Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I had a post half written which I'm not sure I'm going to post, a real downer :)

Other than that trashed post I've been thinking a lot about the whole gift thing. Santa was good to the kids, their stockings perfectly filled with a nice balance of toothbrushes, cards and pocket knives....and of course HOT WHEELS and POKEMON! (CRINGE!)

They loved their stockings.

It should have stopped there, but my mom dropped off huge gifts, and so did friends, and and and....

I actually didn't give them half the books and gifts I had for them....


I saw a girl at a craft fair with a large knitting loom. Kind of a super huge 'tatting' loom....and August loves stuff like that- he knits, he's cross stitching, plastic canvassing.... I had to get it for him, I stopped and asked her where she got it.....Walmart (my fav store NOT) So in I go and get it for him. I'm so excited. There is 4 of them in graduated sizes. He is going to freak out with excitement. He's not used it. Dilution. I should have bought it for him and given it to him right away and watched him work away at his new hat or whatever.....I was bummed.

See Inside Science? He could hardly wait to read it when it came in, I said "It's for Christmas" He put it down and still hasn't picked it up. Bummer. Should have given it to him then.

The one enduring gift is the pocket knife (Ok in combo with the laser light) which they absolutely love......both in the stockings.....

Ok ok and the flippers, which we went to the pool with to try out (SS if you are reading this THIS is why I didn't return your call again, and I will I keep meaning They love their flippers. And they will be hugely used this summer at the lake.....but the PACKAGING!!!!!! More plastic in the Packaging than in the flippers. And not recyclable.

Something has to be done.

I want to start something.

I want to start a packaging revolution.

In the EU there is some sort of laws that punish the producer. Packaging is all or 95% recyclable. Why can't we do that here. Why NOT?

I want to start a groundswell of activism....It is important for the planet, country, our island our neighborhood and our landfills......


I plan to write my MP asap. He could make a name for himself, and he doesn't even have to reinvent the wheel, the legislation is there.

Can I do this? Why hasn't it been done?? Or has it and failed??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My lovin' dude!

So my little guy is sitting in the dining room eating his yoghurt and granola and (ducking here) watching "destroyed in seconds" or something equally squibblebiggling (We've been reading BFG so if Roald Dahl can make up words I can too!!!) He calls me "MUMMY! MUMMY!" and again "MUMMY! MUMMY!" and I finally turn around and look. He's facing me from his chair and making the 'I love you' hand signs with both hands up in the air at me. I'm like, what a doughhead mom, I took so long to look, and said, "Oh honey, I love you too!" and he looked confused and said, "No, Mummy, It's ACDC!" That's my boy!
Did I mention ACDC will be in Las Vegas April 9???? I have a sneaking suspicion I may be too......

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Screen time

So sometimes just writing about it makes me think about it more. I've been going over in my mind what Sandra Dodd would say to my post and I know I would have been slammmmmmmmmmed into the ground. I know she would have said something along the lines of "what else do you have going on in the house, what else is there to do, how are they being engaged....outside of the puter?" And as I type this the passwords have been off for a few days and the seem more open to moving on to other things. Farmville is a new passion, which in some weird way seems more worthwhile than prison inmates fighting and pooping/peeing/puking on each other, and I'm not kidding, that was one game they were playing. Reader comments are totally valid and have made their way into my paradigm....I really do not wish to make computers a forbidden fruit and I *do* see them quitting on their own....and setting their own boundaries....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mooing and Clucking

My computer lets out random moos and clucks and oinks these days. Farmville. I know nothing about it. The boys "clicked" on it one day on a sidebar (they'd seen a friend playing so recognized it) and have set up their farm. August is very good at making money!!!! He now has a hen house and chickens....What a neat little game....
So if you see some stuff in facebook - IT'S NOT ME!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Foot in it..

I'm super good at putting my foot in it. I'm aware of my propensity for verbal gaffs so try my utmost to avoid moving my foot towards my mouth while out in public (you can dress me up....) so of course it moves there faster.....never fails me.
So out we go tonight to have drinks with friends.....When I was handed red wine I should have just zipped it right there and listened....Couldn't do it. When I started yakking and gesticulating excitedly and Don notsosubtly made sure I put my wine glass down so I didn't redecorate their beige carpet/walls/sofa (a story all by itself.....), I should have zipped it. Nope. So when the question comes out about the boys and school - as it always does - and I start talking homeschooling I can't help but spew out my opinions. Which of course are pretty out there for a lot of people whose kids are in school. Like the two little girls sitting right there. I really tried hard to modify and tone it down, really hard. (Believe it or not but 2 years ago I DID THE SAME THING WITH THE SAME PEOPLE - Yes, that's how bad I am!!!) Apparently I failed. They are now convinced we are wacko organic hippie farmer homeschoolers. Especially as this conversation followed stories of crazy strawberry pickers and escaping pigs roaming around our farm....chasing me down the driveway.....ah well, can't impress everyone....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Screen time and Creative Play

Hmmmm, as an 'unschooler' I try my best allow the kids screen time at their will with distraction used as a tool to move them on to other more interesting/active things.....
It got a bit out of hand here with the TV and "Destroyed in Seconds" when Holdy was sick for a month and TV addiction was threatening. Then you take the kids to the cabin with no TV and they forget about it and play play play and get along. When I have to drag them inside for dinner or at bedtime....(which is firm but flexible....)...I am a happy momma, and boy bedtime is smoother when they are exhausted.....
Then computer time and the "free" games at miniclip and related sites come along and the boys are totally fixated on the computer - won't come for meals, don't hear me, don't want to do anything else, fighting and no physical activity....having not moved from the puter all day....
What to do? what to do?
I guess I'm not an unschooler cuz I don't like it. At all. Period new paragraph.
So after repeated requests to get off the computer a password was put on the computers.
And there is a return to creative play, and peace, and building stuff, and playing outside, and reading, and helping Daddy renovate.
It really is an immediate obvious transformation.
I've read all the pro-gaming stuff, pro-computer stuff and I'm not for making screen time the "forbidden fruit" at all and prefer it if they self regulate. But these games are designed to keep them at the screen. They do eventually move away from the computer but there are literally HUNDREDS of games to choose from, new all the time, multilevel.
The free play games they make up - shopping, moving, hotwheels stories you name it are so so cool and cooperative. I have to think that they are better for them, physcially, emotionally, and mentally. Maybe some of the critical thinking games are good for their brains and hand eye coordination, but really most are driving tanks and bikes over obstacles.....(Can you tell I'm not a gamer at all??? Sometimes I have to haul all 4 of my boys off the puter.....)
They still have lots of computer time and I realize that I use the computer for 3 or so hours a day (after they're in bed) and that computers are and will be a huge part of their lives, but at this point in their lives, they need to learn that there are lots of other cool things to do......

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rubber chicken....

On Friday night we had the luxury of going out for dinner, just the two of us...such an usual event.....And if we don't feel like suschi, our usual watering hole, deciding where to go is always a problem. We decided on a local kind of grill pub place we'd never been to. It was kinda weird for me as the restaurant is in my town's old Mickdonald's building and I spent some my teenage years (ducking furiously) in there....They've done a nice job with the decor and you'd never know it unless you are going out for dinner in the town you grew up in.....I digress.
We both ordered and agreed to split, and we both ordered chicken dishes. The place was hopping, the mood great, the servers on the ball, the crowd boisterous and our meal came. It was presented beautifully, had great flavour but we are forever jaded. Can we never go out? The chicken was factory raised, over processed, plumped up with some sort of injections after death chicken breast and it was like chewing rubber. At home we only eat local farm raised chickens - and now we are ruined forever for going out. The difference is starkly clear......I guess our only option now is the local "Locals" restaurant (that serves our strawberries btw!)....that buys locally raised pasture chickens....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scare Crows....

Overheard from the kitchen.....
Gabi (formerly with us in May as a WWOOF from Germany, now returned and staying with us and working at the ski hill) was playing "farmville" on her laptop on Facebook. Other wwoofs have also played this game so my boys are quite familiar with it.....The three boys were crowded around Gabi and they were buying squash and pumpkin seeds, looking for strawberry plants to buy and generally taking care of Gabi's farm. A notice came up that she was losing a lot of her crops to crows and she need to do something. The boys right away said she had to make a scarecrow. She didn't understand what they meant and Holdy said "You know, you get a coat, a hat and some straw, and you make a man and then you put the stick up his butt...." Ok, coming from a 4 year old it was pretty funny, and after a mild look of surprise, Gabi understood EXACTLY what a "SCARECROW" was!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We just watched a food network special on pork rinds, which is a particularly sensitive topic around here as our quirky butcher left the rinds on our bacon. (It's delicious but.....)
Apparently after drying, chipping, spicing and multilayer packaging we can purchase pork rinds which can be put in the microwave and puffed up. It wasn't so much the use of the rinds that bothered me, but the unbelieveable amount of packaging involved.
It's out of control.
It's not recyclable.
Head out to Canadian tire or Walmart, buy something and throw more away than you get to keep. It drives me up the wall. Why are there not laws that A) Packaging must be recyclable and B) Packaging is discouraged and taxed C) Packaging is TAXED at the packager!!! Why is there not a groundswell of people writing letters and lobbying for the latter? Where are our politicians? Too scared of big biz and China?
Apparently in Europe the laws are so.
Our landfills are bursting out all over, soon to be filled again with Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas - Don't the PILES of PALLETS of TOYS at the big stores = All multilayered packaged plastic crap from China - disgust you?? Don't people realize they are bound straight for the landfills after 3 or 4 weeks of play?? Do people feel duty bound to buy a gift just because. CRAP CRAP CRAP.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Great Taste No Packaging!

I made homemade granola bars today. I saved the landfill from a pile of rubbish. I saved my pocketbook (maybe....I should work this out) and saved my kids'from ingesting golly knows what chemicals.....

3 cups oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 coconut (don't want to look at that label)
1 cup chocolate chips (chocolate NEVER counts in the 'wrong food to eat' category!)
3 T butter
1 can condensed milk. I made it with sweetened condensed milk (ok ok I read the label it said liquid sugar, which I assume is HFCS....I'm going to try the recipe with unsweetened condensed milk if there is such a thing?)
We did find them a bit on the sweet side.....

Press into greased cookie sheet
325 25 minutes

EASY (easier than cookies)
LOTS (picture the box you guy with 6 bars .....and multiply by oh 8, minimum and NO PUFFED RICE taking up volume....)

options: chopped nuts substituted in for something above, raisons ditto

I'll update on the condensed milk options.

Seriously worth trying!

Update: I mixed my recipe with a friend's and replaced the condensed milk with honey.....and it's awesome! Such a different and deeper flavour! Still sweet, will used unsweetened coconut next time....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Number Nuts

How can you get anywhere in math if you don't have basic number facts. And are some brains just wired that way and others not? As someone who never had a problem with numbers I just don't get those who don't get numbers. In fact, I tend to think it's their fears about failing and pressure (a la John Holt) that causes people to fail at numbers....
My kids get numbers. They seem to figure out the "rules" by themselves, without much from us...
We recently taught August the card game 99, and then had a schooled kid(s) join us. Older kids. Ok, teachers of the world listen up. Why aren't these kids able to add. They've done HOW MANY WORKSHEETS? They've sat thru HOW MANY MATH CLASSES? They've been to school for HOW MANY YEARS? August who has done very little written math (I tried and gave up...TRUST right?) was figuring out "rules" as we went along (ie. 8 + 9 = 17 therefore 28 + 9 = 37) It was so cool. So why the heck isn't 99 on the curriculum??? Apparently schooled kids can't add. And it wasn't just one was 2 separate kids. Really scarey.
I really really don't get this. No wonder these kids fall through the cracks at algebra, if they can't add 7 + 8 or multiply 7 X 8 how in the world are they going to figure out basic algebra??? They're going to be so concerned about the numbers they won't even be able to think about the x's and y's. Can you imagine the stress and pressure. How children fail.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I am sitting at my mom's looking at an art project on the wall I made for her many many moons ago. Too (whoo woooooo) many moons to count, really. A piece of plywood, some nails, some paint and some string, and a pattern....Anybody else make something like this? You hammer in the nails, and then make a pattern with the string. My owl is pretty darn good. I remember loving art. I remember the "new assignment" day. I remember trying really hard to figure out how to make mine different than everyone elses....and often I did. I painted the plywood purple and black, purple being my favourite color. I remember the thrill of hammering in the nails, and finally experimenting with the colored threads to make a neat pattern....And then I got a B. I remember being really bummed out.
That just sux!
The teacher was a super sweetie caught up in the school thing, really. I mean did she not see a student trying to be unique, coming up with neat ideas, working hard, experimenting, finally producing a finished product she was proud of? I deserved a triple A. Really.
I still love that dang owl. I guess that's all that counts....
PS I made it 28 moons ago!
PPS When I'm not at my mom's I may try and add a photo to this post....
Note added later: My hubby was the only one to notice that I said 28 moons ago, which means 28 months, and I meant years!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I hear...

The things I overhear are, well, reconfirming to me that I am trying to take the right path with my kids...

Two moms talking about one's 4 year old:
Well the time out in the bedroom didn't work anymore - I had to stand and hold her door shut and she pulled and pulled and raged behind it. So now we have the time out chair and she has to stay in it for 4 minutes, quietly. As soon as her 4 minutes are up she starts up where she left off, raging, hitting, wailing - so she has to do another 4 minutes. She had to stay in it FOUR times in a row yesterday..... (I guess you have to ask yourself "Is it working?")

I listened to two teachers discuss discipline, and shuddered....One had a system of yellow red and green clothespins with names on them that she moved along a string.....I guess kids could instantly see how they were doing. (Can you imagine trying to keep track of 25 clothespins of different color?)

This is all I can coherently think of right now, I'll keep listening....I know I hear things all the time that make me think.....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Polyface Farms....Joel Salatin

Need I say more? Don and I loved "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan and "In defence of food" more, both featuring Joel Salatin and his 'Beyond Organics' theories....We also have more than one of his farming titles. And of course both are in Food, Inc. an eyeopening movie now available at Blockbuster!

We noticed Joel Salatin was coming to speak for the farmer's institute 2 hours away and bought tickets. People travelled from the Kootenays to see him. He was dynamic, interesting, intelligent, inspiring, crazy and wonderful! We laughed our guts out and he made us think.

Food and the state of our food systems...industrial organics, Iowa corn, cattle feedlots, chicken barns, toxic manure waste...chemical fertilizers ARGH!

I can't even begin to try and copy one of his multi adjective descriptive sentences...they went on forever. Ok I'll try (hold on while I get hubby to try....)
"homogenized pasturized adulterated prostituted fecal coliform soup" that the industrial chickens are subjected to when they are processed yet the government is trying to shut down his chicken processing area on his farm. (Tests show his chickens have WAY less pathogens than supermarket chicken....)

If you haven't read the books or seen any movies about the state of our food systems, you probably have no idea what I am blathering about.

We were wowed.

I feel a sense of helplessness because I don't see anything changing in my lifetime.
When fossil fuels become too expensive there IS going to be a revolution. Food will no longer be so cheap and easily produced. Things will change. Fast Food won't be so cheap and hence it may not be so popular......
When the fossil fuel based chemical fertilizers dumped on Iowa and etc. farms and leached out into rivers (drinking water for many huge cities) and eventually into the gulf of mexico causing massive growths of algae doesn't alarm anyone, we are in big trouble.
When the president's wife wants an organic garden and is subjected to the pharmaceutical companies' wrath - how dare they promote organics when the chemcial industry makes it possible to produce a lot of food cheaply (....just WHAT IS cheap????), we are in big big trouble.
When my "organic" leaf spinach travels 2000 km to get to me, and I still buy it (I try not too) it is a small example of our problem.
When I see someone buying, and I kid you not, a pre - wow I don't know how to describe this - pre unwrapped (?) pomegranate at the store I was flabbergasted. There are people who don't even want to peel their own pomegranates!!!!
When a Saskatchewan farmer has to pay Monsanto because Monsanto's GMO canola fertilized his ORGANIC canola in a neighboring field and he is found guilty of "stealing" monsanto's patented technology, we are in trouble.
When people are becoming so obese because they are starving themselves eating processed unnutritious crap that leaves them hungry for more, but they eat more crap....until they can't move, we are in trouble.

Farms may revert back to a natural ecosystem of lifestock - manure - crop cycle but maybe not. I'm blathering, but I'm sad.

Maybe this article can describe what I saw better.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I love these books....

My kids are busy making mummies. Yep, Usborne rocks. Egyptian things to make and do. Step by step. Visual. Easy. No special supplies. They rock. My kids are in a FRENZY of crafting right now. Cards, crafts, ornaments - 4 or 5 craft books out on the table - with bits of paper flying everywhere.....and all over my floor. I LOVE IT!!!
This very second they are discussing what mummies are - we're also watching Egypt: Rediscovering the lost world - which is awesome as most BBC productions I've seen are!!! Story of the World (Audiobook)?? Youbetcha!! My kids love it right now! We listen in the car and when we get home they stay in the car for up to an HOUR to keep listening.....Did I mention we love USBORNE??? (Ok I didn't post this when I wrote it, but they WERE discussing mummies....and since I wrote this August made a sarcophagus and a paperchain of egyptian dancers...,.)
Earlier today we read "Butterflies and Moths" from the Beginner Series. They wanted to go to the internet links, so August did mazes and Sawyer made crazy bugs, we printed buttefly stuff to color. Holdy wanted a butterfly tab book. I love the fact that this one short yet well written book, with awesome photos and illustrations inspired so much interest and activity from my kids....
Did I mention I love Usborne books?? I'll shut up now.
UPDATE: Ok the big joke around here with the boys right now is that they all say they are going to be mummies (as in have babies to the uninitiated) about 100 years (as in Egypt)..... Ok it's funny when it comes from them :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fresh from the field!

We had pig for breakfast this morning. Bacon to be exact. And to quote my kids it was "Fresh from the field!" And it was good, too bad I didn't get any. I cooked a pound, the three boys ate all but one piece they left for their dad......I'm in big big big trouble, they're only 4,6 and 8!!!!
We delivered our 12 pigs to the only place we are allowed to have them slaughtered legally. Because it is such a big business we and many of our customers chose to have our pigs 'cut and wrapped' at smaller home based meat cutters'. Picture hubby driving with 10 half pigs in the back of the pick up from one butcher to the other. I wonder what the driver behind him thought....
We picked up our pig yesterday. It came with all waste - head, hooves, kidneys, fat, tail....yep we got it all! So I pulled out Little House in the Big Woods and read the section when Laura and Mary roasted the pig tail on the fire. It was so delicious they could hardly wait to eat it and burned themselves. We held out the perfectly straight frozen piggy tail and tried to get the boys to roast it on our woodstove. No takers.
Ah well, fresh from the field bacon will do!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I haven't mentioned this before but I sell Usborne books - to feed our habit really! These books rock! Check out my silly newsletter! Even the Pioneer Women loves Usborne books! If you homeschool, these books are mandatory! Right now hubby is reading "Viking Raiders" to my 4 year old.....and he's saying to me (hubby that is) Did you know....?
They ROCK!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Holdy Again

Holdy is fine. He just feels like he's had a run in with a vampire or 5....but his hotwheel collection is significantly bigger so he's happy. He had a examination today and blood taken, they were sent home and we've heard nothing, so we're assuming no news is good news......Thanks for all your wishes and thoughts!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holdy Update

Well some may have wondered how Holden is. He's sick! He's still sick! (3 weeks - and noone else in the house is sick) And the doctors don't know what's wrong. After a series of blood tests (6 vials!) yesterday he was referred to a pediatrician an hour away on a stat holiday today. Which means hubby spent the day sitting in the ER next to sick people and drug addicts (Pediatric outpatients was closed). All day. His tests indicate there is a big inflamation somewhere but they have no idea where. Holdy is quite liking the "goodies" he gets after they take his blood -yesterday a pack of hotwheels "Not just one Mummy, a pack!" and today a big smartie cookie. Pretty soon he's gonna ask for needles! Anyways, we're hoping we get some answers, when we go back, again, on friday. sigh.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just Stuff

Today we finished Abel's Island (see sidebar - and we read multiple books at once here, must be good for them right?) and I pulled a mean trick. It was kinda fun though - evil laugh. We listened and watched Abel grow from quite a pompous idle mouse to a mouse who loved his island home, loved nature and fending for himself and who had developed quite an artistic bent. We watched him suffer and long for home and FINALLY we see him escaping from his island. As he reached the other side - it's quite momentus - I have tears in my eyes I'm so happy for Abel and SO enjoying the prose of Mr. Steig - I read falsely "and the owl ate him." Sawyer was shocked into silence, Holdy was silent and August, who reads along with me laughed out loud. Sawyer wasn't very happy about my "joke".

We thought Holdy was better, especially after he ate 4 or 5 hotdogs in about a 24 hour period (Hold on a sec....maybe that's why he's sick again....) and munched down on his halloween candy. Poor little guy. He had a nap again today, and his temp is going up again. I REALLY hope we get some results from that unmentionable sample we took in last week.....

My big boy, he gets numbers. Wild. Overheard in the kitchen while cooking the last hot dog for Sawyer, "Sawyer, if you give me 1/4 of your hotdog that'll be fair, cuz I had 1/2 of Holdy's and 2 quarters make a 1/2 and then we'll both have 3/4" Amen John Holt.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh Yuck!

So my little guy is still sick. Yep working on 2 weeks now. The good news is that his appetite is improving, especially when his meds kick in.....It's so sad to watch him, he walks around like an old man......He is so grumpy and energy less. Poor little guy.
So improving means "Can we have hotdogs for dinner?"
Can you feel the inner whole foods loving, vegetable farming, natural organic meat using Mommy CRINGING???????????
Can you see her going to the store and buying Hot dogs??
I'll do ANYTHING for my little man, anything. sigh. hot dogs. blech!
They're almost as bad as the sample we had to collect today for the lab, but we won't go there.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Hayride

A friend called me at the last minute about a hayride at a local farm.....Holdy seemed ok, the older kids were keen, the day was stunning so off we went! My camera was full so unfortunately I spent some of the ride deleting so i could take photos....such a bummer as I missed sooo many amazing views. The true beauty of this property is hard to describe. This photo is taken by the beach looking back towards the mountains. The ocean vista is equally as stunning.
The farm is across the river from the property I grew up on. I played and went to school with Farmer Tom's kids.
My middle pride and joy!

Farmer Tom opening gates....The farm used to be a dairy farm
but now they grow veggies and organic beef. He had a surprise for us....

5 day old twins!!

They'd never been outside and Mama was nervous and protective

and respectful and trusting of Farmer Tom.

Mama was stunning to look at...

Nothing can make a little sick boy forget his woes than putting his hand on a newborn calf. The happiest I'd seen him in days.....

Thank you Farmer Tom!Posted by Picasa

Happy Halloween!

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My sick boy who roused himself on Halloween to carve his pumpkin. His energy spurt lasted as long as his meds (and a hay ride but that's another blogpost....) and he was soon in bed sleeping. He didn't make it out Trick-or-Treating and didn't seem to care. His big brothers brought home LOTS of goodies and had a big goodie dump and share party. It was very cute - They divided the goodies into sorts and divided....He sat there holding his bag of goods and couldn't even eat any. Today we're hoping he's on the mend....but he's weak - 10 days sick takes it out of little guys.

Pumpkin Fun

The kids grew their own pumpkins again this year with the best results yet. The superb weather, new ground, drip irrigation and diluted little boy pee helped their pumpkins grow ENORMOUS. We had 76, 79 and 83 pounders all looking huge. The 77 pound one actually looked the biggest but was lighter.
We found out why – the heavier pumpkin had TONNES of wet heavy stuff inside. The other two not much.

The boys had great fun carving, extracting seeds and getting their heads stuck inside!

You can see the progression their ages and the amount of the actual carving they did themselves. It didn’t help that these pumpkins had about 4 inches of flesh!! It was tough!

Holdy wanted square eyes. Sawyer laughed and said this pumpkin had watched "too much TV" August said the pumpkin was sad because the TV had been turned off! Greeaaaat!

Daddy helped but I designed it!

We got a small pumpkin and cut it in half to look at the seeds. The boys exclaimed “It looks like a pizza!” I thought it looked like the segments of an orange.

We saved the seeds for eating and growing next year. We'll see how much Monsanto had to do with the hugeness of these pumpkins I guess!

All the pumpkins had big flat spots on them, next year we’re going to try and set them in position for growing. August thinks the stems will break if we do this. We’ll experiment.
We did cut off extra growth past the set fruit so the pumpkin plants could concentrate on one pumpkin each. (Ok Ok we had 4 but one rotted in early September…the piggies loved it….)
Next year we’ll take a closer look at the pumpkin flowers and watch the pollinators more!

Now are there any takers on the 10 totes of squash I have in my house???? It was a banner year here for squash and we don’t want squishy squashes! D??

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To Market, To Market.....

8 of our 12 piggies went to market Sunday, or should I say, took a ride in the pony carrier to the slaughterhouse. We had to take two trips and really it was uneventful.

The first 4 pigs were in and set to go before I was out of the house and the second 4 went in and out various times, but eventually we gottem! Houdini be gone! (That's his black spotty butt above! Such a bold adventurous pig!)
It was getting a little muddy with all the rain lately - rest assured they had a good life! Apples, beets and pumpkins daily!
I'm actually a bit sad. These pigs had character. They had identities, they weren't all pink. And I still love their tails.
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The kids want to know when we get some fresh pork. Yep, they're farm boys.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I should have said thank you"

Well when Holdy's neck ended up stiff yesterday morning (4th day of high fever, no eating, lotsa sleeping) we freaked a bit and headed for the doctor. It was day 4 and meningitis was on our minds. With the flu like symptoms we weren't allowed in the doctor's office. We had to wait in the parking lot and be ushered in the back door. Everyone was wearing masks and we had to too. She ordered a blood and urine test. Took him home, he was so sad. Nothing worse than a kid with a candy treat (poor guy had a mongo needle stuck in his arm) and he doesn't want to eat it :( Got home and had a homelearning mother's meeting. Out I go for a fun evening with the gals. Was talking about Holdy's doctor visit and they started talking about symptoms of meningitis, and YIKES! there were some he had I hadn't mentioned to the doctor. I called Don, he was just recovering from a minor heart attack as Holdy had said to him "I'm having trouble breathing.." but what he actually said was "I'm having trouble drinking...", and I start telling him the symptoms on the phone, he googles and I zoom home. We take Holdy to the ER at midnight. Did I mention my brother-in-law is a ER Doc? He was working in Vancouver and I happen to have a direct line (cell phone) so I called him first. He called the ER here (he's worked here) and paved the way for us. Lucky for us it was dead at the ER and the head nurse lives down the road, her daughters picked strawberries for us and she has 1/2 pig on order, the doctor had picked strawberries, knew my sister (also a doctor) and I had been lined up to dog sit for her a couple of years ago. Old homey night at the ER. IT was very comforting, and of course halfway to the ER Holdy starts joking around. We almost turned around. Unluckily he had another mondo needle stuck in the other arm - and a toy from the toy chest, an xray (OK THIS was his absolute HIGHLIGHT and the radiologist showed him all his parts!!!!), a urine test (took an hour poor kid) and we got home at 3:30 am. When we got home and finally snuggled into bed he said to us "I should have said thank you for the present" so sweet. Now I'm stuffing up and gotta head fulla cotton....goin' to bed.......zzzzzzzzz

Monday, October 26, 2009

Company Comes

In other In-laws visiting with 11 year old cousin. Always nice to see them, however not liking the dynamic that gets set up somehow leaving one kid out of the play and very mad, hurt and upset. How do some kids mesh so well and others cause problems and strife? Cousin is super sweet and there is nothing overt, it just seems to happen. Then I jump in there with you've got to play together nicely, but if felt like coercion - I wish I'd chatted more about feelings and hurt and hoped they could work it out themselves. Next time I'll be more proactive.
How can a french family be here for a month with rare a tear and relatives here for 2nights and fights galore? ARGH!


We've been battling a minor flu here - the little guy is quite sick and has had us up a couple of nights in a row. Zombie Momma and Poppa. Don't know if it's H1N1 and feel powerless to find out any real unsensationalized information about the flu, vaccine and pandemic. On one hand we hear that it is an over reaction - no worse flu than any other and on the other you hear of healthy people getting pneumonia and dying. What is the truth? A vaccine developed by a pharmaceutical company whose main investor is Donald Rumsfeld? Is this true or another rumour in the grand mill? Then there's the whole "who gets vaccinated" and the resulting trends data - ie. healthy people tend to get vaccinated therefore it tends to work skewing the data. I heard a canadian doctor on the CBC - the ex medical officer of one of the provinces saying it's a HUGE OVER REACTION.....and that it's no different than any other flu. Follow the money. Is he right? Who knows? Do we EVER know the truth of anything? Here is a prime example of the media and news being filled with H1N1 and we don't even know what to believe. What does this say about everything else we hear about? Does it remind you of certain election results and fox news?
When will the real data be published?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE Gardening Book!

The most awesome book ever. Hubby bought it for me a couple of years ago and I read it cover to cover. We have gradually implemented a lot of the book on our farm. We have made many many changes from the first garden my mom planted for us our first year here. We have used a lot of the information and applied it to our strawberries too!
My mom plants a traditional garden with rows of veggies all planted at the same time. Which means they’re all ready at the same time. ACK. See me go crazy as I blanch ten gazillion pots of green beans!
There are a lot of aisles and not a lot of veggies and the weeds are outrageous. Add to this such nasty habits like putting moth balls under the cabbage/cauli/broccoli to stop the cabbage maggot (it works) to copious amounts of chemical fertilizer added to the soil.
We stopped the moth balls the second year much to my mum’s chagrin and this year have not allowed any chemical fertilizers. She freaked. The garden was a gorgeous jungle. Ok Ok the weather was spectacular this summer, hubby had the whole garden on a drip system on a tight schedule and we added a bunch of manure.....but still!
The basic premise (if that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is) is that W ide rows O rganic methods, R aised beds and D eep Soil mean a very very healthy garden.
You have to get the WORD from the Veggie Bible!
So in a new garden area this year (We had the pigs on it last year which also contributed to the oh 300 or so squashes I'm giving away to everyone that dares to enter my house.....I digress AGAIN.) I dug up raised beds. A great experiment. Some were too narrow, some too wide – and from it I learned. First to put a big bandaid on my thumb before digging and second that it works.
With this system you dig permanent raised beds and you never til your garden again. You never stir up weed seeds. You weed religiously and weeds eventually die out as you high density plant your veggies to out compete weeds…..You never walk on your beds, you walk in your aisles. You continually add compost and amendments to the raised bed areas to keep the soil organisms happy.
The book is well written and common sensesical (?). I found myself going “yah” a lot. It just seemed to make sense. It is a good winter read and inspiring to say the least. I highly recommend it!
So our French woofs helped us build the raised beds in our “old” garden area this year. Hubby and I decided we wanted them tractor wheel width so that we could add amendments (compost, manure, etc) easily. Hubby was conveniently away hunting moose when the work began. So when we built the first bed and then the second I could see they weren’t wide enough. So I decided we only needed to build every other raised bed tractor wheel width, so we modified the second raised bed to become a wide one and then another narrow one… So I decided that a) we didn’t even need to build every other raised bed tractor wheel width as long as we could shovel out of the bucket sideways…..and b) the first wide raised bed was too wide. By now the French Man was miming shooting himself in the head and the French Mama was agreeing with me and busy measuring and discussing with me our options. They plan to build raised beds in their garden when they get home (they read our bible too.) And grow squash. And grow late caulies (yes I’m STILL harvesting cauliflowers!) I digress. We come to an agreement as to the perfect width (amazingly EXACTLY what it said in the book DOH!) and continued with 1 narrow 2 wide 1 narrow 2 wide for the rest of the garden. The last 3 or 4 raised beds are fairly weedy as they were grass/turf…(you can see it in the photos to the far left) so now we’ve mulched with leaves and manure and will cover for a year before planting in them. The worms and etc. can take care of the dying weeds.

Isn’t my future garden a thing of beauty?

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Had to include a photo of our spinach and wonderful parsnips! You can see our rye/vetch cover crop to the right - we will be plowing this in in the spring and planting strawberries!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've converted her!

So today out tying up raspberries (argh!) Christine and I got into more lively discussions - cosleeping, breastfeeding and of course, schooling. Today she had to tape her daughter saying a memorized poem. It was stressful for both of them and she wonders at the value anyways....and then her son had to do an art project, a portrait. By prescription. Step by step. She was like, "Art is not like that, it is what you feel" I laughed and said, "You're a homeschooler!" Of course hearing her speak like this is good for me as I constantly question our "educational" path. Philsophically I get it, but the good little school girl on one shoulder wars with the to-hell-with-school rebel on the other.....
The french are suddenly leaving tomorrow. After both of their next two farms fell through she sent out a mass emailing and received a reply from a farm in Alberta. The farmers want OUR frenchies ASAP. The snow is coming. They need work done now. How dare they? We are sad and warned them that their car may not be working in the morning.....
The kids have spent the last two days in their sub/car/house big box playtoy that has morphed a dozen times. The periscope makes it through to each change unscathed, they love it so much! When will my living room morph back to my living room? I suspect never.
We will all be very sad to see this very very cool french family go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Socialize or Socializing?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

I’ve stolen #2 from HERE Definately worth reading!

I love it.
My mother continually harps on the fact that my kids need friends and socialization. So they need to go to school. Most of the people I mention her opinion too look surprised and say something intelligent like “Huh?” or “What?” because my kids are the most boisterous curious fun kids on the planet. Ok not really, but basically they are darn normal. Or not normal, which may actually be better. They play with a wide variety of kids who come from all age groups. They spend a huge portion of their day playing – usually outside. Why does she think that because we homeschool they have no friends? I can’t figure out if she is envious, feels defensive because she didn’t homeschool, really can’t see any other way than her own highway or that she must agree with her teacher friends that we are really messing up our kids. Does she really think I want to mess up my kids? I better not tell her that I constantly war with myself about our educational choices and hope that we are making the right decisions. I hope that my kids when and if they decide to go to school/university/college/etc. will have the necessary skills to learn what they need to learn. Right now I’m pretty happy to see them climb trees, build forts, make lego, play with hotwheels, and all of the other cool things they do every day instead of fighting to get them out the door in the morning on time, then fighting to get them to do their homework, dragging them off to extra curricular activities, getting them into bed on time to start all over again the next day. Sounds exhausting and alienating…..

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bit of a Failure

Bit of a failure

So today is a friends’ birthday party at an indoor playground an hour away. It was planned in advance so it was a glorious sunny day. My kid’s party on Saturday in the pouring rain needed to be there and this party need to be here, today! I digress.
My kids must get to sleep early. I try and be flexible. We read up to an hour, I lie with them and usually they fall asleep almost instantly. Unless they are excited. And my kids with no sleep equals endless meltdowns and pointless tears all day the next day.
The night before his birthday party I was peeling Holdy off the bedroom roof. It was the first time he really clued in it was HIS party tomorrow. He was sooooooooooooo excited he was jumping on his brothers and could not calm down. At 10:30 they were all still awake. And I paid. They all had ‘too much birthday’ meltdowns, which were expected and didn’t last too long. And really the party went well. I digress, again.
So they were excited about the trip to the playground place, and the fact that Daddy arrived home from his hunting trip. With antlers! Oh yah and hugs. So after kindness, firmness and understanding, I forgot all my parenting philosophy and fell back on fear and coercion. Amazing how it works. *bowing head in shame* It goes like this, “If you guys don’t calm down and go to sleep we’re NOT going, I am not dealing with tired sobbing children all day tomorrow!”
We get up and go early and they have a ball. We were basically the only group there and the kids ran for about 3 hours up down around. Happy red hot sweating kids.
Then Mommy does her old ‘lets go on a tour’ thing. We are currently reading “Owls in the Family” by Farley Mowat (Oh the book lists I have to get thru!) and there is a Great Horned Owl at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association. There are bears, injured eagles, injured ravens (an albino raven!) and various birds and animals they try and either rehabilitate for release or they take care of and use for education. I think they’ll love it. They had other ideas. I heard the “We want to go to the Parrot Place” and the “We don’t want to go there” but I really thought they’d get over it. They didn’t. They hated it. They wanted to see the dang parrots. One sobbing big boy and two little brothers trying to pretend they were hating it too. (Ok the image of Sawyer in a monkey position on the fence outside the owl’s cage hooting is cute, especially when the owls started hooting back!) We had to leave because August absolutely refused to like it one little bit. Refused to participate, sobbed and basically made it impossible to enjoy. I guess I should have left it for another time and gone to see the dang parrots. (Parrots Schmarrots) So sometimes plans fall flat. My wonderful cool “look at this” visit was a total bummer. Bummer.
I tried really hard not to be angry. Really hard. Thank you Naomi.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spider Birthday!

Holden turned four! With torrential rain in the forecast my neighbor and I decided a craft was in order. Spider craft. Holdy loves spiders! I cut apart 4 egg cartons. Poked 8 holes around the lower edge of each egg cup with a skewer first and then enlarged with my meat thermometer (thank you thanksgiving turkey)
Out came the paint!
The kids held onto the egg carton bodies with clothespins to keep them clean....We ended up with nicely decorated totally useless clothespins!

Cut in half pipe cleaners!

Shoved thru the pre - made holes! A piece of thread to tie them up to tacks in the roof or onto lights......

Googly eyes.....and VOILA!! An easy peasy birthday craft. And the coup d'etat!???!!!!?????

I used my dehydrator to dry the spider bodies after they were painted.......which meant we could finish the craft with the kids fairly quickly!!! See being sustainable means there are other useful shortcuts.....
Add a spider birthday cake and we had a very happy little boy!
The best thing about birthday parties at my house? My friends. My friends stay and let me delegate. The parties always end up a group project with low stress and happy active kids. We had crafts in the kitchen, games and songs in the living room and grilled cheese in the dining room. It rocked.
I won't talk about the little boy who told me at bedtime, "And I want a pinata Mummy...." ARGH!! This was after a day spent getting Houdini and Co. penned, over and over. I was waiting for the kids to fall asleep, my friend's hubby to show up with a newly charged battery to try and keep the 200 pound pigs from head butting the birthday guests, and I had to bake and decorate the cake.....Now I had to zip out and buy and pinatta and stuffings.....Can you say bed at 1:30 am???? (Hubby is moose hunting!)
The only light at the end of the tunnel was in the morning when said excited four year old was bouncing on my head and I could groan, "Go stuff your pinata dear." It took almost an hour!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeschooling is an option

My Tree is still putting on a wondeful show!
We have a French Wwoofing family staying with us right now. They have 3 kids 4, 8 and 9. It has been quite fun; their kids and ours meshing well. The oldest two are outside right now tying ropes to various trees, poles and apparatus. This is an almost daily activity for them a la circus!
The mom is homeschooling them for the year – they had to apply to take their kids out of school and were given the curriculum to follow, designed for those travelling. AND WOW. They have a lot to do. She spends 2-3 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week and is still concerned they may not finish. She told me that the writing expected of her daughter is outrageous (not in so many words) and that she’s thinking of just letting her daughter fall behind a year. Especially as she is already ahead a year of her age group. She says her daughter is in tears trying to write what is expected of her. We talked about how writing is developmental and that kids write in different styles based on their mental age and that all kids can’t be slotted into a writing curriculum. Her son will be moving on to middle school and they are quite worried about him. He’s intelligent and bored and disrupts the class. As far as I’m concerned he’s a great kid, but he is bullied at school. He doesn’t quite fit in as they don’t watch TV, he’s not into soccer and he likes to be outdoors (they live on a 15 acre farm in France) Although homeschooling is legal in France no one really does it – that she knows of. He cries a lot and doesn’t want to go to school. Let me tell you – this kid is neat! He’s like our (collective “our” as in our unschooled kids) kids….as I get to know them more and more I’ve said to her “I can’t believe you don’t homeschool your kids” She’s never really been exposed to it. She is appreciating our lifestyle although I can tell she doesn’t think I do enough with my boys. It has been nice having her here in that she drops everything to school her kids and I drop everything to read to my kids :) And do my nature walks. And look at animals at the San Diego Zoo and listen to their sounds……
Two days ago we were out in the garden planting garlic and we're talking about homeschooling. She agreed that her and her husband both don't remember much from school - all that learning for the test, and then forgetting. She like me and us wants her kids to love learning, not have it beaten out of them. The French school system is extremely strict and too full. The french culture is overscheduling kids and leaving no time for play....and they worry about this. Then she says to me, “I have just one question, What about socialization?” I said look at my kids, do they look like they have any social problems?? If anything, my kids relate better with multi aged groups than most kids. With all the woofs thru here this past summer most have been quite amazed at our kids. We've heard such things as "Your kids are never bored!" They don't watch TV much, Wow they always find something to do! Your kids are so cool! Sometimes the compliments coming from people who were initially not pro-homeschooling.....
I also had an article for her HERE. I love this article. I sent her the link – She loved it and now, sadly, she feels guilty. She realizes that her son is bullied and that she CAN do something about it. I sure hope she does. (Don’t even get me started on breastfeeding and cosleeping in France, boy she fought a lot of stigmas on that one! Thank you ZombiePrincess for that wonderful breastfeeding link here – we both laughed out loud!! The image of a grandfather waving his boob to distract fighting kids was too much!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Story of Stuff part 3 bazillion

So it's August's 8th birthday (OMG HOW did that happen???) and he mentions that he really wants a digital watch. Since Daddy is always hunting for the October birthdays I head off to Walmart *ducking head in shame* and pick up a Casio, buy it and then see a different kids' watch. Red and black (August's fav colour) and the zinger, it had monster trucks on the strap! So I pick that one up and buy it intending to take the first one back - but the line up was too long so I kept both. Birthday comes and birthday boy is thrilled with his watch that daddy picked out for him. It lasts 36 hours. Yep. 36. Strap breaking up. "What does limited warranty mean Mummy?" Piece of crap. Buy cheap buy twice. I'm really ticked. I can't find my bill. I am now being harassed by the 8 year old who wants to take it back.....So I give him the Casio watch telling him I went while he was sleeping (white lie) and today take back watch #1. What does the clerk say? 'It's cheap, you get what you pay for' and "Everything here is cheap" AND "Nothing is made here." (meaning North America.....). They have a whole rack of the watches in various forms - ballet, superman, cars... The watches will be bought for xmas and returned, and dumped in the landfill. And if you don't have your receipt, and they have none left, they can't refund you the money without the bar code. Fortunately I bought it on Friday, gave it to him Monday and returned it Wednesday and they still had some. Time to get a receipt shoebox.

Where is the responsibility? Where are the laws about quality? Why are companies allowed to make stuff that will break? Why are big companies allowed to import stuff that will break? Why do we, the taxpayer, have to pay to fill our landfills? Where is the consumer responsibility? I'm an idiot, that's me, what was I thinking buying this cheap watch, will I never learn? There is really no such thing as a good deal unless you find a cool iron stovetop heavy old pancake griddle at a garage sale. The story of stuff and their blog here.

Now why have I never heard of a DIVA CUP until I'm in my forties???? OHHHHHHHHHHHH yah, because it's not something that has to be purchased over and over and's actually GOOD for the environment.................

Houdini Escapes.....

Fall is here....our spectacular maple tree puts on a great show every year, but this year it is outdoing itself - the warm weather and clear skies slowing the show down. Today was the first nasty day of fall with torrential rain all morning. Luckily it 'Wildspirt' was cancelled for today so I took the boys to the pool for homeschooling swimming day. They had a blast. My eight year old I barely looked at and only when thinking to myself, 'gosh, I'd feel really bad if he drowned' No worries really he was diving and swimming around like an otter. He seems to know his own limitations and knew when he was tired and time to go back to the shallower pool. Sawyer is also able to swim in deep water. He didn't know he could but there were no life jackets so we had to go without into the deep end.....WOWZA that was a surprise for both of us!
Then, when swimming was done, and we were all relaxing in the lobby, refuelling when my phone rang. It was my neighbor, again. I'm like "Ok, where's the bear?" (It was almost in the pig pen on Monday!) She says, "You've got bigger problems" Your gate is closed and there's a note on it....

Thank you Canpar Steve!!! Yep, all but one were out. I raced home, drove in and as I shut the gate the 200 pounders recognized me and came running at me and the car. A little frightening without an electric fence to stop them. When one started head butting me (APPLES! NOW!) I got a little nervous and jumped back into my car....and drove down our driveway yelling "Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrree PIIIGGGGGGGGY PIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGY!" It must have been quite a sight seeing an SUV followed by 6 galloping 200 pound pigs.....I wonder what the neighbor's thought? Oh yes, she already thinks I'm nuts AND she's waiting for me at my house with her daughter. The other 5 pigs were in my garden, carport, back door area etc. We get some food in buckets and start calling them to their pen. The pig left in the pen is running up and down the fence squealing. He's not happy he didn't get a joy run. At the pen I lift a pole and dump food in, the pigs in batches are pushed, booted, chased and cajolled back in. It is a funny thing to see an 8 and 11 year old chasing 3 pigs around and around the house until the pigs figure out home is much more relaxing and head back to their pen. They had rooted a pile of dirt up over the electric fence and shorted it. Unfortunately, Houdini has rediscovered the joys of escaping and has since re-escaped. I suspect he will be a problem until his date with destiny next week. Luckily, he seems to think the best food is in the cover crop field NOT the nice strawberry fields on the other side of his pen.....What a day! What a day!
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Flower spotting....

All spotted on our farm today....

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