Category Archives: homeschooling

counting my blessings

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.
  • Friends.
  • 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.
  • Netflix.

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.

I swear.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homesteading, life, our cabin, the anchor, wellness | 4 Comments

playing catch up

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

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, 52 portraits, celebration, ellenberger organic farm, family, feather + anchor, homesteading, life, our cabin, photography + writing, Uncategorized, wellness | 8 Comments

a portrait a week

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…

Miss Poppy

  • 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!
Mr Silas
  • 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.
Also posted in 52 portraits, family, life, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

twenty three

-33

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

Bed

P.S.

The instructions asked her to trace the circle, but I have to agree with her that this is much better.

Thinking outside the…um, circle 😉

go gently+ be wonderful

e

Also posted in 365 photo project, family, life | 3 Comments

twenty two

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

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project | 5 Comments

twenty one + more homeschool musings

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!
Also posted in 365 photo project, family, frugal living, life, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

seventeen

operation chair repair with colourful thread

homeschool meetup/potluck/party

good food

floor-sized colouring paper

groceries done for another two weeks

a treat for us all

asleep

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project | 3 Comments

thirteen

Hot chocolate in my coffee

work for mike

a trip to the hardware store

a pretty new paint colour with a rather disappointing  name

rock cookies

chicken pot pie from one of our very own chickens

more rain

more of the same

hunkering down

Our thoughts have been occupied with our newly implemented budget.  We sway back and forth between feeling empowered and hopeful to tired and a little sad.  The good news is that the money is there for us if we use it wisely.   We are so glad that me staying home is even a viable option; I know so many people would love to be home, but simply cannot make ends meet.

I found this blog while searching for ways to stretch our dollars and for about 15 minutes we thought maybe we could really hunker down and get ourselves out of debt.  Then we realized we are already bare bones with the only place to cut the fat being in our groceries, fuel, and “entertainment” ($100 – so far our entertainment includes paint and a fire detector).  It would be years and years before we saw the light of day and it would be a miserable existence.  All that to say we will be taking all our monthly disposable income and laying it down on our line of credit for the next several months.  After that is cleared, it will be going into our savings and paying off our freezer full of organic grass fed meat.  We also have a truck load of wood and a chainsaw to buy as well as our income tax coming due from my adventure into home childcare.

The budget means cutting the tiny bits of fat most people wouldn’t think twice about.  Reducing grocery trips to the larger town a little over an hour away to 2 times rather than 3 or 4 times per month.  It quickly becomes clear why going into the grocery store less is just better.  Mike is capable of going in with blinders and only getting the milk or onions whereas I get creative and think of the possibilities.  It means making our food from scratch.  It means using electricity less.  Ultimately, it translates into me staying home more and spending even more time in the kitchen.

Anyone who knows how much time I spend in the house as it is may think that is ludicrous to spend more time at home, but it is a reality and I am preparing myself for it.  I need to switch my perspective a bit.  I think I have a higher than normal tolerance for being home and being alone so it shouldn’t be too hard.

I really like being home, but Ido need a few things for it to be more sane:

1) I need a project to do; big or small, just something that makes me feel productive.

  • painting nearly every surface in the house within an inch of its life
  • reorganizing the cupboards
  • baking/meal prep
  • planning and implementing a functional pantry space
  • meal planning
  • sewing
  • repairing, patching, and slipcover-ing our furniture
  • painting or drawing
  • reading
  • knitting and crocheting
  • blogging
  • art
  • jewelry making
  • etc

2) I need a shower – it makes me feel more productive, more pulled together, and less grumpy/disgusting

3) I need my house to be pretty and cozy (which goes hand in hand with number 1).

4) I need something other than kid’s movies to watch especially in the winter.  This one is hard to admit, but I miss watching things like Martha Stewart and would also love to watch things that we can all learn from like BBC programs, documentaries etc {this isn’t to say we don’t watch things like Shameless, Californication, and The Dragon’s Den when we can}.  We are looking into ways of doing this without cable (we have not had cable for nearly 5 years!) and may be able to do something with some Christmas money and dip into our entertainment budget.

5) Adult interaction.  Lots of options here between friends and homeschool meet ups, I just have to plan things out, and firm up plans more often rather than just saying, with good intentions, “We should totally get together!”.  This also means embracing social media like Instagram and Facebook.  I often wonder why I post pictures of random things for no real reason, but I do it to connect to the good people who may live far away or that I simply don’t get to see a lot.  It staves off the crazies more times than not and can pull me back from the edge when Silas gets an early start on his throw-downs.

To some of you this may sound perfectly normal and realistic while others may think we are insane for not just doing things normal-like.  send the kids to daycare and then school while we both work.  Not only is it not how we wish to do things for a number of personal reasons, but there are high costs to that as well.  The truth is that some days are hard and even boring, but then I think about going back to a job that I hated and spending much less time with my kids, and my perspective is regained.  I would rather do tedious and sometimes mundane tasks for these two little bosses than for a stranger, besides they pay me well in cuddles and say way funnier things.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, family, frugal living, homesteading, life, Uncategorized, wellness | 17 Comments

day one of 365

Time again for another 5 year plan.  It makes me happy to think of our lives and future together as a family and a couple.  This one will take us to 2018 though it seems impossible to believe.  So many of our dreams and goals came to life after we created our last one in 2007

We found our sweet and feisty rabbit “Sugarfoot” dead under the cedars today.  It appears it was of natural causes as there was not a hair out of place.  He has been spending 90% of his time outside since July or August when he started hiding when I came out to fetch him for the night.  I figured he may have a shorter life living outdoors, but it was definitely a happy and full one.  He grazed in the long grass with the chickens, humped our cats, put the run on Huck, enjoyed plenty of scratches and pats and ate lots of kitchen scraps all while good naturedly letting the kids chase him around the yard.  He had built a burrow under our porch and never strayed far.  As the days grew colder he would come in for a snack and a nap then out he went again.  His coat had grown nice and thick and he was healthy.  He had simply laid down and died.

I have always wanted to do a 365 photo challenge, but always think of it too late or don’t start because I lack the staying power.  This year, I was reminded on New Year’s Eve that I should get started.  Of course, I hope to stick with this, but we all know the year is long and life gets busy, but I have started anyway.  I originally thought I would just post a week’s worth here on Saturdays, but since I have been neglectful of this space of late I hope to find a way to simply blog it from Instagram.  Some days it may be one phone or camera photo while other days may be a smattering of photos paired with a few words about our day.  I may go weeks just keeping a photo journal and I may become inspired to leave a recipe or a fawned Friday or some thoughts.  More often than not I feel I have nothing of great substance to say on the blog or have so much to say, I don’t know where to begin.  I figure this might loosen the blockage.

I seem to constantly be changing directions with the blog and my ideas…I tried the sponsor thing and though I enjoyed it, it was a lot of time spent organizing, emailing, and posting for a very little bit of money and it seemed to dominate my blog space.  I tried the tutorial thing, but again, it was a great deal of effort and time.  I continue to walk the fine line of trying to find creative ways to bring in extra money and blogging for myself and my family.  I keep coming back to the inevitable truth that my time is best spent trying to save us money rather than trying to make money (for now anyway).  I would love to be a paid writer or photographer, but the reality is that those things are just hobbies I enjoy and not necessarily easy income.  They take a lot of time and energy to do on top of trying to drum up interest (which seems to be non-existent).  I read an excellent article on pricing your services and it really put things into perspective for me.  I could take pictures for a song, but it isn’t worth the time I lose with the kids.  So if I can’t find clients willing to pay, I won’t be doing it.  Simple really.

This time of year is for turning inward.  Our finances are at the top of the list this year (inspired by this post).  It is time to get serious about our grocery bill and stop nickel and diming ourselves to debt (ha!).  Usually I find the process of creating a budget empowering, but this time I am a little nervous, because we will be on a bit of a spending strike for the next few months in order to afford our truckload of wood, a very necessary chainsaw, and our taxes that will inevitably come due.  We will also concentrate on paying for our freezer full of organic beef and paying down the line of credit that we were forced to dip into over the last year and a half.

I love shopping.  I know, it doesn’t seem to fit with the lifestyle we are trying to live, but it is true.   I have dreams about shopping sprees on a weekly basis I kid you not.  That being said, I am also a bargain and thrift store shopper so I have managed to score some sweet deals over the years.  I don’t leave the house all that often and when I do, I am rarely organized enough to think of snacks and drinks etc to get us all through the day.  On my odd day out with the kids I will buy a snack or two, a drink or two, and a meal for us.  I will often pick up some small items just because (clothes for the kids at Recycled Kids or a few items at the drug store), factor in the extra gas (it usually involves at least two extra hours of driving).  We pick Mike up from work at 4:30 after being out all day so supper is either a bowl of cereal and some toast or we buy something on the way home.  So you see, a day out per week can quickly add up against our monthly budget.  I usually have hopes of doing our grocery shopping in the bigger town since it is so expensive around these parts, but trying to concentrate with two squirmy and demanding kids can be tough and I often end up being incredibly inefficient.

I know I will be ok without shopping.  I love baking and cooking;  there is snow to play in; we have bookshelves overflowing with unread books; I have a ton of clothes, fabric and yarn, purchased over the years, to use up; puzzles to be assembled; walls to be painted; movies to download; kids to chase and teach.  It is just that I use shopping (as thrifty as I may think I am) as a reward for everything else we go without; an extra car, convenient propane heat, trips or getaways, cable, brand new clothes, and for staying home all day every day with two small kids.  I talk myself into the fact that I deserve it, but when it hurts our bank account I can hardly justify it.  Our goal is to get out of overdraft and pay off the smaller debts we owe and then begin saving up for bigger ticket items we want or need without guilt.  Guilt and worry is far too heavy to carry around for another year.

Well, that was much longer than I had anticipated, but there you have it.  Our plans, goals, and new directions and attitudes for the blog and the new year.

 

Make it a happy one.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, feather + anchor, frugal living, homesteading, life, wellness | 10 Comments

some days are better

Yesterday was restless and rough.  Paint smeared across furniture, Huck stealing homemade pizza from the counter top, and yarn unraveled.  T’was not a stellar day in my parenting career thus far, that is for certain.  It ended with me laying rumpled on our bed in a dark room wishing I was more patient; better; different.

Today has been better.  Christmas crafting, roughhousing and hugging, soup warming on the wood stove, and sitting cuddled under a creamy blanket watching The Sword in The Stone.  The tree line out front is hazed by heavy layers of falling snow.

I am looking forward to the slow days of our Christmas vacation; a visit to the farm (and if we’re lucky, a horse drawn sleigh ride), puzzles, books, afternoon coffee, all day snacking, perpetual Christmas movies and music, visitors, walks in the woods, campfires, sleeping in front of the fire, and gingerbread houses.

Yes, I intend to savour every little morsel of Christmas goodness because I know January, February, and March will be good, but oh so long.

In other news, I am very excited about what 2013 holds for my wee photography business.  I am feeling inspired and hopeful.  If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” my new Facebook page to learn about mini sessions and other updates.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to book a photo session for the new year.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Have a merry day, folks!

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in celebration, craft, ellenberger organic farm, family, feather + anchor, life, photography + writing | 5 Comments