Valentines Day Mini Photo Session

I shared in my last post that I was excited and terrified about branching out into portraits but I’m embracing all the feels and I offered my first mini session in February. It was a Valentine’s Day shoot. It went so well, I had so much fun and learned so much. These families were awesome to work with and were so sweet that all my nervousness melted away. Here is a little glimpse into two of the of Valentine’s Day mini sessions.

The Raby Family


The Tadros Family


I’m already thinking and planning my next mini session for Mother’s Day. Dates, time slots and location to be announced. If you are interested in this upcoming mini session here is what you’ll get. 30 minute sitting, 5 digital copies for you to print and distribute as you wish all for $50. If you have questions please feel free to drop me a line at I will be posting dates, times and location on my blog and Instagram (halesphotostudio) in the coming weeks so keep an eye out.

Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this exciting and nerve wracking adventure I have just started on.



Easy DIY Rosemary Place Marker (elevate your paper napkins)

Are you hosting a meal this Christmas? Are you wanting to take your paper napkins and your place settings up a notch? I am a firm believer that to make something look beautiful doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, just a bit of time and creativity. I also believe it’s the small touches that make your guests feel extra special. Do you happen to have baker’s twine and rosemary hanging around your kitchen after stuffing your Christmas bird? Then, you, my friend, have the makings of super simple, easy and not to mention aromatic place markers for your guests. Paper napkins have never looked so good!




Aren’t these little rosemary wreaths the cutest!

Here is what you need:

  • Scissors
  • Twine and/or floral wire
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • small gift tags
  • pen



Super simple right?! You probably have all these things on hand right now, or nothing a quick trip to the grocery store can’t fix.

After doing a few of these, I think I perfected a quick and easy way of assembling them. First, chose sprigs that are relatively the same length and cut a piece of string about six inches long. You can always trim the string ends afterwards if they are too long for your liking, but longer is better to knot with.


Next lay your sting out vertical and lay the rosemary horizontal over top of the string. The ends should over-lapping. Knot them together.



Once the ends are secured cut another piece of string, this one about four inches. This step is a bit finicky but don’t give up. Take the two free ends of the rosemary, cross them and tie them off with the string, knotting as tight as you can. You don’t want all your hard work slipping way once you let go. Then trim those ends as close as you can get it. At this point, if you don’t like the look of the twine showing you can always use floral wire instead. I didn’t have any on hand and I knew that tiny knot would be hidden behind a napkin, so I went ahead.



At this point, you can use the one string you knotted previously at the bottom and tie it into a bow or you can cut a second piece and tie that string over the knot into a bow, so you have four strings hanging down when finished, like in the very first picture shown above. It’s completely up to you and what you prefer.



And there! You’re done! You made the most adorable rosemary wreath. Now, just repeat all the steps to make as many wreaths as you need. Once your done you just have to write your guests names on little gift tags.


Slip a napkin through the wreath, tuck the little tag in the center of your wreath and you’re done!


Sounds like too much work? Don’t worry I have you covered. How about just tying the two springs together at the bottom and forgoing knotting them at the top?


Still too much work? No problem! Take a single spring of rosemary and tie a little bow on one end. Slide it into the small tag hole and place on top of the napkin.


Still a bit too much work fiddling around with tying knots? I hear ya! How about tucking a couple small sprigs underneath the small tag? Simple and still beautiful.


Go ahead! Take your place settings up a notch this Christmas.

One last little tip. If this seems overwhelming, making these the day before or the morning of your big dinner, I totally agree. How about set your whole table up to a week in advance. I have a girlfriend mention to me a while back that her mom would always set the table days in advance. To ensure it didn’t collect dust, grime or attract little hands that feel the need to touch, she would lay a piece of plastic wrap over top each place setting. On the day of your meal, remove plastic wrap. Beautiful place settings without the stress.


From The Hales Homestead to yours Merry Christmas!




Kid’s Memory Boxes

What do you do with all that paper? All those cards? All those awards? It’s overwhelming enough with just one child. But add in two, three or in my case four and the memorabilia becomes just about suffocating.

After I was married my mom gave me a box full of little odds and ends that she collected from my childhood. It was fun to go through to see my interests as I grew, memorable moments and significant achievements. At the end of each school year she would sift through that mounds of papers that would come home from my and my sisters desks, lockers and backpacks and she would tuck away items of significance. As we got older she would let us chose things we valued and she would slip in a few other items she thought we would appreciate when we were older.

I have edited that box once and I think it is a sweet little time capsule of my childhood and adolescent years. My kids have enjoyed searching through it and seeing old pictures of me, looking through my old Pogs collections (yep I’m a nineties child) and discovering my old Gameboy. I loved the idea of keeping treasured moments and memories to take out and remember and admire over the years.

When my eldest began school I thought it was a great time to start his memory box. I had already collected a bunch of cards, baby clothes, and other baby odds and ends in a box. I sorted though it and kept what I thought he would appreciate when gets older.


What you’ll need:



(BUYING TIP: You can also check out your local dollar store they usually have the manilla file folders on hand and a fraction of the price)


HANGING FILE FOLDERS (depending on the type of box you get)



Now that your all set with all your materials all you have to do is print and file away.
I love this school year memory keeper printable
from Confessions of a Homeschooler. She has two sets of free printables. One that says ‘School Memories’ and another that says ‘Homeschool Memories’, but if you check out my Pinterest board School Memory Box there is some other great printables too. I glued these to the front of the hanging file folder. This printable also comes with file folder labels that has grade numbers. This printable also fits their school pictures and with the clear bins you can see who each bin belongs to clearly. But for added clarity I borrowed by friends Critcut die cutting machine and cut out the kids names for the front of each bin.
With your box all set up, it’s just a matter of sorting through all the papers. I heard a great tip about what to keep and what to toss when it comes to your children’s sentimental items. Keep only that which your kids love and treasure, that way when it comes to parting with the box its easier for you and when you pass it over to your child he/she will love getting all the memories they have treasured through their childhood. So if that hand turkey full of feathers and glitter makes their face beam with pride and they can’t stop talking about it and showing it off to anyone who visits but makes you groan, keep it. It’s their hand-made treasure and something they value and will remember for years.


I also love to start off the school year with a questionnaire and see how their answers change from year to year. My Pinterest board has a few different questionnaires. I use this free printable from Petite Lemon


As for large pieces of art or other items that won’t fit in the box take a picture and put the pictures into the file folders. This saves space and they are still able to have something to  remember it by.

Throughout the year I toss various art, awards, odds and ends in the file folder and some years there just is too much to keep. At the end of each school I go through it and pare if down so it fits neatly into the file folder.


As for baby clothes or special blankest I used the Ziplock vacuum seal suit case bags to shrink those items down to save space and protect them.

I hope this help you with keeping your children’s special memorabilia. If you have any questions shoot me a note and I’ll be happy to answer it. Also, if you have any other great memory keeper ideas I would love to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by the Hales Homestead.

A Word to a Heavy Laden Heart

I am certain you have experience it, that deep and unsettling heart ache. The kind that weighs your shoulders down into a low sagging hunch, starves your belly of nourishment, knits your brows together in an ever present look of pain and sorrow and where tears once ran freely no longer come. The kind that in moments of forgotten joy its vapours creep up around your ankles, cling and rise up to your chest proceeding to grab hold of your heart and as an anchor dropped off the side of a ship, drags it back down with strength and purpose. Drags it back to the dark recesses of angst and pain yet again.

Dear Heart, I know it looks like there is no hope and you are hurting deeply. I am here to come under you, to support you with a truth that will give you strength to withstand. Your hurt and pain is real but what you do next, dear Heart, determines the outcome. Will you succumb to the grief and sorrow or will you surrender to The One who “… has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”? (Isaiah 53:4)

The danger lies in allowing the circumstances to consume your view from Christ. Acknowledging the pain and hurt of the situation is one thing but staying there is another. Heart, might I direct you to the Psalms. Read them, pour over them. They are wonderful examples to read and see how others handle pain, trial, suffering and threat without it taking root in their hearts and without completely obscuring their view of God. A good portion of the Psalms were written by David. If you know anything of him you know his life was full of dire and bleak situations. Some were thrusted upon him, while others were the making of his own sin. Many of his Psalms begin similar to what you, Heart, are feeling. There is much pain, angst, tiredness and questions in his Psalms.

Psalm 6

Lord, Deliver My Life

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith.[a] A Psalm of David.

Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

(Passage from Bible Gateway in the English Standard Version translation)

Do verses 1-7 sound the least bit familiar to you? Do David’s description of his turmoil sound similar as you are feeling?  David ends (verses 8-10) with boldly declaring to his enemies that the The Lord has heard him. He is not alone and The Lord will help him. Can you confidently declare the same?

Psalm 13

How Long, O Lord?

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

(passage from Bible Gateway in the English Standard Version)


Although our lives might not be in imminent danger as the psalmist’s was, can you hear his heart? His pain, his sorrow? Again, David’s tone and gaze are shifted at the end (verses 5-6) from circumstance to his deliverer. From turmoil to tranquility he is realigned and confident in God. As these particular Psalms unfold it seems that David has lost all hope and it seems that they will conclude with David remaining in languish. Yet, before they close off the tone shifts and David’s gaze is altered. He remembers God’s steadfast love, he rejoices in His salvation and recognizes His goodness. He is never fixed on the outward for too long but he always readjusts his sight upwards.


Heart, did you notice to whom these Psalms were directed? They were not sung to a friend, colleague or family member. David poured out his heart to God. In prayer we can go, take all our pain, sorrow and questions, to God. We can call out for help and he will hear us. But I caution you, dear Heart, like David don’t allow your doubts and questions to linger and turn to blaming God. Won’t you turn all of your suffering, hurt and confusion to praising God. Praise Him for His character and all His wonderful deeds. I know, in the pain it’s hard to sometimes even think how to pray. Why don’t you pray the Psalms. His Word will never fail you.

How did David know these truths about who God is? Heart, I implore you to search the scriptures for yourself. Pour through the pages of the Gospel of John and see how the redemption story unfolded. Go back to the Old Testament and see how that God of Israel is still the same God of today. Dig deep into Romans and see our depraved nature and the merciful and gracious God who gives the free gift of salvation, through Christ, to anyone who believes. Dear, dear, Heart how can you stand firm as the Psalmist did if  you do not know the truth like the Psalmist did.


Lastly, you can’t go though this sorrow alone, Heart. Find a friend who is willing to cry with you, share the truth of scripture with you and when needed, lovingly tell you when enough wallowing is enough. This Christian life is not to be lived in isolation, lean on the Church for support and encouragement as you go through this heart wrenching season.

My dearest Heart, the Lord loves you and you are not alone. Pray, praise Him, seek him though his word and link arms with other Christians. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8, English Standard Version)

As I leave you Heart, may these songs minister to you and you find encouragement in their words.

“When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gail my anchor holds within the vale. On christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”


After all He is Still Good.

Hales Homestead Halloween Tour (or the triple H tour)

**Disclaimer: All photographs are mine and I am not affiliated with any of the retailers or products mentioned. Also, my house does not look like this on the regular. If you want to see it in real time check out my Instagram account.**

Today is Halloween and I thought would be the right time to share our Halloween home tour. I think there is only two type of Halloween people. Those who all out love it and those who are only here for the candy. I’m the latter. However, I love to celebrate just about anything and making a home full of memories. So we decorate for Halloween but you’ll see in our home it’s not scary but rather fun. Please com’ on in.img_8829img_8826

I love that at the end of the season things are drastically marked down. Like these sweet candy corn and cutie Halloween face banners from Michaels Craft Store. They were marked down 40%. Each cost 5 dollars. That is well within the budget and #halesthesecond and I were able to get our craft on. I say win, win.


I am big on reusing what you already have in your house in new ways. I start any decorating by stripping the whole space down to its furniture bones. (spooky language right! Ha! Ha!) Then I add things slowly. I’m always tweaking, adding, removing or moving. Nothing ever looks the same from day to day. Most of our decorations can be found from the dollar store and have been accumulated slowly over the years. Last year we welcomed the crows (from Dollarama), this year the little mice silhouettes were added (also from Michaels and significantly reduced in price).


To also save time and money I decorate mostly according to season and not to the specific holiday. Let me explain. I decorate mostly for fall. White pumpklins and gourds, wheat and cotton stocks. I add that to my existing decor and then I swap out a few fall items for more holiday specific items, such as black pumpkins, bats, crows and the odd skeleton.


For those of you thinking, “She’s got four kids, one of which is a toddler, how does she keep those mice on the stairs?” Let me say, I don’t. HA! I literally uncrumpled them from a ball just before taking this picture and they are just leaning up again the stair riser. One of their tails is just mostly torn off too. HA! My husband asked the same thing when I originally put them up. Again I got these little guys for a song and actually have extras still in the packaging tucked away for this purpose.


It took me 15 minutes to add Halloween decorations to the already seasonal decor. All my fall and Halloween stuff, fits nicely in to a large storage container. If it doesn’t fit in the bin, something must go so the lid can close.


Beside the front hall bench is our front table. It only looks this clean once a week and only on Tuesdays. Wow, Candace that is super specific. Yep, it coincides when we host our churches weekly Bible study. Coincidence? I think not.


Arn’t those little spider legs holding that little white pumpkin adorable? It’s actually a cupcake holder! Another discounted Michaels find.



I am not a huge fan of this tassels garland but the kids love them. They sway when the door opens and closes and when the sun catches it they shimmer off the walls. I can see why they love them so much.



Down the hall in our kitchen is our chicken wire frame. I wanted this frame to be filled with these super cute free printable thankful leaves from Ella Claire Blog. She is one of my favourite bloggers by the way and you should go check her out. I love her style. But I digress. Back to the printable leaves. I didn’t really follow through filling them out and hanging them but that’s ok. #gracenotperfection right girls?! I even had one of the girls little friends fill one out. Maybe next year I’ll have every guest fill one out. The leaves dangling from the ceiling is an idea from #halesthesecond. She came home from school back in September with her backpack filled with leaves and suggested they would look cute hanging from strings from the ceiling. Once I calmed down from the huge tail of leaves all over the house, man! She was right! It is super cute. Recently, I just added some flying bats behind them and BAM! Pooksey, as #halesthethird used to say.


Off the kitchen is our coffee bar welcomes you into the living room. This is still a work in progress. I am still thinking about what should go on that wall. Shelves or a giant chalkboard? This is a fun place to add some little halloween touches.


Once you have grabbed your cuppa jo or tea, ‘witch’ever poison you prefer. (Mwah ha ha) Dork, I know. Come and sit a spell in front of the fire. I couldn’t resist.




As a side note. These adorable little books are called Chatbooks. The app takes your Instagram, Facebook and camera roll and turns them into little photo albums. If you are like me and have no time to print pictures then check out this app. It’s super affordable too. And because we are friends just the code 9NJHYV99 to get your first book free. Your welcome!


Thanks for coming along for the Hales Homestead Halloween Tour. I hope this gives you some ideas for your own home. I would love to hear your thoughts and how you love to decorate for Halloween.




Back to School Organization: The Homework Caddy

It’s coming. Back to school. I know it’s the beginning of August but before you groan hear me out. This year I have three out of four kids going to school, two of which are in grade school and now need extra supplies, and one who is just starting school and needs everything. So by necessity I have to plan early and stretch that loonie as far as I can. For all you non-Canadian readers, it’s what our one dollar coin is called. I’m breaking up our back to school shopping into two chunks. The beginning of the month is school supplies: pencils, sharpeners, crayons, backpacks, pencil cases, markers, the list goes on and my newest kindergartener’s running shoes will get lumped in here as she needs both an indoor and outdoor pair. The end of August will be for lunch bags, one new outfit and the other two kids indoor shoes.

Last year my eldest entered grade one. It was foreign territory. Literally, as he was entering into the French immersion program at our local school. It also came with homework which was also new. Add on moving into a new house over the summer and I was sporting a six-month-old baby and I was completely off my game and forever playing catch-up. One of the many things that irked me last school year was not being prepared for the homework situation. I never thought ahead to clear the kitchen table, we could never find a sharpened pencil and forget ever finding a sharpener, I didn’t know where to place papers that would come home so they were just strewn all about the house. It was chaotic, frustrating for both me and my little learner. I was purposeful that over the summer I was going to make sure I was a bit more organized practically. As for the frustration that comes forth from my heart in the after school dinner prep pressure cooker,  I know it’s going to be a matter of being diligent to set aside time to pray for the Lord to do a mighty work in changing my tired and irritable heart. I have to be proactive to quiet the house and turn off my mind from all the to-dos in order to get ready to receive joyfully three equally tired and irritable individuals.

To the drawing board. Enter Pinterest: The World’s Catalog of Ideas. I began to research how people have set up their homeschool rooms, study desks and kitchen tables in an attempt to find something that will work for my family and the different ages and grades that collect around our kitchen table. Then, I came across the “homework caddy”. (Check out my School Years Pinterest board for more ideas) It corrals all the necessary paraphernalia to complete the tasks that are sent home. The more I searched for this “caddy” the more excited I got because it can be also used for arts and crafts at home. It can be easily toted to the backyard, camping or cottage. It has so much great potential.

This week Clean Mama on Instagram started a Fall Organization Mini Challenge to make the hustle and bustle of back to school simpler and less stressful. Her first post was about A Simple Homework Caddy. I decided that this was the perfect time to take the challenge and make one.

Shower Tote from Solutions Canada

It all starts with an unassuming shower tote. You can also use a cleaning caddy or also called a utility bin. I have seen them on Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The best part is all the back to school sales on right now. This bad boy was regularly $14.99. I snagged $9.99. But check this out…

The center piece comes out. Perfect for things that get the most use. You can remove it without having to lug the whole caddy around. Better yet it allows for easy sharing. No fighting… well maybe reduced fighting. I’m all about making things easier, convenient and super accessible.

So what did I fill my homework caddy with?



I love how Clean Mama divide up her caddy with mason jars. It makes things even easier to take out one group of items that is needed. So I shopped my kitchen. It took some trial and error before I found the perfect size of containers to house all our stationery.


The jar in the back is an old peanut butter container. Then two mason jars. Lastly, the front one is one of my kids cups. They have so many. Then I filled them.



At this point I am getting very excited! Next is to put it all into the tote.


The pencils and markers in the mason jars go in the one half.


The peanut butter jar of pencil crayons and battery-operated sharpener fit perfectly in the other half.


The little blue cup of twistable crayons fits snug into one half the removable portion of the tote along with some Post-it Notes. These are not really for the kids but I though it would great to jot a quick note to teachers and stick in the kids agendas or on their homework if communication is needed.


The other half of the centre divider has some cute compartments. I’m housing erasers, glue and scissors in this half. Speaking of the scissors they fit perfectly into the holder for a razor.


The kids are loving it. Things are now easy to find and easy for them to carry to the table.




I hope this has inspired you to take a step towards preparing and organizing for your littles or bigs to go back to school. Happy organizing!




Preparing for Summer Vacation: A Biblical Perspective Part 4

This is the last part of this series. I know it’s been some weeks coming and just in the nick of time too because if you have not started summer vacation already you are about to. Today is the last day of school for our kids.


I have every intention of taking them out early from school, heading straight to the zoo, enjoying pizza for dinner and starting summer right with our Summer Fun Bucket (keep reading for details).

In Part 1 we looked at what this series was all about. What kinds of heart conditions we can face as moms and a brief look at how God would have us respond to our children.

Part 2 we looked at the priority triangle. We dove in a bit deeper into the first tier about God.

Last time we looked at the rest of the triangle. We examined the priory of placing our husband first, then us moms and lastly our children.

Today we are going to get into the practical out flushing of how I personally begin to plan and prepare for summer vacation. I understand this is one way of doing things. I hope this is just a springboard for you as you look at your own family and their needs. More so, my desire is that even with all the fun planning, we do not lose sight of Jesus. Without Him our plans are futile. If you have not seen your desperate need for Jesus and confessed Christ as Lord. I urge you, there is no life apart from him. The good news is that in our desperation, in our daily failures, in our inadequacies, in our rebellion, fist shaking, and sin against God, He sent his only son. Jesus, who is God, came to earth, he lived a perfect life, a life without sin. As the Father’s plan unfolded, Christ was obedient, knowing that he would have to die for us to have a relationship again with God. So he died on a cross. But he didn’t stay dead. Three days later he rose from the grave. Sin could not hold him, death could not defeat him. He is alive! He now sits at the right hand of his Father in heaven. His Word says that “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:11, English Standard Version) We don’t have to live in fear, anxiety, or desperation. In Christ, we have been given his perfect life. In Christ, we can live a with of “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22) Jesus took all your sin, bearing it all on the cross and in exchange gave you his perfect life. In Christ, there is abundant and full life. What a beautiful truth and what great and astounding love God has for us. Won’t you take the time now confess that you need him and believe that Christ is who he says he is written in the Bible? If you are not sure who he is read the gospel of John and come to know and understand who he is and the great love Jesus has for you.

Now let get into planning!

I start by making a list. I love lists! Listing is my jam! Over the course of a few weeks, the kids and I make a list of all the fun, wacky and exciting things they want to do over the summer. I keep that list going, putting stars beside things that get mentioned more than once. As that list is being created I go to my husband. I ask him all the questions mentioned in part 3 of our little series. Once all his plans are added and once he has given me the go ahead with things the kids want to do. I head to my calendar. If you need a calendar or just want one for all you summer planning look at these beautiful free printable from FTD Fresh.


I hope they make another set for next year. I am crushing hard on their design. Back to planning. I then start crossing off weeks of camp, or camping. I write down sports that happen each week and any other activities I know are firm. Here comes the fun part. Making all those plans fun and exciting for the whole family.

This year I made a countdown/clothes peg summer bucket list. I originally got the idea from the Jo-Anne Craft and Fabric Stores website. But I have merged it with this other great idea from Passionate Penny Pincher . Here is my end result.


On the clothes pegs I have written the activities we want to do over the summer. Our list includes: build a “tree house”, eat a restaurant, have a picnic, see a movie, have a sleepover, VBS (Vacation Bible School, actually its more like a day camp then school), visit library, ice cream truck, ride a roller coaster,visit  ice cream store, set up pool, go to the park, go camping, make crafts, go to the beach, go to the museum (specifically to see dino bones), swimming lessons, roast marshmallows, baseball, plant a veggie garden, go to the zoo, ride a whale, go strawberry picking.


The pegs are left empty because as we “check” each item off our “list” we going to going snap a picture of us going the activity and clip it to our board. At the end of the summer we are hoping it’s going to be filled with fun memories of all that we did. You could easily print your pictures off each week at Walmart, Superstore or Costco but I have this cool gadget the Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer.


It prints mini Polaroid photos. Except it’s not from Polaroid but Fujifilm. I hope that makes sense. Any who! These are what we will be clipping to our board. Then from there they can be popped into an album, for the kids to pull out and look at whenever they want.

Another idea that I have done in previous years and will do again this year is have each day designated as a special activity. For instance for us Monday is laundry day. So there likely won’t be any day trips. We are going to dub Mondays as “Make it Monday”. We’ll likely do a craft, make a fort, maybe do some baking or maybe take an item off our bucket list that involves making something. Here are some examples from some other blogs I found.


Image from Vagas Family Events


Image from Kayse Pratt

If you are not super crafty or you are pressed for time and you just want to click and print. This is the printable I have used for the last two years from Classy Clutter. By the way, I love this blog too! I could spend far too much time just reading and pinning from these two  ladies.


If you need ideas on craft ideas, activities or games to fill in your bucket list check out my Pinterest board for Summer Activites or if you are looking for more educational ideas check out my board called School Years. This summer I’m also going to be intentional to do more Bible reading with the kids and memorizing verses. I have a board called Teach Them in the Way They Should Go with resource and ideas for family worship. I’m always adding so follow me to get updates on added resources. As you plan your summer Pinterest will become your new best friend.

As previously mentioned each year I put together an end of school summer bucket for the kids to enjoy when they get home from the last day of school. It is filled with things I have collect over the last few months. Most of which are dollar store finds.

If you scroll over the images it will give you a description of what each item is. I usually fill it with things we run out of over the summer and that need to be replaced from last summer. A few things were taken out before I could snap pictures but included was velcro catching mitts and balls, water guns, freezies, bubbles and candy.

This year I’m going to try something new. I’m going to make a daily schedule and post it up for the whole family to see. I am hoping that it will keep things organized for me and give the kids the continual structure they are used to during the school year. I found this great blog post and free printable from Modern Parents Messy Kids.


I have mentioned in part 1 and part 3  I have never been one for structure and strict order. I love flexibility and spontaneity. However, through the years I have been learning that both structure and flexibility can live together and are needed. I love to list and plan and yet when something else pops up I am all for tweaking my schedule or completely scrapping a day in order for something different or better.

Maybe mid summer I’ll post about how things are working out with our summer bucket list and schedule.

I would love to hear how you are spending your summer, if these ideas are helpful or if you have any questions about how I plan for our summer.

Thanks again for joining me through this series. This is what started my blog and it has been a joy writing. I hope you continue coming back for more of what’s going over here at The Hales Homestead.


Father’s Day Reminiscing 2016

Before we dive in. I know some have you have been eagerly waiting this news. My Etsy shop, Hales Photo Studio is open for business! O.K. Go check it out but come right back to follow-up with how we celebrated Father’s Day in the Hales house.

Welcome Back.

Father’s Day was last week. There has been some interest in Instagram for me to share how our Super Hero Father’s Day celebration turned out.

I try and tailor celebrations to the individual being celebrated. I think it shows them an extra bit of love. It that says I notice and care about the things that make you happy, things you find enjoyment in, ways you best enjoy relaxing, little details that only that person would notice or find a smile in. Father’s Day is one of those celebrations that we as a family can show extra care and attention for Dad. We can show him that we have taken the time to study him. Learn what he likes and dislikes. It always fun and challenging to come up with something that individual will enjoy and like.

Daddy is a geek. I admit so am I and proud. We both love Star Wars, Marvel, DC and Si-Fi films. We speak in movie quotes often. He loves meat, potatoes, chocolate, desserts, bacon. He enjoys quirkily and interesting products. He roots for the Toronto Blue Jay. GO JAYS GO! He frequently comments that he can’t get home fast enough from work to be with us. On evenings and weekend that are free he tends to relax and putter around the house. As soon as I stumbled across the Father’s Day Superhero Gift and Free Printable from Sandy Toes and Popsicles I knew what direction to take.


Sunday was a jam-packed day. Our second oldest had her ballet recital that morning.


It took up the entire morning. So by the time we got home Cohen, our eldest son, shuffled Daddy off to do a walking scavenger hunt. An idea he came up with all by himself. I wish I had a video or pictures to show because by the narrative my husband shared, it was too cute.  He took a notebook and pen and came up with things they had to find. Things like: a flower, a twig, a man and a woman walking together, a dog, something green. He had the two of them out for about half and hour searching for things in, “God’s creation”. It was enough time to quickly decorate and begin preparing dinner.

Decorations were simple and easy to create with these free printable from My Delightful Designs and The Dating Divas


I forgot to take a picture of our full kitchen table all set and ready to eat.

The gifts were a hit.

IMG_6986IMG_6989IMG_7051Summer Blog Title

Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself. As per the father’s request we had artisan sausages, twice baked potatoes with all the toppings and corn on the cob. Dessert was an amazing creation from Cooking with Janica.


“Not Your Father’s Root Beer Bacon Potato Chip Pretzel Caramel Cookie Dough Bars Recipe” is as mouthwatering as it sounds. Note: it is best eaten the day its make. The chips go a bit soft the next day. But I assure you there will not be anything left by the second day.


To end our day, there was meltdowns, short words, and early bed tuck-ins. Although the ending to Father’s Day was less than ideal, perfection is not the goal. We wanted to uplift and honor a tremendous Dad. One who shows endless care and love for our family and ceaselessly strives to pursue Christ. We are blessed beyond measure by this guy!


Preparing for Summer Vacation: A Biblical Perspective Part 3

We chatted last time about the helpful tool decision making pyramid. If you have missed part one and part two of this series, I suggest to take a moment and go back and read. It should make what you are going to read next make a bit more sense.

The next three tiers of the pyramid is husband, mom and kids. Lets get cracking.

Discision Making Paradigm for Family Planning


I know as keepers of the home, most of us, have been given freedom in how to schedule our days. We make have been blessed to be entrusted to make many choices while our husbands are off at work providing for our families. Perhaps in the busyness of life or the tremendous freedom allotted us, or maybe out of pure selfishness, we forget our husbands while summer planning. When we include our husbands in the planning process we show a willing submission to his headship, love, preference, attention and care for him. Now, if you family is anything like mine, my husband doesn’t take off much time over the summer. He might take a week if he has it or a long weekend here or there. But for the most part, it’s just the kids and me.

I always make it a point to ask Chris how he would like to spend his summer. I ask hi if there are any outings he wants to make it to or anything special he would like planned. For instance, this summer he wants to go camping for a weekend and he would like the kids to take two weeks of swimming lessons instead of one.


I then share what the kids and I have written down and provided him with a general idea of when things might occur over the summer. This allows him the opportunity to check his work schedule and/or book time off. I start asking early. Usually around the beginning of May. I have to be sensitive to the amount of time he must book his vacation in advance at work and give him time think how he would like his summer to look like.

I also ask whether or not we have funds for specific activities or outings. I tend to have different views on what things cost and if we can afford them. I have never been a good judge of time, distance, or how much things cost.

After asking him plans, sharing our plans, looking at finance. Chris has final say. Sometimes things have to change. Although at times it might be a bit disappointing and frustrating I know that by submitting willingly and joyfully to my husband I am honoring and glorifying God.


The next tier down is us, mamas. As much as I want to throw any and all responsibilities out the window over the summer and just enjoy the sun. I can’t. You all know what I’m talking about. Clothes need washing, toilets need scrubbing, groceries need shopping, meals need prepping and kids need correcting. I try and make things every clear up front to the kids. I inform them that there are responsibilities that mama has and just because they are on summer break does not mean these responsibilities stop for me. In fact, I let them know they get to partner with me in these things. For example, in our house, Mondays are laundry days. All day. With six people generating laundry it takes all day. On Tuesdays, we clean the house because we are a host home for Small Group. A weekly bible study from our church.IMG_6672

These are beautiful opportunities to teach and train home management and practical life skills. For instance, How DOES mom get grass stains out of my pants? What IS price matching? What can serving the local body of Christ look like? One thing, however, that does occur when you are working shoulder to shoulder with one another is that you are bound to rub each other the wrong way. Here is the added and probably ultimate reason I try and keep my kids close. It provides me with AMPLE opportunities for sanctification in my own life, as well as it allows for heart discussions, corrections, rebukes and teachable moments. It is difficult keeping your children close. There are times I would much rather make them someone else “problem” for a couple hours so I can have some down time. And sometimes I have done this. But I have been taught and seen the benefit first hand when I die to self and carefully steward the time given to me but shepherding the children God has granted me, the reward is great.

This all culminates to my last point before moving on to the last tier. Recognize your capacity. Everyone has different thresholds. When I see my attitude starting to taking a swan dive, I know it’s time to pull back and recoup. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, English Standard Version). Your lips reveal much about the state of your heart. I have become stretched too thin when I become quick tempered and my words are harsh and unloving. Grace is found at the foot of the cross. Confess and repent and take action to slow down and rest. I have canceled plans to the disappointment of my children and myself. But I recognized that temporary disheartenment is valuable teaching opportunity for my kids to understand the world does not revolve around them and that there are times when needs of others outweigh their own desires or needs. It also gives them the opportunity to put feet to these biblical principles and commands we have taken the time to address when working so close with one another.

With prayerful wisdom, guidance from your husband and time spent in the Word of God, you can take on the summer joyfully and expectantly with your brood of children.


This takes us to the last tier. Your children.

As children in public or private school, they are only home with us for two months out of twelve. During the other ten, we as parents are competing for influence in our children’s lives. Before having my own kids I was determined, that if the Lord saw fit to grant me, children, I would make these short couple months special, memorable and intentional. I would use this time specifically for drawing my children back to my side, teaching and training them, studying who they are and just enjoying them. My desire is that they look forward to this all year. Even as they grow older, I want this time to not be a burden but a joy for them. I do not want them wandering away elsewhere because I have cultivated a home that they want to be free from. My desire is to spend as much time as the Lord wills to pour into their lives. I also, understand this can not occur just over the summer months but this must be an intentional way of parenting year in and year out. But summer allows for extra special moments as they are in our home 24/7 for a full two months.IMG_3285

I have young kids (7,5,3 and 1). Since my eldest began school, three years ago, I made it very intentional to ask their input into summer plans. When they were that young they had no idea what I was asking but it gave me the opportunity to begin listening to them and studying them. What they like, dislike, what makes them tick. Things that during the school year is a bit more difficult, not impossible, with busy schedules. It shows them they matter. It shows them you are excited to have them home. I try to accommodate even the craziest of suggestions. Like this year, my third born has asked to ride a whale. Riding a real whale is out of the question but if I take the time to look around I am sure to find a water toy she can ride on when we go to the beach. Another example is my second eldest wants desperately to visit Disneyland. Not an option but Canada’s Wonderland might be a compromise if she is looking for the rides or maybe the Disney Store (my very favourite store as a young girl) might be a solution if she wants to see characters and fun toys. Use your imagination and get creative.

I give my kids ample time to think about their summers. Just like my husband, I usually start asking in May. Ask a few times between then and when summer starts. With my young one’s, their choices change daily. I watch for repetition. Those are what really matter to them. We write it all down.

I have said it from the beginning, I love clear expectations and our summer brainstorming list is no different. Write whatever we want down. Make the list as long as we like. However, I make it clear that not all activities will be done. In our case, we have a baby in the house. That limits how long we are out and what we can do. Time is a factor. There are only eight weeks and five people with plans. Not everyone will get to do everything they ask. Money is a large factor, hence the creativeness. Also, the unforeseen, such as ministry serving opportunities, sickness, and mama’s capacity are just a couple things. However, you can make it fun by seeing how many of the things you can cross off your list.IMG_2150

Maybe you can relate that one of the challenges with having multiple kids in the house is the difference of preferences. My three eldest children are every different and currently have very different likes, dislikes. In our house, we use this opportunity to show love for each other and to think less of selves. We explain as we make our plans that “I understand sweetie that you don’t like this idea but your sister does. This is a wonderful opportunity to count yourself last and seek to place her first. Do you understand that next when we do _______ she won’t like it but she will have the opportunity to count herself as less and serve you. This is part of being a family and how we show Christ to each other”.

The last thing I tend to do leading up to the summer and throughout the summer is to be over-communicative. I don’t know if your kids are at all like mine, but they seem to have the memories of goldfish. Or at least they remember what they deem as important. Kind reminders of the expectations are necessary often.


I have alluded throughout these posts to allow for and embrace interruptions and changes. Often in these moments of unplanned interruptions, it shows my and the kids true heart motives. What comes forth when plans and expectations are not met? Is it met with joyful hearts that praise the Father who has planned and purposed it all? Or are you met with grumbling, complaining, anger or tears? Stop. Address the heart, don’t keep plowing forward because a schedule or commitment must be kept. See them as God planned and God controlled. Bow your knee as a family to our sovereign Lord. Show unplanned hospitality to neighbors and friends. Scrap a scheduled activity for ministry or gospel opportunity. I know it’s especially hard when you have paid for something in advance but greater joy comes out of obedience and seizing opportunities to teach your kids what faithful gospel living is like.

I hope this is helpful as you are moving forward planning and preparing your summer vacation. I would love to have a conversation with you if you have questions or comments. Just shoot me a message.

Next time will be the last installment of this series. I’ll lay out some practical resources and tips for how I get my kids involved and things they are looking forward to this summer. I hope you will come back and join me.

Celebrating Father’s Day Hales Style

Father’s Day is around the corner and we be celebratin’. My four little munchkins and I live with the a super dad and we are gearing up to treat him like the hero he is, with a super hero themed Father’s Day. Are you stuck on how to show the dad in your life he is super duper? Look no further. Just click and print/purchase/make with these awesome ideas. Also, check out my Father’s Day Super Hero Pinterest board for lots more inspiration.

Let’s talk decorations. Here is what I’m planning. How fun are these free printables from the Dating Divas. Our table is going to look awesome with these food picks, pop can wraps, food tent cards and napkin rings. Also, as a side note I love these women. They have such fun and creative ideas to date your husband and make him feel special every day. You should check them out!


Image via The Dating Divas

Ok next, I need a banner for our chicken wire frame in our kitchen. I should totally write a post on that quick and fun project. But I digress. Back to the banner. This one is perfect.FathersDayPreview.jpg

Image Via My Delightful Designs

How about putting a pair of Dad’s own “Clark Kent” kind of glasses on his dinner plate. happy-fathers-day-diy-glasses-printable-template.jpg

Image Via Mr. Printables

I love this table set up from Workman Family Blog. Super simple and clever. Primary colour paper plate and cups so smart. ‘Cause honestly if I don’t have to do dishes, I won’t. Also, I think I need to find me some Dad’s Root Beer. Love it!6a00d83451d64f69e20133f1896553970b.jpg

While we’re on the topic of tables, let’s talk food. I searched for quite some time for the perfect menu, worthy of a super hero dad and I came across this, “30 Father’s Day recipes that are better then a tie”. I literally had to wipe drool of my key board. The title didn’t disappoint. They ARE way better then a tie. By far the best round-up of recipes I came across. I want to make them all! I am giving cyber props to the authors of The Adventure Bit blog. They curated the ultimate Father’s Day menu. Fathers-Day-Recipes-Roundup.jpg

Image Via The Adventure Bite

Alright. Decorations. Check. Food. Check. Next up gifts. Let’s spoil that super man. Thin on funds. Gotcha covered. Look at this Super Dad’s Coupon Book. Dad is going to love it and it’s the gift that keeps on giving for a little while longer.Fathers-Day-Super-Dads-Coupon-Book-.jpgImage Via The Easy Green Mom

How about this super sweet poem. Add it with a picture and it’s prefect for dad’s office desk.superheroupclose.jpg

Image Via Create Craft Love

Here is a couple more ideas that takes a bit more money, talent and time but super worth it. Pun intended.

This free printable card and mason jar lid toppers are amazing! Fill jars with dad’s favourite candy. I’m planning on making this.Superhero-Fathers-Day-Gift-Idea-180x180.jpg

Image Via Sandy Toes and Popsicles 

This last one is this gem. Another blog I love to follow is Shanty 2 Chic. If you love a good DIY you need to check these ladies out. These girls will take you through this project step by step. But honestly how sweet is this with all the hand prints. Fathers-Day-Gift.jpg

Image Via Shanty 2 Chic

Do you have a bit of money spend on daddy? Here are a few ideas. This mug totally made me LOL and seriously is begging to be added to our growing mug collection. il_570xN.779586457_8sgi.jpg

Image Via Zoey Birdy Etsy Shop

Does dad need a new shirt. How about these.999999-693401534191.jpg

Image Via Walmart Canada


Image Via Walmart Canada


Image Via Nap Time Creations Etsy Shop

Alright, I have one last completely unrelated super hero gift idea. I think any dad might approve of it. I happened to stumbled across this razor blade subscription from Harry’s. I signed up for the free trial and I am super pumped to gift it to our super hero. If he likes it, they offer razor blade subscriptions (you sign up, they send razors in the mail automatically, as often as your man needs) and other cool shaving products. Check them out for more details.product-card-trial-1f8f50bf24ba04781f5418cadd75c16aeb58be7b0903214c850167db38884514.jpg

Image Via Harry’s

Well, I don’t know about you but I am pumped to be celebrating our hard working, ever sacrificing, tender hearted, strong, super dad. And I hope this has got your creative juice flowing to celebrate the father in your life. I’ll have a follow-up post in the coming weeks to show you how we put some of these ideas into action.