do during that time. Sometimes I’ll do a bunch. Sometimes I’ll just do one. During quiet time, sometimes I just do the Netflix and ice cream one and I love every minute of it.
    3. This schedule might seem a little detailed BUT for a non-planner like me, the habit just isn’t there so we went really specific so that it was easy to stick to. Some days obviously go out the window and we do an all day play date or snuggle and watch movies if the kids are sick but it’s something that I can at least look to when I’m feeling like I have no idea what to do this day/week. If two of my weekdays turn out like this I’m MILES ahead of where I was.
    4. I have spent my entire motherhood journey thinking that unless I spent all day playing/being with my kids that I was a bad mom and wasn’t giving them the attention they deserved. I’ve never judged another mom for this or even really considered what other people did. I just thought they had a secret and were less tired than me and had lots of time. It’s literally JUST occurred to me that I need to enforce quiet time for Dex (who stopped napping at 2.5) and take some guilt free time for myself. To me, writing out work and “me time” things between 1 and 3pm made me feel so guilty. I felt that if anyone saw this schedule (like you guys right now) they would think I was selfish or not a great mom. This is my own flawed thinking and habit and has gotten me into a lot of trouble with stress and mom guilt. That being said, the purpose of this schedule is to make room! Room for things the kids love. Room for me to take care of the things that cause me stress. Room for me to pursue things I love outside of being a mom. The work/free time allows me to play and engage with my kids without feeling like I should be working and the play time allows me to work guilt free knowing that my kids had my undivided attention all morning, late afternoon and evening. My husband compared it to a budget (which we are pretty hardcore about), when you know and delegate exactly where your money is going, it feels like you got a raise! I’m hoping the same thing happens with my time.
    5. Lastly, I don’t think this should be your schedule. I don’t even necessarily think YOU need a schedule. If what you’re doing is working for you then don’t change a dang thing! This is just something born out of my personal struggles, my husband’s unique work circumstance, my children’s behaviour, and just needing a change. Take from it whatever you would like!

     

    Guys, I’m still skeptical. I know I won’t be able to stick to this thing every day, but I’m offering myself grace and believing that whole progress not perfection thing that I’ve thrown around in the past and haven’t always lived out!

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    I’ll also include a PDF version here, in case you want to view or print of my schedule for your own use. Just click the link below.

    Daily Schedule

    I’d love to know if you have a daily schedule or if you just kinda wing it. What works for your family?

    Thanks so much for reading!

     

    Family Life

    Homeschooling Inspiration + Resources

    Last week I shared about how and why we are considering homeschooling and I couldn’t believe the number of mamas who also said they were thinking about it too! I loved reading through your Instagram comments and hearing about what works best for your families and that some of you are in the same boat as me!

    Today I wanted to share some of the ways I plan on researching/testing out homeschooling for our family. Because I’ve kinda had this whole homeschooling thing in the back of my mind since having children, I’ve followed some great blogs, Instagram accounts and gathered some amazing resources that I am going to be drawing from as I continue to mull this whole thing over. I thought it would be fun to share those here, in case any of you are totally crazy like me and considering teaching your children… yourself…everyday…at home…forever.(kidding…kind of).

    Now this isn’t an extensive list of homeschool resources, I’m just not there yet. This is more of a list of a couple of things that I found intriguing, interesting and encouraging as I’m researching this whole home school thing.

    First up is Simply Learning – I sometimes feel like she has read my mind with her simple and minimalistic approach to homeschooling. But that’s just it…she kind of did. She took everything that made her feel overwhelmed and frustrated with homeschooling young children and (I hate to keep using this word but) simplified it. She provides FREE literature based curriculums for preschool age kids and has recently taken a different approach for this coming school year by following along with The Peaceful Preschool. She created additional (and again FREE) printables to go along with the PPS curriculum and even shares her weekly schedule and Pinterest boards to make it really easy for you.

    The Peaceful Preschool is my next favourite resource that I’ll be exploring more the next couple of months. It is an incredible curriculum and blog created by mom of 7 and homeschooling master Jennifer Pepito. I fell in love with the simple and clean design of her free printables and also couldn’t believe how affordable her curriculum is! I downloaded the letter A curriculum for free and she also breaks it down into what activities and focuses you have each day of the week (disorganized mamas rejoice!). I think it may be a little young to use if we actually do homeschool Dexter, but it’s still so fun to try and play around with each day.

    Next is the Modern Scout Adventure Collector – This little journal is so amazing whether you homeschool or not. It was sent to me by my friend Brittany, owner of Modern Scout and even my husband even mentioned how cool it was after flipping through it. Essentially, its a journal, with a different adventure on each page and prompted questions and areas to draw, tape in things and record details about your adventure. Younger children would need help writing in the answers, but a lot of the pages are really visual and have an art aspect to them too. Some of the adventures we are looking forward to the most are Go Send A Letter Attached To A Balloon, Go Plant Something, and Go Hide A Treasure. The whole Modern Scout website has a very boy scout vibe which is so cute. I plan on using this for our “field trip days” and to add some learning and purpose to our everyday outdoor play. I can’t wait to do some of these with Dex and in the end have a book with all of our adventures recorded that we can look back on.

    The last thing are some of my favourite homeschool bloggers/youtubers. For me, I love finding like minded mamas online or on Instagram. I’m obviously at the very beginning of this whole thing and it helps for me to get an inside look at what actually goes on in their days, how they schedule things, that they struggle and get off schedule too, and all the other ins and outs of being a homeschooling mama. It’s still such a foreign world to me and I feel like developing an in person community to connect with will be key, but also an online community is always so helpful too!  There is SO much out there but these are some faves I’ve been into lately! I’m just going to list them to keep it easy:

    The Quick Journey Blog | Instagram

    This Gathered Nest Blog | Youtube

    Jodie Mockabee Blog | Instagram

    Cloistered Away Blog | Instagram

    At Home Homeschooling Podcast 

    The Wild and Free community  (one view of the video on their main page and I was feeling pretty exited!)

    Pinterest – this is another amazing resources for homeschool info, sample schedules, free printables, and, lots more (it’s Pinterest so basically everything is there)! I’ve been pinning like crazy on my little homeschool board so be sure to follow me there too!

    So that’s where I’m at! If you’ve made it this far you’re likely already a homeschooler, considering it, or wondering if I’ve totally lost my mind. Wherever you’re at, I would love to connect with you and hear about your favourite homeschool resources or how you make this whole thing work.  I’ve got so much to learn and know that each family needs to make the choice that is best for them and am just hoping to find what that means for my little crew.

    Thanks so much for reading guys!

    Family Life

    Dipping Our Toes Into Homeschooling

    We are considering homeschooling. There, I said it.

    That was seriously a really hard thing for me to type. Here’s a little backstory.

    My husband was homeschooled up until grade 9. He had the most amazing experience and was able to reach some pretty amazing extracurricular achievements because of it. He’s also the smartest and most talented person I’ve ever known….so there’s that. 😉

    I was not homeschooled. I went to public school all my life and also had an amazing experience. I loved school, got really good grades, played sports and loved my teachers.

    I’ve always known that due to my husband and I having totally different school experiences, that we would have a lot to talk about when it came time to decide where our children would go to school.  The problem is when you have babies, them turning 4 and going to school seems like something you need to deal with in, oh, I don’t know 20 years. And then you blink and they are 4 and the scary school decision is staring you right in the face.

    My husband and I have had so many long talks about it. And my conclusions have ranged from “I was born to be a homeschool mama” to “NEVER EVER! I want him to go to school just to have the house threenager free for the day.” Several of my close friends have recently decided to homeschool and it’s been really interesting to chat with them about their plans and motivation. We’ve been praying a lot about it and to be honest, we still don’t have much clarity or peace about it. It honestly it stresses me out so much that I usually just pretend Dex is still 2 and decide to put it off another couple years.

    Almost daily I go over all of the pros and cons (for my family) and thought it would be fun to just chat through some of them here, in case any of you are in the same boat as me, or if you’re wondering what in the heck would possess someone to want to homeschool (I was that girl for a looong time).

    Okay, first some cons. On one hand, I don’t know anything about this. Growing up, I didn’t even know homeschooling was a thing. Although I’m a perfectionist, I’m not an overly organized person and I feel like a rigid schedule is just asking me to break it. I worry that I won’t be a good teacher. That I won’t be organized enough or motivated enough (as bad as that sounds). I care so deeply about my son’s education and more than anything, I just don’t want to mess it up. Or mess me up. Homeschooling is a BIG commitment. It’s a privilege and a gift and I’m sure the benefits are endless. I just don’t know if I can hack it, emotionally. If it will cause me too much anxiety. And the “social thing” – I certainly don’t want to stereotype (and my husband is the most social person I know) but Dex loves being social and surrounded by other kids his age. There are days I can picture it and it would be so beautiful and fun and perfect for my son. And other days – I think, someone else would be MUCH better than me at this job. Lastly, I want a break. I would need to implement some serious “quiet time” (something I have struggled to make happen in the past) because I fear I would just burn out.

    And now for some pros! So, I love the flexibility it would bring to our family. My husband works from home and the thought of him being able to help with the schooling and for us to do field trips and learning together makes me pretty excited. I have loved “teaching” Dex so far, and although I am supremely biased, I think my kids are crazy smart. My son is really active and thrives spending time outside and learning in nature, I love that we would be able to do things like that for our school. I love that we would cater what we were learning to each child’s area of interest to keep them engaged and excited about learning. As much as I mentioned wanting a break sometimes, I do love the idea of spending these precious years all day with my kids. Influencing them and teaching them and getting to know them better.

    This is clearly a big decision that is different for every family and while these are some pros and cons that are frequently flying around my mind, they would probably look completely different for your family. It might be all pros and you can’t imagine why I’m worried about all those cons, or it might sound like your worst nightmare and you can get all those “pros” checked off in your public school system – which is awesome!

    At this point we are still praying about it and waiting for God to give us some direction with this whole thing. We have some tours to schools in our area planned and are going to be doing some more research for the next couple of months. In the meantime, I thought I would “dip my toes” into the whole homeschool thing and just see how it fits. Practice setting some school-like routines and following some loose curriculums to see how I feel, how Dex does and whether it’s a good fit for our family.

    Monday I’ll be sharing some fun homeschool inspiration in the form of bloggers/youtubers/podcasts that are perfect for the stage I’m in, and if you’re still wondering if it’s right for your family!

    Thanks so much for reading!

     

     

     

    Family Life

    Our Family Photos with Mint Photography

    Okay – I’m so excited! These family photos may or may not be the very reason I started this blog. As soon as I saw (and loved) them, I knew that I had to post them all. I could feel it, my overgramming was about to reach an unhealthy level and surely anyone following me on instagram would run for their lives away from my feed and never return. I love photos, they have memories attached to them, memories I want to write down and remember. So here I am, shamelessly posting as many family photos as I want on my new blog. Of course, I’ve blogged in the past, and after taking a long break, these photos reminded me of why I truly love blogging; to document and share and save our family memories. To be able to look back on these days for years to come and to write again, even if it’s just for me. I used to get so caught up in all the “Ways to be the best blogger ever!”/”How I made a bajillion dollars after three months of blogging” posts and while some thrive off of that challenge, it actually made me feel stuck and stressed and afraid to start something that I knew I loved, for fear of it not being…enough.

    I think these photos mean so much to me because to be honest, we’ve been going through a bit of a tough time as a family the last couple of months. Nothing too serious, but enough to really get us down. I’ve had a bunch of negative self talk lately, and a lot of stress, worry and just feeling blah about everything. I saw these photos and my first reaction was “Wow, Natalie made us look like a really happy and carefree family!” But as I scrolled, I realized that this is the true us. Not the lies I sometimes believe. We are not a family defined by stress and hard times, we are a family who laughs and genuinely smiles and plays and feels joy in the midst of our circumstance. And I guess I hadn’t seen it all laid out in a photo in a long time.

    I am so grateful to Mint Photography for taking these photos. Photos that caused me to feel more grateful than I have in a long time and that inspired me to get back into something I love regardless of whether I’ve got it all together or not.

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    Thanks for reading!