BACK TO THE EARTH

Boots

We've finally landed in spring—in our rainboots, of course.

Even though the skies have been grey and the air chilly, it's the perfect season to honour the Earth as it wakes from a (long) winter slumber.

The buds are beginning to show themselves and the grass is finally taking on some colour. 

Mommy, LOOK, the flowers are popping up!

WORMS!!

Mommy, I like the smell of the sky. 

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I'm very lucky to have four kids who love to get dirt under their nails and mud on their knees. 

They happily spend time outside and show a lot of curiosity about the well-being of the environment. From their earliest days in school, topics like recycling and energy conservation have been part of the curriculum—and they are keen to hold us to it at home. 

Having a bigger (and busy) family can make it all too easy to seek out conveniences and short cuts. But now that the kids are asking questions, I'm more conscious of it. And we are taking steps to do better. 

One of the areas of family life that I've really started to focus on this year is the way we eat.

I am very fortunate to have friendships with two amazing women who also have four kids each. And a lot of our idea swapping centres around how/what to feed our families.

I've been looking to them more and more for inspiration. One is raising a vegetarian family, the other a vegan one.

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Since I started to hold myself accountable when it comes to school lunches, I've come to understand that I can do the same for all of our meals. While I don't imagine we will ever become pure vegetarians or vegans, we have been successfully introducing more of this style of eating to our family meal planning and shopping. 

We've already been practising Meatless Mondays for several months, and I've been introducting more vegetarian meals. When Netflix sent me an alert about their green eating documentaries, I knew I had to set the time aside to watch. I know myself well, and the visual facts would be hard for me to ignore.

Vegucated

We started with Vegucated and Forks Over Knives and we plan to watch more as we continue to look for ways to make changes. 

Both documentaries were thought-provoking and being able to follow real-life individuals and families, as they learned about the impact of their food choices, really resonated with us. 

We've been grilling our pumpkin pancakes in coconut oil and putting spinach in our smoothies. We're adding hemp seeds to our baked goods and cutting back animal products as much as we can. 

It feels really good. And one of the added benefits is being able to teach the kids about how these choices are decreasing our family's impact on the environment.

One of the messages we've been working hard to reinforce is that although we are one family, we can make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Each person and their choices matter. 

What about you? Did your family take on any new challenges to honour Earth Day? 

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Disclosure: Netflix has invited me to join their #StreamTeam blogging program (yes!), and therefore provides me with product and an extension on my existing subscription. The opinions regarding the shows I watch are mine. 

 

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{GIVEAWAY}: Unexpected Hero

The sun finally came out over the weekend, and although there was still a chill in the air, we soaked up every drop. We were lucky to have my nephews here for a visit, which made all the kids-being-kids stuff so much more fun.

Cousinstwo

After they had dirtied their knees and brightened their cheeks, they came tumbling inside looking for food and downtime. We settled on a family show that would please the diverse crowd (three girls, three boys ages 3-12) and found it in the brand new Netflix exclusive Turbo FAST

Cousinsone

Turbo is an unexpected hero. He's a slow-moving snail with a lot of gusto and a giant heart. He's the spirit I love to see in my own children. Life in a big family means team work is a given. It's always reassuring to watch my kids identify with a character who understands the value of depending on and being there for others.

TURBO

This crowd-pleaser is now available exclusively on Netflix and I'm thrilled to be offering a Turbo-inspired GIVEAWAY to all my readers.

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One randomly selected winner will receive:

a six-month subscription to Netflix

(for those with existing subscriptions, you will receive a code to add on to extend your current subscription)

and a party kit with Turbo FAST swag and popcorn (of course!). 

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Leave me a comment below and let me know what you're watching on Netflix

(y'all KNOW what I've been watching).

I'll choose my lucky winner on April 18th!

 

 

 

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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, too)

I'm crushing on Coach and Tami Taylor, y'all. 

We are in the midst of an epic Friday Night Lights binge, and I find myself wishing we could go on a double date with these two love birds.

I see some of my marriage in their marriage, and I like how it looks when I'm a spectator.

Taylors

We've had so many people tell us this was a series we would enjoy, but we never got around to it. 

Then a doomed March break came along, and the stars (or lights, as it were) aligned. 

Although we didn't have big plans, we had some plans. We'd be heading up north to meet our siblings and their kids for a couple of days of toboganning, movie watching, and family dinners. 

Then the fevers, coughing, shivering and overall misery descended.

And here's the thing—I can be self-centred and stubborn sometimes.

I got mad.

Allow me to channel my inner Tami Taylor when I tell you, 

I'm not proud, but it is what it is and that's what I was feeling. 

After a particularly long couple of days of doling out EVERYTHING THAT EVERYONE NEEDED—while JB struggled to move from the bed to the couch and back to the bed again—I declared my own need for some alone time and snuck upstairs with the family iPad.

I had read a blog post about March break and binge watching that morning and decided to gift myself a good Netflix session. I remembered all the Friday Night Lights suggestions from the past and decided to watched the pilot. 

If I had to say what I think lives at the heart of my marriage, it's that we accept and forgive each other's shortcomings. But we never do that at the cost of letting the other get away with being unfair or ugly. 

And it's not because either of us feels the need to be more right or prove a point. It's because we are committed to making sure we never lose sight of what matters. And we've learned the hard way that there will be many times in our relationship when one of us sees that better than the other.

Through two days of my sulking and pouting, JB didn't say a word about my behaviour. But I'll tell you what else he didn't do. He didn't let me get away with it. He did not bend himself to soothe my flaring temper.

He gave me the time and space to wrestle with it on my own, so I could pin it down and walk away, like he knew I would.

It's been a long winter and we've scaled some hurdles over the past few months. I would have loved to go on some kind of leave-it-all-behind adventure, instead of staying home. When our close-to-home getaway fell through, I took it out on him.

He understood there was a part of me that felt frustrated we weren't packing our family up to head somewhere sunny and warm. That makes me sound selfish, I know it does. And JB's refusal to apologize for our predicament told me he thought so, too. 

After I finished the pilot, I went downstairs, found JB and told him he needed to watch it so we continue the series together. He knew if I liked it, he would too. And, of course, he had already forgiven me before I had a chance to ask. 

It's been three more days and fifteen episodes. And if you know Coach and Tami Taylor, then you know I've shed tears watching them point each other towards their best: without judgement and always with forgiveness.

Netflix

 

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'll Meet You In The Family Room At Nine

The first time I locked eyes with JB in a crowded student pub, we were standing on beer-soaked carpet. And for the next several years, it didn't get much fancier. We were students and we lived like students. 

Most of our earliest years together were spent distracting each other in university libraries, sharing fries in campus food courts, and driving through fast food joints after a night spent cramming for exams. Add the fact smart phones weren't around and email was used sporadically and there was a lot of time to get to know each other. 

Since then, we've had our fair share of great date nights. Time with friends, time in the big city, time at fancy restaurants and faraway hotels. But our ritual date-in-the-family-room-nights? The ones spent in PJs, splitting a bag of bbq bits n' bites? They're just as great. 

The things is, going on an out-of-the-house date night is a bit of a production around here. And I don't want to say it isn't worth it, because time spent alone is worth its weight in prep time. But throw in logistics and the cost of care for four kids under the age of 10 and it's sort of impossible to be pulling off on a regular basis.

Just knowing there will be a night once a week that we'll ignore all the things we should be doing to spend time together (watching DVD box sets, powering through back-to-back episodes of My Strange Addiction, virtual house shopping on MLS, spending money on Apple TV, eating wings from our neighbourhood wingery, devouring DQ Blizzards and peanut buster parfaits) is more than enough to match a night out in fancy clothes. 

We spend the day doing things all parents do: chasing/feeding/cajoling/loving our kids, before settling them for the night and reminding them that the time is now ours. They giggle and stand clustered outside the door of the family room, fascinated by our decision to spend time alone. 

And in that time together, we forgive the annoyances that are behind us; tell stories we didn't have time to tell over the tops of kids' heads; share something we learned, read or heard; laugh ourselves silly and sometimes, when things are hard, cry. 

These years together have shown us that underneath the rush of time, circumstances, and challenges, the person we first saw on that beer-soaked carpet still stands.

It's not that we've resigned ourselves to spending time together on a worn out couch, covered with unmatched socks and children's treasures, because we're parents. This time spent together is enough because it reminds us of the way we were and the way we hope to stay. 

Pjs
{This photo was snapped during a night spent comparing photo Apps, after inhaling a bag of bbq bits n' bites, of course}

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