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 :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Epic Bunk

BFF's :)

We love our cozy little house. It has everything we need, but it is just that....little.
Some days it's frustrating, but most days we like the challenge of fitting what we have into the space that's available, and having less "stuff" because of it. Yesterday was one of the fun days :)
Addison and Tegan share a room. When we moved in here we thought they would like to have single beds because they were getting older. It didn't leave them much floor space, but that was OK...we thought.
It's been more and more of an issue trying to organize their room properly, so finally we asked them if they would consider a bunk bed again. They said yes.
Challenge accepted.
So after being on the hunt for a long time, we found one on the buy and sell and yesterday, we bought it!
And it's the epic bunk. It's T shaped and has a built in bookshelf, drawers, and a writing desk with more drawers....AND a cork board, which they love :)
It is awesome being able to fit so much stuff in a much smaller space than it used to take.
They are happy because they have a super cool bed, and we are happy that they have a spot for all their things now...and extra floor space!

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Favorite Time of The Day

This makes me love the peaceful moments so much more!

This doesn't happen every day, but most it does, and it's happening now.
A house with 5 girls can get a bit overwhelming at times. True to the name of my blog, "constant chatter" is pretty much the norm here.
The mornings are full of questions (may we have foooooood?) And pretend play, with some world war 3 fights thrown in to keep it real. Sadie usually has a nap in her crib in the morning, so I try to use the opportunity to get at least one big chore done, like cleaning the kitchen or folding all the laundry.
But now, it's after lunch. I sent the girls to play in their rooms for awhile as their quiet time. Myka and Danica are playing with Lego I think, and Addison and Tegan are reading.
Sadie is ready for a nap again, and for this one, we have a bit of a routine. I swaddle her up and sit in the glider in her room with the lights off. I usually nurse her for a bit, then we switch to the soother. .she very seldom nurses to sleep. As I'm rocking her I sing the lullaby that I've sung to all our girls, "Hold Onto Jesus". Her eyes close and her body relaxes, but I keep rocking her. I'm not ready to get up yet, and I love snuggling her for at least one nap a day :) it's also a good time to catch up on things like blogging and Facebook news on my phone (as much as I'd love to say that I spent the entire time screen free, I don't :))
My left arm falls asleep every day while I'm rocking her. Every day I tell myself that I need to recover my glider and add more padding so that doesn't happen anymore, but I never do.
The door is open so I can see what's going on in the kitchen. Today Addison comes in and asks if she can make the girls hot chocolate. I give the " rules" answer... "Yes, but everyone has to stay at the table, only one big marshmallow each, and please put everything away when you're done."
In total my quiet time with Sadie lasts only about 25 minutes, but I have started to really look forward to it every day.
In fact, today's was so short and sweet that it's now 5:30 and I'm just finishing this post after coming back to it about 4 times!
On a given day our house can go to crazy and back a million times. I love it all, but I sure do appreciate the peaceful moments....they help prepare me for when the chaos hits :)

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Big Bang Theory and the Teacher Strike

Big Bang Theory is one of our favorite shows. Daniel and I don't have TV (just Netflix), but every Thursday night we stream that night's show on our laptop. We've been looking forward to this next season all summer, and a couple weeks ago I came across a news story that said it was going to be delayed. The cast of the show didn't show up for the first day of shooting because they wanted to be paid more. Specifically, they wanted a million dollars... PER EPISODE. That's an insane amount of money, and the only other TV actors to get that much were the Friends actors. The end of the article said something to the effect of "don't worry though, it won't be delayed long because let's face it...they will get the money." And sure enough, they have started shooting now because the deal was signed within a couple weeks.
I said all that to say this. As much as I like the show...it's a TV SHOW. It adds nothing of value to anyone's life (except the actors!)
A little closer to home, our teachers ( the people who add value to little lives) are also asking for something too. Their requests are a little more reasonable though. They want a fair wage (which is still too low in my opinion), and they want class sizes small enough that they can actually give our kids some personal attention. Why is the government considering this so unreasonable? Their job is important. I don't say that flippantly. It's very very important. They are not just teaching our children how to read, write, calculate, and work together. They are spending a good part of each day with our children, and as a parent, I can say that if another adult is influencing that much of my child's life, I don't want that adult to be stressed and pulled in so many directions that they can't spend the time they want with each kid.
We are already very blessed with the school our girls go to. Those teachers to the absolute best they can with what they have (which I'm sure is true in almost every school), and they do their best to teach our kids life skills as well as regular school subjects.
A couple of years ago I gave the girls a treat after school. I had accidently put one too many on the table. Tegan came over and handed it to me.
"Wow tegan, thank you for being honest!" I said.
"You're welcome. I thought about eating it, then I thought 'no, I should have integrity'" she said.
They had just learned about integrity that day in school. In fact, they still get certificates occasionally when they model integrity, compassion, and helpfulness in class.
Now, you could say, "yeah, but parents should be teaching those things at home and not relying on the school to do it." I agree with that, and we do. But like I said a few sentences up, the teachers influence our kids for the better part of a day, and it's very comforting to know that they are carrying on or enhancing what kids are learning at home. It would kind of suck if it went the opposite way, don't you think? And I'm afraid that if class sizes are allowed to increase more and more, the poor teachers won't have time to teach those things as much as they may want to, because it will take all day just to get through the basic reading and writing!

Anyways, I know I never post "controversial" things on my blog, but this is important. Give the teachers what they want. They are not being spoiled actors demanding more than they need....they are the people who are teaching our children, the next generation of adults, the skills they need to be the architects, doctors, and inventors that the world needs. They just request the tools they need to do their job as effectively as possible.

P.S. I have a 5 year old who should be staring kindergarten on Tuesday. She has been practicing her letters and writing her name for over a year in preparation. She has gotten frustrated with herself because she can't read yet and she wanted to before going to kindergarten. She has her first day of school outfit picked out and hung up in the closet. And now the day is almost here and I have to tell her that she can't go.
And why? Because the government doesn't see some of these things as important. They are important because our children need to be taught things, like conflict resolution, better than the government's level of understanding on the subject. Figure it out. Our kids want to go to school. And our teachers want to teach them.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

30 Things...10 People Who Have Influenced Me

Dear Girls:
As you go through life, you will connect with more people than you can count. Some of those people will have a lasting impact on your life....hopefully all good :)
I have been blessed to have some amazing people in my life, and through their influence I have grown to be more of the person I want to be
From a young age you hear things like "treat others how you would want to be treated", and things like that. It's advice worth heeding. In all those encounters you will have, you never know who your life will be influencing!
One of the biggest influences you will have will be on your future husband a and children. Until then, do the best you can to surround yourself with people who inspire you and build you up...it is said that you will become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Influence is strong!

This was a hard list to make, because I could have put so many people down who have influenced me in one way or another. Here are 10 who have made a big impact on my life:

Daniel: as well as being my best friend and husband and all that entails, he has influenced me in many ways. Watching how he interacts with other people, and how he interacts with and loves our daughters is inspiring. As a parent, he is level headed and wise, and I am so blessed to have his influence not only for me, but for our daughters as well.

My mom: she has taught me so many valuable lessons. She taught me to love God, love people and be hospitable . ..she showed me how to be a good mom by the way that she was a mom to us. She taught me to be a capable woman and how to get things done (she does most of her own home improvement projects herself!). I could go on and on about the ways she has influenced me. I'm so thankful to have a mom like her :)

Lance warkentin: kind of a random one after talking about my mom and husband, but he was my boss for my college job. He ran a restaurant and catering company, and it was the best job I've ever had. He influenced my love for cooking, and taught me so much in the short time I was there. I still remember my job, and many of the recipes I learned there, with fondness.

Carol Powell: she was my pastor's wife when I was growing up. As a family, they were amazing, and I really really enjoyed the time I spent with her. Other than my siblings, babysitting her son was my first babysitting job, and it continued used throughout my teen years. She was also an exceptional pianist and taught me everything I know about music. I never felt like a kid around her. She treated me, and everyone else she knew, with respect, and that meant more to me than even I knew at the time. She definitely influenced the way I learned to treat people. I was sad when they moved, but we still stay in touch over Facebook. I always love seeing her posts :).

Lindsay: she's my neighbor and friend. We met 10 years ago, shortly after Daniel and I moved here. She's a friend that I really admire. She's so down to earth and practical, drama free, nonsense free, and going to her house makes me feel immediately peaceful. It's like a coffee filled oasis where I can escape from the rest of the world for a morning :) she doesn't even have internet. She grows much of their own food and raises lots of animals. She has really influenced me in the area of caring for my family. I'm always calling her for cooking advice, and she taught me how to preserve different foods. She's awesome :)

Grandma Joan: one of my best friends! She and I have gotten along so well my entire life. She also influenced me in areas like cooking, baking, and hospitality. I have always loved spending time with her...we laugh a lot when we are together! An amazing woman, and I'm blessed to have her in my life :)

Teresa: the first person I met when I was a nervous new college student. Thankfully, she was too, and we clicked. We have been roommates through college, and close friends through engagements, marriage, and kids. She's kind, wise, fun, and so strong in her faith. She has influenced me to love people like crazy...I don't know many people who let Jesus' love shine through them like she does!

Jael: my sister, and one of the strongest women I know. I don't want to invade her privacy here on my blog, but she has been through a lot. That woman has conquered mountains, let me tell you! Her influence on me has changed throughout our lives, but has always been there. Her strength is inspiring. We live a world apart right now, and I miss her like crazy, but watching her life from far away, she never ceases to amaze me!

Karen: I really couldn't have asked for a better mother in law. We are quite a bit alike in personality, and enjoy each others' company. She has been largely influencial in my relationship with God. We have had some looong and wonderful talks about God, family, and life, and those talks have made a huge difference in the way I see or deal with some situations. I'm very thankful to have her to talk to!

God: I've always been a christian, as far back as I can remember, but when I learned what it was really like to have a real relationship with Him, my outlook on life changed dramatically. He is and always will be the greatest influence in my life. I could write a novel here I'm sure, but I'll save that for a later post.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Take Time To Make Time Stop

If you think the title of this post is cheesy, just wait until you hear where I got it from! Most of my "moms of girls" friends might know.
A Barbie movie. It's from a Barbie movie. I forget which one, but they sing a lot in it...and because I usually only hear my kids' movies (they watch them while I drive), I noticed that these were the lyrics to one of the songs in the movie. It just stuck with me, and reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago about slowing down for a time to really take in the moment.
Anyways, moving on. Our life seems to be in fast forward this week. I seriously have barely had time to sit down. Thank goodness for breastfeeding so I'm forced to sit occasionally! Between cooking, canning, cleaning, helping Daniel with Reno's and answering six hundred thousand questions a day, I can't seem to finish one thing before moving on to the next thing that needs my attention.
And then yesterday, while I was sitting to nurse Sadie, I slowed down. I made myself stop thinking about hurrying her up so I could move on to the next task.
All of the other girls were playing outside, and Myka came in for a snack and asked if she could come sit with me. At first she asked to play Wii but I suggested she read a book instead. She saw one in the living room and said, "how bout I read this one? I love it!"
She sat on the edge of the couch and tried to balance the book on her lap while holding her snack in her other hand. I said, "why don't you scootch back so that your back is against the couch? That way your book will for in your lap." For the life of me I can't remember what her snack was, but this is when the moment slowed right down for me. She was thoughtfully chewing each bite and saying "hmmm" as she turned the pages. The biggest thing I remember noticing is how her feet hung off the edge of the couch just to her ankles and thinking about how soon it will be that her feet can touch the ground while sitting there. Then I got super imaginative and started thinking about she and I sitting like that when she's an adult, sipping coffee and chatting.
I quickly snapped back to the moment though and just watched her. It was such a short part of my day, but it stuck with me. I wrote it here for no reason other than I don't want to forget it, and I KNOW unfortunately, how quickly memories like that fade.
Don't grow up too fast Myka :)

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