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Adding to the Season with Doings [Activity Advent Calendar]

Last year, something that began simply, with little planning, using paper, scissors and colour pencils, created what became the activity advent calendar. Made up of ideas that our little family brainstormed during a drive, we created the most wonderful December leading up to Christmas.

The activity advent calendar was born, and we loved it so much, we’re doing it again this year.

I love the idea of an advent calendar that adds to the season through doings. In a time that is already hyper stimulated with stuff, this is a beautiful way to feel joy in giving/making/doing things together as a family, for others, and spreading joy in activity; an activity advent calendar.

Inspired by this idea, I have lovingly made some Christmas Village theme calendars that are available to buy through my shop, but it’s also something that you could easily do using materials you can find at home.

Inside every card, space to write a daily activity that the whole family can look forward to completing, either at random order, or you can choose to (secretly) number them by date too, if there are specific ones you want to complete on certain days.

With last year’s activity advent calendar, the kids absolutely loved knowing that each day there was an activity lined up for the day, and they are already asking when we’re starting the calendar this year. Below, some activity ideas, and if you have some fun ones too, leave a comment below.

  1. Put up the tree.
  2. Make a holiday wreath.
  3. Have a sleep over under the tree (a great one for Christmas Eve).
  4. Make a blanket fort.
  5. Christmas theme books reading night.
  6. Collect food to donate to your local food bank.
  7. Have a snowman pancake breakfast.
  8. Make a bird feeder.
  9. Make paper snowflakes.
  10. Build a snowman.
  11. Go ice skating.
  12. Build gingerbread house (real or cardboard).
  13. Make Christmas Cards.
  14. Christmas Movie Night (pick per family member too!)
  15. Make Ugly Christmas Sweaters.
  16. Fill each other’s stockings.
  17. Make lanterns.
  18. Go for a lantern walk.
  19. Check out neighbourhood Christmas decorations.
  20. Hot Chocolate Night.
  21. Make a special ornament.
  22. Bake cookies/cake and share with loved ones.
  23. Go to Tobogganing.
  24. Decorate gingerbread cookies/house.
  25. Leave a letter to your favourite Christmas decorated house.
  26. Write a letter to Santa.
  27. Go to Candy Cane Lane.
  28. Have a candle light dinner.

I invite you to join me in counting down to Christmas in such a lovely way, using hashtag #oureverydaysadventcalendar as we count down to the most wonderful time of the year starting Dec 1!

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[DIY Nature Inspired Christmas Decor Roundup]

I can feel it in cool air outside, in my spirit, that energy that the most wonderful time of the year brings, and if you’re anything like me, that brings with it an urge to nest and cozy up the home in the most wonderful of ways.

I always go to nature and simplicity for my inspiration. What is available to us during a walk with my kids. What is available in our craft materials shelf. What inspiration are we getting from the nature around us. What is something we can create that is beautiful, and that we can later compost and return to the earth with little impact to her.

And so, it leads me to this blog. A few nature inspired and easy Christmas DIYs we have completed over the years.

And sometimes, frosting the tips of a pine cone is just enough too.

I hope these provide some inspiration for your holidays decor.

Gabriela

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DIY Fall Garden Wreath

For the gardener, for the flower lover, finding ways to extend the season of being outside with the plants is always a welcome activity.

After the reward of the blooming season, there is still joy in preparing the soil and the spaces for the season to come, but the pleasure in knowing that nothing is wasted, sigh, the life of the flowers extends.

In gardening zone 3 where I live, there are a few particular flower types that are both abundant in the landscape, and dry oh so beautifully in the fall; masterwort, meadowsweet, queen of the prairie and hydrangeas.

There is a beautiful acquaintance that happens with the garden in the practice of making fall wreaths. Knowing which flowers don’t wilt, but rather dry beautifully. What plant to prune that won’t affect the spring growth. The shape and colour of a plant past it’s bloom peak. The whole experience is just wonderful.

Materials
● pruners
● gardening wire
● a wreath/embroidery/any kind of hoop
● plants from your yard

  1. Group your plants by type and start creating bunches. The bigger the bunch, the more full your wreath will be.
  2. Secure the first bunch onto the hoop by wrapping gardening wire around the stems, leaving one of the wire ends uncut.
  3. Overlap the next bunch to cover the stem of the previous one, wrap wire tight three times, and repeat. Remember to leave the wire end uncut, you’re using one continuous piece of wire to secure the whole wreath.
  4. When attaching the last bunch, tuck the stems underneath the first bunch and secure.
  5. Using the lose wire end of the first bunch, secure and attach to the last.

It’s one the easiest things to do to mark the fall season, and to know that it was made from all the work you put into your summer garden makes it even more satisfying. Believe me that once you make one, you will be making many.

It looks beautiful displayed on the front entrance, inside the house, as a centre piece for a Thanksgiving dinner, and would even make a most beautiful and thoughtful gift.

And so I encourage you to go out and get to know your fall garden, the opportunity for beauty is endless.

Gabriela

If you are inspired to make a fall garden wreath after reading this, please make sure to tag me @our_everydays on instagram or use hasthtag #oureverydayswreaths so that I can see your beautiful creations.

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Wish this day could last forever

It’s a lyric from a song we heard – and have been listening to on repeat- while watching a “Snowy Day” on Amazon; one the sweetest and most wonderful short films we have watched in a while. Featuring the joy and love of the everyday, and getting the kids so excited for the season to come. The song I’m referring to is 3 minutes of absolute beauty (you can hear it here) and adding to the fact that it’s sung in a cappella by one of the best a cappella groups of all time.

Speaking of days I wish could last forever, we took a three day road trip to the Okanagan area last week. It was Penelope’s first week of school, but we excused her for a few days, and went. I love our family road trips. We’ve been taking them since they were born, and you can tell. They settle into the experience easily, with a familiar sense of adventure to come and innocent expectation. Penelope sat behind me, Oliver behind Adam, and for hours and hours conversations overlapped one another; sometimes in harmony, sometimes not. Stories of how their parents met, how we fell in love, how they were born, how they met, filled the air. It’s stories they have heard many times but still beg to hear again, filling in details that we forget when telling it, like how Oliver was weighed with a sling when he was born. I love that they know and remember details like that.

We had a sunrise walk as the light peaked through the valley mountains. My hands were warm in the morning cold; one from my coffee mug, and the other from the warmth of Oliver’s hand. Penelope picked wild flowers from the side of the road, and the fruit (or flower) of our labor blooming even when not in our garden.

“That’s your favorite flower. You love flowers a lot.”

They know their mother’s heart.

They watched cartoons while having breakfast, and there is a wonderful sentimentality about the things that happen outside routine during holidays. They just hold a special place in the heart and the things that you remember just as much as the trip itself.

Something they have recently started to point out every time Adam and I embrace, or kiss, or hold hands in front of them, is “You’re in love”. It’s the cutesy thing that kids say to their parents, but I love that they see us love each other so deeply, and it’s because of that love that is so fulfilled, that we can and do love them beyond what our hearts are capable of.

Oliver has been the leader of our gratitude round for the last couple of weeks, always being the one who initiates it, which I’m so proud of. Today he said he was grateful for me (Mama) because I’m beautiful because he loves me.

He’s right; I am beautiful BECAUSE he loves me.

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Fear, Privilege and Parenting

Parenting while experiencing fear is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. With everything going on in the world, it’s hard not to.

A world health pandemic made no exception, and that universal fear of never wanting anything to happen to our children, affected parents of all creeds, races, ages, beliefs; a simultaneous experience of collective fear in parenting.

For some, that fear was able to be met with a solution that provided safety again. Being able to work from home to keep one’s children safe. Having a home to bring them to. Being able to afford to stop working if needed. Having access to health care should something happen.

For some, that fear simply added to the pile of other fears one already parents with, and no easy solution for them.

The differences between those two experiences of fear in parenting is privilege.

I think we all experience some sort of fear when parenting, but I am acutely aware of the huge spectrum “parenting with fear” has, and privilege in direct relation to that.

The more privilege you have, the less fear in parenting.

The less privilege you have, the more fear in parenting.

This is not new information. 

When I think about who would be more prone to chronically parent with a high level of fear, I don’t have to think about it for too long. The current affairs of the world right now will tell you who, and there are many, and it’s always those who are marginalized.

This is not new information.

The part that I especially can’t stop thinking about, is the lifelong consequences this has for both the parent and child.

That is generational trauma. And that is also not new information.

Even with all the best of my intentions, if I experience stress, I am humanly unable to parent the way I want to. And I acknowledge that the stress that I experience is few and far between. For some, parenting with chronic stress is an everyday normal, and with all the information available at one’s fingertips, a quick research on psychology will tell you the consequences that has.

That is generational trauma. This is not new information.

Generational trauma directly in relation to privilege.

I have hope in the generation of my children, hope that they are the light and the change that will make the world a better place. I have to be.

As a parent, I also know that my hope for the generation of tomorrow is supported by the parents of today, and they need support today.

How do I support the parents that are raising tomorrow’s generation -today, right now!?

That’s a question I have kept in my mind for every action I am taking on the current state of the world. How is that helping the parent that is raising my children’s future classmate? Future friends? Future life partner? Future co worker? Because to me, to care for my children, is to care for the parent, and their child.

My heart is with all parents, but especially with those who parents with love, with hope, with patience, with care, with perseverance, with pride, even while experiencing so much fear due to things they cannot change.

I want to listen to your story, please don’t stop telling it. Let me carry any weight I possibly can, even the weight of stories that are hard to tell.

I may not be able to offer many things, but I see you today, I hear you today, I act with you today, with a collective hope for our children tomorrow.

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growing at the speed of light [of the days getting longer]

I feel every minute of the days getting longer.

The longer days mean that the kids and I can still color on our kitchen table with natural light when we get home in the afternoon.

It means drives home where the sun still touches our skin, and that energy travels.

The light brings with it an energy, it’s undeniable.

I can even see it in my house plants. They’re greener, healthier, leaves standing taller to catch all the sun they can, and with that energy, growing.

It see my little loves growing faster with that energy too. Growing beautifully, but growing nonetheless. As a mother, I don’t think that feeling is ever not bittersweet.

I had a moment with each of them individually in the past 24 hours, that were so beautiful I have to document them. In those moments, a maturity in them showed, a wisdom and love so pure in them, that feeling it is a gift I will forever be grateful for.

On Sunday, I had a hard day. It was nearing Oliver’s nap time, so I went to lay down with him, and in the safety of my son’s company, silent tears fell down my cheek. Tears of tiredness, tears of a hard day, tears of simply needing to let something out. I saw my sweet boy look at me with gentle confusion. I must not cry around him very much, and immediately became self conscious that my tears would worry him. My worry immediately washed away as he gathered his sleeve, and gently wiped the tears off my cheek, one at a time. Didn’t say a word, and laid down again once he was done.

Without words, he gave me permission to feel whatever I had to feel, and with a simple action of wiping me tears, let me know that he was there.

These are the actions of a three year old little boy; so wise beyond his years. I teared up again, this time, overcome with how loved he made me feel, but so proud of his empathy, his kindness. I hope he never loses it.

Then earlier today, my moment with Penelope.

Penelope loves drawing, lately it’s dresses and princesses any moment she can. Over the Christmas break we traveled to visit family, and we took coloring books and pencils to keep the kids entertained in the times we weren’t visiting.

One afternoon, as we’re drawing a princess, she asked me to draw her princess a crown, and so I did. Penelope is 4.5 years old, and she’s very particular about the things she likes, and in this case, I didn’t draw the crown exaccctttlly as she wanted it. She got quite upset, told me, “not like that!”, and put the drawing aside to start a new one.

While coloring earlier today, she found the drawing of that princess with the crown she had put away a few weeks ago.

“Mommy, I’m sorry I was angry at you about this drawing when we were in Winnipeg”.

I didn’t know what else to do but hug her and kiss her, my heart overcome with emotion. Witnessing her kindness, her humility. Her acceptance and understanding of a wrong doing, of knowing that perhaps her comment might have been hurtful, and apologizing. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve had with her.

The beautiful lessons I learn and witness from them everyday…

… be a silent shoulder to cry on when someone needs it…
… sometimes we act out and make mistakes…
… it’s totally OK to admit we were wrong…
… it’s never too late to apologize when it comes from the heart…
… love is beautiful.

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Planting Seeds; literally and metaphorically [From the Core – Plant a Seed Books & Positivity Pots]

 

As always, these books were inspired by the same thing that inspires all the beautiful things in my life – my children.

At ages 4 and 3, we’re seeing Penelope and Oliver bloom. The seeds of parenting over the years are growing alongside their individual seeds of personality, and seeing it come together and bloom is beautiful.

One seed that is particularly gratifying to see grow, is their understanding and practice of gratitude.

A ritual that my family adopted a few years ago, was to say a prayer to the universe every night, right before dinner. We sit down, and go around the table each stating three things we’re grateful for that day. For a while, my husband and I were the only ones who could verbalize this, as our little babies smiled and cooed at us. As they grew, we rephrased the question to “What made you happy today?” to help them understand, and in the process receiving the most wonderful answers ranging all the way from pizza, to our dog, to the water park.

A few weeks ago, we all sat around the table ready to have dinner, and without prompt, my daughter started the gratitude round.

“I am grateful for my family”.

My throat tightened as I held back the tears of joy, of pride. My sweet Oliver followed up with “I am grateful for TV” which made us all smile and laugh, and I felt just as proud of his statement, because what I was witnessing was a habit that was now so much a part of them, and that they got it. They got it!

It was impossible not be inspired by that moment, and these Plant a Seed books are my way to continue sharing this practice with my children, with you, and taking it one step further and sharing them with mother nature.

Planting Seeds; literally and metaphorically.

Every page has space for you to write what you’re grateful for, what you’re calling in. Your wishes for yourself, your loved ones, the world, and on the corner of every page, a seed that you can plant with that wish/intention and see it grow.

When speaking to my husband about it, we spoke about how beautiful it would be see pots that showed the positivity you put out to the world, and with that, Positiviy Pots sets that can be purchased with the books too.

The seed is on the corner of the page so that you can just cut and plant that, and weeks, months, years later, you can go back and re read your words and the beautiful things you have put out to the world.

If you would like a custom Plant a Seed book with a particular type of seed, please email oureverydays@gmail.com, I would be so happy to make it for you!


Happy New Year xo


More From the Core Paper products
https://oureverydays.ca/fromthecore-shop/

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From the Core – Handmade Recycled Paper Products [a small new venture]

 

For the dreamers, for the storytellers, for the artists, for the writers.

For you. For everybody.
From the Core – Handmade Recycled Paper Products

Recycled Paper Products Handmade Edmonton (53)

100% handmade recycled paper products made from used paper/flyers/cereal boxes/receipts, etc. I make “new” usable paper in my home studio in Edmonton, AB Canada and turn them into beautiful journals. 

I thought of this idea when I was driving a few weeks ago, and there was no doubt in my mind that this project would bring everything I love and am passionate about – being a storyteller, a person who journals, an artist, a maker-  and allow me to offer to the universe in the shape of a book.

Every book is unique and lovingly made from scratch. From the Paper, to the binding, to the art.

Step 1 : Making the Paper
Pulp, Mould and Deckle, Dry

Step 2: Binding
Creating Signatures and Saddle Stitch Binding

Step 3 : Cover & Art

 

So why “From the Core”?

From the Core of Mother Earth in the materials, and from the core of my heart and craft, this is my way of extending the life of paper products that exist in our everyday, and giving them new life. Every journal that gets created in house means less paper waste, less paper that needs to be transported to be recycled, less new paper needed. It’s also my way of bringing back the art of making the things that we can so easily walk to a commercial store and buy.

It’s From the Core in so many ways…

Every page is a new opportunity, a second chance, a blank canvas for creation. 

And so this is my new project, from me to you,

From the Core – Handmade Paper Products
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