Family Culture

I recently started a podcast club with some girls where we meet weekly to chat about the podcast of the week, about life and sip yummy warm drinks.This week was our first week and the podcast was on family culture (episode 6 of Cultivating Lovely podcast). Listening to it sparked my interest and so I went digging to read some more about what some experienced and well seasoned parents have to say about cultivating a family culture. I love the fact that each family brings it’s own uniqueness to the table. It’s fun to visit different homes and experience other family’s “cultures” isn’t it? Kids or not, I bet you have a culture.

Any article that I read or podcast that I listened to said how much influence we have on our family members and how what we do and how we live has a huge part to play in shaping the hearts and lives of not only our children but each other. Makes sense right? Well then why Have I not been thinking about this more I ask myself…

This year has been so great. I have taken a year off on maternity leave with our baby girl. It’s been a whirlwind learning to fit everything in, prioritizing and making sure I get everything done. There have been days where I wondered if I would ever feel rested and if I would get a shower before 7pm. This year has totally been about birthing the mother inside me, adapting to being 3 and not 2, learning to lay my selfishness down and so much more. Recently I am feeling like I have a better handle on things and am being intentional to take time to read and write and do things that I enjoy doing. It’s been in this time that I have been reminded of all of this family culture goodness.

I got hung up on a a couple verses in Proverbs this week that said a wise woman builds her house and carefully watches over everything in her home and family. This leads me to believe that God intended for us to be intentional about how we do things and how we parent. We are a younger new family with a 1 year old. I can’t say that we have ever sat down and said these are the things that we want to see happening in our home until now. I say lets not just wing it and hope for the best. If I value my family I will stop and consider how we are impacting our children and the example that we are setting. It has been really good for me to stop and consider what we value and how those things are seen in our day to day living. I think if we value our own well being as well we will organize and be proactive with our daily responsibilities so that no one suffers and our days are organized.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to help us move ahead. How do our children see us spending our time? What do we show each other that we value? How can we love each other more and be more intentional in both marriage/relationship and with our children if we have them. While I do have some things that shape my own family culture (ie. traditions, community, creativity & thoughtfulness) there are definitely things that I would love to be more intentional about (fostering an environment of order, encouragement, gratitude, compassion, giving, fun & laughter and last but not least I need to be intentional about taking time for myself to get lost in the other thing she I love). The fun part is getting creative and thinking of ways to see these things roll out..

For encouragement, I would like to verbalize at least once a day something that I see in my husband/daughter/friendships that is beautiful and awesome. Something that lifts their spirit and lets them know that hey I recognize this about you and it is awesome. This is part of building my family up.

For gratitude I would like to be intentional about thanking God and others more verbally. I believe that this helps us shift our thoughts to be thankful for what we do have and helps us to not focus on everything we would like to have or everything that has gone wrong. We want to be grateful.

For compassion and giving I would like to talk more about the things going on around us and be intentional about loving others well in practical ways. We can help people by listening, caring, making a meal and giving in all sorts of ways. This is loving people. I need to love better outside of my bubble!

For fun and laughter I have just realized how sometimes the things that can tend to burden us can sometimes weigh us down. My husband and I usually wear everything on our sleeve and I know that it at times impacts the environment of our home and our relationships. I would love to make every effort to live out being thankful and trusting so that God can help us share joy and offer a light hearted spirit in our home. That we will not parent from a place of hurt or brokenness. I want us to be real but I want us to find joy even in the midst of harder times. Some intentional things that we can do are play music, dance together, joke around, play games, etc. Heaviness is a difficult atmosphere to live in.

Some of the things we already feel we do well in are finding time every week to spend time as a family. We love nature so when we can we find ourselves outside doing outdoor activities like skating, snow showing, walking, running, hiking, camping, snowboarding, biking.

We love creativity. We try to apply this in all aspects of life no matter what we are doing. My husband is the master creative mind around here so he is a major source of inspiration to me. He encourages me to get creative just by being who he is. I like to try to encourage others to get creative too. This blog will hopefully be a source for that as well as my ladies nights for all things creative.

We have a few traditions now. The 1st year we were married we decided to really put thought into each family member and make something for them with our own hands at Christmas. We look forward to this every year and have a great time doing it. We work on things alone, together and with friends. Some other traditions that we have started are pancake birthday breakfasts and annual birthday letters for our child. Also when I can I want to take off the day of Amelia’s birthday each year to spend with her. These are special things that she will remember and look forward to I hope.

I believe that God created women with a special ability to keep things in order. It is often that we see the mothers and grandmothers as being the “glue” that holds the family together. They take the initiative on planning family gatherings, they show how much they value family. This isn’t to say that men don’t but it is just something that women tend to have in us naturally for the most part. We enjoy planning. We enjoy gathering and togetherness. We enjoy family time and the chaos of all the kids running and playing and enjoying life and each other. This is why I thought this is a great podcast to start with my group of ladies. What an opportunity we have as mothers and wives and friends to enrich the lives of those around us. We should know that we are not perfect, we will disappoint ourselves and others and fall short but we can have goals and aim to love well through intentional culture.

How do you do family? I would love to hear all your fun and crazy traditions and anything else you want to share.

 

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My daughter’s 1st birthday party

 

Birthdays are a great time to celebrate the lives of the people we love. It’s also a great time to get creative and try to tailor your special party to the likeness of your loved one. I always thought of birthdays of just another day and oh presents but the older I get the more I think that we should really take advantage of setting aside 1 day every year to truly celebrate your loved one’s life and who they are. A day just for them.

This year was so much fun planning our daughter’s very 1st birthday. We decided to do a pancake party with friends but we still had cake! She loved it. We also plan to do a pizza party this weekend with our family and that will be fun too! I chose to do a floral theme because they are beautiful just like her. I went with pink, gold and turquoise as the colours because they look awesome together and it made for the perfect shabby chic look. Our girl’s personality is soft and gentle and beautiful so I felt it was well suited. I am sure that the years to come she will love helping get things ready and we will make it just how she wants it. This year mama got to decide.

I had fun making some of my own decorations for her. I found some great tutorials on Pinterest so I am going to share them with you in case you are interested in trying any of them. These tissue paper flowers are much easier than you would think and you can make them fairly quickly. The link on Pinterest shows a wide variety of colours on the wall and that looks lovely too. You can make them different sizes too. You can see the tutorial here > Tissue paper flowers

I also made the tastle garland hanging from the shelf at our coffee station from crepe paper (tutorial here > Crepe paper garland). I also made the sign that says Amelia Pearl. I just spray painted a wooden canvas that I bought at a local art supplies store and painted Amelia Pearl on it. I actually made this sign for over her crib but decided to use it as a decoration for her big party too to help personalize it.  For a finishing touch I put a precious photo of A out as well. It was a great addition.

Getting creative with your dates

My husband and I like to plan secret dates and surprise each other every once in a while. Drew likes to drop subtle hints that something may be being planned and then I try to get it out of him ahead of time. I like surprises in the moment but the anticipation of knowing there is a surprise that I must wait for just drives me nuts. I sometimes cave and tell him my plans in advance because I get too excited… Still, the planning and putting thought into doing something special together and for the person you love makes it pretty fun.

Life is busy and sometimes throwing a little zest into your date nights end up leaving both people feeling refreshed & encouraged. You usually know your “other half” well enough to know just what they need so this is what I keep in mind when planning. If I think he needs to be surrounded by friends then I plan something with friends. If I think he just needs some 1 on 1 time, I plan something with just us.

I often hear my friends say that they don’t date their husbands much because it’s expensive to find a baby sitter and go out (TRUE) or they feel dry in the coming up with date ideas department. Recently Drew tried to surprise me with a family date to go skating but then it was -30 with a wind chill and so we didn’t dare take our little munchkin out in that. The following week I tried to plan a surprise skating party with 8-10 friends back home that we rarely get to see. This time mother nature flooded us out so I opted for PLAN B and went for a surprise nacho date with friends followed by hot tubbing. We will try the skating again this weekend.

We love to get outside and try different things and places on our dates. Sure going to the movies and out for dinner is fun but we don’t do that every time. Also, the movies & dinner can end up being a small fortune for a night of sitting in the dark and not talking to each other. Depending on where you live, there are usually a number of things that a community or city has to offer and usually you can find some interesting activities that are free! Check out your community’s website or Facebook page for upcoming events. We were lucky enough to each get a pair of snow shoes this year for Christmas so if we ever get any more snow we will get back out on those. So far it hasn’t been much of an authentic Canadian winter around here. This is something we did a fair amount last year while I was pregnant. It was a great way to get out together, get some fresh air and exercise and take the dog for a run. Anything that includes nature, fresh air and exercise is a great date for us. If you think this is something you would enjoy, grabbing a pair of snow shoes at Costco for under $100 is probably a great investment (or gift idea)!

Recently we decided that we will have at least 1 date per month because it’s important. Family time is awesome but we need time too. We think it’s important for our friends to as well so we encourage them to get out together too and we will hang with their kiddies. I would encourage anyone to do the same. Plan ahead and make it special. Get creative! Your special someone will appreciate it and you will enjoy planning the surprise I’m sure. If you’re lacking inspiration, here are some winter ideas for you that are pretty inexpensive:

  • Fill a thermos with your hot beverage of choice & pack a small blanket in your back pack. Take a winter walk somewhere pretty.  Stop somewhere along the way to have your drink & catch up on things that you don’t normally talk about (ie. your dreams or future). This could get nippy so you may end up back in your car if you’re under dressed.
  • Go to your favourite cafe and play some cards together. Maybe you feel like just relaxing but still being together… In that case each bring a book and sit together sipping your latte while you read. If you’re both reading the same book maybe your cafe night is a great time to chat about what you have been reading.
  • Pull out your favourite board game and treats after the kids go to bed and have some fun! You could even invite another couple over without your honey even knowing.
  • Go for an evening drive somewhere that you love and dream together about your future.
  • Go parking and get frisky like you would when things were new. I don’t know, sounds good. <— Drew if you read this yes this is the next surprise date. HA
  • Try skiing or snowboarding
  • Break out the kids’ crazy carpets/GT snow racers and let your inner child out for a day/night. Don’t break anything just have fun. Sadly our baby’s sled doesn’t go fast and there is no way either of us are fitting in it. I just thought this sounded like a great idea. Maybe our friends children will let us borrow one of theirs some day.
  • Cook a meal together and eat in. Try something NEW!
  • Make something together. EX. A DIY project that you have been dying to try… Maybe a sign or an indoor herb garden or something special for the kids.
  • Have a movie night in with your favourite snacks.

Let me know what you love to do for date night both outside the home or inside after the children are fast asleep. Did this inspire you to try something different? Feel free to leave out parking stories if you went for that option.