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Wire Sculptures

I still haven’t started the baby gift yet, but I found a new love of the week! Wire sculptures!! I had so much fun creating this, and can hardly wait to try again!

Several years ago I saw one on pinterest, followed the link (Fantasy Wire), and fell in love. Between distance and cost, there was no way I could afford one. So I just pushed it to the back of my mind and moved on.

Whether it’s the love of my garden, my desire for fairies to be real, or maybe a new found mortality. I decided enough was enough. I was going to make one! So I sat there on youtube and looked at various wire sculptors working. I looked at tons and tons of pictures until I felt I could do it myself. (I think it also helps that I used wire as the frame for Abernathy, so I already knew I could make the basic skeleton, and also had a couple ideas of what not to do.

I started with a frame, and wrapped, and wrapped, and wrapped.

I played with the pose a little bit until I had it just right, then wrapped some more. The whole hips and butt area needs some serious work, but other than that, I’m really happy with how it turned out!


I planned to put this in my garden, I have the perfect spot, but decided my MIL might like it, so brought it over tonight when we went for Easter dinner. I’m not sure it’ll ever go in her garden, but she did put it on her display shelf ands seemed genuinely happy with it. So I’m happy.

I think I’m happier than if I’d kept it for my own garden. I’m planning to make more, and hope they’ll bring happiness wherever they go!

The best part of all of this?

Cordelia thinks it looks like so much fun, so she’s working on her own right now too!


Doesn’t she look so intense? She spent roughly 3 hours sitting and working, and pleaded to stay up late to work on her fairy longer. We compromised and I promised to leave her work right where she left it so she could get back to work first thing in the morning. I love this girl so much!

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Thursday, let’s roll the dice!

I enjoy table top games. I started with Games Workshop as most people do, but when Warhammer began to die out in my area I wanted to find a new game to play. This was about three years ago, at the time I followed a certain Mr. Malorian on youtube, turns out he also played in my area! Just happened Malorian, was starting a new league for a game called Warmachine and Hordes at a game shop across town. I showed up, got my butt kicked across the table and had the best time ever. By the third week I managed to get paired up with Mr. Malorian himself and put up a valiant fight.


Fast forward a couple months and Malorian, now Brian and I are good friends. Turns out we live minutes from each other and our kids are the same age. I’m playing Warmachine almost twice a week and getting really good. Come spring of 2014 I managed to win a tournament, my gaming hobby was awesome!


Then Sarah got cancer. I stopped playing while she was undergoing chemotherapy, I had to put my family first. Sarah beat cancer early 2015, just in time to start a shut down at work. That means working just about every day for 4 months non-stop.
It’s been almost a year without hanging out with my friends, playing warmachine and just taking me time. Then comes Thursday, Btian is having a gaming night and I’m not working, the family is in a happier place than they had been for a while, I’m going to go out.
Come  6pm I’m getting ready to leave, Sarah has a headache and the kids are loud. I offer to stay home and she tells me she’s fine. It’s now 7:45 and I should be in the van and Sarah and I are in a fight. (Yes, we fight, loudly, infront of our children. That can be a different post)
I don’t want to go out. I’m tired. I’m mad. What do I do?

I go. Not in anger, but in healing. I go out, roll some dice, I meet someone I didn’t know before and I lose. I had a blast. I saw my friends, I played my game and I had a good time.
I came home refreshed and ready to spend the evening with my wife.

Sometimes when things are hard and the last thing you want to do is go out, go roll some dice!

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Sleepless Nights Bring Magical Days

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Sleepless nights suck and don’t bring magical days.And to a certain extent you’d be right. Except we’ve decided we’ll choose to have a magical day anyhow.

More often than not, I’m tired and feel I should get at least 3 more hours of sleep a night. Some days, like today, I spend those 3 hours attempting to sleep (on the floor, on a chair, leaning against the kitchen counter hoping my children think I’m working in the kitchen and not sleeping…) anyhow.

Yesterday, neither Ryan nor I woke up feeling refreshed, we thought about staying home and having a lazy day. But because we decided to look for magic and moments of connection everyday we decided we’d go out after all. In record time everyone was dressed and out the door. Half hour after climbing out of bed, we were on our way to the bowling alley to meet up with some other homeschoolers.


I love watching them bowl! They have so much fun, though none of them seem destined for bowling greatness 😉 They love using the bumpers to bank the ball toward the pins. Ella gets several strikes and one of the highest scores out of everyone there. But without those bumpers she’s nothing! lol Not really, but she does use them heavily 🙂

Agatha’s awesome, even with the bumpers she managed to get a couple gutter balls. That takes talent! Talent I tell you!! :p

Cordelia managed to get the ball all the way to the pins a couple times. I think she’s improved over the past few months lol

Brom bowled all of twice before heading over to check out the arcade. He had so much fun just pretending to play, and fun is all that mattered.

What else does a sleepy day bring? Silliness, stories and cuddles, kitties and puppy play. It also brought craft time, and fun with beads.

But everyday life isn’t always easy. Parenting is hard, exhausting work some days. And we certainly don’t have time to devote 100% of our day to our children the way we can on vacation.

So we need to make the most of the time we do have to make sure each day, at the very least, begins and ends with a happy connection.

There’s so much I want to accomplish, and so much I want to help my children succeed at each day. That pressure added to feeding them and clothing them, as well as cleaning the house, and taking care of animals means some days we could loose sight of our goal.

I want to create a plan for these days when I’m running on empty but still want to stick to and accomplish my goals. I also want to take better care of myself in the first place so I have fewer days like this. Setting my bedtime an hour or two earlier than it is will make a huge difference in my day to day life and how I relate to my children. It’ll also offset the sleep I lose from being woken up multiple times in a night.

What do you do to remind yourself to react with love and patience when you’re exhausted and your children are children? What do you do to connect with your children when you’re running low? What do you do when you’ve ran out of gas, but you’re not able to actually stop and take care of yourself yet?

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Kiwi, Koala, and Tinker Crates

Everyday for month our children ask us if their crates have arrived yet. Everyday, they ask if mails come yet. Almost everyday, they’re disappointed. But today they were ecstatic, their crates arrived!


In seconds they had all of the crates open and the contents quickly spreading across the table. I think they were excited 😉

They each have a different crate, and they each love them so much! I honestly think this was the best homeschool purchase we made this year, they are pricy, but well worth the cost. The supplies in each crate are high quality and the instructions are well written so the children can all work on their crates with relative independence (which they LOVE)!!!

Cordelia’s crate is an imaginative playground crate. She got to colour a puzzle, that she then took apart and put back together roughly a dozen times. She also got to build a simple teeter-totter/balance scale and use the stackable crayons and beads to balance and counter balance. She also received chalk, and she has so MANY ideas for things she can do with it.


Agatha’s crate was filled with wonder, mystery, and MAGIC! Her shouts of joy were heard all through the neighbourhood when she opened her crate. She built a magic box, and began performing magic within a few minutes. The tricks were wonderful and amazing even after watching them 300 times. Each.

There are few things she works so hard to perfect, so it really was exciting to see her try and try over and over again until her technique improved enough that she actually made it look magical.


But Ella’s crate. Ella’s crate is the one Ryan and I get excited about every month. They’re just that little bit more advanced, slightly more complicated, and ever so much cooler (IMO).

Today Ella began building her very own homemade combination vault. First she had to create her own secret code, then she began building her super secret combination vault one tumbler at a time. It’ll take her a couple days to finish it, mostly because the glue needs to dry, but also because it’s just that little bit more involved.


Over the course of the month we’ll pull out the crates again and again, read the bonus materials, and check out the suggested further readings and have fun exploring the ideas and concepts just a little more.

I love receiving items like this that provide so much in such a small package! Is there anything you’ve tried that’s brought just as much excitement and lasting enthusiasm?

*We’ve received nothing for posting our experience. These opinions are all our own. Though if you are interested in checking out the crates, you can do so here. This is a coupon link in which you would receive $10 off your order, and so would I. 

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Allow myself to introduce… myself

Hey there! I’m Ryan, husband to Sarah, father to Ella, Agatha, Cordelia, and Brom.
I’m going to be throwing my hat into the blog once in a while. My posts will mostly be focused on the renovations around our house and some of the more technical things we do like playing games and editing videos.
I work shift work, days and nights, twelve hour shifts. This means when I’m working I don’t have much more time than supper and reading stories for bedtime, however I usually get four to five full days off between sets giving me lots of family time!
ella bunker gear

I tend to bond with the children through bedtime stories, cooking together, music, youtube videos and video games. Some of our favorite youtube channels include the Yogscast and Captain Sparklez! The other morning while making breakfast we all sang along to one of our favourite songs: Diggy Diggy Hole

download (1)

I like to play video games, currently I play a lot of Blizzard games: World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. Luckily they are all family friendly allowing Ella and Agatha to join me! We plan to start making videos of the games we play and posting them on the GreatBigBeautiful youtube channel.

I also play a table top game called Warmachine and Hordes. I paint up the models myself and play with a group of friends a couple of times a month. Since Sarah’s cancer I’ve fallen out of the hobby and now I’m trying to get back in. I’ll probably post some of my experiences regarding getting out of the house and socializing when you have 4 kids!
Maybe I’ll even win another one of these:

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First buds of Spring

There’s something utterly magical about emerging from winter into spring. Brushing the dust off and stepping into he garden for the first time in months.

I didn’t step out for long, and as soon as today’s snow stops falling, I’m hoping to be out there again, but what I found in my spring garden  leaves me so excited about my garden and how relaxing it’ll be this summer!


My Hollyhocks are very eager and are already several centimetres tall, the peonies are just poking through he mulch, but the most shocking of all is the picture in the top right corner. It’s a tender rose! I removed the hutch for an afternoon (re-cover it each evening still) and as some of the wood chips blew away I saw it was growing, and had new buds!

I’ll admit we had a mild winter, only 1 week of -35C, but I still wasn’t sure these roses would survive, but both of them did, even the long stem variety! I’m so excited and can hardly wait!


Isn’t she gorgeous?!?! This is one of the most fragrant roses ever! But I have no idea what it is. It was mislabeled at the greenhouse as a yellow hardy (Thompson) rose, it certainly isn’t either of those!

I can hardly wait for my first bouquet of the season! I can also hardly wait to add a few more flowers to my yard! 😉

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Self Care Leads to Unforgettable

While waiting for a flight to take off, the flight attendants go over the safety instructions. “In the event the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, put the mask over your own face before helping your companions. You cannot help anyone if you’re unconscious.”

It makes sense. And it’s something many parents need to remember more often.

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out when your mask is already on and when you need to help someone else.

Over the past year and a half since diagnosis, Ryan and I have focused on ourselves a lot more. We’ve trusted that our children are resilient and that we’ll be able to help them once we’ve helped ourselves.

So far that’s proven true.

Even though we’ve managed to put on our own oxygen mask, that’s all we’ve managed to do. Yes, I’ve slept in and spent days on the couch when need be. Yes, we’ve had frozen pizza for dinner more times than I care to count. But that’s the minimum. That’s self preservation, not self-care.

Now we’re ready for self care.

For the past few weeks I’ve spent at least 15 minutes of each day with each child. I’ve listened to them, and helped them process their fears and lifted the weight that’s on their shoulders. But, I won’t be able to do any more than that unless I also increase the amount of time I spend taking care of myself.

Honestly looking at my life, my physical fitness and my eating habits. Taking a good hard look at how I spend my time, and how I wish to spend my time is the first step.

I spend a lot of time at the computer, or another screen. I spend a lot of time thinking about doing things, but never doing them. I also think about eating, but then don’t eat, or eat a giant bag of chips in one go (and I won’t mention the box of truffles I’ve hidden in our playroom)!

I have a lot of personal goals. I want to easily lift each of my children in my arms if they ask. I want to walk 7k a day and be able to easily run 5. I want to actually run at least 3 times a week.

I want to finish a sewing project weekly. Some of mine only take a few minutes, some can take much longer, but I want to average one a week. I want to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

I want a full active life. When we travel to Disney, we walk roughly 10 miles a day, after we do one thing, we don’t go home, we keep going, we do more, see more, feel more! At the end of the day we chat about how much fun we had and what we hope to do the next day.

At Disney we feel alive and it shows. At home, we tend to sink and shrink. In order to achieve our goal of bringing magic into our home and making unforgettable happen here, we need to expand and grow. We need to get up and do more everyday to show how important our family and our lives are to us.



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Finding Magic on Lazy Days

Some days it’s almost impossible to get the energy to actually do anything. All I wanna do is sit, maybe drink coffee, possibly sleep. But I really don’t want to play, or prepare food, and there’s no way I want to do anything extra like entertain children!

Today was one of those days, at least it turned into one. Everything started out well, a lady stopped by to buy an unused balance bike off us first thing this AM, I was dressed and presentable in record time so Ella and I ran to the library and picked out a few books, stopped at the gas station, and the grocery store. Then home. Once I got home though, things were different. I had a cup, my first cup, of coffee, then sat down.

We have the comfiest brown chair ever, the only problem is it’s an energy leech! As soon as you sit down, you just can’t move again!

There I was, sitting and sipping, and not moving.

Brom wanted shows, so I turned one on. It was the wrong show. Half a dozen tries later and he’s mad because he wants a rescue show he hasn’t seen before. “Different show Mommy!” Ad nauseam. But how do you explain o a toddler that he’s watched every show netflix has that’s even remotely close to what he wants?

He isn’t easily distracted, so without a ton of effort on my part there was no way he’d be happy.

I had another coffee.

The girls sat at the table creating with polymer clay. Brom continued to get mad about the lack of rescue shows that didn’t involve fighting or bad guys.

I needed to find magic in our day. Everything was quickly slipping away.

I don’t have plan. My goal is very abstract: Find magic in each day. Find something that brings our family closer together. Everyday bring joy to our home and remember the magic of Disney so we can share it with each other at home.

Some days that seems more daunting than ever! We don’t have Mickey Mouse or Princesses. We don’t have amazing chefs to cook for us, and I certainly don’t have anyone else to clean for me!


It took until after dinner, but eventually I did start to perk up a bit and then Magic happened!

It may not seem like much, but the kiddos and I all played a game where I had to catch them, and they had to rescue each other. Very basic. But so much fun (and a ton of exercise)!

I chased them around our kitchen island, and when I caught one,t he others all piled on top of me, tickling me, pulling on me, anything to make me lose my grip. There was a ton of shouting, giggling, and smiles. And at the end everyone was ready to move onto quieter activities, like reading some of our library books.


And within moments of starting to read Brom and Cordelia were ready for bed.

Once they were asleep, I went to pour a glass of wine, but then I hear a very quiet tiptoeing on the stairs. A pair of eyes peeked around the corner, “I’m not tired Mommy.”

I put the wine away, and open my arms, Agatha (followed by Ella) comes up and they ask if I’d be willing to play WOW with them. How could I resist?

As the snow piled up outside, and the house lights around us slowly went out, my big girls and I ran dungeons, battled pets, and handed in quests together.

“I’m ready for bed now Mommy.” First one, then the other gave me a hug and went to bed with a smile on her face.

We may not have ended our day with fireworks over head, but I think the smiles on my daughters’ faces show just how important the everyday unforgettable is to them.


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Tricky Adults and Internet Safety

We have a couple of children we see often, ages 5 and 7, they recently invited our girls to the local playground without an adult. I was uncomfortable, but said yes. The local playground is about 3 walking blocks away, 5 driving.
First, I didn’t know this, but the girls didn’t have their parent’s permission to go to the playground without an adult. Now the parents say yes because we said yes.
The girls stop by almost daily asking my children to go out either to the local pond, field, or playground.
I’ve learned that the girls ask my daughters to leave the playground (or where ever I’ve said they could go) every time they go. Sometimes it’s, “let’s stop at B’s place to see if he can play” or maybe some other kids house. But they’ve also asked my children to leave our neighbourhood, to go to people’s homes my children don’t know, and to cross the busy road to go to the strip mall stores.
On top of this, these girls ask my daughters to give them things whenever they come over, and Ella has told me the girl steals money (change on the floor or such). In the past we’ve talked about ‘tricky adults’ we’ve also talked about internet safety and ways people might trick a child into doing things they shouldn’t do.
Today as I talked to Ella I pointed out the similarities between her friend and a ‘tricky adult’ and her friend and the ‘bad’ internet people. *trying to get Ella to go somewhere without permission, trying to get her to not tell her parents things, trying to make Ella do things to ‘help’ her friend that meant breaking our rules, trying to get Ella to do something her tummy voice told her not to*
Ella had a light bulb moment. She looked at me and said, “We’ve talked about it, and I didn’t see it. I thought those were things people just talk about that don’t really happen. I didn’t think it was real!”
So please take note and talk to your kiddos again. I’m pretty comfortable with the level Ella understands and understood these things and the level to which she would listen to herself, but she still could have ended up in a bad situation. Luckily she did come and talk to me, and luckily the person doing this was a kid who likely has no intention of harming anyone.
If you don’t already, talk to your children about tricky adults, talk about internet safety, and all about their tummy voice!! I believe the fact that we’ve already talked about this allowed Ella the strength to stand up against her friend, and to come to me when her friend didn’t listen. It possibly saved our family from heartbreak.
The current agreement with our children is they will not be going anywhere without an adult. This was their decision because they are so worried about what happened.
We don’t give rewards for many things, but in this case Ella is getting an item she’s been saving up for for months. We’ll buy it for her because today she learned a valuable lesson that could safe her life. Possibly already did safe her life.
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Tears of Futility

In order to find peace, sometimes we need to brave the chaos. This week is all about the chaos. And tears.

All total today we had roughly 4 hours of crying.

I know, you wish you were in my shoes, don’t you? 😉


Not everyone knows there’s different types of crying, but there are. Sometimes crying is about being sad, or angry, even happy. Sometimes it’s a release during a temper tantrum. But sometimes tears are a release that allows the body to heal. Sometimes a person, no matter how small, just needs a good cry.

Today Ella had a good cry.

She needed it and deserved it. I was with her, guiding and comforting her the entire time.

It was exhausting, but these were the tears of futility. The tears that come at the end of a long fight, when resolution’s finally found. These were healing tears. Healing, but utterly exhausting just the same.

Shortly after she finished, Brom started.

I’d love a nice glass of wine. Instead, I’m drinking kombucha* from a wine glass.



*despite not being wine, it is really good.