March Break – the planning has started!

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You read right – I am already starting to plan for March Break and I’ll be honest with you, I enjoy it! We are more of a ‘Stay-cation’ family so I try to make the most of the week off and keep things interesting and slightly educational. My quest for fun started last year when I was raking my brains for things to do to keep my two young kids occupied so they wouldn’t bother my husband too much. His office is in our basement and the insulation between floors in this house is, well, there isn’t any, so to minimize stomping feet I had to come up with some clever and all-consuming ideas to keep the craziness at bay.

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It was while I scoured the good old internet that I started seeing a lot of activities that combined learning with fun and the more I searched, the more excited I became about getting my kids to make weird and wonderful experiments. By the time March Break arrived I had an arsenal of science based activities that could span the whole week. Due to the fun that was had the kids often ask to make stuff even if it’s only the weekend and it has also seeped into play-dates so now when a friend comes over the first thing they cry out is, “Can we do experiments?!” The current favourite is rainbow volcanoes.

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The key to having a really successful week is to plan ahead and start allocating a different activity for each day.  We would spend most of the morning and some of the early afternoon being messy, then the rest of the day the kids had their own playtime and I gotta say, it worked out brilliantly! The weather was fairly cold so being inside for a whole week straight required plenty of attention diverting cleverness. (I will pat myself on the back here!)

This year the kids have been very much a part of the planning process. They sat with me for over an hour this weekend and poured over various sites and pages filled with ideas and fun. Our starting point was Pintrest before we moved on to learning pages and finally Amazon to buy a book called ‘150+ Screen-Free Activities for kids’. It’s from a great site called Fun at Home with Kids and it has lots of really clever ideas to keep little ones occupied. We also bought some liquid watercolors because a lot of activities call for coloring of some sort and we have found food coloring to be a brilliant stainer! One play-date resulted in a friends hand being dyed blue…I’m sure I may have not been popular that night!

RainbowAs I mentioned the theme last March was Science and every day we did different ‘experiments’, taking our cue from a website called Steve Spangler Science. We found recipes for Ooblek, Borax Snowflakes, color-changing milk and more. It’s a great site and worth checking for plenty of fun ideas. (Links to sites are at the bottom of this article.) Some of the experiments call for ingredients that you may not have in your home so the bonus of planning ahead also includes being able to source out and get supplies needed.

This year the kids want to mix science and art so we have come up with a few new ideas such as watercolor ice cubes, magic snow-globes and gelatin castles. Sounds messy, right?! That’s all part of the fun! My daughter also wants to try her hand at making cosmetics and after a trip to Lush we decided to attempt to make Bath Bombs and lip gloss. While she is doing that my younger son can have a go at making Galaxy Slime. Even though it’s still under a month away, we are all getting a little excited at the fun that will happen and I can’t wait to watch my kids be enthralled by new activities and learning adventures.

If you are dreading the looming holiday and want to find something different to do then here are a few sites I would recommend to start your search for fun. Many of these activities are aimed at younger kids but a few sites also accommodate older children.

  • Two-daloo.com
  • Steve Spangler Science
  • Instructables
  • Etsy (I found plain, paintable Russian Dolls here which the kids decorated themselves. It was a really fun project and a wonderful keepsake.)
  • funathomewithkids.com As I mentioned the book can be found on Amazon although it has been very popular so it may take a while to arrive. Unfortunately for us it won’t arrive until after March Break but we figured it was worth having in the house for all holiday’s.

Organizing: A Way of Life for Filofax Lovers

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Filofax

I’ve always loved Filofax and have never really been able to accommodate an electronic version of planning my diary simply because I enjoy the look and feel of having a Filofax to hand. The start of a new year is always fun for me because I can flip through the crisp new pages of the diary and start adding all the things to look forward to as the months go on. It wasn’t until I joined Instagram that I realized there is a world of ‘Planner Addicts’ out there; people who collect an amazing amount of Filofax’s, organizers or planners and use them to accommodate their needs; some use a different planner for each month of the year or simply to reflect their mood at that particular time.

Not only have Filofax become so popular among the planning community, the use of washi tape, Kawaii stickers and post-it notes has also joined in the party. These items are essential and some users will go to amazing lengths to make their weekly pages look sparkling and full of cute cartoons and stickers. Of course a Planner can not be seen as being disorganized so all the accouterments to a Filofax are neatly stored in a special Craftmate Filo or binder, ready to be used whenever the mood strikes. Folios usually start out as passport or travel holders that then become modified to hold whatever the owner desires.

Processed with MoldivIt is because of this new found world that I have become intrigued by all this and have scoured websites and pages dedicated to the ‘Planner Life’. Some pages I see and I think, ‘this person has an actual addiction that may need attention!’ Other pages I see and nod my head in admiration for their skills in using their hobby to their advantage. One site I’ve come across that apparently has quite a following is called Websters Pages and I have to say I can see why they are so popular. The company is owned by a brother and sister duo who started out with their own printing company, Webster Fine Art, before launching into a more personal brand of scrapbook papers and planners and they now have a collection that out sells months in advance.

All things aside, this made me think about how to apply it to everyday life and I have started being more conscious of planning out my week so I don’t get caught out and miss something vital – like my daughters swimming class. By getting colorful and creative with my planning the rest of the family takes note and sees the silly doodles and then sees how they are involved in the day-to-day activities. By being organized and going through the up and coming week you get a sense of advanced warning so each week you are prepared for what lies ahead. It’s reassuring and helpful when a member of the household asks, “what’s happening on […]day?” Without having to thumb through pages or reach for the iPhone I can tell them instantly. Even my kids thumb through the pages and remind me of school goings on – get ‘em started early and they’ll be more organized than most young kids!

This approach might not work for everyone – some people live through their electronics and enjoy the convenience of having every booking or appointment on their phone or tablet so that’s fine, but being able to constantly see a week ahead can be beneficial too. It’s quicker to jot down a note than get your phone, plug in your pass-code, open the app, open the keyboard, type/talk, save. Having a Filofax or planner visible can also give you motivation throughout your week. If you want to get something done, write it down so you can see it; that way there is a smaller chance of you either a) forgetting or b)procrastinating (my weakness!) I usually choose one task I would like to see done that week and if I manage to fulfill the task, I add something else.

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If you want to see a well planned out organizer, check out My Purpley Life. Jennifer has a world of decorated planner pages that go way beyond what I could do but it’s well laid out and obviously helps her get through all her day-to-day tasks. It started with a love for all things crafty and progressed into a need for organization which introduced her to Filofax. She is currently one of the creative planner designers for Websters Pages, to list one of many attributes to various companies.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I am a lover of the physical book, paper and creative arts and crafts so to see a strong community promoting the use of the beloved Filofax is fantastic and I think we could all use a little color in our lives. Taking time to sit and plan out your life while adding color and perhaps some sparkle is a fun way to loose some time and be immersed in making life more than just mundane. Why not consider doing the same? Do you have a planner gathering dust somewhere? Bring it out, spruce it up and keep it visible so you can feel more in control of your week.

Sunday, Sunday, glorious Sunday!

What an epic day! When I say epic, I don’t mean in the sense that a crazy adventure was had; we didn’t all go bungee jumping together or anything remotely crazy like that. No, an epic day for us is one where everyone is happy to do their own thing and chores also get done in the process.

Today was one of those glorious days where the children were totally compatible and spent the entire day cavorting together without a single fight as they morphed from one fantasy world to another. They started off the morning as pirates and turned our sofa into their pirate ship, sailing the seven seas in search of adventure before my husband and I were enlisted to plan and map out a full on treasure hunt. This went on for quite a while before the pirates decided they were hungry and I was called upon to make Pirate PBJ sandwiches.

With full tummies the pirates then decided they were done hunting for treasure so opted to go for the next best thing and watch Scooby Doo (the 1970’s version) while giggling at the slap-stick antics.  During this time I was upstairs re-organizing our bedroom closet and giving the whole room a good old fashioned sweep-down.  I purged the shelves of clothes not worn and did away with holey socks and t-shirts. I dusted and hoovered (vacuumed) like a mad woman and the result was a blissfully clean, organized and zen-like room complete with fresh sheets and puffy pillows to which I’m looking forward to getting cozy with tonight.

As I finished my chores my daughter approached me and “ahem”-ed me. I turned and was greeted by a dazzling pink princess. “Mummy, I am now Queen and you must do as I say,” she informed me as her brother came racing into the room in his Spiderman costume and declared for all the neighborhood to hear that Spiderman had arrived. With eyebrows raised I accepted this new change in family hierarchy and asked if there was anything Her Majesty required at that present moment in time. I was told no but to be aware that a demand may happen at any moment unto which I would be promptly informed. They both then hurried out of the room and descended the stairs to the basement where they began a whole new fantasy game. They also spent time crafting crowns for themselves out of construction paper, the remnants of which now scatter the playroom floor. Throughout all this my husband and I pottered about doing our own thing, casually remarking at how beautifully the offspring were playing together and how lovely it is not to hear fighting and bickering.

This game continued all the way up through dinner and let me tell you, it was amazing seeing the clean plates! Usually my children are fussy eaters but not tonight; those plates were cleared by mini tornadoes before they were off again to continue their game of Queen and Spiderman. Nothing makes a parent feel more accomplishment than when their child has scarfed food they have prepared without a complaint! Bath and bed time was a breeze and now I sit here while my husband plays video games, children all nestled in bed, a sense of peace and happiness floating through the house. Like I said, it really was an epic Sunday.