Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas So Far...And a Journey Back





It's my favorite time of the year! And also the time of year where I feel the most disorganized and NOT on top of things. I didn't get Christmas cards done again this year....and even if I had, I lost my address book in our move last year, so I have the process of re-collecting addresses ahead of me. We didn't get lights up outside because of reno's, and the inside is only partially decorated. I've done no Christmas crafts with the girls yet, and no baking for ourselves or to share with the neighbors. Needless to say, my decorating skills leave lots to be desired.
All of that aside, the Christmas season is alive and well in our home. The girls are good at making sure that Christmas music is pretty much always on, and that sets the mood well!

This year we bought our tree in town. I let Danica pick it out, and I think it's probably the most perfect tree we've ever had. Seriously. That girl has a good eye!



And since this season is all about the "spirit of Christmas" anyways, I think we've nailed it :) besides, my favorite part of Christmas is the people.





We've also done gingerbread decorating...so I suppose that could count as a "craft" lol.







I wrote a small article for the paper from the town I grew up in, Tumbler Ridge. I'd like to share the article here....it covers my favorite memories of Christmas.
All I want for Christmas is for our girls to lock some of their own precious moments into their hearts, so they can share them with their children!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


"In 1986, our family moved from Faro, Yukon to the brand new town of Tumbler Ridge so my dad could work at the mine. I was only 3 years old, but there are some things that I remember so vividly. I can still remember my first day of kindergarten at TRE, going for picnics at flatbed, and eating burgers with my family at D&G Burgers.
Now that I've grown up, I didn't go very far. I married a man from Carstairs, Alberta, and we live on a quarter section of land on the Tumbler Highway outside of Dawson Creek with our five daughters.
One of my favorite things about living here is that I'm still close to Tumbler. My mom still lives there, and we get to come visit her lots. On any given drive to Tumbler, I can be seen turning down the radio and telling my girls stories of what it was like to grow up there. "When I was a little girl here, it was so quiet that we could ride our bikes down the streets and not see more than one or two cars!" Or "if you take this trail, you can walk up the mountain to the bald spot. My friends and I used to go often when we were teenagers." They love when I tell them about Grizzly Valley Days, and the parades we used to have.
And at this time of year, I tell them about the Christmas Eve Service growing up, and how we always had an open house at my mom's after.
I have always appreciated that my mom is a warm, kind person, but it's because of that, combined with her extreme hospitality, that my childhood memories are as cheerful as they are.
Our home was open to everyone. We had a small, cozy house, but the size didn't stop mom. I remember years where we were all standing shoulder to shoulder visiting, laughing, and eating....and those memories are some of the happiest! We always had such a family-like closeness with our friends there, and I'll never forget those relationships.
Christmas looks different now, but I cherish the years that Daniel and I can bring our girls to Tumbler for Christmas. I love being able to recreate some of that Christmas magic I felt as a girl there.
Merry Christmas to my mom, and all of the other extraordinary residents who make Tumbler Ridge what it is!"

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Happy Half Year, Sadie!




You've been here for six months now. In some ways it feels like the blink of an eye, while at the same time I can barely remember what life was like without you!
You have brought an immense amount of pure joy to our home. I knew your sisters would be excited when you were first born, but after six months, they still get excited whenever I ask them to help with you. Just tonight Addison tried to rock you to sleep at bedtime, but you were more interested in playing still.
People have been commenting on how early you have started doing things (like sitting), and how alert you are. I always tell them that it's mostly because of your awesome sisters! They love to play with you in the living room and have taught you to sit, roll, and now they are working on crawling. "Mom look! Sadie is in the crawling position!" Is a sentence I hear often. I always look over to an excited girl, and you, looking up with a big proud smile on your face. 
You started solid food last week. Watching you was entertaining enough, but your sisters added to it. Every time you get into the highchair, your own little cheering squad gathers around for moral support and plenty of "oh she's so cute!" So far your favorites are. ..everything you have put in your mouth. You love food, especially when you get to feed yourself. You've tried yogurt, chicken, brocolli, pasta, banana, avocado and applesauce so far. Oh, and mashed potatoes, which you love!
You are one loved little girl, and you totally know it. We all love your personality...you are content and happy almost all of the time. Whenever someone smiles at you, you reward them with a huge toothless grin, and usually a wave of your arm. You don't play strange yet (and I hope it stays that way!). 
You love to snuggle with me, but if I can't hold you at the time, you'll happy snuggle with your sisters or your dad. You are happy to sit beside your sisters on the couch and watch them read or play video games. Your favorite activity is when one of us lays on the floor to play with you. You are really starting to get around when you play. You're not crawling yet, but you've got a combo of rolling and inching around like a caterpillar that seems to be working for you.
In just a few short weeks, we get to spend our first Christmas with you, as a family of 7, and I can't wait. You are going to love Christmas. The lights, the fun, and the crinkly wrapping paper :) I have always loved the first of all my girls' Christmases. 
OK, I'm going to try and get some sleep now. You'll be up in a couple hours for your .middle of the night feeding :)
Happy 6 months, little girl. I love you!


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Week

It's Saturday, and our house is complete with all the shenanigans that go along with it. The remnants of breakfast are still on the kitchen counter waiting to be put away. On Saturdays I don't worry about making a breakfast that will sustain them and help them concentrate in school, so it's our "fun cereal" day. Today they chose Christmas colored rice krispies with a bit of brown sugar on them.
And now I've got two girls reading in their room, two playing Mario, and Sadie is rolling around on the floor playing with her toys.
This type of morning is much needed after this week. It was a good week, but with not a moment to spare.
Last week at this time, Daniel and I were in Phoenix and my sister was watching the four older girls here at our house.
We flew down so that I could take a course for my embroidery machine for the embroidery business we are just starting.
It was a good trip :) we got home Tuesday, which also happened to be my 31st birthday.
So far, being 31 has been the busiest year of my life :) this week we've had meetings, volleyball games, big grocery shopping to do, and lots of orders to fill.
I'm so thankful for how busy Little Lily has been lately...and even more thankful for a content baby! She definitely needs lots of cuddles and playtime during the day, which I am happy to give....but she has also been napping well and goes down for the night around 8:30, which gives me time to work in the evenings.
So, after a crazy week, this weekend's agenda is as lazy as possible, while still finishing orders and taking care of the girls.  So pretty much the only difference is that Daniel and I are going to try to catch up on the Big Bang Theory episodes we have missed :)
But this morning is sure welcome! Now where's that second cup of coffee?

P.S. it's so hard to take "even" amounts of pictures of each kid...sorry Addison!!





Thursday, November 06, 2014

Common Parenting Problems and How To Solve Them

Problem: baby hasn't pooped in five days.
Solution: Dress them in a white outfit. Preferably expensive. Preferably for a special occasion....that you need to be at in half an hour.

Problem: the kids are in your space, chattering like monkeys and whining, and all you want to do is sit for 15 minutes, check Facebook and have a cup of coffee....and maybe a slice of cheesecake?
Solution: tell them to clean their room. And they can't come out until it's picked up. More often than not, they will get distracted and start playing with the toys instead. Voila. Quiet time for mom!
Last week I got almost an entire afternoon to myself using this proven technique.

Problem: the kids won't eat their dinner.
Solution: sit down with a plate of the exact same thing. They will leave theirs and come eat all of yours!

Problem: older kids are complaining about helping around the house.
Solution: tell them it's time to go to bed. Like magic, they will feel super helpful and will do anything to stay up...even unload the dishwasher!

Problem: the baby won't sleep and it's 3 am
Solution: wait until 6:30am. They'll fall into a deep slumber and you'll get a blissful 26 minutes of sleep before the other kids wake up looking for breakfast.

How has YOUR week been?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Promoting A Healthy Body Image For My Girls

So here I am, a mom with five children, and I have all the stretch marks, blemished skin and stubborn weight that goes along with that.
I struggle trying to find a balance between the two trains of thought that run through my head all too often.
I started having children when I was 21, and since then one of my biggest wishes has been to see my body (especially my tummy) return to at least close to a pre-baby state. Now I'm almost 31 and while I'm almost ashamed to admit how much I have thought about it, I am pretty sure that I'm no different than most of my fellow moms out there. I have spent my fair share of time in front of a mirror, wondering how I would look if my belly just shrunk by a few inches, or longing for tight skin there again. It's been 10 years since I had a midsection like that. There's a part of me that really mourns it's loss, despite my best efforts to appreciate my body for the things it has accomplished in that decade.
I find myself thinking things like "if I could just stick to eating really clean/eating no sugar/doing a workout video for just one month, I bet I would see big results"...and then getting mad at myself the next time I eat something that I " shouldn't".
Now here's the kicker. Not only do I have five children, I have five girls. Five girls that I want to raise with a healthy body image and healthy habits.
Whew, this is a challenge...how  I supposed to model and instill a healthy body image in my daughters if I struggle with this very thing on a daily basis?
There is a few things that I make an effort to do, despite how I may be feeling at the time. I sure hope they do more harm than good....

1. I talk about the health benefits or detriments of food....and not in "heavy vs. Thin" terms.
As an example...one day Addison announced to me that she didn't want to eat sugar any more because someone at school said it makes people fat.
My answer to her was something like this: "cutting back on sugar is always a great idea, but not for that reason neccesarily. Near your stomach you have an organ called tour spleen. When you eat sugar, it's your spleen's job to create something called insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back down to a normal level. If you eat lots of sugar on a regular basis, you over load your spleen as it tries to keep up making insulin. Eventually if it can't keep up anymore you develop a disease called diabetes."
She loves biology related stuff so that explanation helped her understand.
I also try to talk about food as a fuel....things like "rice krispies are good, but they won't keep you full very long, so they are more of a snack. For breakfast you should have eggs or oatmeal instead."
I have been making an effort to see food as fuel for my own body and to develop a healthy relationship with it. It's definitely still a struggle, but teaching it to my girls helps me accept it for me as well.

2. I don't hide my body from them or talk about it badly in front of them.
They see my tummy quite often, especially lately because I nurse Sadie without a cover at home. All of the girls have made comments about it not looking like theirs, or they have asked questions.
Believe me, there are times when I feel like saying, "ew, don't look at it or touch it...it's gross" or "I wish it looked like it did before kids"... But that would do no good to how I want them to see their bodies. I usually say something like, " yes it does look different because all of you lived in there for awhile! You know how when you blow up a balloon and let the air out a few times it gets kind of wrinkly? That's kind of what happens to moms' tummies when they have babies."

That one is probably the most difficult for me to accept for myself. I say that silently in my head way more often than I say it out loud to the girls because I need the reminder a LOT.

3. I try and stay active in front of them and with them. I do workout videos, but I also try and do fun active things with them, like swimming or playing outside. I don't want them to see physical activity as something terrible that you have to force yourself to do as you get older.
I do have to push my insecurities aside often for this type of thing though. Especially the swimming! It would be all too easy to refuse to put on a bathing suit and swim with my girls because I hate how I look in one. They aren't thinking about that though, and as much as I think they do, I doubt other people really notice either. Besides, the girls are only young now. By the time I work my body to the point that I would feel I look "good enough" in a bathing suit, they might be too old to do this sort of thing. And that would be a a shame to miss out on.

4. I try to mention the things my body can do instead of how it looks.
As tempting as it is to do a crazy restrictive diet or anything else to drop weight fast, I don't because I don't want the girls to see that and think that's just what women do. I don't want them to see me obsessing about how my body looks, or always talking about losing more weight.
I know they already have heard me talk this way, and it's amazing how fast they pick up on it. That's what made me think of this post in the first place actually.
Like I said, this is going to be tough. I am under no illusions that they won't develop their own body image issues at one point or another....in our society it's asking a lot for them not to.
I do want to show them that there are so many more important things to focus on in life. Focusing on our health is a good thing to do, but there is a line that is all too easy to cross into unrealistic goals, which tend to turn into us beating ourselves up for not fitting into that mold.
I want my girls to know that as a woman, their bodies will do amazing things. They will work hard, they will grow humans, they will nurture. They have the ability to completely sustain and grow another human life with milk that their bodies can create. Their bodies are amazing, versatile, and powerful....and if I believe that about them and about all the women around me, then it must be true for myself too.
And I want my girls to see that side of me....i want to be proud of my body for the things it has done as opposed to hating it for the things it's not.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Keeping Up

October is half over already....what?! I can't believe how fast time is flying lately. We've been keeping so busy, working on the house and running here and there. I realized that I hadn't done a simple update here recently...and in the meantime Sadie's milestones are whizzing by at warp speed while the older four are becoming little women before our eyes.
The whole purpose of this blog is to be able to go back and "remember when"... So here's what's been happening in the Steckly home.

-Sadie is the most spoiled baby in the history of babies. But with four older sisters, it really couldn't be any other way, right?! She pretty much has someone entertaining her all the time. She loves to watch Myka dance and Tegan read her stories. Danica likes to lay by her and tell her stories, and Addison  teaches her life skills, like rolling over and grabbing toys.
Speaking of rolling, she started doing it for real today. She's had some " accidental" rollovers before, but today she actually figured out how to go from back to front whenever she wants....and then fuss because being on your tummy is only fun for a second :p
She babbles a lot too. During the day when the girls and I are home she seems to yell more (she has to talk over the other girls!), and as soon as Daniel gets home and holds her, she starts cooing really sweetly. It's pretty adorable to see how she acts around her dad :)
Also lately, if j happen to be holding her while I drink a glass of water, she will attack the glass with her hands and face trying to get some. Usually I'll let her have the last drops...she seems so proud of herself  when she gets it!

After an extended summer because of the strike, the girls started back at school a few weeks ago. We've all really enjoyed getting back to a routine....although getting up at 6:30 has taken some getting used to again!
Myka is in kindergarten this year, and while she really enjoys it and is excited at the thought of kindergarten, she has also had some hard days. I was kind of expecting a few of those...for as busy and  focused as she is, she also really enjoys her "down time" and I think that full days of school are an adjustment for her. I've been letting her stay home one or two days a week...but I'm sure that soon she will be wanting to go every day.
Addison is in grade 4, and I'm pretty sure she's moving it. There's a few things that they can do only in grade 4 and up at their school, so she feels pretty special to be able to do things like band and basketball/volleyball if she likes. She is also going on a camping trip with her class tomorrow. It took her over an hour to fall asleep tonight with the excitement of that happening!!
Tegan started grade 3. She loves being back at school to see her friends, and almost every day comes home asking me to arrange a play date with one friend or another. I absolutely love that girl's spirit. She has such a sweet heart. She is very quiet, but isn't afraid to set someone straight if they are doing something wrong (ex: Danica not eating her dinner).

And Danica. She has thoroughly enjoyed staying home with me and Sadie while the others are at school. Although if I'm not careful, she will sit in front of the TV all day. I really have to make an effort to get her interested in other things. As a result, we have been doing lots of coloring...and before thanksgiving she helped me roast and puree the pumpkin!

Daniel has been working like a crazy man. In addition to his job, we've been working of getting our entryway insulated and sealed up for winter. It's been no easy task, but he has worked so hard and now, it's almost done. And it looks awesome :) I can wait to organize it all and have a place for everything.

And that is just a snippet of how our days have been going. Crazy, overwhelming, but so full of joy too. I love our little family :)


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My 5 Secrets to Being Productive

If you know me at all, I imagine you opened this post laughing a bit to yourself, which is totally understandable.
Jade...productive? Organized? A good time manager?
None of those adjectives seem to fit. If I had to describe myself I would say I'm more scatterbrained, selectively organized, and a good procrastinator who can get a lot done at the last minute; all of which stress me out a bit, which then leads to my husband's and friend getting phone calls with me on the other end whining, "I'm so overwheeeeellllllllmed!" Which leads me to wonder why I think I'm qualified at all to write a post like this. Ah well, I live on the edge.
Ahem. Where were we? Oh yeah, my time management and productivity secrets.
I do have a husband, five kids and a house to take care of, so I have to manage my time at least a little bit, or everything would just fall apart.
Even though I don't do all of these things all of the time, when I DO do them, I quietly resolve to keep it up (you can guess how that works).
1. Get up early. Given the tiniest window of opportunity, I will sleep in. However, I find that when I'm forced to get up early, I actually enjoy it, and am much more productive throughout the day. Right now our day starts at 6:30 to get the kids on the bus, and I find that if I just keep "going" when they leave the house, I'll have the laundry started, and one or two rooms cleaned...and when I look at the clock it's only 8:30 or 9. I should do that every day...:p eventually here of like to get up at 6 to work out before the girls get up, but let's not get ahead of ourselves!
2. Form a routine. Remember how I said that our day starts early to get the girls on the bus? Well, our morning routine is probably the most efficiently run part of our day...and that, folks is fueled by my "want" to sleep as late as I can. I wake the girls at 6:30 and they get dressed while I get out the breakfast stuff. They eat while I make their lunches, then they brush their teeth, and I help them with their hair. They pack up their lunches while I sign agendas and forms...boots and jackets, goodbyes, and they are out the door by 7:15.
I love our morning routine and have been meaning to set a stricter one in place for the evenings, but we'll get there :) I do like how much smoother it makes everything run, that's for sure!
3. Set up a bill paying station. This one will make my husband roll his eyes at me I'm sure. Why? Because in theory it is a great idea, and when we (ok "I") stick to the plan It keeps our finances so much more stress free.
How we have ours set up...a two drawer filing cabinet in a corner of our bedroom, filled with hanging files, labelled by month. A white board hangs above it that I sectioned into a chart using a permanent marker. On the left I wrote the bill name, then across have the due date, amount due, etc.
Where I slip up is that when I get home from town I'm supposed to immediately go through the mail and write the outstanding bills on the board, then immediately file the important mail and toss the junk. Then he can pay the bills using his online banking and we have a nice clear visual of where our finances stand. It works great when I don't forget the mail in the vehicle or pile it on the counter because two kids are crying and the milk needs to get put away. Maybe one day I'll have a good " coming home from town" routine to add to the list!
Along the finance line...as a small business owner I find that it can be difficult to keep everything straight. Coming up with the capital to start a business can be difficult enough as it is, let alone keeping everything organized in the meantime. I found a website that makes that part of it easy though. Kabbage.com is a great site for that. It's easy to navigate, easy to apply for funds, and very straightforward with payment plans and fees. They also have a great community section that has helpful links and tips for staying on task and organized.
4. Quiet time. Take this however you want to...quiet time for the kids, quiet time for mom, it's alllll important. I'm a big believer in the power of silence (mostly because my yapping has gotten me into more trouble than anything else ever has, but that's beside the point!). Silence is powerful. When the kids are quiet for awhile after lunch it gives us all a reboot to get through the rest of the day it seems. They aren't always actually silent, but at least they are in their room with the door closed, so it gives the illusion of silence :)
For me, silence gives me a chance to connect with God for awhile, which is also very important in me getting through the day without falling apart, incidently. I spend some time just listening and taking some deep breaths. For people who don't have a relationship with God, this would be akin to meditating I would think. It clears my head, allows me to find peace in the craziness of the day, and is like a shot of caffeine for my soul. Silence is powerful.
It is also, may I say, harder and harder to find now that Sadie is getting older. I really have to take opportunities to be silent when they come!
5. Set a timer. This one is straight from the FlyLady, bit it has been super helpful in my life. When I have things I really need to get done around the house, but have things I'd rather be doing (like sewing for LLB), I set a timer and make myself do the chore for 15-20 minutes. I work as hard as I can for that time and it blows me away what I can accomplish in that window. Did you know it takes an average of 4 minutes to empty the dishwasher? It seems so much longer than that!
Another way to get an idea of how effective this method is is to think of a time when a friend or family member called and said they were "dropping by" in 15 minutes. Or when your husband calls and says he's on his way home and you're still in your pj's (that NEVER happens :p).
Setting time goals can be a super effective way of staying productive!
As a bonus I would add meal planning. ONE time in my entire marriage, I sat down on a Sunday and made a two week meal plan. Monday morning I grocery shopped according to said plan. It was the most stress free week of my life, cooking wise. WHY do I not do it again? Sometimes I don't understand myself.
And to all my real life productive and organized friends....I'm super jealous, but am trying every day to be more like you :)

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dino Walk

Yesterday a friend called and asked if I wanted to go on a hike with her and her son. The destination was Tumbler Ridge to go see the dinosaur tracks. I've been wanting to take the girls out there all summer, so of course I said yes :)
The girls were SO excited.

It is pretty much the perfect time of year to go hiking up here. The weather was just right, there were no bugs and the colours were glorious! In total we hiked about 6 Km with 6 kids under the age of 10..most under the age of 5. It was so cool taking my girls to the spots where I used to hike as a kid!
The day was not without it's meltdowns and slightly skinned knees, but it was a good day. We came back refreshed and ready for a good night's sleep! 




Enjoying the falls with Aunty Dante





Dino prints!


Thanks for looking at the camera Sadie...maybe you could pass the memo along to your sisters :)

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