Sunday, January 30, 2011

Calendar Time!

Silas has been showing a lot of interest in the date, the day of the week, the events of the day and even the month of the year.  So I figure it's time to start up a calendar.  As usual, I did some research: consulted all my favorite blogs (such as this one, this one and this one), checked out a few teacher supply stores, and looked up a few early childhood resources.  And then, as usual, I kinda just made up my own thing.  I'm having trouble finding time to get these things set up - especially as I'm currently printerless.  And unlike a city dweller, I'm afraid there's no teacher supply store to run to every time I want to try something new.  That's probably a good thing!  So, I went into my basement and had a look around, then spent some quality time with some foam sheets, scissors and a black sharpie marker.

This is what I came up with:

Not very inspiring, right?  I mean, compared to the beautiful, exactly straight, perfectly co-ordinated and professionally done works of art I listed above, it's pretty ho-hum.  But darn it, it works!  Silas and Oliver both enjoy it.  A lot!  And Silas is already helping me count whereas before he couldn't go past 12 (except for randomnly inserting 16 four or five times lol!).  He knows what month it is, what month is coming up and which month his birthday is in.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow concepts? We're still working on those!  

Surprisingly, the aspect of this that he enjoys most is the daily posted routine.  He loves knowing what's coming up and when.  He used to always ask, "What's today mom?" and I say, "Tuesday is swimming day" or "Thursday is town day".  Now he looks it up himself every morning, we talk about our day after the date has been established and he steps me through it.  This is yesterday's list posted in the picture, and we were out of the house for a play date in the morning and a hockey game (to watch) in the afternoon, so there are quite a few little activities around the house that aren't listed.  Often, I plan on pulling out the play dough or the sensory bin or sitting down and playing train tracks with them, but often fail to follow through.  And since it was all posted privately in my head, or at best, my iPad, it didn't really matter.  Now I'm accountable to my plan!  Silas knows!  It's really been working out really well.  

Another aspect of the calendar that I didn't suspect was the kick start it would give our day.  Often, after breakfast, we'd sit down and go over our calendar and our day.  The first thing listed in our routine is always "Get Ready".  I have made Silas a checklist of things to do every morning so we're ready for the day.  It's a simple little list and he does his thing while I do mine and then we really are ready for a new day!  No more lolling about in the mornings, it's been great!  Anyhow, I digress!

The reason I chose to share this less-than-stellar little calendar was to show you that simple is better than none.  Inspired to Action is a blog that, oddly enough, really inspires me, and I especially identified with this post.  It's so true!  And I'm so glad I made this little calendar for my family as it's already done big things for us.  Not only that, but I'm hoping to build on it.  Not only to ease us into the whole thing - Silas is only three, after all, and I'm in no rush - but also to give me time to prepare it.  Spending hours and hours all at once is a tall order for me around here.  One little thing a month, though,  I can handle that, right?  

I'll share as I go!

Friday, January 28, 2011

"My" Newest Sensory Bin

I've been inspired by a few wonderful bins from all over the net, and some the enthusiastic posts from 1+1+1=1 (you should also check out Counting Coconuts for tons of ideas!).  I've done a Halloween bin, a Christmas bin, and now a "construction" bin.  Just a few dollar store trucks and dozers, shined rocks, fish tank gravel, some blocks, popsicle sticks and wooden blocks.  Oh and a few juice can lids, plan toy men, an empty saran wrap roll (these are pretty sturdy!) and a couple of metal gift card holders just cause I had them. I plan on adding some shovels and buckets and other odds and ends over time.  So far it's a big (messy!) hit.  Somehow, this bin has been a little more wild than the others, not sure exactly why.  I usually pull this out a few times a week while I'm in the kitchen making supper and the boys can play there and be near me.  Try one out sometime, it's a great way to occupy little ones for a half hour while you're trying to get something done!

Fun this week!

We were away for a fun-filled long weekend, not getting home until late Monday night, which of course threw us off for Tuesday, then I worked on Wednesday and had yet another off day on Thursday.  So really that only gave us a few days to do anything remotely tot/preschool-ish over the past ten days.  However, what we did do, we had great fun with!  Silas and Oliver both really enjoy painting.   Once a week, we have a messy art day and we CAN NOT paint without at least five cars making their way through the paint tray!  It does make for some pretty neat gifts (even if it's just the wrapping paper lol).

I did manage to convince Oliver to try a paint brush for awhile, just for something different.  He's really been getting into painting lately, and he only eats the paint every now and then!

After painting, we did some gluing with watered down glue and paint brushes and stuck on a bunch of feathers, buttons, pom poms and paper scraps.  They enjoyed this, reminding me I should do more gluing activities with them.

Our only day actually doing anything remotely academic was this afternoon while Oliver napped.  We got out our foam puzzles and gathered up types of objects (1 mermaid, 2 race cars, 3 blue cars etc) to match the numbers.  We then did the same thing with the alphabet.  Silas is really starting to get this, although it's by no means automatic.  He's got a few things memorized, but ask him for something different (as we are rather short on bumblebees this time of year!) and he's got to think for a while!

As for Oliver, he had a blast visiting over the weekend, but I think he was pretty happy to be home and back to normal!  He's also discovered the joys of traveling with a dump truck.  I cannot count the number of miles Silas has put in pushing a truck around the ranch, but he did where out a set of Tonka truck wheels and we had to wrap them with hockey tape.  Looks like Oliver will be following in his big brother's footsteps!

I love how kids always have to check out the wheels moving!  Looking at this pictures, it's probably a good thing these two love to push their trucks around as much as they do!  There are literally places that Oliver gets stuck cause it's so slippery he can't get any traction to move forward.  It's SO icy right now, and sometimes it thaws during the day, sometimes it doesn't, but it's sparked a lot of conversation and fun!

I'm linking this post to Weekly Wrap-up, Preschool Corner, and Tot School - check them out for more fun ideas!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ipad apps for moms: Menu Board

Scattered though out the saved yogurt and sour cream containers in a drawer are some very dog-eared recipes on bits of paper from all over.  Regular printer paper bent in odd shapes, yellow sticky notes ripped from their pads, little dollar store notebook paper, crumpled and splattered, newspaper clippings, index cards and magazine photocopies in black and white.  Why in the heck am I telling you about this rather gross assortment of bits and bobs in the bottom drawer of my kitchen?  Well, partly because you really can't see it unless you open the drawer, and the drawer sticks pretty good, so it's not likely anyone would ever notice.  And partly because my major plan is to get rid of these random and elusive papers with help from my next featured app.  Mealboard!

When I started to look for a recipe app, I had a few requirements.  I wanted to be able to plan meals, store recipes and create a shopping list using both these features.  I was so new to the app world at first I didn't even realize that I could store recipes and plan a menu on the same app - how neat!  Now I can't live without it.  The thought of approaching a grocery store with out a menu plan and shopping list gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I strongly dislike going into a grocery store more than once a week.  Too many impulse buys!  And I'd probably come home with another bottle of ketchup to add to my collection and no rice, tortillas or cumin.  Wasted money, wasted time! Gad, the thought of unbuckling and re-buckling car seats more often than necessary just about makes me faint!  If for no other reason, efficiency means less car seat buckles!

I did a bit of online research, checked out a few different apps and finally settled on this one.  It's not perfect. It was created for ipod and doesn't rotate for a horizontal view (which I prefer).  It can be a little clumsy and I wish you could access the internet through this app and import recipes from online.  However, having said all that, I use it every single week.  I've set myself a rule:  I may not use a recipe that isn't in my ipad.  So everytime I use a new recipe, whether it's from a website, a cook book or one of the aforementioned papers in my drawer, I have to type it into my ipad.  In a year or so, I'll go through my paper collection and decide if the recipes I have left in there are really worth keeping.  Then that mess will be gone!

My menu-making routine goes as follows.  Wednesdays is the day I get my produce bin from the company I co-own.  I go through my bin, freezer, fridge and cupboards as I plan out the three meals a day for the next seven days.  You add recipes to each day in your set amount of time ( a week for me, like I said), designate them as breakfast, lunch, or dinner (I also have baking and snacks designations), and then create a shopping list.  It creates the list from the ingredients listed in each recipe and I'll review the list, checking off what I already have.  I like that part - it makes me pause a moment and think "do I actually have baking powder, or was that getting a little low?".  There's an option to delete all checked items, which I do before I get to the store to make the list short, sweet and simple.  Another feature I appreciate with this app is that you can arrange your list however you like. I have ordered the list by aisle so there's no heading back to the bakery section because you've forgotten tortillas.

And that's that!  This app has kept me on track, on budget and prepared at three or four o'clock each evening.  Now if I could just keep Oliver from touching the screen while my back is turned to the shopping cart, I'd have it made!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Pantry Challenge - Update

Just thought I'd leave a quick post on what's been going on in my pantry. As you may recall, I'm not buying any meat, I'm aiming for $50 a week on groceries while trying to restock my pantry and use up all my frozen fruit as jam.  Well, I've had success and failure.

I've only bought produce and dairy products for weeks!  Week 1 I spent less than $50, but this past week I spent $116.  I'm not sure how that happened!  I did buy a large pack of cheese, a flat of canned beans and a few other $10+ purchases, but somehow I thought I was okay.  Guess not!  On the other hand, I've yet to buy a speck of meat, as promised.  I've been really working the meal planning around my bin of free produce and the eggs I get from our chickens and whatever else I've had on hand, which has really made me feel smug and thrifty!

As far as the jam goes, once again, no progress.  It's the same excuse - where do I find time to do this?  I think I'm over-estimating how much time this takes.  It's not that difficult of a process, yet I find myself convinced I'll need hours of kid-free time and I haven't had that at all these past weeks (or months!).  So I may have to bite the bullet and get her done any old time, kids or no kids.  And more than likely, that'll be just fine.  Think of all the freezer space I'll have!  And all the pretty jars of jam lined up in my cold room!

Here is my plan for the upcoming week:

Monday:  Frozen waffles re-toasted (that I made on Sunday) with fruit, Muffin Tin Monday snacks from around the house, Hamburgers with carrots and collard greens.
Tuesday: Oatmeal, Cheesy noodles, Deer Roast with fried cabbage and crock pot Horseradish Scalloped potatoes.
Wednesday: Frozen waffles re-toasted (also from the giant batch I made on Sunday).  I work on Wednesday so the kids are at my mom's and we stay for dinner - yay!
Thursday: Scrambled eggs and toast, Ichiban noodles, crock pot meatloaf with peas, corn, turnip and noodles for supper.
Friday: Fried eggs and toast, canned beans (for the boys, leftovers for me!), and crock pot chicken masala with rice and asparagus.
Saturday: Cranberry orange muffins, lentil mix with sweet potato, Broccoli soup with cheese.
Sunday:  Pancakes (extra large batch for the upcoming week!), grilled cheese and tomato soup, and of course, spaghetti for supper.

I'm linking to Menu Plan Monday.

Tot School - Snowy days

 It's been pretty lax Tot School wise around here lately.  Mostly because I've started doing preschool with Silas while Oliver is napping and I've yet to figure out where Tot School fits into our day now.

As I mentioned in my preschool post, there have been multiple mentions of snow from those who don't normally get it.  Here (south central BC) snow isn't unusual at all, but we did get a nice big dump this past week so I thought I'd throw in a few tot school snow pictures too!

Our Christmas sensory bin is still out.  Oliver and his brother play with it 2-3 times a week and they still enjoy it, although I've noticed they spend less time with it when I bring it out these days.  A new bin is coming up!  As far as the Christmas bin goes, Oliver always rummages through to find those two giant light bulbs, he loves them!  He bangs them together, rubs them together, stashes them under paper and packing peanuts, and quickly finds them again.  He's been doing a lot of throwing lately, but that's not something I'm encouraging!

Another something he's been enjoying lately are egg cartons.  Each time I rotate our toys I bring something up that Oliver can pack around in his little basket (as he's also into toting things around).  If I leave an egg carton out, guaranteed Oliver's going to be putting one item in each hole.  Here he's using practice golf balls - which we love for many things, by the way! - and the little balls from his ball popper machine.

Like Carisa, and as I've already said,  we're not doing any formal Tot School rotation, but here Oliver is, happy as heck, out in the snow.  We got 8" in one night and we had such a blast the next morning.  Oliver, in particular, loves to eat it!  At least it was fresh, not two-week old snow.

We also did our fair share of sledding.  Living on a ranch tucked into the mountains has its advantages, don't you know?!  Here Oliver and Silas are humouring me with a (strange) smile while waiting for me to just get on already so we could slide!

And that's it for this week!  I'll try and be a little more dedicated in the picture-taking department this coming week!  For more inspiration and ideas, see 1+1+1=1.

Mom's iPad - Corkulous

I love Corkulous.  Love it.  Can't live without it!  I'm a very visual person and adore how I can lay everything out, all tidy and lined up, and really see what the heck is going on in my life.  I use corkulous for many, many things, but first let me tell you how it works.  For those of you who don't know, it's basically a big electronic cork board.  You can create as many cork boards as you want, and you can put many things on each one, including post-it notes, slips of paper, checklists, pictures, contact information and even more corkboards (great for a sub-category loving mom like myself!).  You can rearrange everything as much as you want and just recently they've added a feature where you can email or export either a section of a board or an entire board in order to share what you've created.

Let me share some of the bulletin boards I've created in order to give you some ideas of how this app can be used:

My most often used is the board I call Home. This is where I set up to-do lists, daily routines (I'm a structure girl!), projects, ideas, and some-days for my house, as well as the odd picture of my family to keep me motivated.  I've got some sub-boards absolutely plastered with papers, all laid out just so.  This app is great for those of us who spend time trying get everything to line up and look nice - and for those of us who're just as happy sticking them up any ol' place!

I created a board labeled Christmas in November, and was tickled pink to have an excuse to use the lock that required a password to get into this board - and good thing I did as my teenager stumbled onto this board while exploring my ipad!  I had a sub-board for each of my children, as well as my husband and also kept an area on the main board for every other gift-recipient this year.   I kept a budget on each board, kept track of what I bought, where I got it, if it had arrived in the mail (I shop a lot online), and whether or not I wrapped it.  Additionally, I had a sub board to keep track of decorating, fun stuff to do as a family, and I had the days from about the 23rd to the 27th roughly scheduled so that it was easy to remember where to go and what to bring each day.  I used this board a LOT during the lead up to Christmas!

A third board I'll share with you is my work board.  With my friend and my sister I co-founded an organic produce delivery service.  This board is where I keep track of ideas for the monthly newsletter I write, hours I worked, credits and debits I have for purchases and supplies, and items I'd like to discuss in upcoming meetings.  Once again, the visual format is fantastic!  It's really just a glance and I can figure out if I have more debits than credits, which piece of information is gonna come together easily for this month's deadline, or how many dozen eggs a supplier has provided that month.

I personally love that I can move the little bits of paper, sticky notes and photos around the board at will, rearranging my day or priorities really easily, as well as editing any typing.  I think it's a cute touch that I can also use sticky note type paper in an array of colours and custom sized to fit your text.  Of course, one feature that always makes my toes curl on the iPad is the pinch zoom.  This one has it!  Yahoo!

In the latest update provided free of charge from Appigo, we were given the ability to email boards, as well as share them in itunes or hook up with your account in Todo (which I don't have, but have been considering - opinions?).  I've yet to figure this out.  At this point, I'm not sure if it's me, or if there's a glitch somewhere.  But I'm pretty sure it's me.  Someday it'll all fall into place, I'm sure.  In the meantime, I don't really need to email boards, right?

I'm really excited about the future of this app . . . there are hints and rumors all over about what's coming up.  I'm stoked to be able to get them free after buying this app for only $5.99!  For more information about this app, see their website or visit the app store.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter preschool!

 I've been reading all sorts of posts from the Southwestern states about snow falls and fun, and thought I'd add my two cents as well.  Up here in south central BC, it's pretty common to get snow, however 8+ inches in one night is still pretty cool!

We spent time outside every day this week!  Making snow angels, sledding, snowmen, the whole kit and caboodle.   So much fun!

I love the weather where it's too cold for snow to melt, but warm enough that kids still have fun outside!  All too often I'll bundle us all up only to stay out for fifteen minutes because little toes, cheeks and fingers just can't hack -15 C or colder.  One happy little boy spent most of his time eating the fresh snow, however I managed to get a great smile above!

Inside we've been doing about 45 minutes of "preschool" aka "games" 3 or 4 times a week while Oliver naps.  There are a few days when we're not home while Oliver naps and on Sundays I let him watch a movie while I mop the floors and do a bit of blogging.   Silas has been so into games lately and I capitalized on it that over Christmas.  Aunties and Grami both accommodated (as did Santa!) and gave him different games as gifts this past Christmas.  He adores this Busy Bugs set from Discovery Toys.  We sort them into colours, then count them, then complete a few pattern cards each day during the week these are out.

Usborne Books Farmyard Tales Alphabet Lotto is back!  He's gotten a little rusty on his letters, so I'm glad he's stoked about this game again.  I had it out just before Christmas and it wasn't really even looked at.  We don't actually play Lotto.  Silas prefers to choose a letter tile, then choose a picture tile that starts with the chosen letter.  Whatever works!

I've mostly stopped playing in our bedroom for a few reasons.  First, it's kind of cool in there. Secondly, it's right next to Oliver's bedroom and I feel like I'm constantly telling Silas "Shhhh, Ollie's sleeping".  And finally, I can set Silas up at his little table for any pencil and paper type activities.  He doesn't rest his arm or hand on the table while he draws or writes and I setting him up in the correct position will help this.  Here he's using Kunmon's My First Book of Tracing book.  He's almost done, Kumon's My Book of Easy Mazes is waiting for him!

One other game Silas received over Christmas was ABSeas, also from Discovery Toys.  It's a magnetic fishing game and each sea creature you catch has a letter on it, to match on your "aquarium" board.  I suppose  you're supposed to try and get your aquarium filled up first, but we keep it pretty light and just put the fish wherever it fits, no matter who it belongs to.

This week is also our last week with our Christmas Sensory Bin, new one coming up next week!  I think the boys are really going to enjoy it!  I know they enjoyed this one, especially when the excitement of Christmas was still building.  It consists mostly of packing peanuts, scraps of wrapping paper, little Santa and snowmen erasers, pompoms in various sizes and Christmas colours, some boys and bits of dollar store ornaments like the giant light bulb Silas has in his hand and the snowflake in Oliver's hand.  I bring it out a few time a week for them to play with while I'm cooking supper.

This post is linked to Homeschool Creations Preschool Corner.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Stay-At-Home Mom's IPad

I have an iPad - it was an early Christmas gift (Thank you Val and Gordie!).  They paid for half, I paid for half and I love it dearly.  LOVE IT!

Surprisingly, there's no "Home Management" app for stay at home (or otherwise) moms.  At least not that I could find.  There are plenty of home maintenance kind of reminder systems, but nothing for actually keeping everything else running smoothly.  I guess it's just not what people pictured for the iPad (haha)?  The main reason I wanted an iPad was to get the portability and simplicity of one of those home management notebook you read about all over the place, with the adaptability, tidiness and editing capabilities of a computer.

The world of apps has almost unending possibilities.  It's overwhelming how many apps there are.  Every time I was looking for an app that would do a particular thing, I went online and searched for recommendations from third parties.  Then I'd look up the apps recommended in the app store, read reviews, peruse its website.  Often I googled the nameof a particular app for more reviews and critiques online.  As someone who'd never even used itunes before, never mind a iphone or ipod (or even my own cell phone!), I wanted to make sure I was wasting my money and I was purchasing the right app for my needs and purpose.  I tried to google "mom's iPad apps" for some app recommendations that I might find useful, but really, there was no easy package recommended by some stay-at-home mom somewhere.  Weird.  So, like the little red hen, I did it myself.  It's still a process, I'm always on the look out for something useful, some way to improve what I'm doing and I know my ipad hasn't reached its full potential, but I am pleased with what I've got so far.

So stay tuned, one iPad app will make it's appearance each weekend!

Booking It in 2011 - Join Us!

So I've decided to join Jessica over at Life As Mom: Booking It In 2011.  She's chosen eleven books she'd like to read this year and has invited everyone else to participate in whatever way they fancy.  I was quite taken by her list and would like to read them all, however I have a few must haves of my own, so I made a few substitutions (which she assured us, is just fine!).  Everyone reading books on her list will post about them on the 10th of each month, beginning February.  Those who've made substitutions and additions to her list (wouldn't we all like to read more than one book each month?) are invited to post about them the following day, on the eleventh.  To see her list, click on the link above and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.  To see mine, see below!

February 10 The Happiness Project – by Gretchen Rubin

February 11- The Birth House - by Ami McKay
March 10 – Mansfield Park 
by Jane Austen (Available free in many apps and ereaders)

March 11 - 100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem and Teach Values by Diana Loomis
April 10 –Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking 
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

April 11 - I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
 by Jennifer Ward, Richard Ward and Ghahremani

May 11 - Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson
June 10 – The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (Available free in many apps and ereaders)
July 11 - Last Child in the Woods-Revised: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
 by Richard Louv
August 10 – The Help 
by Kathryn Stockett

August 11 - Bringing Up Geeks by Marybeth Hicks
September 10 – Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
 by Tsh Oxenreider

September 11 - The Well-trained Mind by Jessie Wise Bauer and Susan Wise
October 10 – Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand
October 11 The Unplugged Play Book: The Essential Parents Guide - by Bobbi Connor
November 10 –Reluctant Entertainer, The: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality by Sandy Coughlin
December 11 – Homemaking as a Social Art (P) by Veronika Van Duin

The Pantry Challenge

This, I have to say, is perfect timing.  For months I've been telling myself that I've GOT to make jam with all the frozen fruit in the freezer.  I've GOT to eat more of our own meat, rather than buying it.  I've GOT to empty the freezers - so I can put more in it haha!  So! I'll be joining in over at Life As Mom's pantry challenge.  She encourages us to set our own parameters and choose some frugal pantry related goals that fit our own families.  Here are mine:

1) Use up at least 3/4 of the frozen fruit.  I have at least three flats of fruit: blueberries, strawberries, plums, huckleberries, peaches, more plums!  Home made jam is easy, delicious and (I tell myself) slightly healthier than store bought.

2)  I'll spend $50 dollars or less, on groceries each week.  Of course, that includes toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.

3) I'll not buy a speck of meat!  Even if it's on sale!  I have bear, venison, beef, chicken and a bit of lamb in the freezer.  There's really no reason for me to be buying meat!

4) Finally, when I do restock the pantry a little, I'll focus on healthy foods that will bless my family!

Care to join us?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tot School - Christmas!

Tot School

We haven't done Tot School in a few weeks, but I've still been checking the weekly posts and links.  I was excited to join in this week with some of Oliver's favorite gifts and Christmas moments!

What a difference a year makes at this age!  Last year he swam around on his tummy in all the gift paper, completely oblivious to the gifts.  This year he actually figured out how to unwrap things on his own!

I'd have to say this little train was one of his favorite toys.  Despite the fact that we had to return the tracks because they didn't fit with our current set, he still ran this Thomas the Train around our house for hours.  This was after my in-laws had left and everyone was winding down for a little quiet time after a busy and exciting morning.  He laid on the floor, head down, for about fifteen minutes just running it back and forth, quiet as a mouse and so happy.

Renewed after quiet time and a snack, I sate them in front of their gifts and the tree for a photo and I was so pleased to get them both smiling, all eyes open and on me!  Not an easy feat with a one and three year old!

On Boxing Day evening, we gathered at my parents' house with my sisters and my niece and nephew.  I had to capture this outfit!  It was a gift from his big sister.  So cute!

The first gift he opened there was this tug boat by Discovery Toys.  It has three balls that can be hammered through the holes on the top.  They make their way down the ramps, going in and out and finally stopping in front of the boat to be replaced to start all over again.  Oliver loved this!  We couldn't tear him away from it to open other gifts.

We generally let the boys go all out at Christmas when comes to candy.  I figure it's best to get it all over with and go back to normal food in a day or two.  Oliver really enjoyed the sucker from Grami (my mom)!

This was such a fantastic Christmas for our family.  A few things were shifted around, a few invitations were turned down, and it made for a really relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable time for everyone.  Best of all, the kids were well rested and able to enjoy it all too!

This post has been linked with 1+1+1=1.