Category Archives: homeschooling
This weekend we celebrated Poppy’s 5th birthday. Excuse the cliche, but my, oh my, where has the time gone?
On Valentine’s Day we went to watch the Lego Movie and pick up your requested birthday present; a Princess Anna dress. On your birthday, we had planned to go for a play at the YMCA, but they were calling for freezing rain so we stayed local, picked up some party favours for your guests, made pizza at your request, and watched the Disney Planning DVD that arrived.
On Saturday, you finally got to wear your birthday party dress. Clementine wore her Elsa outfit and Silas had to be bribed to wear his Kristoff/Hiccup outfit for a photo opp. You spent the morning twirling and singing “It’s my BIIIRTHDAAAY! It’s my BIIIRTHDAAAY!”, ”Happy Birthday to Poppy!” along with “Let it Goooooo” from Frozen and you could barely keep your fingers out of the frosted blue cake we made.
Soon the house was filled with friends and family dressed as fairies, princes, dinosaurs, unicorns, butterflies, and princesses. Nana made a bunch of the cutest edible Olafs and brought fresh eggs for everyone to take home along with their party bags. You were rather confused as to why people brought gifts and asked who they were for. You were just so over the moon to have your dress and a house full of fun people. There were a couple impromptu story times and a couple crazy accidents (a cracked rib and a somersault down the stairs, but everyone is recovering well). Overall, it was a loud and happy time. It felt like an important party for you; as though you suddenly went from being a baby to a little girl. It made our hearts swell to see you so happy with your friends.
That night, and the next night,you slept in your party dress. You finally took it off and wore jammies to bed last night.
- Your love for your sister grows more intense with each day and you go to great lengths to get a giggle out of her.
- I had no idea you found a bow tie I mad a few years ago and placed it on your kitty, but I got a good laugh when he sauntered out of the kitty litter box what had to be hours later, looking very dapper indeed.
- You love reading the Scooby Doo books, Jillian Jiggs Treasury, and the Robert Munsch treasury.
- You love watching Barbie, Equestria Girls, Frozen, How to Train your Dragon, and Clifford. You love playing with your growing collection of My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Merida, Anna, Elsa, and Rainbow Dash. (There is a sentence I never thought I’d be writing when my parenting adventure began!!)
- You’ve been singing songs from Frozen nearly non-stop. When I ask if you want to learn more of the words to it you say “No, you learn it.”.
- You adore painting.
- We discovered that your 6 year molar (46) is making an early appearance!
- Last week, we traced your bodies and then drew onto your bodies whatever you pleased. You gave yourself chicken pox, because you’re rather obsessed with drawing chicken pox. You then drew the path your food takes through your body. You asked me to draw a heart in your chest.
- You love watching the Disney Planning DVD to see where the princesses and Captain Hook live.
- You’ve always been one to prefer household objects to toys and I’ve started documenting your rather interesting and entertaining sleeping buddies and quotes. It has turned into a little project that has been enjoyed on Instagram and Facebook. Daddy and I decided if we were to ever create a book out of these pictures and conversations it would be called “Bed Folk + Pillow Talk with Silas”.
- The other night, he wanted to sleep with Poppy. I thought it would be endless playing and giggling, but they fell fast asleep as soon as the lights were out. Silas hates it when the lights first go out and Poppy comforted him saying “it’s ok Silas, you can see me. I’m with you.” I love their love.
- You really do say the darnedest things. Here are a few more examples:
- Silas: I was talking to The Perogie Man.
Me: Who is the Perogie Man?
Silas: Um, just the yummiest guy in the world.
- Poppy: Mom, I want a brown baby.
Me: Well, we don’t have brown skin so we can’t make a brown baby.
Poppy: Oh, right. I love our baby.
Silas: I want some brownies.
- Me: Do you guys want some milk?
Silas: Does it have Vitamin D in it?
Me: Um, yes. I think so.
Silas: Oh, great! I love Vitamin D.
- You hate having your hair washed. The other night you said you didn’t want your hair washed “…because it would turn into a girl’s hair”. After it was washed, you were distraught that your hair “looked different now”.
- Just yesterday morning, you woke up early with Daddy and wanted to wear some red mittens and a toque. Once they were on you exclaimed “Look at me Daddy! I’m gorgeous!”.
- There is no jealousy or animosity, but you keep a safe distance from little Clementine. Every once in a while I see you two sharing a flirty little smile though.
- You love reading the Scooby Doo books, the Jillian Jiggs Treasury, and the Robert Munsch Treasury.
- You love watching Equestria Girls, Clifford, How to Train Your Dragon, Clifford, Barbie, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Dinosaur Train. You play with pretty much anything that isn’t technically a toy, but do enjoy playing imaginative games with Poppy.
- You remain super happy even though I think your teeth are coming in and you have developed a rash/eczema on your back and tummy. We are trying to get to the root of the rash, but can’t be sure yet.
- You don’t often make strange with people. You seem to take your time watching them carefully and then smile.
- You usually wake 1-3 times in the night and nurse right back to sleep.
- We finally captured some giggles on video. It’s adorable.
- You’re now wearing 6 month clothes.
- We’ve started giving you little bits of food (the rash began before food was introduced), but you’re not overly enthused.
- You love playing with the remote and crinkle-taggy blanket I made years ago.
- You seem to have super human ab strength and can do a full sit up.
- Mike saw a big moose sauntering down the middle of the road on his drive home one night.
- We had our big load of logs delivered. $875.
- We’ve begun planning and saving for our Disney Trip 2017. We are super excited.
- We’ve begun working through a grade 4 french workbook to see what we remember.
- Mike continues to enjoy playing his ukulele.
- I am struggling to find my balance in many aspects of life.
- I am starting to wonder if my hair will ever stop falling out.
- In an act of self preservation, I am not allowing myself to even think about spring right now.
- We are hoping to get a YMCA membership for the family. It is over an hour away.
- Our community is lobbying for a recreation center and indoor pool, but I won’t hold my breath.
- Making plans to get the kids and I out of the house more often throughout the week. I am thinking one day out locally (Early Years, Kinder Gym, etc), one day out in either Peterborough or Lindsay (Early Years, Chapters story time, YMCA drop in craft or gym time, groceries, YMCA land class etc.), and one day out as a family to do swimming lessons and other errands.
- I don’t regret moving to the country, but I still struggle with feeling so isolated.
- A second car is what dreams are made of.
- In all honesty and if we had our time back, we would have approached my parents about buying a tiny plot on their farm, and built a tiny home so we could help with farm work and they could spend more time with the kids.
- I often daydream about finding another family to build a tiny house in our woods so we could begin our own intentional village.
- I made my first batch of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It was delicious and simple. A game changer.
- I still hate meal planning.
- I crave meditation and jogging.
- I have grand plans of writing letters and sending care packages to friends and family.
- I suck at blogging these days.
Last year, I attempted project 52, but failed miserably when the nausea hit. This year I thought I’d like to try again but for monthly records rather than weekly. Why? Because, even when you think you’ll remember the daily sweetness forever, you forget. I thought I might even include a section for tidbits of my own month.
So here goes…
- Next month, you turn the big Oh-Five and you want to have a strawberry cake with blue icing and candles and pizza. You’ve told me who you’d like to invite. You want a Frozen themed party complete with an Elsa dress because we went to the “movie house” and watched it before Christmas and you’ve been quite taken ever since.
- You’ve been writing your name for quite some time now (a year maybe?), but have just started showing interest in writing other letters this month. You struggle with “S”, but do a really nice job and seem to be a natural, but begin to balk as soon as I ask for more.
- Last night you got your 4-6 year vaccination. Daddy and I contemplated the best way to prepare you for it and decided to tell you two days in advance. We also told you it would hurt, but by the time you said “ouch” it would be over. You freaked at first, but got braver as time passed. When the time came, you were so brave and then ran out to tell Daddy and Silas “I got a shot!”. You were very proud of yourself.
- You continue to go to bed late. Sometimes you stay up until we go to bed and other nights you tell us when you’d like to go to bed earlier. You sleep through the night and wake between 7am to 9am.
- You still refuse to eat veggies, but you LOVE fruits, meats, bread, and dairy. We don’t heavily restrict junk food, but when you’ve had enough you stop and tell us you’ve had enough.
- You love playing with your dolls and ponies.
- Back in the fall, you had a bad cough and would wake in the middle of the night EVERY night coughing like crazy. Daddy would take you downstairs, he would give you a steamy bath, then you’d eat a fruit juice freezie and watch Sponge Bob until the coughing had settled. It was a nightly ritual for a couple weeks. Now, most nights before you go to sleep, you ask Daddy to take you downstairs for this little ritual. Which makes me hope you forever remember those midnight dates with Daddy.
- Your favourite colour is pink.
- You love having your nails painted.
- You HATE having your hair done.
- You love drawing people and sometimes animals. You don’t draw backgrounds or the sky yet, but you’ve begun drawing bodies instead of just heads. You also like to draw the universe which I find so interesting. Your preferred medium seems to be paint, but it always ends with water and paint pooling and drawn EVERYWHERE including on your brother so we have taken a little break from that. It may be time to get some more.
- You don’t really care what you wear as long as it is comfortable.
- You are madly in love with Clementine. When she fusses, you run to her and comfort her by saying “It’s okay, I’m right here. Poppy’s here. I’m not a monster, I won’t hurt you. We’re all right here.”
- You fidget like crazy. You bounce everywhere you go.
- You love My Little Pony Equestria Girls and can often be heard singing the cafeteria song. This is the song that has inspired you to enjoy spontaneous dancing again.
- You are 3 and a half.
- You never miss an opportunity to make us laugh.
- You notice all the little details (you’re a lot like Mama). The new bedding, the new plates, the tiny piece missing from your cookie or cracker, the new welcome mat.
- You love watching and being a “Hero” and “saving he day!”.
- You also love having your nails painted.
- You are incredibly particular about what you wear and especially, incredibly particular about what jammies you wear. Your favourite pair are the Halloween ones Nana bought you and Poppy two years ago. They are full of holes, the feet have been cut off and are threadbare, but they are still your first pick.
- You are an early to bed, early to rise type. You’ve begun telling us when you’re tired and we take you upstairs to your big boy bed, tuck you in and leave the light on where you fall asleep. You’ve been known to forgo the evening snack of frozen yogurt so you can go to bed.
- You love fruit and are only slightly more adventurous with veggies. You will eat carrots and corn, so that is something. You don’t like meat.
- I often find you climbing the counters and eating butter.
- You refuse to draw on paper and instead prefer finding bits of charcoal from the woodstove to doodle on our walls, the large TV unit we made, the wood box, the windows, etc. You still aren’t drawing people or things though you did draw one “person” on the floor one day with charcoal.
- We went to the doctor’s office for Poppy and Clementine’s vaccinations last night and, even though you weren’t even getting a check up, flipped out when we got there. You screamed and clung to Daddy in the waiting room until Poppy came out to tell you proudly that she had her shot. Hopefully you don’t do that when it is your turn.
- You still refuse to potty train. You will sit on or stand by your little potty and make pretend pee sounds, but have not had success yet.
- You enjoy snuggling by the fire with one or both dogs in the morning and throughout the day. You still play with your “freckle” (eyebrow) or that of the dogs.
- When Poppy kisses you, you say in a swoony sort of voice “Oooooh, she’s soooo awesome!”.
- You hate having your hair cut, but have no trouble cutting your own. Sigh.
- You have a habit of carrying around and sleeping with random objects and toys. Last night it was a red balloon, a few nights ago it was a brass apple and a calculator, a few weeks ago it was an old caulking gun. Other items include fly swatters, strainers, wooden spoons, forks, a whisk, the Hulk and Ninja Turtle toys, a pastry brush, the soup ladle, a book by the Dalai Lama because it was your cookbook, another book about Islam because the author looks like Harry Potter, a broken tire pump. It is kind of poetic.
- You can count up to ten items (sometimes 12) and know most of your letters, numbers, colours, etc. You have no problem remembering names and details about animals and love dinosaurs.
- Me: Do you guys want some milk?
Silas: Does it have Vitamin D in it?
Me: Um, yes. I think so.
Silas: Oh, great! I love Vitamin D
- Oh my. You are sweet. Daddy thinks you’re the most smiley of all our sweet things.
- You settled into a night time routine fairly quickly and effortlessly. You fall asleep while nursing and then usually wake once or twice per night. Some nights it is four times, but you always go back to sleep quickly. It’s a blessing.
- You are the tiniest of our babies and still fit in some three month outfits. Your brother and sister only fit into those for a few weeks if at all.
- You never shed your baby hair and you were born with a lot of it. I am quite certain it will be curly just like Mama’s and Poppy’s.
- You are a very content baby. Sometimes I will get caught up in doing something and suddenly wonder where I left you. You’re usually in your exersaucer just watching the world or you’ve fallen asleep in your play pen though I like to hold you as often and as long as your brother and sister will allow before they make requests of me.
- When you’re tired you will often start to babble loudly and you have fallen asleep in your exersaucer.
- You look at everything with wide eyes and usually a smile.
- You have a knack for knowing when I am just about to sit down to yummy meal and demand to be fed yourself.
- You made strange for the first time a couple of weeks ago when friends visited. It may have been his hat. You did it again the other morning when Daddy sat in front of you without his glasses on.
- You got your first shots last night. After the first one you recovered quickly, but the second one required a big hug and nursing to calm you down.
- You’re tired and stir-crazy, but madly in love.
- You are itching for change so you did a DIY ombre on your hair. It wasn’t a disaster, but you wouldn’t mind a professional cut and colour…even though you have trust issues with hair dressers
- You have shopping dreams.
- You fantasize about a second car.
- You’ve been wearing the same jogging pants since…Monday?
- You suddenly enjoy painting your fingernails and feel a twinge of guilt every time you do it.
- Reeses peanut butter cups are rocking your socks currently. As well as the Ruffles ranch chip dip (AKA creamy crack).
- Nearly everyday you wonder if you should throw in the towel and send the kids to school, but then something wonderful happens and you remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. This is hard, but worth it.
- Honestly, homeschooling three kids under 5 is a lot like “teaching” stoners with a wicked case of the munchies.
- You’ve lost 7lbs of the overall 40lbs you’d like to lose by following old school Weight Watchers. You feel better already. You know it isn’t rocket science, but it gives you the structure you need. Don’t give up on yourself.
- You find it hard not to turn into a drill sergeant when teaching Poppy how to write letters. She is good at it, but she needs to go at her own pace. Don’t take the fun out of it.
- You would love to find a sustainable way to make a little extra cash for the household each month. Writing would be ideal, but you seem to have a case of writer’s block.
- You are teaching yourself how to cook Indian food and enjoy learning how to layer all those decadent spices.
- You’d like to re-learn French…if only you had appreciated the daily french lessons from grade 4 through 10. Sigh.
- You’d really like to get a large, meaningful, family tattoo on your shoulder, but feel a big twinge of guilt when you think about that as well.
- You’re still learning that you get to do this homesteading, parenting, homeschooling gig however you feel is right and good. You don’t need to paint yourself into a corner.
- You’re getting better at trusting your gut when it comes to parenting.
- You’ve decided to plan a once in a lifetime, balls to the wall family Disney World/Harry Potter trip in 2017 by doing the 52 week savings plan. You’re ridiculously excited.
- It took you the better part of a day to write this post (between all the mama jobs).
go gently + be wonderful
To be honest, I don’t know where to begin.
Life is good.
That seems as good a place as any.
We are blessed in so many ways. I am blessed with a wide eyed, smiley babe who warms my heart and smells ever so sweetly, a fiercely brilliant little boy who doesn’t miss a beat or a chance to make us laugh, and an intensely loving, super adaptable, whip smart little girl who will turn 5 next month. I am blessed to be madly in love with a bearded husband who is ever-present and, after 10+ years, still makes me weak in the knees. We are blessed with a warm home in the country, freezers and cupboards full to overflowing with food, warm duvets, hot coffee and tea, wonderful friends and family, perfect health, good benefits, a great job, chortling chickens, playful and ever tolerant pets, good books lining our shelves, and a toasty woodstove to and dry our clothes and roast marshmallows by.
And yet, I seem to be suffering some sort of social media induced soul-fever. An overwhelming brain fog. It isn’t postpartum depression/anxiety. The fog and fever was far worse when I was pregnant than it is now.
You see, I feel it is brought on by spending too much time online. I love Pinterest, I do. It is like crack for this creative, visually driven girl. I don’t buy magazines for the pretty pictures anymore because I know I can find it all and more on Pinterest. It is loaded with inspiration and ideas and homeschooling resources. Hell, it was stumbling on this pin that inspired me to actually write this very post! But I find myself constantly comparing our humble little cabin to the perfect homes I see online and forget to be happy with what we have. Facebook connects me to the people I miss as well as to the people I’ve never even met in the real world. I am grateful for all the people, kind advice, and heated debates I have acquired and participated in via Facebook, but I can’t deny that it also gives me a false sense of a social life. Both of these sites have their merits, but they also fill my brain with anxiety-inducing posts and pins about the dangers of wearing deodorant or bras at night or hot dogs, and radiation making its way across the sea and land, and house fires, and car seat fails, and kidnappings, and missing children, and how TV rots your brain, and vaccine fear mongering, and conspiracy theories, and allergies, and other people being stellar parents, and crafts we will never do, and 4 year olds reading, and perfectly pretty houses and paint colours, and luscious hair, and thinspiration, and clean eating, and too good to be true recipes, and really funny memes, and how to organize and clean, and be more productive and yell less.
And then there are the pictures and videos we take and post. Though I love having a record of the daily and monumental events, it seems kind of pointless when you weren’t fully present in the original moment, no? Louis CK says it better than I ever could. This became very apparent to me when Poppy had her ears pierced a couple of months ago. Like an idiot, I was trying to capture the video (for Mike who was at work and unable to be present) and was still fumbling with the phone while my mom swooped in to comfort her after the deed was done. It should have been me.
All this to say, I am not quite sure how to find the balance. I don’t blog much anymore because the world is full of bloggers saying so much of the same and I honestly don’t know that I have much more to bring to the table. I would be lying if I said I weren’t struggling with the feelings of isolation since moving to the country. I miss being able to walk downtown with children in strollers and strapped to my chest in order to get some social interaction and window shopping in. The trails are too deep for little ones to navigate for any length of time and the highway we live on is not suitable for afternoon meanderings. The days are so very long when we are left without a car. That is the only thing we would change about our move to the country, but it is financially out of the question for now.
Social media fits conveniently into a day with 3 children under 5. 10 minutes here between snack
demands requests, bum wiping, clean ups, homeschooling, and meals. 30 minutes there while the baby nurses and falls asleep on me. Homschooling consists mostly of free play mixed with 15 minute stints of writing our letters, drawing pictures, reading books, and using the iPad. To be honest, the days feel long and aimless for me. Though it is a perfect pace for young children, I crave productivity and structure for myself. I read books and attempt to crochet, and rearrange furniture but my mind wanders and my attention is pulled away. My days are fragmented. So the pace of the internet fits my day, but it also drains me. My mind feels an awful lot like our living room; disheveled and lacking focus.
We recently listened to an interesting Freakonomics podcast about parenting. The conclusion was that obsessive, over-scheduled parenting (that seems very much the norm on social media) is pointless and the best thing we can do for our children is to be happy and kind. Makes sense, no?! Seriously, I want to tattoo those words on my forehead. We don’t do too many activities or crafts with a set outcome because it inevitably makes feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and impatience bubble up in me. I am driven by the outcome while the kids are in the moment and it rarely ends well. I know my kids are far better off with a basket full of crayons, paper, scissors and glue to use at their own discretion than any Pinterest craft and a results-driven mama. We do extracurricular activities because they’re enjoyable and provide the social interaction we crave and need. The path of least resistance and genuine inspiration really is the best and happiest path with these tender ages.
I have no answers. Perhaps it is a little bit of precisely this type of mourning mixed with a wicked case of Pinterestitis and social media fever. Whatever it is I find myself aching for depth and joy and inner work; a lonely run, and finding my breath and pose on a yoga mat, and scrawling my messy handwriting across pages of a forgotten journal; belly laughs and company who stay late into the night, and window shopping; boundaries and limits and wild things.
We’ve become quick masters of self editing. I find myself wishing I could remember what it felt like to just be…(Once again, Louis CK nails it) . To be alone with ourselves and our thoughts without comparison, input or labels.
I shall leave you with this as I ponder my next step. (source unknown)
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.