If your daughter asks you for french toast…

If your daughter asks you for French toast, then you’ll be tempted to just say ‘no’. It’s a weekday, after all. But then you’ll remember that you want to be more of a ‘yes’ parent than a ‘no’ parent. So you’ll say yes.

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If you say yes, then you’ll remember that you have half a bag of frozen berries in the freezer that isn’t great for smoothies because all the raspberries and blackberries make for a very seedy (literally, not figuratively) smoothie. So you’ll turn the berries into a sauce for the french toast.

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If you make berry sauce for french toast, it will be so delicious that your 1-year-old will want to eat lots of it. She’ll like it so much she’ll smear it all over her hair too, so that her hair won’t miss out on the yummy sauce.

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If her hair doesn’t miss out on the yummy sauce, she will be a sticky monster. The sticky monster might ask you for some french toast!

(And sticky baby monsters are very, very cute.)

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If you know the book If you give a Mouse a Cookie you’d understand the reference of this post. :-)

Posted in Food, Funny things, Just life, Kids | 2 Comments

Marica the entrepreneur

When Marica was 4, I got a fancy new camera as a very generous gift. Marica then got our old camera, which was a little point and shoot that was on its way out but still in good condition. Unfortunately it got dropped a few times too many and gave up the ghost. Ever since then, Marica has been hoping and saving for a camera. But you know, you have to do a lot of extra jobs to make money around here, and that’s just not nearly as cool (or profitable!) as having a lemonade stand!

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We live on the same block as a big school. Another block away there’s a charter school, and two blocks in the other direction there is a big day care center. (Yes, people think we are crazy when they find out that we homeschool!) Suffice to say, we get a lot of foot traffic  past our house for about half an hour after school gets out.

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Marica got pretty excited about the idea of having a lemonade stand, so we said that if she bought the lemons and cups, I’ll help her with it. Well, the first day we had our stand, the lemonade sold out within 10 minutes! The second time we sold iced tea as well. We made more lemonade which all sold out and most of the iced tea went too. The third time we made lemonade, iced tea and we sold chocolate chip cookies! With those 3 stands she made about $70! Seeing that we told her we’d for pay half of the camera she and Ben picked out after researching online which went for $110, she had more than enough! The camera has now been ordered, and its arrival will be cause for great rejoicing. :-)

Posted in Being creative, Kids | 8 Comments

Why I quit Facebook (for now)

Disclaimer: this is simply my reasoning for giving up Facebook for the foreseeable future. I’m not saying any of this to make you feel like you should quit Facebook too.

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I thought I’d give a bit of an explanation to those who might be interested on why I deactivated my Facebook account 3 months ago (since a few people have asked).

Giving up Facebook was a decision that did not come to me easily. And I should probably say right from the get go that I’m not necessarily quitting forever. I really like Facebook. I like scrolling down the news feed and seeing what people have been up to, checking out their photos and reading some of the interesting articles they’ve linked to. I really miss that feeling of connectedness — showing someone that I’m interested in their life, even if it’s just with a simple ‘like’. I really miss the fact that I now don’t know when someone’s had a new baby, or got a new job, boyfriend, or girlfriend; I can’t see people’s wedding photos or their cute videos; I don’t know what people are thinking through the articles they’re posting. I’ve had withdrawal symptoms, where I’d sneak onto Ben’s Facebook account, until I asked him to change his password so I can’t do that anymore! I had become somewhat addicted… Going cold turkey on Facebook was harder for me than I thought it would be!

For months, I had a growing sense of unease with how much time I was spending on Facebook. It’s not like I was spending hours a day (or even an hour!), but since starting homeschooling, my time has become incredibly limited. I have precious few hours left in a day that aren’t taken up with homeschooling, or with preparing, eating and cleaning up meals, or just trying to keep this place looking half sane. And then I’d waste it by zoning out on Facebook?

I think part of the temptation for me to zone out on Facebook is that I’ve been so tired for months and I seem to just not have the self-control to handle it at this point in my life. It’s so much more beneficial to me to take a 20 minute nap than to zone out on Facebook for 20 minutes!

Tying into being tired: I was also concerned with the kind of browsing I was doing. Nothing about it was deliberate. It was the kind of aimless scrolling and browsing you do where you retain maybe 10% of what you read. I might be reading interesting articles, but in reality I was actually just skimming them. I was escaping reality and zoning out. Doing that in front of a T.V. makes you look like a slob; zoning out in front of a computer makes you look important. You can say something like “Mamma is busy on the computer right now” and it sounds like I’m doing something worthwhile.

Facebook’s nature makes it very easy to spend 2 minutes or 2 hours on there. With the result that I could quickly check it for 2 minutes on my way to the bathroom, get distracted and actually spend 10 minutes instead. And this might be right during a school day. If a friend knocked on my door uninvited at 10am and said, “I’ve come to show you my holiday photos!”, I’d invite them in, but politely explain to them that I’m in the middle of schooling my kids and that her photos would have to wait. Then why on earth do I think it’s legitimate to do that on Facebook? Somehow, somewhere along the track I lost the sense of how absurd my Facebook usage was.

All this has gotten me thinking more about how I want to live deliberately. I don’t want to be zoning out and wasting hours of my life that I will never get back. I want to think carefully about what is worth spending time on or for. I want to be present in body and mind for my children.  I want to remember that spending time on people is more important than spending time on things. I want to consciously be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things that will enrich the lives of my family. Interestingly, that means cutting out more and adding in less. For me, that meant cutting out Facebook for now, so that I could be more present. I’m making some other changes too, and need to make many more. But it’s a start.

Posted in Just life, Potentially controversial | 5 Comments

Camping in the wilds of New Jersey

The first weekend in September we went camping with Lillian and Jeremy and Shanna at High Point State Park. We didn’t really know what to expect, seeing that we had never been there before, but we were up for trying it — our very first camping trip in the U.S.! Ben took the Friday off work and we were at the campgrounds by lunchtime, which was great to set up camp and all that. What wasn’t so great was that it was predicted to rain all that weekend. We weren’t going to be deterred!

We were right next to a lake. There was the little misunderstanding about how I thought the lake in the photos would be the same one we’d be camping next to, but that was a little further up the road, a bit cleaner and swim-able. The one we were next to was definitely not a swimming lake. It was pretty, though!

It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend. I was so ready to get out of the city! It was wonderful to enjoy nature, enjoy Jeremy and Lillian’s company, enjoy camping food (barbecued meat! potato salad! marshmallows!), and to smell like sweat, smoke and insect repellent (yeah, I’m weird. I kinda like that smell. For a couple of days, anyway!).

We went for a walk around the lake. It was a very pretty walk, and we also got to see all sorts of interesting flowers and critters!

We were so blessed that the rain that was predicted to be drizzling all day really only came after dinner on Saturday night. We even got to make stick bread, one of my favourite childhood Voortrekker (scout) camping memories — bread shaped on the end of a stick, roasted over the fire. Like a marshmallow, only longer. :-) I was having so much fun, I neglected to take a photo of it, which is a shame. Well, when the rain came, it really came down something fierce. I think two storms passed over us during the night, but we were all nice and snug in the tents, and in the morning the sun rose brightly and dried off our tent in time for us to pack it up!

We did get to spend some time at the lake in the photos too where the water in the taps were also a little less brown than at the pump by our campsite, so we filled up our bottles there. On the day we left just Ben and the kids and I went back and there was some sort of community event that let people use kayaks and canoes for free. I stayed on the sidelines with a tired Laurelin, and Ben and the two older girls enjoyed the free kayaks.

We all got home very tired, but it was a good kind of tired.

Posted in Family, Jaunts out of NYC, Nature, Parks | 3 Comments

Fruit picking in Princeton

At the end of July (boy, how is it that the end of July is already months ago??) I took the girls fruit picking at Terhune Orchards just outside of Princeton. It’s a lovely place, and it’s always so nice to pick your own produce. What made this little trip even nicer was that Lillian with Shanna (and her mother-in-law Hilary, for a little while) met us there. It was a great morning of berry picking, picnic food eating and drinking in country life. I’ll pretty much just let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Posted in Family, Jaunts out of NYC | 2 Comments

Summer fun

The summer is coming to an end, and we are back in the full swing of homeschooling. We took a nice long summer break. I had great intentions of schooling through the summer, but somehow as it warmed up outside we all just lost steam. And so I changed my mind, and I’m glad I did. Our summer filled up with so many fun things and people that to have tried to do homeschooling through all that would have been very stressful.

We had a bunch of overnight guests, we had many, many playdates with old friends and new friends, we spent lots of time at the playground and the sprinklers and we even did an Art in the Park lesson and had a trip to the zoo.

The kids did a “Piano Camp” for a week where they spent the morning learning about composers, did ear training and other such fun music-y stuff and each got a piano lesson too. There was a little recital at the end of the week and all the kids did so well. I’m always amazed at what Shannon (their teacher) gets out of them! Though, I must say I was glad that Piano Camp was only for a week, because it meant driving an hour to Brooklyn and an hour home.

On hot days, the kids had free access to the craft box, and they created lots of fun things. They also really got into drawing, and especially Esther spent hours upon hours just drawing the most inventive things. Many puzzles also got built, and I got a puzzle bug too and did a 1000 piece puzzle, which got started with a bit of help from Aunt Sharon when she and Uncle Sherwood (and Esther and Jonathan!) were visiting a few weekends ago.

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The library also got frequent visits as Marica continues to motor through books at an alarming rate. She joined the library’s summer reading club and got some little prizes and a certificate for the thousands (literally!) of pages she read over the summer.

We also went fruit picking and camping, but I’ll share those photos in seperate posts. It’s nice to now have started the new school year and the activities they’ll take part in: piano lessons, homeschool co-op, and Girl Scouts. Routine is good!

Posted in Kids, Updates | 3 Comments

A prize-winning photo!

With such a sensationalist title, you’d think this is something really special, right? Well, not quite! TripAdvisor (where Ben works) had this internal competition over the summer where you could send in a photo with a TripAdvisor fridge magnet on your vehicle, and every week they picked a winner.

One night, we organised a date night and went and took some photos.  After that we had a fantastic Mexican dinner and got to witness a spectacular lightning storm from our cozy seats inside the restaurant.

Here is our prize-winning entry. Ta-daaa!

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Oh, you’re probably wondering what we won. No, not a holiday… I wish! A big bag full of useful (and less useful) goodies with TripAdvisor emblazoned on them all. :-)

Posted in Being creative, Photography | 5 Comments