Category Archives: homeschooling
I would have to say that our first official day of homeschool was a great success. Mike took the day off in advance as we wanted to do something special to kick it off. As it turned out, our local homeschool group began organizing a field trip to a local farm for a little tour and pizza lunch. It sounded perfect.
Though this is the year that Poppy would be starting kindergarten, it sort of felt like Silas’ first day as well. And the beauty of homeschooling is that he will be just as involved as he is ready to be. The morning was a perfectly cool and overcast. They donned their new-ish clothes and mostly empty backpacks for their traditional first day of school pictures as Mike and I pondered just how grown up they are both looking these days.
Then we were off to meet the other families at Magnificent Hill Farm. We were happy to see a large gathering of both familiar and new faces there. We started with a tour of the grounds and gardens which included, veggies, fruits, mushrooms, bees, rabbits, frogs, and turtle eggs. We then crossed the road and picked apples for the goats and cows and visited the chickens, geese and pigs. We captured a “class” photo in front of the sign and moved to the outdoor kitchen for tea, coffee, and juice while the kids headed into the gardens to harvest fresh food for the meal.
They made the best tasting pizzas in their outdoor kitchen and pizza oven as we all wondered why on Earth we didn’t also have an outdoor pizza oven. The kids played, rolled, chased, laughed, asked questions, helped, and gobbled their fair share of pizza while the parents chatted about their plans for the year.
We were happy to see our kids, full of confidence, as they moved to the front to get a better view of things, play with the kids, and taste the things they were offered from the garden. It warmed my heart when Poppy found a dandelion and made sure to find Silas to share it with. They really do love each other wildly and it makes me so glad to know they will be together on this journey.
I won’t lie, when the day started, Poppy was determined that she would be going on a yellow school bus and to regular school (her only experience with school in The Magic School Bus), but on the car ride home she decided that our car and homeschool was her preference.
The next day, we traveled to meet with the surgeon who will be doing my c-section and we found out that our little family will officially grow to 5 on September 26th. Despite the nearly two hour wait, the kids played with the toys and each other happily the entire time and the receptionist commented on just how wonderful they were to be so patient.
This morning, it seemed fitting to focus on the letter A as we headed out in the early morning to pick apples. Our kitchen is scented with apples and cinnamon as they dry in the dehydrator, stew on the stove for applesauce, and beg me to make an apple crisp.
Yes. Our wee little homeschool smells mighty divine today.
This feels right and good.
go gently + be wonderful
Perhaps it is because we miss having a garden (some may even call it guilt for not putting in a garden). Or it could be that it appears to be a bumper year for all the things that grow. Or perhaps still, it is the most delightful warm Autumnal weather we’ve been experiencing since the deadly July heatwave. Whatever the reason, we find ourselves pulled into the woods and trails in search of berries this summer more than ever.
Of course, we made batch upon batch of tasty apple butter in our first summer here, but the jars that weren’t eaten right away went bad. There were a number of things we could have done wrong. We could have tightened the rings too much, I am quite certain I heated the lids more than once, I washed the jars, but didn’t sterilize them, and lastly, I didn’t “process” them in a boiling bath after sealing. We will do it differently this year with the help of Ashley English’s book (in fact, her whole Homemade Living Series is a wonderful resource) and some diligence.
In June we picked and froze 15 quarts of organic strawberries from Ellenberger Organic Farm and made a wonderfully large jar of garlic scape pesto from the large bag of scapes they graced us with. I made it just like a basil pesto and we ate it over pasta with tomatoes. With the leftover scapes, I blended them in the food processor with olive oil and froze them in ice cube trays for cooking throughout the year. It made about 35 cubes.
We own about 4 acres, but are surrounded by about 80 more which is owned by a lovely couple who only camp here a few time per year. I have fond memories of picking the abundant blueberries while we visited Mike’s home of Newfoundland, so we were quite excited to find a couple handfuls along the shore of the pond a week or two ago. They were no comparison to Newfoundland’s berries, but it was a bit like finding treasure.
We have both pin cherries and choke cherries here as well, but this is the first year they have produced like this. Chokecherries don’t taste like much when eaten off the branch and the seed apparently contains cyanide, but when made into a jelly, they remind me of childhood and fall. We were able to pick 3 quarts from the two small bushes behind the house and made 12 125 ml jars plus a pint. We went by the book this time and they all sealed successfully. We have plenty more on the property so another batch or two may be in order. I think they will make nice Christmas gifts this year.
While picking the chokecherries we noticed crazy amounts of blackberries (or what we assume are blackberries) growing fairly low to the ground on what we assume to be young bushes. We are a little unsure now as we found two types while we foraged for our dessert yesterday afternoon. In abundance, we found the smaller berries low to the ground, but then we happened upon some larger/taller bushes with the more characteristic shape and size of blackberries. Both taste similar, and both types came off with the rasp inside (unlike a black or red raspberry where the rasp is left on the bush). No matter how you slice it, they tasted decadent, still slightly warm, atop our Kawartha Daily french vanilla ice cream. The kids were in their glory despite the mosquitoes and scratchy bracken that was often taller than them. Berry loving Poppy was especially happy to pick to her heart’s content which she quietly did while Silas made sticks into swords, put rocks in his basket, and saved himself the tedious task of picking the berries himself and thieved from mama and daddy’s baskets. We covered a lot of ground and spent over an hour for only a quart and a half, but it was fun and we figure we’ll be going out each night for our dessert until they dry up.
The apples look a bit small, but oh so abundant and just beginning to blush. We’ve purchased a clamping apple peeler, corer, and slicer in preparation for our apple-filled fall.
So though we may not have a garden this year, and though we’ve only made it to one farmer’s market this season, we are still enjoying the fruits of the season and we’re ever so grateful that so much of it has been found in our own backyard.
go gently + be wonderful
It is hard for me to believe, but after four and a half years of talking about it, the day quickly approaches; the day we officially start our homeschooling adventure. Of course, like most people (whether they realize it or not) we have been homeschooling since the beginning, but call me old fashioned because September 3rd, 2013 marks the official beginning for me.
Today, I share our some our reasons, goals, and personal educational history on So Fawned’s series entitled the First Days of School in which she has gathered other bloggers interested in sharing their stories and decisions which brought them to where they are in their own schooling and parenting journeys. It should be fascinating.
I hope you enjoy my contribution and well as the other wonderful people who have and will share.
go gently + be wonderful
“Take or leave ‘attachment parenting’ as you wish but raising human infants is not supposed to be done in isolation by a single caregiver, and yet overwhelming levels of individualism combined with conservative gender roles have positioned us in exactly that place. In our suburbs there is no-one else in the room when a mother reaches the end of her tether – there is no-one left to negotiate with – it is just an adult and a baby, crying in each other’s faces, desperate.”
I read the above quote about a year ago and felt instantly understood; instantly heard. I have been seeing and reading a lot about anger and yelling in motherhood on Facebook and Pinterest lately. In the world of social networking, perhaps this is our way of breaking the silence and/or asking for help…or perhaps just starting a dialogue of support.
As this third pregnancy progresses into 24 weeks, I have the distinct feeling that shit just got real. All of this is really happening and though we know the love will be instant and true, with it being our third time around we know all the other stuff that comes along with it. The sleepless nights, the endless worry of sickness and injury, the guilt, the baby blues, the aching bleeding boobs, the baby weight that clings, the healing c-section wound, the adjustment period of jealousy and curiousity. Of course, in the end it will all be fine and dandy.
Earlier this week, I took the car and the kids for a full day (7:30 am until 5:00 pm) in town. I don’t know why I do this, but I am stubborn and sometimes the need to get out of the house wins out over wisdom. It was a gong show and as I chased a shrieking Silas through half the mall and halfway through a department store while dragging a giggling Poppy behind me I wondered 1) how I will ever leave the house without help again after baby #3 arrives and 2) Will we all survive this?!
I am not great at dealing with stress…or heat…or messes…or bugs…or not being listened to…or being pregnant…or lack of reason. Waaaaah! I know, poor muffin! Then why on earth would you sign up for the ultra intense gig of stay at home mothering in the country, dummy? The truth is, even after the most intense day, it still feels like the most natural and fulfilling thing I could ever want to do with my life. Most jobs are hard and tiring, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for us.
I have made my decision to stay home and to homeschool and I stand by it despite it being a struggle in almost every way. Blame it on the Ellenberger’s stubborn gene. That being said, I am also letting go of a few things I thought I never would. For example,
- I love a lot of the ideas (though not all) of Waldorf, but have come to the realization that I don’t see it as a perfect fit for us.
- I decided against buying the expensive Oak Meadow curriculum and went to Chapters where we picked up a large assortment of learning/teaching resources for the kids for much less money.
- I realized that we can be both homeschoolers and unschoolers because the days are long and varied and that is what sits best with us.
- I picked up some instant oatmeal for the kid’s breakfasts because they like it and because I don’t always want to make food they won’t eat or spend an hour making crepes or apple fritters each morning.
- I let them watch tv because sometimes I need the kitchen to myself as I make the meals.
- We have let go of the ideal vegetable garden with lovely raised beds, a solid fence and heirloom varieties this year. Instead we will plant mainly potatoes and a few basics that always do well. The bugs, the kids and the budget mixed with the fact that our harvests have been a bit disappointing since moving here and we are slightly disheartened all played heavily into that decision. Instead of paying out money for plants that would likely just turn into compost, I bought a Dutch Oven for 70% off so I could make more yummy Dutch Oven Bread.
Sometimes we romanticize the olden days and try to hold ourselves to that ideal, but forget life was also structured quite differently back then. Neighbours were your family and vise versa. There were often more generations living under one roof and they shared the work with each other. We are living in a very strange time in which technology and old time values are merging. We are inundated with blog posts and photos of picture perfect parenting/crafting/cooking/home decorating/partying/traveling moments and think we have to be doing something wrong because our kids/clothes/meals/homes/parties/etc sure as shit doesn’t feel or look like that. I am guilty of it too. I take pictures of the scrumdiddlyumptious, made from scratch chicken pot pie, but neglect to photograph the nights we eat Kraft Dinner or cereal and chips for supper. As much as I want rhythm in our house, it really is just perpetual motion peppered with guilt, frustration, giggles, apologies, tears, and heart wrenching love and affection until we all fall down again. I am coming to terms with the fact that that, in a nutshell, is what parenting feels like for everyone. We’re not doing it wrong, it just is what it is.
I know it isn’t ok to yell at my children or lose my temper because my expectations are too high for a 4 and 2 year old. It’s not them, it’s me. They are tiny and perfect and trust me completely, and yet I still yell. Why? Because I am always alone when I “…reach the end of my tether…”. And that isn’t about to change in any drastic way anytime soon. Our small extended families are quite spread out and busy with their own lives. All we can do is keep doing the best we can with what we’ve got while trying not to wish it was anything different (though we often do).
As I try to tame the Orange Rhino inside of me, I fully realize that anger is a part of life too. It is important to teach our children the big emotions and how to apologize when we’ve hurt someone. I don’t get angry when Silas tries to hit me or tells me he doesn’t like me. I feel nothing but empathy, I soften and tell him it is ok to be angry with me, I let him know that sometimes people get angry with each other, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop loving them. I also let him know it is not ok to hit. I see an instant and remarkable change in him when I say this. His face changes from anger and he always comes in for a hug. When I yell, I always seek them out and apologize within minutes of it happening. I tell them in the simplest way I can that I was frustrated or hurt or scared and that I never want to scare them. We hug and often cry on the floor together until it feels ok to get up and move on with our day.
It isn’t a perfect system by any means, but it is what we have right now. I hope that through it all, they feel the immense love, devotion, and respect I carry for each of them. I hope that they learn how to be gentle with others and themselves.
go gently + be wonderful
Today we had planned to take the kids out to the free admission Peterborough Zoo and for ice cream.
Last night we found our car won’t start.
It isn’t the battery.
The car gods must have heard we are planning to trade in our car for a slightly larger family vehicle this Wednesday.
This sort of thing, this feeling of powerlessness and frustration, tends to send me in to a panicky tail spin.
Mike is piling and splitting wood to burn off the worry.
I thought it may be a good idea to count my blessings and compile a short list of what I am grateful for.
- We are all healthy and well.
- Two vibrant, happy children and another on the way.
- Mike’s wonderful job with wonderful benefits.
- Our house in the country.
- I get to be a stay at home mom and homeschool.
- Poppy’s empathy/sympathy and resislient nature, wild hair, and sticky-uppy toes.
- Silas’ intensity, eyebrow playing, story telling ways.
- All of our secondhand furniture.
- Free Slacker Radio (specifically the Billie Holiday and Classic Country Station).
- A freezer full of organic beef, pork, homemade quiche, and corn.
- Well stocked cupboards.
- Our line of credit which saves us in situations such as this.
- Being able to pay our bills.
- Our large front gate is finally fixed.
- The wood pile (that will keep us warm next winter) is slowly getting sawed, split, and piled by this wicked cool husband of mine.
- Only using 2-3% of our propane tank last winter.
- Our Hydro bill equal billing is going down.
- I found a way to shave $411 off our yearly home insurance premium.
- After much debate and research, we will be getting a white 2013 Nissan Rogue on Wednesday with a fair trade in price for our Versa.
- New cars, their warranties, and all their new bits and perks.
- Pachouli perfume.
- When Silas farts and grins a surprised grin while saying “Oops! I burped in my pants”.
- The return of our “honey bird” (hummingbird).
- Winnie the Pooh movies.
- The lilacs and peonies and apples that grow around our house.
- The two chickadees flitting about in the cedar tree as I write this.
- Nag Champa.
- I finally reached the bottom of dirty clothes mountain and found that was in fact the horrible smell lingering in our front room…ahem.
- Our two clothes lines.
- Every month, we get a little further out of debt…most of the time.
- Our interest free loans from parents.
- That the kids’ adoration and excitement for dandelions exceeds even my own.
- Being able to (slowly) build a new website and facebook page for Ellenberger Organic Farm. They help us in so many ways and we enjoy being able to pay them back in tiny tokens such as this…until we can pay them back for real.
- My anchor.
- Kind cottaging neighbours who don’t get mad when Huck goes for a swim at their cottage and tears around like an idiot.
- Our abundance of eggs.
- Lemon meringue pie.
- Play sand.
I know I am just scratching the surface here, but it does make me feel better.
Now, a no complaining + no whining policy is in effect for the rest of the day.
go gently + be wonderful
Firstly, I apologize for my absence and secondly, I thank you warmly for your kind emails to check in on me. At 5 weeks of pregnancy the all day nausea hit me like a tonne of bricks and the depression that always accompanies it followed close behind. Up until now, even the thought of signing into my blog account made me feel nauseated.
Alas, I am 19 weeks along and aside from feeling a bit gaggy in the mornings, I am feeling much better now. Phew, that was a rough ride!
I am a little ashamed and saddened that I have only a handful of ho-hum photos from the past 3 months, so indulge me while I attempt to record a few snapshots to remind us all of what these month looked like…
- We had our 18 to 20 week ultrasound on Monday and found out that we are having a GIRL! The kids have been saying girl consistently whenever we ask them so it was no big surprise to them. We waited to find out for our first two, but thought it would be fun to find out for our last one. It feels really nice to know…though I do have that nagging thought that they do make mistakes.
- The all day nausea lasted from 5 weeks until about 15 weeks. I made the whole 10 weeks without throwing up and then randomly at 18 weeks, I barfed my guts out. The same thing happened with Poppy.
- If I had picked up my camera you would likely see pictures of Silas dressed in a straw hat and lady gloves while exclaiming “Iiiiiit’s show time!” and you would see Poppy dressed in her flapper hat, lady gloves and a purse declaring she was ready to go to the bush.
- We spent a great deal of time laying on the couch watching movies. The funny thing is that I felt so guilty, but the kids were happy…likely because they had me all to themselves to snuggle and play with. I also realized just how well they get along and play together. They almost never fight and almost always share there food and toys with each other with a simple offer or question “You wanna share with me Silas/Poppy”. They really are the best of friends and I am so glad they will be homeschooled to foster that relationship.
- I wonder how this new little girl will fit into the mix and dynamic. Both kids are excited and ease my worries when they bring toys for the baby, kiss my belly, and shush each other so as not to wake the baby. Silas found a play stethoscope at the local thrift store and immediately held it up to my belly and said “I’m just checking your baby. I’m a doctor.”
- There was lots of lego, books, and puzzles by the fire.
- Evening games of Uno in which Poppy actually began beating us until she lost interest and left the game after 4 or 5 hands.
- The Waltons
- Poppy has become quite crafty and resourceful. When I take to long to fill a bowl with water for her to use her watercolour paints, she will spit in them and begin without me. She used the same principle just yesterday when she wanted water for the mud pit they love so much. She peed in it and I was able to stop her as she was about to proceed playing with her new mud. Don’t worry we promptly filled the area in with 10 bags of play sand last night. The black flies swarmed us, but with bug nets over their heads, they played happily for nearly an hour without so much as a single bite.
- Speaking of the mud pit, one warm day this week they were able to strip down and become completely coated in dark, rich mud. All was fine and dandy until Silas snuck inside, waited until I spotted him, slammed the door and ran squealing into the front room and onto the couch where he flailed around until I could get him off and into the tub where he surprised us all by pooping. He has never done that and I think he was more shocked than Poppy and I.
- Poppy has been sleeping in her own room, but Mike has been staying with her until she falls asleep, but about a month ago she started asking to go to bed and falling asleep by herself. This is a very big moment for us as we have never wanted to let her cry it out.
- We have been moving Silas to his own toddler bed in their shared room after he falls asleep, but most nights he finds his way back into our bed.
- Poppy loves to draw, but shows more creativity with paints. My favourite pieces are a portrait of Daddy and a colourful caterpillar.
- She has also begun spelling and writing her name by herself and has learned the sounds all the letters of the alphabet make.
- Our 9 hens are laying well and we can barely use up all the eggs.
- Our red headed rooster has started to attack us. It began with Silas, then Poppy, then Mike, then me. He isn’t brutally aggressive, but enough to be annoying. The good news is that when he attacked Silas and Poppy, Huck was there and gently pulled the rooster off of them by the tail feathers. We are hoping to find a new home for him or he may end up in the freezer.
- Huck has been a frustratingly stubborn dog, but he is wonderful with the kids and keeps a watchful eye on them. If they run out of sight, he will follow and sit with them.
- Our area had a lot of run off water, rain, and flooding this spring. We weren’t affected by the flooding rivers at home, but our basement did gather some water which was frustrating, but so many people were evacuated and likely have severe water damage to their homes.
- Mike and I will be creating a new website for Ellenberger Organic Farm. It will have a lot more comprehensive information on it. I will let you know when it goes live, but if you’d like to see more up to date photos, videos, and what is available when, etc, be sure to like their new Facebook page! It was a great maple syrup year for them.
- Mike’s Mom and her partner were up for a visit as they made their way back from Florida to Newfoundland which meant that Mike and I were able to get into the big city for our first night away alone in over four years. We visited the St. Lawrence Market where I nearly passed out due to low blood sugar. I sat on their lovely outdoor patio area where Mike fed me strawberries, cookies, meat sticks and water until I recovered. We then walked on to the Distillery District. Then up through a sketchy part of town and through Cabbagetown until we reached our hotel (An old Victorian house that Ernest Hemmingway lived in while in Toronto). Once talking to the kids and freshening up, we made our way through the posh, douche chill inducing streets of Yorkville to a little Indian Restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely, quiet meal while simultaneously remembering why we like and love each other. We then sipped on coffee and hot chocolate and strolled through aisles of books. In the morning we rose early and enjoyed a stroll back down Bloor until we arrived at the ROM. We sipped more hot beverages and ate a small breakfast while chatting and people watching until the museum opened. With one set of butterfly wings, one set of dinosaur wings and a dinosaur mug, we made our way back to Union Station by way of the bustling Yonge Street. My feet still hurt, but the simple memories are good ones that should carry us through to our next getaway in another couple of years .
- Turns out that making baby girls makes for a fatter sicker mama. With Silas I was able to wear the same pair of non maternity jeans throughout the whole pregnancy. With this one, I peed on the stick and my pants stopped fitting. Sweet lord, it is going to be a long summer!
- There are so many lilac blossom promises this year. How I love the wild flowers and perennials that grow around this little house…wild roses, peonies, poppies, lilacs, daisies, cherry and apple blossoms, and black eyed Susan’s, oh my! My mason jars shall runneth over this year!
- We are hoping to get honeybees next spring. I do love the dear little creatures, but would like to get the family allergy tested before we get them to make me feel better.
- Mike is still making his way though our giant pile of firewood logs which means Mike ventured into chainsaw ownership and use. He was pretty excited. We hope to save up for a much more efficient wood stove this fall.
- We were very pleased that we didn’t owe any taxes this year! We got a $10 return, but paid $80 to figure that out.
- Poppy has a new habit of posing very seriously for photos. It is hard to explain, but it often translates into a very sad looking little girl even though as soon as I take it she breaks into a smile and asks to see it. It is as though she is being artistic beyond her years. Just yesterday she spotted the patch of cheerful dandelions in the yard and ran out to pick them in her fairy jammies. She brought more and more in and then arranged them ever so carefully in a small mason jar. Of course there were some very stoic poses for mama and her camera, but I did manage to capture a couple candid joyful faces.
- Silas’ favourite new word is “dirt bag”. It is something we lovingly call him from time to time, but it likely sounds horrible to onlookers who watch Mike take him into the washroom of the restaurant to wash his hands while he hollers playfully in protest “Let me go you dirt bag!”. Funny stuff.
- I purchased a 5 year journal on our little getaway to the city and look forward to recording a little bit about our everyday days.
Well, there you have it. I know I’ve forgotten so many tiny good moments, but now I will have something to come back to this winter as we work away on our annual Poppy, Silas + Little Girl (We have a name picked, but will attempt keeping it secret for now) book for the grandparents.
I hope to see more of you these days and catch up on your own spaces again.
go gently + be wonderful
I am quite certain I will fail miserably at keeping up with this portrait a week project from the blog Che and Fidel, but I figure it is worth a shot. I would be fairly impressed if I were able to do it once every two weeks or once per month, but we shall see how it goes. Besides it would be great Christmas Book fodder…
- When anyone tells you you’re pretty or cute you reply rather confidently and matter of factly “YES, I am.”
- You have had potty training mastered since about one week after beginning on December 17th. You don’t have to be reminded at all (though mama does bug a bit when we’re out and about just in case you get caught up in playing). You are so proud of yourself and beam at us. One night around New Years you were sitting on the toilet with the door open and hollered out “keep the change ya filthy animal!”.
- Your hair is incorrigible. There is no other word for it. We are growing it a bit in hopes of being able to tie it up or even braid it, but it only seems to want to grow forward onto your wee little face. We should have it under control by the time you’re 17
- You love all fruit, but will not touch vegetables so I have been sneaking cauliflower and turnip into your mac and cheese and spinach into your cookies and lasagna. It works marvelously.
- You love drawing pictures of people and the planets and solar system. Anywhere you see a circle (the circles you were supposed to trace in a workbook) or two dots (the screws in the little chair you sit in at your art table) you tend to finish it off by making it into a person. You are completely engrossed in your art for long periods of time.
- You love playing with dough and pastry and always ask to help me in the kitchen.
- You like sleeping in your own room with the pink walls and vintage Strawberry Shortcake sheets. .
- You still ask if we can go “pickle treating” (trick or treating) again.
- I hope you never stop calling a bathing suit as “baby soup”
- You are a loving little thing with an even temper. You may look like me, but you are more and more like your daddy in many ways. Adaptable, easy going, and generous.
- We have yet to see anything “terrible” (twos or otherwise) from you.
- The other night you went to sleep with a plastic saw.
- You love looking at your nursery rhyme books and LOVE the picture of Hansel and Gretel and the “candy house”
- You recently discovered the joy of lego and like to build lighthouses (with ghosts), castles, and cities.
- You love your animals and protect them always. You carry Smitty (our ever-tolerant cat) around like a little baby, putting him under blankets when you think he’d like to sleep, carry him to his food or water dish when you think he is hungry or thirsty and protect him from the giant oaf, Huck. ”He’s like a little baby, Mommy”
- When you fall or trip or cough, you yell out to us “I’m ok!” before we have time to ask.
- You know all your numbers and alphabet and colours and animals. You are beginning to be interested in knowing what words start with what letters and can recognize familiar words like Poppy, Silas, Mama, and Daddy.
- You can count up to ten items accurately.
- You are starting to practice writing your name and do the p’s and o’s quite well which is pretty good considering those two letters make up most of your name.
- Last week when you were both sick with a fierce cold, you snuggled up with your head on my lap and as I stroked your hair, you looked up at me and murmured “I’m like a little kitty.” and then fell asleep.
- In a couple of pictures above, we had gone outside for a little romp in the fresh snow. While Silas climbed up into the trailer and into the scrap lumber pile with its rusty nails, you laid down in the snow and just closed your eyes and stayed there until the dogs put their cold noses on your face. You were so still and peaceful like that. You take a lot of quiet moments like this where you seem to be contemplating big things or perhaps nothing at all.
- You are quite excited about your birthday and so far, you’d like chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate ice cream. Also you have requested strawberry juice, popsicles, and lasagna. When we ask if you’d like any toys, you tells us you would like for everyone to come and eat cake.
- We can hardly believe you will be four in a few short weeks!
- You are one fierce little boy.
- You are strong willed and have taken to throwing down almost constantly.
- It is exhausting, but you do make up for it with hilarious antics and loving gestures.
- The first words out of your mouth in the mornings these days are “Where’s Poppy?” and “I wanna watch Eggo (Diego).”
- We don’t love Diego, but you seem to be fascinated with the animals on the show and retain the facts with ease.
- We thought, since Poppy started going on the potty, that you might be inspired to as well, but you refuse just as your sister did. After seeing how effortless it was for Poppy, we are much more relaxed about it all. When you’re ready.
- You have no interest in drawing or painting or even playing with play dough, but you do enjoy playing with your animals and cars and doll house.
- You tend to enjoy books without words and prefer looking at pictures.
- You do like it when I read aloud from my own grownup book though.
- Your vocabulary is and always has been ridiculously advanced. You speak in quite full and proper sentences though you have no interest in learning your letters and numbers.
- You know your colours and like attempting to count things
- You love pretending. You roll up paper and use a flashlight to look for “Rosie” and use pretend cameras and binoculars often.
- You enjoy wearing an apron and making food in your play kitchen with Poppy; soups, pies, toast, and stirring sugar, milk and flour endlessly.
- For the last two nights you’ve gone to sleep grasping a mini whisk and stirring spoon.
- The other day, I asked you the rhetorical question “Could you be any cuter?! I don’t think it is possible.” You put your hands on my cheeks and said “Yes Mommy, it is a popsicle!”
- You continue to remind me of Grampa Ellenberger when you make your mischievous face.
- On Friday, as I began getting supper ready, you came into the kitchen asked up. We were both crusted with the day’s snot and grime and oh so tired of doing not much of anything for days. You put your head on my shoulder, patted my back, and in a congested, raspy voice said “I love you Mommy.” I can’t be totally sure, but I am quite sure that is the first spontaneous “I love you” you has ever said. I softened and the whole week melted away as I squeezed you tighter and said “I love you more”. you barely hesitated before saying “I love you most”. See, I said you make up for your tantrums with loving things.
We woke from the slumber party in our room to ice on the windows despite the furnace and fire
Steam tufts when we opened the front door
Chili (with peppers, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery, beans, organic beef and pureed spinach) on the wood stove
It tasted just like every other pot of chili I make, but I was the only one who liked it
Frustrated that my family seems to like less and less of the healthy meals I make
A sick and feverish little boy;
compounded by burning his hand on the wood stove (our first wood stove injury)
Tea biscuits with coconut oil
Oregano oil in our juice
Mike working from home a lot in the evenings
Glad he is home though
Root beer + popcorn
Thinking outside the…um, circle
go gently+ be wonderful
today felt like an age
Both kids had a restless night and were both awake at 5:30
We had coffee, I ironed Mike’s clothes, made breakfast, and swept and tidied
I then called the government office regarding the 583,000 people whose personal information was lost (Social Insurance Numbers included). Turns out mine was one of them so spent a frustrating amount of time calling my bank, Equifax, and Transunion so they could put alerts on my accounts. So infuriating and careless.
I vacuumed, spot cleaned the furniture as best I could, and washed the cushion covers.
Made lunch, checked for eggs and made sure their water wasn’t frozen.
Poppy tried embroidery for about 5 minutes and built a castle out of Lego (it was awesome).
I started to stain/white wash our exposed beams.
We ate snacks, we snuggled, we read, we drew.
I looked for printable colouring pages and other homeschool resources.
We watched Netflix and The Sword In The Stone.
15 hours is a tremendous amount of time to fill with toddlers.
It is cold. The kids don’t seem bothered by it, but felt as though it settled into my bones until we had super hot bubble bath in our giant tub.
We are worried about the pipes freezing and the cold wind that seems to be howling through our old wooden front door.
We will try to staunch it with the plastic thermal stuff.
Ready for bed.
A little boy playing with his “freckle” (eyebrow).
A little girl running laps around the couch squealing.
Good night, friends.
P.S. Thank you so much for your wonderful resources and sage words regarding yesterday’s homeschooling post. I tried to find a copy of “Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves”, and even wrote the author to find out where the best place to get it in Canada would be. She replied saying that it went out of print just two months ago!
Does anyone have a copy they would like to sell to me? Or perhaps we could do a trade of books?
go gently + be wonderful
This week I plan on spending some time with the many homeschooling books and resources I have accumulated over the past 4 years or more. Homeschooling has been something I have wanted to do since well before we even had children. I have never wavered from that decision, but that does not mean I am not slightly intimidated by it.
We have a pretty great and active homeschooling group in our area that continues to grow and grow. What I love about it is that we all have different styles, practices, and ideas. We have artists and homesteaders, former dental hygienists, and former teachers; there is Waldorf and Montessori, project based, and unschooling. We all have different strengths and that is important.
The more I read about unschooling, the more I feel pulled in that direction. That being said I was conventionally schooled and struggle a little bit with the level of trust that it requires. I strongly believe that children have an innate yearning to learn and that when it is done at their pace and in accordance with their interests it can be magic.
Our plan, thus far, is to do a combination of homeschooling and unschooling. I am sure many hardcore unschoolers would argue that isn’t unschooling at all, but to each their own. I think when I say unschooling most people get their hackles up thinking it is irresponsible or neglectful, but I define it as placing topics and learning opportunities in the child’s path and following their lead to facilitate their learning. We will use the Ontario Curriculum as a guideline for where we should be focusing our attention and to know what skills they will very likely have by the end of that time frame. Our goal is to hold ourselves loosely to these guidelines and be patient where we are behind and celebrate where we are excelling. Instead of having really formal learning sessions I prefer the idea of passive learning though daily objects and activities. We hope to arrive at the same destination by taking side roads, short cuts and long cuts, and of course by enjoying some unscheduled tangents. In Ontario, they have introduced full day kindergarten starting at the age of 4 which has been controversial to say the least. If we were sending Poppy to school, she would be starting in September 2013 at the age of 4.5 and Silas would begin in September 2014.
Poppy has known her colours, numbers and letters since about 18 months, but her speech was very slow to come. Silas on the other hand, has very little interest in letters and numbers, knows his colours, and he has had a crazy vocabulary beginning before he was 1. One of my favourite sentences he said was at about 18 months: “I’m'a go outside now. Where’s mine yellow shoes is?”. Poppy’s first real sentence came when she was about 2 years and 3 months: “Chicken eggs all gone.” They each have their own strengths and they both continue to make progress.
Science and geography and even math don’t worry me half as much as teaching them the important and life changing art of reading. I have no memory of learning how to read, so it seems like such an abstract thing to teach and learn. I have recently picked up a few varied resources to help me learn how to effectively teach it to them when they are ready. My worry is not that they will not learn it, but that I will not be able to teach it when the time arrives. The books I have, specifically focused on reading, writing and a little math include: Learning Essentials by the Canadian Curriculum Press (purchased at Costco); Teaching Writing in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen; The New Kindergarten by Constance J. Leuenberger; ABC fun + 123 by Shirley Erwee. I will take what I feel will be best from each of these and use what the kids seem to enjoy most.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss the Oak Meadow Curriculum (Grade 1) with one of our homeschool mamas and loved how they taught math in the form of memorable stories. I felt that it would be a great and effective way to learn math when the interest bubbles up.
I think I am a perfect fit for homeschooling because I feel my learning style was never quite suited to the way school does it and I struggled because of that. I learn best from interesting stories, enthusiasm, interest, and from doing. Fractions never really made sense until I started baking and cooking, building things myself, and cutting my own real pies. I think I will be teaching many things over the years that never quite clicked for me back in the day and will have some “Aha moments” of my own in the process.
Children are in school for many hours per day, but I have talked with homeschooled kids, homeschooling moms, and even teachers who admit that the amount of learning done in the classroom could be accomplished in much less time at home. They can then follow their own interests in whatever direction they see fit with the rest of their days. In my mind this is the very best of both worlds.
Of course, we are just young pups in this long journey, but these are our goals and ideas today. I am so grateful that homeschooling is a viable option for us in this great country. I am grateful that we can live quite well on one income despite our debts and bills. I am grateful that we can ease into our day and it is me who gets to learn along side our children. I am grateful for a very local and vibrant community of homeschoolers despite how remote we are. I am grateful for endless internet resources and that I can connect and pull from even more blogs and blog readers such as your lovely selves.
It has been a constant struggle for me to find a rhythm that works for us, but I am going to try again. It all feels a bit frantic still as the kids are on completely opposite sleeping schedules so we start off kilter. My ideal day would look something like this:
6am – everyone up – breakfast and coffee all together
7am – brush teeth, showers, get dressed, brush hair, make beds, quick tidy of rooms
8am – 9am – free play, snuggles, quietly ease into the day
9am – outside time or yoga for cold and rainy days
9:45 -10:30 – free play
10:30 – snack time
11:00 – free play while I prepare lunch
12:00 – lunch time
12:30 – story time, finger plays, singing, etc
1pm – movie time (Silas will often fall asleep at this time)
2pm – drawing, letters, numbers, colours, art, painting, craft, play dough, workbooks if interested
3pm – baking with mama (muffins, bagels, pitas, bread, cookies, etc) or more outside time
4pm – movie, free play, etc while I prepare supper
5pm – Mike home, eat supper
5:30pm – clean up, dishes, wipe tables and counters, tidy kitchen
6pm – bath
6:30 – Daddy time -chasing, hiding, squealing, reading fun books on the iPad. Mama can crochet or blog
7pm – Evening snack and brush teeth
7:30 – If Silas did not nap, he will be ready for bed now.
Poppy free play or movie while Daddy practices the guitar (or works from home)
8:30 – Reading with Poppy (and Silas if he is still awake) – A chapter book like Little House or other classics
9pm ’till we crash pm – guitar, crochet, blog, watch tv, etc.
The truth is, the days are long and there are a lot of hours to fill. I feel guilty every time I write down tv time, but in order to do this alone everyday and make all of our meals from scratch it is necessary to keep the kids from climbing the counters. I try to involve them where possible of course, but sometimes I just need/want to do it alone. We don’t have cable, but we have Netflix and many movies and programs on DVD. The favourites include The Magic School Bus, Go, Diego, Go, Sesame Street, Scarytown Mysteries, and Poppy enjoys the BBC animal shows and has taken quite an interest in the planet and Universe shows as well. They say any TV is bad TV, but they also told me I would have difficulty bonding with and breastfeeding my c-section babies so I tend to follow my gut on this one. They do learn from and interact with these shows. I am working on letting go of the TV guilt because I am doing this alone so many hours of the day without a car and I need breaks that can give me the patience I need to make it through the week.
We are also planning at least one day during the work week in which we head out to friends’ houses, into town, or have friends in for the better part of a day for play, crafts, and food.
What do or did your homeschooling days look like when your kids were preschool age? What resources were your favourites? Anything you’d like to share or add to the discussion? Feel free to share!