Fitting Some Fun into a Busy Working Summer

I am sitting here just past the mid-point of the busiest summer of my life as a parent.  This one is not busy with play dates and holidays and beach fun. It has instead been busy for the whole family because of a journey that my two oldest children have embarked upon.

The last week of June, my 3 kids competed at the Canadian National Taekwondo Championships, my youngest for the first time.  We traveled to Montreal where all 3 of them won their divisions and received gold medals.  After so many years of them competing at every tournament together, it was a most welcomed treat to have them all achieve their goals … not one left to feel the regret of a performance that had not gone as expected, which is part of the journey we have naturally faced from time to time through these many years.  This Nationals was unique for us in that both my son and oldest daughter were old enough and qualified for the spot on the Canadian National Team that would travel to Korea and compete at the Cadet World Taekwondo Championships this August (yes, this month!) and then travel to Mexico to represent Canada at the Junior Pan Am Taekwondo Championships in September.

It goes without saying that this whole experience has been thrilling beyond belief, and has exposed us to a whole new world of training, considerations, and planning that we have not experienced before.  Exhilarating as the trip to Nationals was, our noses have been at the grindstone ever since with days filled with taekwondo camps, travel plans to sort out (the children will travel for the first time without us but rather with their coaches and teammates), fueling considerations to be made at every snack, meal, and party that we partake of.  Yes, the real work has most definitely set in, and after 9 years of my kids doing taekwondo, I actually feel like a first time mother… overwhelmed at the newness of it all and at the sheer intensity of it… and I’m not even the one doing the training!!

Along the way, I have tried to fit in some ideas for family time that would give us a much needed change of focus, even if it is only for a day or a weekend.

I used my Fun in the Sun Beach Day Checklist (read the blog post to get your free printable) to pack a day trip to Orillia’s Couchiching Beach.  No sooner had we arrived and finished our picnic lunch, than we had to pack our things and run to the car.  The heavens had opened up with a huge downpour of rain!  We spent the next couple hours at a bowling alley instead, and although it was fun we certainly realized how dependent we have become on using those gutter bumpers  over the past few years with kids.  Bowling is a lot trickier without the security blanket those bumpers offer!

We spent a Friday night at the Royal Ontario Museum checking out the Pompeii Exhibit among other areas of the museum.  Entry is half price on Fridays after 4:30, and it is open until 8:30.  It was a lot for my 7 year old even though she is an avid reader.  My husband and son raced to see as much as they could as quickly as possible (totally in character for both of them!) My 14 year old could have stayed all night and read every single exhibit’s notes.  It was wonderful to realize that she and I could spend any available day in the future thoroughly enjoying a leisurely walk through a gallery or museum together… maybe in Paris someday ?? She absolutely loved it.

And I have been grateful for moments (especially quiet mornings) when I have taken some time to meander through Katrina Kenison’s thoughtful blog and her posts that always remind me to notice the opportunities and the blessings in each day, no matter how busy or how overwhelming life becomes.  I am reminded that days rarely unfurl as expected, and I can build a happy home any number of ways if I can just  remember to enjoy the few moments we spend together each day … and to breathe.

So here I am facing the last week before the whole family flies to Korea.  Much to do for parents and kids in these next days.  I will try to make some time to just enjoy each other… starting with spending some time playing a family game of Rumoli on this rainy Saturday morning.

Kick Off a Happy Birthday with These Easy Tips

Birthday BalloonsWeekday mornings have got to be the busiest time of the day around my home, but when one of the kids has a birthday I have a couple of “go-to” traditions that get the day off to a festive and happy start for the birthday boy or girl… and the rest of us!

The easiest idea is to have some helium balloons floating right beside the birthday child’s bed.  When they first open their eyes on that special day, they are filled with excitement at the sight… such a simple thing, but it really sets the tone from the get-go.  In past years, my husband and I would wait until the kids went to bed the night before the birthday and run out to purchase the balloons.  Now I’ve realized it’s even easier to buy the balloons any time during the day before the birthday and just hide them in the basement or furnace room so that no one gets a peak until the morning when the birthday child awakes.

The second tradition we like to use (especially on a weekday birthday) [Read more…]

A Very Special Graduation Gift Idea

grad luncheon centrepiecesThe countdown is on… less than one month until my first child graduates from Grade 8.  She is feeling so excited; I am feeling so sentimental.

One of the things that has been keeping me busy this year is my involvement with my daughter’s school’s graduation committee.  This committee is comprised primarily of parents of the grade 8 students with occasional assistance and authorizations from the grade 8 teacher and school principal.  At our tiny, small town school with 35 grade 8 graduates this year, we have planned 2 very special events to mark this big turning point for our children.  The first is a grad luncheon which is held at the school during lunch hour for all the graduates along with the entire school staff.  It is a celebration to kick off the graduation week and provide a big thank you for all of the contributions the staff have made to our children over the past 10 years.  I have been the lead on this event, coordinating catering, gifts, and managing the cash in and out in preparation for this event which is scheduled for a couple weeks from now.  It turns out that with a contribution of just $25 per student (plus many thoughtfully contributed donations from parents and graduates alike) we are prepared to host a catered hot luncheon complete with decorations, dessert, favours, and best wishes for all.

Our school’s actual graduation event is being head up by another mom who has contributed much time and enthusiasm to coordinating an offsite, mid-week graduation celebration including presentation of diplomas & awards, a hot meal, and a dance in the theme of “A Hawaiian Sunset”.  As this will be my first “parent of a graduate” experience, I am torn between reminising about my own graduation and how much fun it all was, how much fun I know my daughter and her friends will be having, and the constant reminder that my little girl is not so little any more.  Watching this particular graduation is going to be turning point for me as well, as I battle to let her go and hold her close … a beautiful young woman emerging before my very eyes.

The special graduation gift that I just completed for my daughter and want to share with you today is something that my dear friend and mother of 5 (yes, that is correct mother of 5 children between grades 4 and grade 8!!) proposed to our parent graduation committee. [Read more…]

3 Random Tips for Happier Days

tips & tricks


Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference to how an ordinary day turns out.  Recently I’ve tried a few new tricks to make things run more smoothly around my home, and I’m so happy with the results of these 3 new twists that I figured I’d share them…



Having Trouble Fitting In Time for
Family Games on Busy Weeknights?

Does your family love board games that take a long time to play?  These games go unplayed month after month waiting for a week off of school or a weekend getaway where there is ample opportunity to slow down together. Well bust out the Rumoli or Monopoly!! Here’s an oh-so-logical solution that enables me to fit in some family game time free of technology, phone interruptions, and other distractions even if we have only 20 minutes to spare before dinner or heading out to our evening activities…

Set up the game on a little used table, and here’s the trick… DON’T PACK IT UP!!  Whenever a bit of time comes available, just head to the game table and play a few rounds, then leave it set up to continue where you left off the next day.  No fuss, no muss!  Thanks to this awesome and obvious tip from a friend, we have started a Rumoli game that will wind up at the end of Easter weekend.   Board games are my favourite kinds of quality time together, and without the set up and clean up, we can fit it in almost daily.

Do Your Kids Refuse a Much Needed Nap
the Day After A Late Night of Fun?

This little trick worked like a charm when my son was 4 – 8 years old, and just this weekend it proved too much for my 6 year old to withstand!! We had overnight guests visit us on Saturday night, and each and every one of us were up WAY too late.  The next morning was a fairly early rise because everyone wanted to maximize the remaining hours of the visit before their departure later that afternoon.  I knew that an afternoon nap was a must for me, and my 6 year old was willing to “try” to nap despite her doubt that she could fall asleep in the middle of the day.  When I went upstairs after about 20 minutes I noticed her eyes were open and she was moving about in her bed… no way to fall asleep!  So I took out my secret, irrestible weapon… [Read more…]

A Birthday Idea for Mom or Dad

About a month ago, I had a birthday.  My husband and kids came up with a thoughtful, creative, and very sweet way to treat me extra special for the day.  I am excited to share this simple little idea with you… along with a FREE PRINTABLE that will make it even quicker and easier for you to pull off in your own home.

Birthday Do's & Don'ts

When I woke up that morning and went about my usual morning routine, I kept bumping into notes that had been left for me.  At each new location (bathroom, hallway, kitchen counter, near my boots, etc) I found 2 pieces of paper.

One said “On this special day, you are definitely allowed to …”
The other paper beside it said “On this special day, you are definitely NOT allowed to …”

They came up with all kinds of great ideas that let me know that THEY knew just what my favourite things to do are, AND just what things I would really appreciate a one-day break from.   You can get your kids in on the fun by printing my FREE TEMPLATE using the link below and then having the whole family brainstorm and write out ideas uniquely suited to your family’s birthday boy or girl. [Read more…]

Bedroom Makeover… Small Cost, BIG Improvement!!

School house room renoWhat’s to do when the whole month is filled day after day with record breaking temperature lows?  This is for sure the coldest winter that I can remember in a LONG time, and my new year’s urge to reorganize and redecorate has been ramped up by my desire to remain toasty warm indoors.

The result:  My 6 year old daughter’s bedroom got a major reorg … and at virtually no cost !!

It seems like I never know it until it’s upon me… that day when I will suddenly become aware that my baby has really outgrown the baby room that we so lovingly created years ago.  Eventually the crib is dismantled for a new, big kid bed, but in our home all the toys that were once paramount parts of a day’s play are mighty hard to let go of.  In fact, we often don’t even realize how much space all that old stuff is taking up… sitting around just in case the urge to play with it on a cold or rainy day comes up again.

One day this past week as I climbed the stairs to our 2nd story, I was struck by what a crazy and overflowing collection of stuff had accumulated in my youngest daughter’s bedroom.  The urge to purge hit me by force, and I gave myself 3 hours to clear the room down to the bare bones. [Read more…]