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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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

and the French....

Love bread! (and spotting the bear that just won't leave us!!! Here it is eating apples in my across the street neighbor's driveway....about 10 feet from the road.....I digress.....)
And so do we. I make bread in my breadmaker every day. So much that the breadmaker breaks down oh on it's one year warranty date every year, no kidding. The story of stuff. Don't get me started. We are waiting for our 3rd breadmaker on our original purchase. I guess most people buy the breadmaker, use it a couple of times and add it to the rest of the gizmos on the shelf so they do last.....back to my story. We have a french family (woofs) staying here who eat copious quantities of bread. I usually make a loaf every morning that will last the day and for breakfast the next day.....not anymore. So C, the woman, throws a bunch of flour in a bowl, adds this and that and VOILA! we have bread. I'm wondering why I need a breadmaker at all. It really is not a big deal. She doesn't even have a recipe, she just throws it all in. So she kind of keeps track of what she puts in and tells me...So today I made bread. Yep by hand. Easy. Ok my hands got mucky....and it did take longer than throwing it all in the machine......That machine takes up a lot of space in my kitchen! Hmmmmm So the best part is the bubbling yeast....the boys take one look and want to 'explode' something (memories of making volcanoes!) and so they take some yeast, some warm water, a touch of honey and put it in a closed container, outside. It explodes. They are happy. This was after they built parachutes from newspaper, knitting yarn and a hotwheel.....Later August and the oldest french boy M, climbed around outside on ropes tied to various trees, poles and fences (circus like) and then picked blackberries and apples from around the farm and made a crumble....following the recipe for the crumble. My family left for a couple of hours for gymnastics lessons - and later at dinner they made the fold'em "answer machines" that we all made in elementary school....All the kids wanted them. August wrote his own questions and I made picture questions for the other boys. The August showed the middle french girl how to finger knit.....such a very very cool day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Which District?

I'm registered with a school district that formerly supported unschoolers. I'm so torn now. My 8 year old is now required to provide work samples in order to get your funding ($1000 per child). If I write for him, long interesting journal entries come from his mouth. If he has to write its as short as possible. I remember this feeling well. So now there's self design, a homeschooling philosophy and method that I'm coming to realize may fit us better. They give funding (more) and support in a more unschooly way - observational and in a more real manner. At this point I'm seriously thinking of faking it for the boys' work samples.....another mother registered in the same district gave me some of her son's "printing practice" for me to pass off as my son's!
So my oldest son, who wrote a "One to One Mystery" this summer (based loosely around AtoZ Mysteries") but "theoretically" is not up to "grade level" with his "writing", will have to provide some writing. The more I ask him to write, the more he hates it. I want him to WANT to write, I don't want it to be a chore. It will ruin it forever for him. In addition, (love puns) he's probably not up to grade level in school math either. But I know intellectually he is ahead.
Recent examples of his thought processes that would qualify under "Self Design" philosophy....

At Bedtime: A: Mummy, why is the closest star way past Pluto?
Well, our star is the sun, we orbit the sun, if there was another star we'd be messed up.
Mummy, is there life way out there?
Well, scientists are working on that (trying to sound intelligent here) and you know, conditions had to be exactly right for life to form on Earth and we don't know if those conditions are possible anywhere else.
Mummy, but the conditions don't have to be the same, life somewhere else might be different and might not need the same conditions as we do........
UH, umm, yes, that's right, huh....doh!

Reading "Little House in the Big Woods"
Laura and Mary each save 1/2 a cookie for Carrie, which doesn't seem fair, as Carrie then get's a whole cookie.
Mummy, they should eat 2/3 each.

Picking up groundfall apples for the pigs on our route:
Mummy, what's 5x4
Mummy, (why do they always say Mummy? and wait for a response ARGH) what's 4x5?
Mummy, what's 4x3/
What's 3x4?
Huh, really? It's the same....huh...oh cool.....oh
Mummy now starts to build 4 rows of 3 with apples to demonstrate the principle.....
"Oh cool, I get it, neat" stops me....

Hay, if we each get 1/4 we'll have a whole!!!

You don't want to know what books we've consumed lately....

Self Design here we come..........

And this is my middle boy is such a spark, fire, fireball, firestorm............................

It's a windy day. We're at a park at the beach. He stands there with his arms at his sides moving his body from side to side "LOOK! I'm dancing grass!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bearry Farm!

So we've had wwoofs from Europe all year here and one common desire is to see a bear. I tintillate them with the story of the bear that walked through while August was digging carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve...
The phone rang, my very breathy stressed out bearly (can't help the puns) controlled excited neighbor said "There's the HUGEST bear I have ever seen ripping your garbage apart at the end of your driveway!!!!!" (The ONE week I was organized enough to get it out early!)
Immediately I yell for the family we have staying here now....."GET IN THE CAR THERE'S A BEAR AT THE END OF THE DRIVEWAY!!!!" 6 excited kids and 3 adults crammed into the suv head off down the driveway (600 feet) to see the bear!!!! (I'm thinking 'crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle.....') And see it we did in the raspberries.....HUGE, agitated, not liking my dogs - who treed it. The bear didn't like the tree so it came down...and ran at the dogs, who wouldn't let up - to my dismay (I'm hoarse from yelling at them.....) - we saw it run into the copse of trees at the corner of our property! Very exciting! Turns out it had been sleeping under my neighbor's apple tree all day eating and sunbathing....She wasn't home....
Which brings to mind the COOLEST dance we went to last night on the Comox Native Reserve. In the longhouse - the local natives dressed up and doing traditional dances. When the drums first started drumming I have to admit my eyes did well up at the thought of their lost culture and their efforts to save it......My favourite dance was the bear dance....a bear did a very effective dance with mask.....The kids were enthralled by all the dances and at the end they had us all up and dancing a special river dance (and the speaker joked "not michael flaherty") as the river in this valley is/was very important in their local culture.....I can't believe I have lived here all my life and I've never been to see one performance....I'm ashamed....

Nature Study!

Ok I admit it this unschooler likes Charlotte Mason. So I read a lot of her recommended books with my kids, or rather librivox does.....I have on my wishlists a lot of her living history and science books. More books. ACK! Anyways. I found an inspiring website at this blog. Posted by Picasa It's kind of funny really, here we live on a huge farm with nature all around us and I want to do Nature Study. For me it's not that my kids don't get nature, it's more quality time spent outside with them. So we did it. I am trying to drop everything and concentrate on the kids from 9 - 11 every day. Usually reading in their room, some letter play, some starfall, some journal writing....Two days ago they were getting restless after 1.5 hours of reading so out we went into the glorious sunshine. We walked down to the end of our driveway enjoying the balmy fall weather and looking around us. We headed back to the house with the idea of checking the douglas fir trees we planted after earth day. We stopped at the edge of the grass as there were birds - lots of birds - in our crabapple tree. We all sat down and watched as bluejays started eating crabapples - picking them up and flying with them. Some of them are rotting so we wondered if they would get drunk! (Ok there are bears that get drunk on rotten apples in Cumberland so we use the word......) We watched until the dogs joined us and our cats climbed the tree trying to get at the birds. Sometimes having social cats is great......Then we looked at the beautiful colors of our maple trees, listened to the frogs and crickets, walked up to top of our property to our trees - We planted 5 and only 1 died. Pretty good considering the hot hot summer. The next day August wrote in his journal and then illustrated it. I'm thrilled! (See above!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I read to my kids every day. If anything else, if I "school" my kids at all right now its by reading books to them, a lot. Some days lately up to 3 hours......not including the time spent listening to audio books....
My theme right now is pioneers - I'm kind of going on a history whirl - We're also listening to "Story of the World" about Egypt and Mesopotamia - which the two older boys like! (Yay!) It seems more and more that the unstructured Charlotte Mason route is the way to go. Hay is that an oxymoron? Can one say "Unstructured CM"?
Back to what I wanted to write about.
I order books from Sonlight's reading lists and most have been a big hit. Tornado, The Long Way Westward, Dolphin Adventure. Great twaddle free literature albeit somewhat dumbed down. That's probably my greatest complaint, the dumbing down of the stories. I guess it's so new readers can read easily without difficult sentence structure and vocab hindering their understanding.
So among others I'm reading Little House Books, Sarah, Plain and Tall series; and tonight read "Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade" I won't be finishing it. In fact, I'm wondering why it's recommended at all or available say in Scholastic catalogues. OOOO don't get me started on Scholastic! What a stupid book. Especially for homeschoolers as it takes place at school. This book, written especially for kids, bored my kids to tears. How in the heck did it get into my house? They were begging me to read Little House...... my copy of which is unabridged. I'm also reading Abel's Island another fabulous book with amazing descriptions - we can feel what that poor snobby mouse is feeling. The kids also listen to Thornton W. Burgess books at
These are stories and books you can sink your teeth into, you can paint pictures in your mind with the words, the rhythm of the reading pulls you in, and the kids beg me not to stop. I'm not a writer but I think I'm communicating here. Dumbed down boring stories just don't do it for my kids. Thank god.
Ok, I have to admit that we just finished Z of AtoZ mysteries, finally. My kids loved this series - the clues, the misdirections, the red herrings.....they loved figuring out whodunnit. And these are exactly the books I want to avoid, but sometimes it's not my choice. I'm so glad they tired fast of Magic Tree House books quickly, I couldn't bear to read all of them to my for Junie B Jones, I have to admit I laugh out loud at that little punk - but my kids are bored of her. I guess a balance in the literature you present to your kids is important, and then following their lead. It's amazing where it goes.....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My mother the (69 year old) 8 year old

So here's the promised "mother" post. My mother. The child. Man like I don't have enough on my plate already with homeschooling, farm, harvesting, gardening, ok no housekeeping.
Today was August's birthday party nine days ahead of his birthday which falls on Canadian Thanksgiving. No party would be successful on thanksgiving weekend so we planned early. I did not consciously invite or not invite my mother. She doesn't really like hoards of over excited children and can make things worse when the dreaded "too much birthday tears" start.....She knew we were having a party and was even asked by a friend at my house on Friday if she was coming. She didn't come in the house and say "is it ok if I come" or "I'll come tomorrow, what time" or "Is there a reason you didn't ask me" or "You bozo you haven't invited me" or "I want to come!" No, she waits until 5 o'clock today (party is over) and then phones and gives me and hubby complete shit for not inviting her. Oh for CRYING out loud. Really. What is that supposed to prove? Ok I was a complete child too and hung up on her.
I don't know where to go from here except to say I find this behaviour completely mindboggling. Why she didn't address this Friday (yesterday) I have no idea except to prove her point. Her "My feelings are hurt" made me angry more than anything. This is the story of my life, my mother pulling drama after drama on me at exactly times I DON'T need it (Christmas last year, my birthday, during the summer, during the winter....non stop actually). For such an interesting and dynamic woman it does get a little exhausting.
So I hope hubby has fun on their moose hunting trip starting Wednesday morning. They're driving up together and staying in the camper trailer together.
On a more positive note, the birthday party was fun. As usual the weather behaved and all the kiddos had fun. I've learned over the years how to make sure everyone has a good time. The favourite balloon hunts (all over the farm) and balloon relays a bit hit as usual. The week after halloween I have a party for the 4 year old who also has a birthday on Thanksgiving weekend!
Highlight of my day? August reading "Hundreds of Silly Jokes" to us at the dinner table. You know, the kid who pretends he can't read....and then at before bed reading time he took the part of Brother Bear in the "Bike Lesson" And he did it well.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is it worth it?

I read the post by Jeff about passions. I swore to myself I would try and communicate with my kids that I am living my dream. A farm, organic, a huge (and I mean HUGE) veggie garden, a huge (and I mean gigantic) strawberry patch (ok we are a upick strawberry farm) and we are trying to be mostly sustainable (with a little chocolate and coffee on the side). It is a lot of work. Work. Is work good? Hmmmm. If I find myself stressed at the boys' bedtime cuz I have to work at canning the tomatoes after they go to sleep - or is it the pleasure of putting away home grown organic tomatoes we can eat all winter? When I read his post I thought, Enough! Enjoy bedtime more, talk about how lucky we are to put away such great food and relax. Wow. what a stress release. To communicate to the kids that I WANT to do this and that I love doing it and that we'll all be enjoying the salsa/tomatoes/cherries/peaches/pickles/apple juice all winter (not to mention all the blanched and frozen veggies I've done.)

And now hubby bought a dehydrator and is planning a meat grinder/sausage maker *AND* he plans to slaughter our own pig this year. He doesn't want terror hormones in our meat! (By law we HAVE to take our customers meat to the government inspected butcher to slaughter....but our own we can do what we want.....and if they so choose they could slaughter their pig too........)

We have natural wine brewing in our laundry room. Yep no sulphites. Unfortunately the grapes came from California!

My goal is to not buy any veggies this winter.

Does garlic count? We're already out of our own! (I use minimum 1 head a day!) We ordered in a PILE from an organic garlic farm for planting soon.....hopefully we can be more successful in saving seed stock! I'm already pretty low on onions too.....and I thought we were planting WAYYYYYY to many!

Ok, so I won't meet my goal!

I guess my dilemna is this. Is it worth it? I spent a LOT of time this late summer/fall freezing, canning and preserving food. I could have spent that time doing more hands on things with my kids. I felt sometimes pressured by so much we had to do. We are somewhat tied to the farm - no long camping trips etc as there is always something ready to harvest.

Ask me again after the winter.

If it was I need to figure out how to get them more involved (ok making ketchup was fun!) with all aspects of preservation of our bounty!

How did the pioneers do it? Ok I'm reading Little House books and it's amazing what they did! My boys want to make homemade food colouring now out of carrots. And we will do it. Tomorrow! I guess talking about the crap in store bought food is getting through! (we do say that anything in small amounts is ok and we do have ice cream a lot!)

The french family ( a whole 'nother post) that is staying with us right now have interesting stories....She remembers her parents always working and no time for the kids. Our daily lives are simplified and that means we are able to spend more time with our children. I have to find the right balance.