Friday, 27 July 2012

Nature Project: Week Six

Wow! Week Six already? That means summer is flying right on by and before we know it the crisp fall nights and then days will begin. I already can see how much darker it is now than it was a week ago. Honestly I didn't think we were six weeks into summer yet. I really feel a fire lit under me now to get the most out of our limited summer.

All that being said, week six also means a new activity. The title of this week was called "Handy Plants". We learned a little bit about seeds and pollination. Concepts that I think the boys sort of understood but sort of didn't. The actual activity component is a bit more of a wait and see kind of thing so I am hoping over the next few weeks the boys will get a better understanding.

The activity was actually kind of fun. The author suggested grabbing an old pair of wool socks or wool mitts and finding a place outdoors that would have flowers past blooming stage and grasses growing. The child puts the sock or mitt on their hand and runs it over the plants. The hope is that the wool of the sock or mitt will catch and grab the seeds.

Here are a few pix of us catching some seeds with out handy socks (which Daddy donated to the cause from his work sock pile):

Once you have picked up a nice bunch of seeds take the sock home and fill it with dirt and place on a tray. Water and wait. As you can see we modified a bit and put dirt in and then placed them on some more dirt in a planter. 

So now we will wait. I really hope that these sock seeds do something.

The little Q & A that was part of this chapter was a bit difficult for the boys to grasp. Pollination has to do with reproduction which is somewhat of a subject that once you get rolling you better be ready to answer the questions. As far as flowers are concerned though we learned that pollination happens when pollen reaches the pistil and inside the pistil the seeds are made. Now, I don't remember tons from high school biology but I happen to recall there being a stamen and I believe that is where the pollen falls off from. I'm pretty sure. Not 100%. More like 95%.

All in all it was a great day. Daddy went on the nature walk with us (it's a bit of a mini trek to get to the wildflower green space I had in mind). By the end we were sufficiently sun (and sweat) drenched and there was definitely some snoozing in the van on the way home.

The next two weeks will be about water (I've been noticing a theme where the activities are related two weeks in a row). Next week is specifically about water itself. What is water? That kind of thing. The boys have some interest already in the water system so I hope to expand on that. The following week is about Watering Holes and the animals that show up there (I am EXCITED about that one, special outing is in store that day).

Until next post :)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Together Again

On Sunday evening Viktor arrived home safe and sound after his week of fun. He was everything I expected: taller, smarter, stronger, wiser. He had a wonderful time bonding with his Grandparents. He came home with so many stories to tell of the people he met and the things he did. My mother had him draw a journal every day while he was there. From that I know he got to go on the quad with my dad, chop vegetables with my mum and had a very successful week of swimming lessons.

While he was away it was mostly business as normal here however Max did get a few extra treats. Like an adorable cooking set that was only $5!! He also helped me with all sorts of things. He really did rise to the challenge of being the biggest brother in the house (if only for a little while).

It is obvious I guess that in Vik's absence we decided to forgo the Nature Activity for week four. Well, not completely, but mostly. Last week's activity was about Ladybugs and while it would be nice to take the boys out to observe them, truth is that the boys just don't sit still quiet and long enough. We are working on it though. The other reasons was that the boys have seen a lot of Ladybugs. They are kind of old news to them. Tomorrow though before we do this week's activity we will read the Ladybug chapter and keep our eyes peeled while we do the new activity (of which is a little more exciting for the boys-I have a great place in mind to go to).

That is one of the nice things of nature, it is all synergy. Everything goes together.

One little exciting thing was that over the weekend Daddy and I shared our 5th Anniversary. To commemorate that I wrote and recorded a little song. You can all view it here :)

That is all for today. See you on Thursday for our Week Five activity called Handy Plants (this will be a fun one!)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

And then there were four...

We are a very happy family of five. Each member of our family has a special role to play. When one person is missing we feel it. I am aware of the missing presence all the time.

This week we are down one kiddo. Viktor is out at my parents' farm for a week of swimming lessons. He is having a blast and my mum keeps me informed with emails and pictures and a nightly phone call. It is his second year doing this and next year in all likelihood Max will also be going as well.

My mum has all sorts of things planned for him. She gave him his first wallet and after each swimming lesson he gets to pick a treat with the $2 she gives him. My mum is also a fanatic about kids having little jobs so no doubt he has all sorts of little chores for him to do. One of his favourites from last year was setting the sun tea outside to steep. Last night he got to mow the lawn with my Dad. Who knows what else they will be up to. I do know though that he will come home taller, smarter, wiser, stronger and somehow older.

That all being said we are now down to four. It's quiet. Really quiet. Even though Max and Evelyn are still around to make a kaffufel taking one kid away really cuts down on the noise factor. They don't play together the same way as Max and Vik do although Evelyn tries to play with her brother. Max also forgets how much littler his sister is and I have to remind him he can't be rough like when playing with Vik.

It is also nice that everyone gets a bit of a change for the week. Max is enjoying the extra Mama cuddles. He also likes getting to pick what to watch while I do my daily workout (Viktor usually picks all Angry Birds, today Max got Batman cartoons). Even Evelyn is getting more one on one time with me. She didn't know what to do with herself while Max had a nap and she had free reign of the toys.

I miss my boy. I miss his hugs. I miss his helping hands. I miss his smiles. I don't miss the whining, but other than that I miss everything else. I am counting down until he comes home on Sunday. He will be so proud to show me the things he has learned. I am excited to see what stories he has for me. I am very grateful that my parents give him this opportunity and these memories.

I don't like being only four. I anxiously wait to be five of us again. Once my boy is back home I will be my happy self again without a piece of my heart missing.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nature Project: Week Four

Since our activity (Sun Seekers) last Wednesday was rained out I made the initiative to enjoy whatever sun the rest of the week brought us. July in Manitoba delivered with heat, sun, and humidity. So, we enjoyed it. Several times actually.


Just a sampling of our sun seeking fun from last week: Getting sun screened up with Daddy for going on a trail walk (more on some awesome trails at a later date). Went on a loooong Sunday walk and hit a splash park on the way. Another day brought lots of play in our own backyard, including dinner al fresco. 

As I mentioned last week this week's activity would include Butterflies AND a field trip. I was stoked and planning this outing from the first time I skimmed the book's activities. Luckily for us our local Zoo added a Butterfly Garden as a new exhibit last year. For any more information on this truly lovely place please visit

For our experience though just keep on reading :)

We got up yesterday morning moderately early for us (that would be 8:30) and got gathered around and after a quick breakfast we were out the door. The Assiniboine Park Zoo is only a 15 minute drive away so it didn't take us long to get there. The Butterfly Garden is located within the Zoo so we figured we would take in a few other exhibits before we got to business...

My locator shot at the WRONG entrance.

My locator shot at the RIGHT entrance.

The peacocks wander around the whole zoo. This one was a real beauty. 
FYI: peacocks are nasty and greedy and like to stalk people for food. 

The boys LOVED seeing the Zebras. 
They are very into the Madagascar movies so seeing them was a real treat. 
Max kept calling them Marties. 

We didn't do the whole Zoo circuit but we did see Camels, Sea Eagles, Ocelots, and Tigers. We also saw the Lions. For the record watching a lion feeding while wearing a zebra print bag makes one feel just a smidgen' vulnerable. Just a smidgen'. 

It would have been nice to see more and get our admissions worth but it was getting hot and my bright idea of not bringing the stroller (just the carrier) was not so bright. So off we went to see the main purpose of our outing: Butterflies. 

The Butterfly exhibit is made up of two quonsets with a covering that resembles that of a greenhouse, but they weren't overly hot. They are joined by a gift shop that also houses the hatchery (we could actually see one breaking out of it's chrysalis).  External gardens made up the rest of the exhibit. It would have been nice to just be able to sit and soak it all in. Perhaps on a day to myself I will do that. 

While at the Butterfly Gardens we saw five different species and not one of them was our typical Painted Lady that we usually see in Manitoba (but apparently we have 155 different species in MB). I really wish I had some species names to add my pictures but alas I am no entomologist. If you follow me on Twitter though you may see that I have asked the Zoo and am hoping I can edit some names in here soon. 

This was the best picture I could get of this beautiful blue one. He just would not land. 
Kudos to my iPhone for actually snagging this so well. 

Oh and don't forget the ubiquitous Mammafly!

I am really happy that the book had this as an activity. I am not sure if it would have been something I would have thought of otherwise. Perhaps we would have wandered in on a possible trip to the Zoo but going there for the purpose of observing the Butterflies made it special. I know the boys enjoyed themselves. 

As far as the rest of the chapter on Butterflies we learned that they suck nectar through a straw like piece called a proboscis. We also learned that they are part of the insect family (six legs people). Another suggested activity was to make your own Butterfly Garden. Good thing I stumbled upon THIS! 

I am not sure what next week will bring. The book says that next up is Ladybugs but Vik is away all next week and I would hate to do the activity without him. Perhaps next week we will break and then reconvene the following week with TWO activities. I don't know.

But for now I shall bid you adieu until next post. 


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Nature Project: Week Three

So, here we are, three weeks into the nature project. Surprise, surprise, we are still rolling.

At the end of last week's post I noted that the sun would be the focus, and boy did we get a lot of sun this past week. Despite the constant applying of sunscreen we are all rocking a nice tan. On Saturday we were out and about and it was HOT! On Sunday we celebrated Canada Day at the beach and it was HOTTER! On Monday we went for a lovely hike in the woods where it was EVEN HOTTER even with the threat of a thunderstorm. Would you believe that on Tuesday the mercury rose even higher to +40 humidex range? Well, believe it, and at that point we said to heck with going anywhere or doing anything except set up the A/C.

Then, on Wednesday, our day to enjoy the sun and look for other things in nature enjoying the sun, it rained. I welcomed the rain though. The earth needed it. The boys saw the cracks in the dry mud on our hike. They saw the leaves drying. I needed the rain too. It was unbearably hot. The rain cooled down the day and cooled the night even more so.

We also had a nature activity yesterday that didn't come from any book. It was a lesson that only nature could teach on it's own time. It is a lesson of the Circle of Life (sorry couldn't resist). My husband discovered late Tuesday night that my pet turtle of 23 years had died. Wednesday morning, although rainy, necessitated the disposing of his remains. We drove out to a river and my husband gently eased him into the water and in seconds the current grabbed him and took him down stream. I am sure he has provided back to the earth by now. I will miss you old pal.

I must say I smiled at the level of irony when I read the part of the activity asking about if the children could spy a reptile and it goes on to explain about reptiles. Why yes, yes they did spy a reptile. Yet not quite the context I am positive the author was suggesting.

Now. Back to the Sun.

Fun Fact! What is the Sun? It's a STAR! It is the closest to star to Earth and is in precisely the exact spot it needs to be as all life on Earth pretty much hinges on the Sun.

Tonight after Daddy gets home we will go on a bike ride. It wasn't near as hot today as earlier this week and with dusk nearing the Sun will soon be gone for the night. I think the Sun Seeking might need a do over. Perhaps a stroll tomorrow, or even just sitting in the back yard can bring some surprising things.

Next week I hope to have a special treat for our activity.
Two Words: Field Trip.
One Word: Butterflies.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Weight Loss Stats Time!!!!!

This past weekend marked the end of the first year of my incredible weight loss journey. I have rid myself of excess pounds while gaining insight and strength. I have had ups and downs but have always maintained my positivity and know that steady and slow is the best path to success.

So while I usually don't try to toot my horn too loudly I am playing from the mountain tops today because I have had some pretty freaking awesome success. This post is dedicated to showing the progress that I have made in the last year. 

To begin with here are some cold hard stats:

Start Pant Size: 22/24       Current Pant Size: 14/16
Start Top Size: XL/XXL Current Top Size: L

Start Weight: 247.4    Current Weight: 186    Total Loss: 61.4 lbs

Start Hips: 54"           Current Hips: 46.5"      Inches Lost: 7.5"

Start Bust: 45.5"        Current Bust: 39"         Inches Lost: 6.5"

Start Waist: 45"         Current Waist: 38"       Inches Lost: 7"

                            TOTAL INCHES LOST: 21"

Start BMI: 36.53 - which they say is Obese 2, that sounds really mean :(
Current BMI: 27.46 -still considered overweight but nearing the lower end.

They always say a picture tells a thousand words, so I will show a bit more of the story...

This is Daddy and I last year on July 1, 2011. The start date. 

This is a few weeks ago, coincidently the same tank top.

As you can see Daddy shows the side effects of Mamma changing up the household diet. 
Looking mighty fine Daddy ;)

The is the best comparison to show side by side, my behind :)

How about some dreaded swimsuit pix.

Last Year...

This Year...

There are places where I can see a HUGE difference. At this point it isn't even so much about the weight, it is becoming more about health and fitness. I seriously have to credit the Jillian Michael's DVDs for making me more attentive and appreciative of my body. As I have said before I am getting addicted to working out. Today I even chose exercise over sleeping in. 

Now that I have gotten this far, I have to decide where exactly I want to go and then how I am going to maintain when I get there. I still have a lot of work cut out for me. I still need to drop another 15-20 lbs to get to just a "normal" BMI. I am however trying not to look strictly at that. I need a weight I can happily maintain. I am enjoying working out and don't intend to stop so I also know my figure and my body makeup is changing, yay for muscle weighing more than fat.

I had initially thought 175 for my finish line but am continually rethinking that. By increasing my level of exercise I can increase what I can consume in a day. That isn't too bad of a trade off. Maybe I can shoot for lower. Maybe I really can happily exist happily at say 165, or even 160.

Regardless of where I want to get to I know we are making great changes for our family. We are showing our children a healthier way to live. Being active and making healthier choices. The precise number on the finish line doesn't matter, there never even really is a finish line. It's all a journey and an exploration. It is a journey I am happy to be on.