If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we’ve spent the past two weeks working our way through the Fruit of the Spirit! Originally, I’d planned for more low-key lessons but, with a global pandemic and who-knows-how-many-weeks of self-isolation, we had to ramp things up for the sake of staying busy. (And let’s just say that these lessons are even more pertinent when you’re crammed together in close quarters for so long!)

Overall, these activities and discussions have been “fruitful” reminders for the whole family. It’s been a joy to watch our children grow in their understanding of scripture and what it means to follow God!

Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(For those who are just joining in, be sure to check out Week One!)

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We had big plans for this spring break but alas, with travel and playgroups, pools and playgrounds, libraries and kids play areas all closed for a global pandemic, plans changed — causing my son to declare this “the worst spring break ever.” (A sentiment which honestly, just made me giggle a little since he’s in kindergarten… This is your only spring break experience, kid!)

Nonetheless,  I did want him to be able to look back on a fun (albeit low-key), first spring break. I also needed projects to keep him from getting bored while we’re stuck social-distancing at home. Learning about the Fruit of the Spirit is a great way to integrate numerous Biblical lessons throughout the day, all the while having fun with crafts and activities.

Each day includes a verse, an activity, Bible reading, and a few other suggestions for how to tackle each “fruit.” I may not be a “homeschool” mom but we’re trying our best to keep learning and have fun doing so!
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We’re running late with the video this year, and you may have thought this moment wasn’t coming, but I’m excited to finally reveal our 2019 family video! And trust me, you want to watch this one. It’s CUUUUUUTE. (And that’s not even me being biased! I mean, I am, but still….)

This year was a big one for our family in many ways. New job, a published book, an amazing new literary agent, a kindergartener, a one-year-old who’s walking… There’s been a lot of incredible moments and glorious high-points for this year. But there’s also been months of grief as we said good-bye to my mom and learned what life looks like without her here.

These are the things we weigh and balance as reflect upon 2019.

There’s an extra empty chair around the dining room table this Christmas and that’s never an easy thing to face. But the table is also covered in love and surrounded by family and laughter — and those are the things we cherish most this holiday season.

And the year’s not quite over yet.

Through it all, God has been so faithful. And may have one more surprise in stock for you all… But to find out? Well, you’ll just have to watch the video. 😉

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When my first shipment of Caribou & Sage items arrived, I couldn’t get over how thick and luxurious the fabric felt. Soft and stretchy and so well made, it was nothing like the cheap t-shirts and flimsy fabrics I find at the store. This was my first foray into the world of handmade clothes and Caribou & Sage does it just so well. **

Caribou & Sage is a Canadian company based out of Alberta, Canada and run by my friend, Jesslyn. Not only does she create kids clothes, she’s also a mom to a busy two-year-old and pilot for a charter company!

Since she uses gorgeous fabrics from small Canadian retailers, you know that you’re truly supporting local Canadian business with these pieces. In addition to her regular offerings, she also creates a wide variety of custom options, resulting in beautifully made, one of a kind items. You won’t see other kids running around the playground in these!

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For years, Camilla Läckberg has remained firmly planted within my top ten favourite authors list. Her stories are beautifully written tales, intricately woven with characters and history and murder. And so, when my husband and I booked our summer vacation to Sweden, I had but one request — we had to visit the site where Läckberg’s mysteries are set, the little village of Fjällbacka.

It was a two-hour drive from where we were staying to the coastal village of Fjällbacka. The drive there is filled with a mixture of pasture and forest, with Sweden’s adorable yellow and red homes dotting the farmlands outside our car window. Our GPS took us on a half-hour detour down a deserted gravel road and I joked that the murder mystery tour had already begun.

As we pulled into Fjällbacka, the landscape takes a sudden turn. The sea dazzles and sparkles in the sunlight while the dark rocks loom up behind the picturesque fishing village. This is what I’d been waiting for.

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I may not be a mama with a great capacity for imaginative play, but when it comes to board games, I’m all in!

Sometimes, though, it can be challenging to find board games suitable for younger kids. Their attention spans are short. Their hand-eye-coordination is still developing. And they can’t always follow along with complex rules. So to make the shopping a little easier, here are some of my favourite board games for kids under five.

**There are no affiliate products in this post — just fun games we love to play!**
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He sat beside you as you waited for the doctor to confirm the results — that little plus sign ready to change his world forever.

He held your hand through the first ultrasound as you nervously waited to hear that first heartbeat.

He went out for late night ice-cream runs, laughing with you about the pregnancy cravings and offering sweet reassurances that even with your expanding waistline and swollen ankles, you’d never looked more beautiful.

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Lights twinkle off branches and along pathways, glittering and shimmering against the darkened night sky. There is so much beauty contained in these mini-capsules of lights. Thousands of coloured strands line the garden, each one capturing a bit of the magic of Christmas.

This was my first time visiting Van Dusen Garden (for a Vancouver-born girl, this is a shocker I know!) And with their annual Festival of Lights, I was excited to finally check out this new-to-us Christmas location.

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As we draw near the end of our Advent season this year, I am so grateful for these daily reminders of God’s love, faithfulness and salvation plan. The entirety of scripture echoes His redemptive plan — a plan that includes a child born to a virgin and laid to rest in a scratchy, old feeding trough.

As we arrive at Christmas morning, we stand together with millions of others around the globe. We kneel before that babe in a manger, the straw tattooing our knees and the stench of manure on the tips of our noses, and worship. With love, we bow before the one who came and who is yet to come again. Our hearts join in with the hope-filled prayer of generations past as we cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.”

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“We only have a few days left, mama!”

My son’s excitement rings out as he flips through his Bible each morning, checking to see how many days remain until Christmas morning. It’s part of our December Advent activity, working our way through the Jesus Storybook Bible. Each day we read a story from the Old Testament, leading up to the birth of Christ, and make an ornament to accompany it.

It’s been one of my favourite parts of this month: sitting down next to each other at the kitchen table and carefully turning soft pages, reading about God’s great plan together.

His excitement is tangible, his anticipation building. I’ve never seen him so eager to read his Bible. Not only are we uncovering the meaning of Advent, we’re also building a deeper love for God’s word. As we bend little pieces of wire and glue popsicle sticks together, we see how each of these stories point to Christmas morning — to the birth and life of Christ. God’s grand narrative is wrapped together better than any present we might find under our tree.

Here’s what we’ve been learning this week:
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O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
And ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs.

In a season strewn with jingly tunes about reindeer and jolly, bearded men these five words, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” cut straight to the heart. They remind us of all that we long for and hope for in this Christmas season: the coming of a Saviour. Tiny and new, nestled amongst scraps of cloth and bits of hay, a King is born.

This Christmas, we are celebrating Advent as a family by reading our way through the Old Testament stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible. In this children’s Bible, there are twenty-four OT stories leading up to the birth of Christ. (One for each day leading up to Christmas!) Each night, we will be reading a different story and creating an ornament to go along with it. (I originally stumbled across this idea here.)

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I remember, as a child, staring up at the big Christmas tree in my elementary school lobby. It was decorated with paper ornaments; each of them carefully (or not so carefully) crafted by sticky-fingered, glitter-covered students. It was a Jesse tree. A reminder of the generations who waited on the arrival of a Messiah.

As kids, most of our anticipation around Christmas comes with what’s found under the tree. But the truth is, this sense of yearning and longing for Christmas morning can be transformed into something so much more than our desire for new toys and sparkling gifts.

This yearning leads us to the stable — past some scraps of swaddling cloth and an exhausted mother to a newborn babe. We’re reminded of those who waited for His birth, just as we ourselves wait with open hands and hearts for His return.

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