Thursday, 28 February 2013

Club Day. The Nature Version.

Nature Club today was down-to-your-bones good.  Given the ridiculously hectic week we're almost through, I decided to do something easy for Nature Club this week.  We strapped on a pair of snowshoes and went to see what we could see at the park.  In all honesty, the activity itself was exactly the same as what the Birds of Prey Club did two meetings ago.  Minus the infighting, though.  And plus a few nature walk spottings of the footprint and scat variety.

And we had fun!  We giggled!  We fell in the knee-deep snow, then practically ate it trying to push back up to standing!  We played Predator and Prey where a whole family of rabbits sadly met it's demise at the hands of a crafty bobcat (and wolf and lynx). I was delighted to learn that the Clubbers had an opportunity to try something they had never done before.

And somehow today, I found an action I can take to cool my anger of the heritage school demolition I mentioned yesterday.  Sometime this morning, my mind floated back to the vacations we've taken the last two years.  Each one had a significant history component to them.  The ones that captivated the children the most were the places where we could see the buildings both inside and out.  It really made all the stories we'd read to the children come alive.  As we crossed the St. Lawrence River from Lévis to Québec City, we mused about how the British must have felt facing those intimidating cliffs and walls.  We took ourselves back to a simpler time as we strolled down Lover's Lane and explored the childhood haunts of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  My children actually stood stock still at a doorway like a sentinel for several minutes simply because we were inside the fortifications at the Citadel in Halifax.  Simply seeing exhibits describing history, such as the Acadian museum we visited, held much less fascination.

There is a business case for preserving historic sites and buildings.  To aid in building that business case, I can simply tell our story and the differences in the experiences I've seen.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a real-life experience is a feast for all the senses.  Given that the school was built when this city was in its infancy, it tells not only about what the school experience used to be like in the "good old days".  It tells the story of a people.  It gives clues as to how this city came to be as it is, even if those who now hold the reins of power wish it to be no more.

The clock is ticking for that old gal.  I'd better get writing.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Flying by the seat of our pants

We're into day two of single parenting in this household while my husband enjoys a conference in Banff, Alberta.  I must say that while I am looking forward to going to bed early tonight to recover from the last two days and brace myself for the next four, my children are probably looking forward to it more!

Why the late night you ask?  Our community was dealt a devastating blow last night, as our school board decided to demolish the century old school that has served as the gateway into our beloved neighbourhood.  In fact, it is the oldest school in our entire city.  While I'm pretty sure that if I asked my children if they would like to return to school next year they would say "no", both they and I are upset by this decision.  Somehow, both child and parent who have grown up in an increasingly materialistic society have learned to love and appreciate the beauty of the old days.  I think we feel the soul that such a heritage building exudes and we know such a soul can never be replaced.  I think we are hurt by the profanity of a society not making the time, effort or resources available to keep this "ornately simple" (as described by the architect) building in shape for the next 100 years.  I think we are angered by an administration that does not listen to the concerns of its citizens and is not willing to explore the alternatives available to it (for, like most decisions, there are several options available if one only opens their eyes and looks).  If any of you have witnessed or been part of a movement to save a heritage building, please let me know what has worked and not worked for you.

As timing would have it, it was my turn to facilitate at our homeschool co-op gathering today.  We skimmed the surface of flight.  I started off the session by reading an excerpt from Wings by Jane Yolen, which tells the story of Daedalus and Icarus.  (As an aside, I really love the telling of the Daedalus story in Daedalus and the Minotaur by Priscilla Galloway.  It's a much longer read, but gives deeper insight to the heart and mind of a genius).  Then, we compared a bird in flight to a plane in flight.  We talked about the aerofoil shape of both and how this shape gives both lift.  We attempted to make paper helicopters to demonstrate lift.  Finally, we set about making paper airplanes.  We compared the planes that went far to those that traveled a shorter distance.  Often, planes with sharp folds done symmetrically and with a sharp nose went further because there was less drag, or friction, as the airflow went over the planes.  Several of us experimented on design alterations that would cause the plane to turn. 

I'm still fascinated with how a room can quiet when a story is being told.  I'm amazed at how much Greek mythology our family has read this year, with all of it being tied directly to some science project or concept we're exploring.  I'm thankful that Nicholas is often willing to help some of the other children in the projects we do.

I also learned a bit about facilitating these sessions:

  ~ I observed that experiments done at home sometimes don't replicate when shared with a larger audience. Sadly, this topic (or any physics-related topic) isn't one that I'm well-versed in, so trouble-shooting was tricky.  Lesson learned:  go with what you know. Other lesson learned:  it's time to start diving into these topics here at home!  Our first tour will be guided by The Wright Brothers for Kids.  And I'm sure we will build every plane featured in Origami Paper Airplanes.

  ~ I discovered that children have just as much difficulty as some adults in interpreting the drawings for how to make origami anything.  While I resist the notion of telling a person how to do something in order to make something specific and prefer open-ended choice, it can be frustrating to those not comfortable with such an approach.  Lesson learned:  very slowly and deliberately walk the children through one simple airplane design before encouraging the children to tweak their designs or come up with innovative new designs.

Finally, I am so thankful for the fabulous moms that come together every week for our co-op.  They bring inspiration, practical ideas, vision, and support.  Thanks, ladies, for the light you bring to my weeks.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Club Day. The Birds of Prey Version.

After the last Birds of Prey Club meeting, I posted that the boys seemed at odds with each other more often and I put together a few thoughts for how I would try to get things back on track.

And today was the day to put it into action.  I didn't do all the things I first mulled over, simply because time wouldn't allow it.  What we did do, though, seemed effective, so I'm happy.

First, I read the Club the story Look to the North:  A Wolf Pup Diary.  It talks about the first 10 months of a wolf cub's life, including how it learns it's place in the pack, how they learn to hunt, and how wolves communicate with one another.  Along the way, I asked questions to teach about some of the facts in the book.  What is the longest day of the year?  When are day and night of equal length?  What is nursing?

Then, we talked about the similarities and differences between wolf behaviour and human behaviour.  I learned that many scientists believe that no other animal family acts more like humans than a wolf pack (from Scruffy:  A Wolf Finds His Place in the Pack).  So these books seemed like a perfect fit for our discussion on how we treat one another in our Birds of Prey Club family.

Next, the Club put together a short "Code of Conduct" and also came up with consequences for not sticking to the Code.  This is what they came up with:

"The Code"

1.  No swears
2.  Hands, bodies, and other objects stay off others
3.  One person speaks at a time
4.  Respect other people's things
5.  No talk of alcohol
6.  Try not to be hyper - consider the volume of your voice and being in control of your body. 

The Consequences - "4 strikes"

1.  Warning
2.  5 minute time-out
3.  7 minute time-out
4.  Call parents to take you home.

I'll be sending this out to parents and we'll also have a quick talk about it at the last meeting.  This will simply remind the Club of the "Code" they created and will allow one of our Club members who could not join us today an opportunity to ask questions and add any information that he feels would be relevant.

All in all, a successful meeting

Monday, 25 February 2013


While the moment looked quite ordinary, it felt momentous to me.  Today, my son took his first step to mastering division.

I don't know why I felt apprehensive as I sat on the floor of his room waiting for him to finish up a language lesson he was working on.  Perhaps it was because I remembered division from when I was in school.  In fact, forget division - what I likely remember most acutely was my difficulty with doing any math operation fast.  We would have timed tests that would give me fits.  I didn't know my math facts cold, and it seemed that my brain froze when I was up against the clock.  For some reason, I didn't develop a dislike of math and went on to do algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus quite well.  I just disliked doing 100 questions in 5 minutes or less.

Anyway, while multiplication felt quite intuitive to me, there was something about division that seemed a little more daunting.  My default is to figure out the answer a division problem by using multiplication.  But I wasn't sure that logic would help my son to understand the concept.

I decided that I would try a Waldorf approach to introducing division.  My beloved book, The Waldorf Book of Poetry, had a poem that I read to my son.  It is intended to be read in a classroom, where the students are the "manipulatives" that move around to form different group sizes and demonstrate multiplication and division.  Since we didn't have 12 students in our classroom, we simply used some beads and moved them with our hands into different group sizes.

After that, I read Nicholas a story that illustrates how to do division from Understanding Waldorf Education.  It describes what each of the three numbers in a long division problem mean.  It is simple, yet brilliant.

Lastly, we tried some division problems on our own.  And he did it!  In fact, the page of division he did today was completed faster than any other math page he has done this year.  I was amazed.  Rationally, I know that he has been doing division in his head for about a year now.  He's had exposure through simple division in verbal problems we would do while doing dishes, as well as solving equations in his Life of Fred books.  He tends to naturally pick up new concepts.

Still, even with all that...Nicholas' achievement today feels special.

Friday, 22 February 2013

A week in pictures

Playing house (photo courtesy of Jaelyn)
Knitting away (photo courtesy of Jaelyn)
Playing rummy with a tiger
A family get-together
An intro to cribbage (photo courtesy of Chris)
The littlest hockey player
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

When baking and poetry meet

Funny how some things fall out of the sky and grace us with their presence.  Like when we do a bit of baking for the weekend and the chocolate chips become something we use to count the syllables in the verse of a song.

The magic is spun and we drift into talk about the couplets we learned from the morning and write out a few of our own.  We brainstorm words that rhyme.   We talk about stanzas and the types of poetry we like the best.

Oh, I'd like to have more afternoons like this.  The tricky thing about magic is that it is sometimes elusive, and sometimes there but hard to spot.  In either case, simply showing up and being a part of my children's world is the prerequisite for both.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Now that the excitement of parties and a holiday weekend are behind us, I'm feeling grateful for the space in this week.  The calendar is fairly empty, while I know that the week after this one is overflowing and is more than one person can handle on her own (my hubby is out of town that week).  So, today I want to spend some of this free time planning for the week that will be upon us soon.  I'm...

  ...writing up lesson plans for the four learning sessions I'll be facilitating next week.  I only do these when there will be a larger group of children, and often when we are outside our home and things need to be packed and taken with us.

  ...putting together a grocery list for this week and for next so that we can easily pick up everything we need to nourish these bodies of ours.

  ...brainstorming story ideas for the next Birds of Prey Club meeting.

  ...calling relatives for help on the days or evenings I can't do by myself.

  ...preparing packing lists so my children can pack things for themselves.

  ...doing a bit of knitting to calm some of the anxiety that is slowly starting to seep into my day as I think of the week ahead.

  ...getting excited for our local homeschooling convention as I peruse the workshop descriptions and get ideas from my children for the types of books, activities, or resources they'd like me to bring home with me.

  ...vowing to be in bed earlier tonight, and this week.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A decade

It's hard to believe my son is now in double digits, and Chris and I have been working through our roles as parents for a decade now.  When I look way back in the rearview mirror, I see two excited, anxious, naive parents holding a squirmy little bundle.  Two parents who had a pretty good idea of what they wanted for their children but didn't know how to do it.  Two parents who were the first of their friends to have a baby, and felt too overwhelmed with the plethora of how-to parent books to dig in and do the research for a method that resonated best. 

They feared the damage or harm that could inadvertently fall on that precious little one due to their lack of experience.  I wonder sometimes if our cautious boy was wired to be cautious or if it came about due to all his parents' fears or their sometimes unrealistic expectations. 

We've stumbled and bumbled our way through the last ten years.  There were times where we've made what felt like big mistakes.  There were other times where we've thought we've aced handling a sensitive situation.  There have been too many times where we've looked back and wished that we knew then what we know now.  But we are feeling more comfortable with where we're headed, despite the unknowns on the horizon which are inherent with a firstborn babe.

And here we are.  Ten years later.  Nicholas is a boy who gets passionately engaged in those topics that interest him most.  He loves learning and sharing facts with anyone and everyone.  He is comfortable in his own skin.  He is kind and caring, especially for his littlest sister. 

As I write this, my son is playing blackjack with a friend who is sleeping over tonight.  He is smiling, laughing and happy.  Yes, this is what we wanted for our Nicholas.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Club Day. The Nature Version. And Valentine's too.

This one will be short and sweet, so that I can squeeze one last little bit of Valentine's spirit out to those around me.  Since Nature Club fell on Valentine's Day, we made a Valentine's-inspired craft.  We needle-felted hearts and other shapes.

This craft seemed perfect for today, for me at least.  Warm and wooly, natural and beautiful, meditative and requiring attention, what's not to love? 

Here's what you need to needle-felt hearts, stars, or whatever other shape your heart desires:

  ~ wool in two colours - one for the main shape and the other in a contrasting colour, if you wish.  Or shake it up and make your shape a rainbow of colours.
  ~ felting needles
  ~ sponge scrub pads
  ~ cookie cutters

Here's what to do:

  1.  Place the cookie cutter on the sponge, then put the main wool inside the cookie cutter, making sure that all spaces are covered.  Expect that the wool will puff out the top of the cookie cutter.  You can see from the picture about how much wool I used for the size of the cookie cutter.
  2.  Push the needle through the wool and (likely) into the sponge repeatedly.  Start along the edge of the cookie cutter, then work your way inwards.  The wool should become considerably flat.
  3.  Remove the cookie cutter, then gently remove the wool from the sponge.  Replace the cookie cutter on the sponge, then turn the wool over and place it back in the cookie cutter.  The wool will likely be larger than the cookie cutter, as it expanded once the cookie cutter was removed and it was pulled off the sponge.  Do the best you can to line everything up. 
  4.  Again, starting along the edges and working towards the centre, push the needle through the wool repeatedly until it holds its shape well on its own.
  5.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are satisfied with the density of the felt.
  6.  Remove the cookie cutter, but keep the shape on the sponge.  Carefully needle felt (as in step 2) around the edge of the shape.
  7.  If you wish to add a monogram or other design, take a very small piece of contrasting wool.  Roll it back and forth between your palms, like how you would roll a snake out of modelling clay, to tighten the fibres a bit.  Place it on the main shape in the desired shape and needle felt it into place.  You may wish to tuck the ends of the contrasting wool underneath itself so that the ends are neat.

Happy heart day to you!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Almost there

My son is a Cub Scout, and we've been encouraging him to pick a badge or two that he would like to earn. The pick that he has been working on for quite some time now is the World Conservation badge.  I had hoped that he would be motivated to find time to work on it on his own, but that really wasn't happening.  Through talking with him, I realized that while he was eager to earn the badge, he didn't know how to fit it into his days and would consistently claim that he ran out of time in his day to get around to it.  While I know at an intellectual level that he was benefiting from unstructured free time, he had set a goal and was struggling to focus on it.  He also didn't know how to gather all the information for the badge requirements, even though there was quite a bit that he knew already. I didn't know how to support him.

The requirements that he chose to complete were pretty comprehensive and I would imagine they could be daunting for a child in grade 4.  He was to hike around two distinct ecoregions and compare and contrast the plants, animals and insects that live there.  In addition, he was to learn a bit about the soil in each region, water sources, and hypothesize how changes in temperature could impact the ecoregion.  Lastly, he was to discuss the food web for one of the ecoregions.  Quite a tall order!

We sat down together about three weeks ago to look at what he had finished and what was left.  Then, we broke the work that was left into even smaller pieces and he told me when he would commit to completing each smaller step. We agreed on what my role would be to support him, and the work that he was expected to do on his own.

At the same time, we also started writing out the chores and schoolwork we expected he would complete each week, including the work on the World Conservation badge.  And, we laid out consequences for not completing the work.  By the end of the day on Friday, we would sit down to see if he had finished all the items on the list.  We would also consider and discuss his effort level.  If all was done and done with a good level of effort, then great!  Kudos all around!  If not, then Nicholas would need to stay at home to complete the work and miss extracurricular activities until it was done.     

This exercise has reduced the tension that seemed to arise daily.  I am no longer nagging at him every day to get to it.  He is in full control and makes decisions about how he will spend his time.  We have a chance to talk about what he needs from me early in the week so that I'm not surprised or I have enough notice to accommodate his requests.  He knows about little nuances in our schedules so that he can do a little extra one day in order to enjoy other activities.  We are spending more time together to work on his schoolwork and projects because I better understand what he needs from me. 

Today was a perfect example.  He had requested a trip to the museum a week ago to learn more about the flora and fauna that live where he had recently hiked.  It was penciled in on the calendar...and then the trip fell through when everyone fell ill.  So, we rescheduled for this morning, and he worked ahead in his schoolwork on Monday and Tuesday to compensate for not doing it today. 

He's planning to present his work as a food web, where he had written the names of plants, animals and insects on a board and then hammered nails by each label.  Then, he can easily use a piece of yarn, string or twine to show who eats what.  Here's one he finished for the Bay of Fundy, which we toured last summer:

It's such a great feeling when a goal is achieved.  Being almost there, and knowing just a little bit more work until it's all wrapped up, feels pretty good too. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Club Day. The Birds of Prey version.

The weather cooperated this week, so we did the activities that I had planned for the last Birds of Prey Club meeting.  As we ate our snack, we talked about some of the adaptations of animals of the Arctic.  The club came up with several answers, like the colour of their camouflage, their fur, increased fat stores, and the size of some animals' paws.  Then, we strapped on snowshoes and took a short hike through the deep deep snow in the park by our house. 

We found a little area of the park edged with bushes and gathered to play our first version of Predator and Prey.  I asked the Club to name an Arctic prey and an Arctic predator, then they were off to play our birds of prey version of tag with snowshoes.  Next, we talked about camouflage and we played a few short games of hide and seek, using two canvas sheets I had brought along as camouflage.  I didn't have enough for everyone, but those who didn't have camouflage made for the bushes to try and blend in there.  Lastly, we took off the snowshoes so we could play one last game of Predator and Prey - our animals this time were a moose and a wolf (who do not live in the Arctic, but do live quite far north and use different adaptations to survive harsh winters).  If only these little ones had legs that were as long as a moose's - it was hard enough to move around in the deep snow with snowshoes, let along without them!

We did have a few rough patches during this meeting - whether it was hurt feelings or a hurt body - and everyone suffered.  To get this group all on the same page of how we will treat one another, I will be dedicating the next meeting to behaviour, and yet I know that a lecture on how to treat one another won't be effective.  I do know that the room is quiet when I read a book, so I will be researching animal social structure and behaviour to introduce these ideas.  Even better, perhaps I'll see if Nicholas has any recollection of reading about these topics in the myriad of owl books he's flipped through.  Maybe Nicholas and I can even write up our own stories if we can't find one that suits our needs. I'm starting to get excited about preparing for this next meeting!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Dreaming of spring

I find myself gazing out the dining room window at the mounds of snow piled up everywhere.  It's been awhile since we've had this much snow.  I think the last winter that was this wintery was the year that Nicholas was born and my brother-in-law passed his time by moving the snow from our front yard into the park that backed our house.  I don't think all this snow will be gone until April, at the earliest.  It's hard to believe that it's time to start dreaming up the garden of 2013.

Yet dreaming I did a few weekends ago.  I don't even know what motivated it.  But somehow, I went from doodling to having a full-fledged "concept drawing" (which is how we've come to refer to my not-drawn-to-scale sketches) of our garden spaces, a list of plants that I thought we would enjoy immensely, and where everything on that list would go.  When the rest of the family arrived home and all the outdoor gear was put away, they had a quick look to make sure I hadn't missed something crucially important.

Every year there is usually some sort of experiment that we take on.  Usually it is some fruit or vegetable that we haven't grown before, but it could also be trying out a new space to grow our perennial favorites.  Last year was celery and the planters in the backyard and a community garden plot.  The year before was asparagus.  This year, we're planning to grow popcorn.  Just the thought of a fresh-from-the-vine tomato is heavenly enough, but the thought of growing something new-to-us really ups the anticipation.

This year, I think I'll also save a garden box or a planter or two for the Nature Club.  I read about the concept of a pizza garden in Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots.  So, I'll gather up ideas from Nature Club for pizza toppings that can grow in our climate, ask for their help with planting seeds, preparing soil, transplanting, weeding and watering, which will eventually culminate in a homegrown pizza!  Yum

I'll be slowly moving into the next phase of this spring dreaming.  We've browsed through some seed catalogues and I'm very much looking forward to Seedy Saturday, which is a local come-and-go for gardeners looking to swap seed or buy some from local vendors.  March and April will be a month of planting seeds and tending those little plants that will hopefully go out into the outdoor world in May. 

And May will be bliss.

Friday, 8 February 2013

A week in pictures

Cuddles to help sore tummies
Monday night hockey
A new favorite hat
"I can still say 'thistle'"

Thursday, 7 February 2013

For me

I was at the library about a month ago, and I had wandered into the adult section for just a few minutes of quiet time after attending Toddler Time with Astrin.  After wrestling her back into her winter clothes, where we alternated between her doing it herself and her stopping to watch what the other toddlers were doing, I needed just a wee break before attempting to wrench Jaelyn away from the computer screen in the kids' area.  And somehow, I stumbled upon Fresh Fashion Knits, a book with knitting projects that somehow looked accessible (no double-pointed needles), and at first glance looked like it had a promising selection of knitting eye candy (if a thick wooly sweater is your idea of eye candy).

A few days after that, I was rummaging through my stash of yarn, and I noticed that a few of the balls I had purchased in the fall from our local yarn store were the same as was called for in the patterns.  Suddenly, I realized that I would have considerably less trouble figuring out what yarn to purchase, because I could simply choose the stuff that was called for in the patterns.  I grabbed the book again and started going through it a little more thoroughly.  Would I actually wear any of these items?  Would they take me forever?  Could I actually knit something for myself?

That weekend, I practically skipped to the store, I was so giddy to find out if they had enough of what I needed for a few of the patterns that I picked as my favorites.  And they did!  I cast on that very day, and then I cast on again after Astrin ripped out the little I had done, and then a third time and a fourth for various other reasons.  I took a break for the rest of that night.

It's been pretty smooth sailing since, with little bursts of knitting happening here and there.  There was a nice hour stretch when the children were playing with clay.  There was ten minutes this morning when I sat beside Nicholas while he did his bookwork.  There have been a few evenings when I stayed up a bit too late just to get another row or two done.

And while I don't think it will be done for this winter, I'm pretty confident it will be ready for next winter.  Which is fine.  I'm loving the process, and I'm loving learning new little bits of this and that as I work through the pattern.  Most of all, I'm loving how these hands are creating something useful, beautiful, and special, just for me.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Healing ourselves

We've been battling a bit of a flu bug here for almost a week.  Fortunately, it's only hit one person at a time, so while it feels slightly prolonged, there have also been moments where we have all been well enough to escape the house and enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

Now, though, the last of our stash of homemade apple juice is gone.  And authentic soup stock for home made chicken noodle soup was non-existent.  So, I roasted up a chicken for supper last night (which two of the five Selingers happily ate), then started on making a stock.  I am aware of the irony of cooking up a Sunday night style supper simply to get to those bones, but it made sense at the time (particularly since the chicken had been thawing in the fridge since Sunday, when I thought most of us had escaped the flu bug).

I'll be honest, soup isn't my favorite thing, and neither is making stock.  To me, it smells horrific and I'm convinced the smell was fuel enough for a headache last night.  But when I strained it into jars, I imagined all the healing goodness that would soon be entering those little (and big) bodies.  My mind also wandered off to consider other little things we can do to strengthen our immune systems, like reducing the amount of sugar we consume and adding fermented foods.  While we won't be eating sauerkraut everyday, I just might pull a small bag of it out of the freezer for sampling.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Getting my creative back

I think January was such a ho-hum month because of all the creative energy I spent before Christmas.  I needed a breather from days and nights of crafting.  Don't get me wrong - I loved the crafting and I love who I did all the crafting for.  I'm amazed at all I learned too - how to knit mittens with double-pointed needles, how to make "real" hair for wooden dolls (as opposed to the painted on variety), how to make lip balms and body butters and flowery bath salts.  But a break was most definitely in order.

Now, though, the page on the calendar has been flipped.  The sun is shining through the windows for much more of the day now, we're in a bit of a warm spell, and some of our energy is returning.  I've been scouring the internet for some fun projects to share with little ones.  I've been flipping through books and letting the gears spin in my head for how to take someone else's amazing idea and add my fingerprint to it. 

So, what's in store for the weeks and months ahead?

  ~ Learning the science of popcorn and flexing our scientific process muscles
  ~ Considering how colour and music can express a feeling, then taking a shot at creating our own expressionist art
  ~ Trying out some needle felting with cookie cutters to make a valentine's day swag (and to share an important message about treating our own and others' bodies and feelings with the utmost respect)
  ~ Looking at the light spectrum, and playing with impressionism
  ~ More poetry!
  ~ Making our own paint from natural materials - think eggs, perhaps milk, some dirt or coffee, berries, and we'll see what else
  ~ Taking a crack at surrealism and using some unusual objects to create different textures.
  ~ And I'm taking some time to knit a little (big) something for me too.

Stay tuned! 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Free-range Monday

I write this post with lunch-time approaching.  But everyone seems so immersed in their work that I hate to disrupt them.  Here's what's going on throughout my house...

Jaelyn is making Valentines for her friends and family.  I'm helping by cutting out hearts of all shapes and sizes (which is very meditative).  I asked her who she would like to give Valentines to, and wrote out the list she dictated to me so that she can work at her own pace.  She's also organized her list by family, and by how she knows each family.  I'm pleased that she's writing a little note in each one, and decorating them with her own artwork and other special items.  That being said, she's only finished two so far, and her enthusiasm may whittle out as she gets to the end of her list.

Nicholas is upstairs in his room reading Whispers of War:  the War of 1812 Diary of Susanna Merritt.  I truly believe there is no other place he would rather be right now than laying on his bed, fully immersed in that book, which is adding further details about the war that he will imaginatively play out later.

Astrin is, well, sleeping.  We went for our morning walk, and then settled down at the table where she started drawing and then promptly dumped all the crayons on the floor.  I brought her down to clean up her mess, and then she informed me she wanted to go to bed.  And it's been quiet ever since.

And me?  Besides cutting out hearts, I've put together a birthday party invitation, imagined the activities I'll lead for this month's homeschool co-op classes, mentally added things to our grocery list, and rearranged what the day's meals will look like given the errands and activities that need to be done today.  If the afternoon continues like the morning, and my little toddler sleeps much longer, I may even pick up the knitting needles and do a round or two. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I'm loving how enthusiastic Nicholas is about writing poetry.  For a guy who would prefer to talk instead of write, he puts up very little fuss when it comes time to write some poetry.  We've worked through limericks and haiku, and we recently moved on to poems that do not rhyme, but that instead follow a pattern in the number of syllables per line.  Nicholas wrote a lovely poem about owls the other day, and I chose to get in on the action by writing one too.  While he was reluctant to share his, here's mine:

The Sentry

I gaze out my window
At her speckled white feathers--
She barely notices the cold.
She perches so regal atop the bale
And stands watch over the field.

The fields are all icy,
Covered with a thick blanket
Of hard-packed, freezing white snow.
Who would venture from its cozy warm home
To the dangers that await?

What was that over there?
Her head quickly spins to the
Movement she spots in the distance.
Ah yes, there it is, a plump little mouse--
A welcome meal for tonight.

She spreads her great white wings
And with a powerful flap,
Rises up and silently skims
Over the surface of the bleak white field.
She is beauty in action.

She speeds toward her prey
With effortless ease and grace--
The mouse is unaware of her.
Her lethal talons stretch out for the kill.
One small life fuels another.

I gaze out my window
As she sails back to her perch
And she blinks her big yellow eyes.
Watching and waiting for hints in the dark--
The alert sentry stands guard.

Friday, 1 February 2013

A week in pictures

The battery for the camera has been found - hooray!  We did a few fun thing this week - hooray!  Welcome back, A week in pictures.